Exposing the mysterious North, contd.

Bow Lