Exposing the mysterious North
The Canadian Image Unveiled
Canada : a gentle yet harsh land. One that gave the gifts of Robert Goulet, William Shatner and Neil Young upon the world, yet without mercy unleashed Alex Trebek, Nickelback and Celine Dion. The world has many stereotypes of what it is to be Canadian: living in igloos, traveling by dog sled with beers clutched firmly in our hands while trying to avoid polar bears and amorous moose jauntily traipsing behind us en route to the local pond. Playing hockey after dry humping what we hope was a woman, but as parka’s tend to eliminate all traces of the human form we can never fully be sure, so we take on the American Armed Forces mantra “Don’t ask, don’t tell” and before setting our elders adrift on a small sheet of ice to swallowed up by the heartless Arctic Ocean – but that is just a small part of who we are as a people.
Along the long and convoluted written journeys that I have chosen most mercilessly and subjected people to, the question most asked – other than, “does the University of Alberta primate research department realize that one of their subjects with no frontal lobe has access to the internet” (the answer, yes they do, but fortunately since it’s a school for higher learning, they have spent years pontificating over the correct procedures to broach the subject of a primate with internet access and currently have over thirty PhD students writing their thesis’s on whether there are moral implications to this development or whether they should concentrate on smelling their own gas to determine whether their bodies are producing the correct equilibrium for a healthy ph balance in the rectum) and “what the heck is that god awful smell (hey, Chili dogs and curried onion rings are a demanding mistress, one that I strive to please in order that the Earth remains on its correct orbit with my slight directional changes using a gust of wind) – is just where the heck is Alberta and is it associated with the Mayo clinic for psychological disease research.
Barring that you are not from Eastern Canada and have been raised with the mythology of Alberta being the land of Ultra-conservative, Bible thumping, beer guzzling, gun totin’ hicks that are either fixin’ to round up a posse or doin’ some cattle rustlin’ (which is not in the slightest true – some of us prefer to thump something else other than the Bible on a regular basis, which while producing something that comes close to a sort of enlightenment, is a physical thing rather than a spiritual) I shall endeavour to give you all the pertinent information on the glorious land of Alberta and the rest of the provinces and territories that constitutes Canada that I can possible muster in the time that it takes me to drink this six pack and have to get up to grab another one, which through the process of osmosis will then tell my brain cells when I come back that its time to play “Shrek Smash n’ Crash” and forget about anything prior.
How Canada Derived its Name
Prince Edward Island could very well be considered the birthplace of Canada as it was the host for the first meeting of Fathers of Confederation in 1864, when the first articles for Canada were laid. Canada was officially ‘born’ July first, 1867 (Originally the founders of the Dominion of Canada had slated the official ceremony on July fourth. However, they were victims of bad timing and had to change it to July first because of Hallmark Cards and Kimberly-Clark, an American manufacturer of incontinence products. It seems that news of the impending celebration leaked south Just as the two captains of industry had decided to capitalize on the monetary gains brought on by having person specific holidays such as Mother’s day and Father’s day – after coming up with July 4 as In Depends Aunts day, they threatened the soon to be Canadians with a law suit for dumping on their parade).
There’s a certain amount of romanticism to the name Canada. The myth concerning the origin of the name is that it stems from the Iroquois-Huron word, kanata, which means “village”. The explorer Jacques Cartier in 1535 understood it to mean the entire land instead of the singular entity of Stadacona. The actual origin of the word Canada is based on Jacques misunderstanding of what was being said. However it was not uttered by Iroquoian chief Donnacona, but one of the missionaries that scouted Stadacona briefly about eight months prior. On the day that Cartier met with chief Donnacona, the missionary, who had not been back to Stadacona since his first mission in the new world, would be horrified by what he saw when he returned. Chief Donnacona was a family man. He had several daughters, one of which on hearing about the meeting with the white men chose to accompany her father, though she hid herself behind him for the first part of the gathering. The missionary kept on catching glimpses of the young women and remembered fondly how helpful the woman was for scouting virgin territory. The fondness left quickly when the daughter stepped out from behind her father to show that wheat crop by the landing point was not the only thing the missionary had plowed with success. He knew that on the return to France he would face a harsh punishment for this crime, as the church had made it very clear that it would show no mercy to those who besotted females; that’s what the altar boys assigned to each ship were for.
The missionary turned white and fell to the ground. Chief Donnacona saw the missionary’s reaction and started speaking angrily to his daughter, waving his hands in the air while the missionary rocked back and forth repeating, “I cand na be a dad, I cand na be a dad”. Cartier, not paying full attention to the situation, still pissed off that after mocking Columbus for screwing up finding a passage to Asia then going and doing the same damn thing, assumed that the Iroquois chief and the missionary were playing some form of interpretive charades. Feeling Cartier’s eyes upon him, the missionary stopped his rocking motion let the words peter out to, “I can na da…” Cartier nodded to convey that he understood what the gestured conversation between the chief and the missionary was about.
Cartier turned to chief Donnacona and said, “So this is Canada, eh?”
Keeping the spirit of the missionaries, Prince Edward Island, though the very place where the seeds of Canada had been fertilized, was quickly forgotten by the Fathers of Confederation for the more ample bosoms of Quebec and Ontario. It wouldn’t be until 1873 that Prince Edward Island would find those miserable sons of a bitches that whispered sweet nothings into her ear of being a unified nation and attempt to make respectable citizens out of them. Considering the behaviour most days in the House of Commons, Prince Edward Island should have just chalked it up to a learning experience and purchased some pills from an apothecary to clear up the rash.
Canada Retains God’s Country
From the very edge of the east coast, let us bounce to the west coast of Canada, the province of British Columbia. The BCer’s call it “God’s country” – and for good reason. Nature has provided that province with an abundance of rain, sun and mild temperatures for growing a variety of substances that enable a person to hypothesize having had a conversation with God, although their friends will contest that they witnessed you having inappropriate interactions with a fire hydrant for five hours. Vancouver is the only place where you can walk downtown and upon coming across a “keep off the grass” sign, have to decide if the sign is referring to the lawn or an anti-drug campaign. British Columbia is the only province where clear and concise enunciation of all syllables is of the utmost import for the difference in uttering ‘mushroom’ or ‘shroom’ will lead one either to a full stomach or contemplation over the meaning of life contained within the whorls on ones fingertips and a deep appreciation for Jefferson Airplane’s “White Rabbit”.
One of the questions that often is overlooked when it comes to Canada, is how British Columbia managed to be come a Canadian province in 1871, escaping being annexed by the United States in 1867 when Alaska was purchased. The answer is simple; it almost was an American state.
It was early in January of 1867 when an American mole who had been ‘researching’ the British Parliament, overheard several of the lords in the loo discussing the idea of electing to pass the British North American Act sometime in March. This act would solidify the Dominion of Canada as a legal entity which would throw a monkey wrench into the original strategy the American government had for annexing British Columbia. The plan was to have twenty settlers go up and claim squatter’s rights for the territory, then infuse their federal budget with money from the sales of “America’s Best” coffee beans which the squatters would harvest for them. The American government, which is great for initiatives, has always had a little problem with geography. The American mole immediately caught the very next Concord back to America to report what he had overheard.
After reading the mole’s report, American president, Andrew Johnson, was sent into a homophobic panic at the thought of being seen as on the bottom of Sir John A. Macdonald’s, the soon to be Prime Minister, top when the European leadership looked at a world map. Johnson immediately sent two of his top negotiators, William Seward and Lorenzo Thomas, to British Columbia to come to terms with the Native population in order to establish treaties that would negate the British North America Act in the Native population’s eyes in favour of the much older treaty of Paris. Johnson knew that Great Britain was strapped for cash and could not afford to send troops to assert their claim west of the Rocky Mountains if the Native populations asserted that they no longer upheld the treaty the bands had made with the Great White Mother. Johnson hoped that if he could buy enough time, he could roll British Columbia into the other properties that the American government were looking at from the French and Spanish government real estate agent, Andre Fleurpouf, who was Great Britain’s agent as well -eventually Thomas Jefferson would see an ad for “Dément Andre’s Used Land Emporium and Flea Circus” (It was Dément Andre’s slogan that caught Jefferson’s eyes; “Our prices are so insane we should be sent to Elba!!!) in 1803 and the eventual trip to the lot to be taken in by Andre’s ‘rock bottom’ prices– in a ‘rent to own’ lease agreement.
Seward and Thomas arrived in what is now Victoria ready to undercut the British. However, after spending a month and a bit eating field rations, they first decided on having a sit down dinner before calling on the different Native chiefs. One can only imagine these two were after their long difficult trudge, and having never been that far north before were unaware of the profound difference in ingredients a slight slur may have when they both ordered mushroom soup as their appetizer that night. Regardless on how it happened, an hour later and feeling a hell of a lot better with their two litre doggie bags of the most amazing mushroom soup they had ever tasted, the two negotiators made a decision that would change the direction of history. So patriotic did the two feel at that time, they chose to refuse the only caffeinated beverage available to them, tea, and opted instead to make a quick pop over to Seattle to grab a “Starbucks” for the road just as the large polka dot tap dancing bald eagle that seemed to hover just ahead of the two suggested.
Bald eagles have a tremendous sense of spatial land benchmarks…when they are in the air. As the negotiators found out later on, after depleting their doggie bags of soup, when bald eagles are tap dancing their sense of direction goes all to hell. The result was that by the time Seward and Thomas were able to gain their bearings, they had discovered that they had gone the opposite direction they should have to reach Seattle – they had gone north instead, to such a point that the sun refused to go rise. The two men were aghast, firstly for possibly destroying Andrew Johnson’s grand plan of acquisitioning British Columbia and secondly wondering at what point in the dance number did the bald eagle tattoo the name of the other man on their left butt cheek.
For three days the two men sat on a rock trying to figure out a plan to get their necks from escaping the hangman’s noose when out of the distance came a high, screeching wail. The wailing came closer until Seward and Thomas could see that it was a very ornate looking carriage. It was soon apparent to Seward that it was not someone within the carriage shoving hot pokers up a cat’s ass, but the voice of a woman berating her male companion for not ordering the driver to stop and ask for directions at Bilibino. From the man’s throat came the same monotone response, “yes dear” over and over again. As luck would have it the very tired looking man was Aleksandr Nikolaevich (the second, though his wife, Maria, often pointed out in the privacy of their bed chamber that if his love making was a horse race he wouldn’t have even shown, but would have been shot for having a lame appendage before the race was begun), the Czar of Russia. With a final, horrendous scream that mimicked the sound of a man who had squatted down to relieve a very sore bowel just a little low onto a bear leg trap, from the Czaress, the Czar ordered the carriage to stop in front of Seward and Thomas.
Aleksandr, a proud man, begged the two witnesses, after getting direction back to Russia, not to tell President Johnson of the most unmanly askance. Seward, seeing an opportunity, seized the moment and demanded that there be a price for their silence: the land they stood upon. Aleksandr, unaware of where he even was, told him that it was a deal. Aleksandr took out a piece of paper and wrote out a transfer of ownership to Seward (who was not aware that the Czar had added in the small print a small monetary remittance as well as a denial of liability) and asked Seward what he should put down as the name of the land. Seward hemmed and hawed, flummoxed at the question. What was this place called?
What was supposed to come out of Seward’s mouth was “I was going to ask you that question”. Unfortunately due to a combination of his New York accent and a raw his throat due to the ravages of munching on snow with small pebbles contained within, it came out sounding, “Ah’ll ask ya…” before he stopped mid sentence because of a coughing fit. The Czar, in a hurry, never let Seward clear his throat before quickly jotting “Alaska” down and handing the paper to the hacking man. History finishes this story off; the British Parliament would ratify the British North America Act on March twenty-ninth, one day before Seward and Thomas would be in Andrew Johnson’s office explaining how they came back with a deed for a place called Alaska when he had ordered a heaping plate of British Columbia.
Quebec; the Womb of Canada
Speaking of drug induced mistakes…depending on whether or not you view the Vikings as the true discoverers of North America with settlements in Newfoundland a couple of centuries before Columbus mistakenly stumbled upon it, Quebec holds the title of having the oldest major white settlements in Canada. It is important to note that though one would expect to pronounce it “kw-beck”, the only acceptable way to say Quebec in Quebec is “kay-beck”. It should also be pointed out that outside Quebec, Quebec is often pronounced, “as-hohls”. Originally called New France, Quebec would become Lower Canada after the British won over France in the Seven Years War. The province would formally be called Quebec when the Confederation of Canada once again changed the name of the territory in 1867, almost causing a riot from the masses irritated over having to change all their identification to yet another damn name. Quebec touts itself as a unique culture and vehemently defends its right to keep that culture alive…by attempting to eradicate any other unique culture that exists within its provincial boundaries by enforcing strict language laws, justifying these actions because their culture is the womb of Canada. By taking a look at the map, one can see that indeed Quebec does resemble a crude anatomy drawing of the female reproductive system but it really shouldn’t excuse the Quebec’s government’s behaviour; I like pussy as much as the next guy but they really shouldn’t be such cunts about it.
Quebec is the only province or territory in Canada that has a political party in the federal government system whose only concern is for the wants of Quebec, the bloc Quebecois. For just over forty years there has been political pressure within Quebec to separate from Canada, with two referendums on the issue of separation; so much so that some geography textbooks in that province have Quebec listed as the “Nation of Quebec”. Somewhere, however, the definition of separation has been lost to the politicians of the Parti Quebecois, the separatist party that has actually held provincial power several times. According to their definition, separation is Quebec being able to determine its own policies, negotiating with other countries as an individual entity but keeping the Canadian dollar as their currency and receiving large sums of money in transfer payments from Canada. Quebec is like a spoilt teenager bragging to his friends that he is his own man while his parents pay his rent, utility and grocery bills and gives him an allowance every week. Though the political system of Quebec has obviously been nipping over to British Columbia and slurring their mushroom soup orders. The province itself has given Canada, nay, the world, two of the greatest culinary gifts: Montreal smoked meat and poutine. It is truly a grand culmination of ingredients poutine is; French fries and chunks of cheese smothered with gravy that sends one’s taste buds and cholesterol level to the moon. If only the politicians could learn from poutine – that Canada and Quebec are like poutine; apart they are so-so but together they can make beautiful music together.
to be contd.
By A.B. Thomas The Canadian Image Unveiled Canada : a gentle yet harsh land. One that gave the gifts of Robert Goulet, William Shatner and Neil Young upon the world, yet without mercy unleashed Alex Trebek, Nickelback and Celine Dion. The world has many stereotypes of what it is to be Canadian: living in igloos,…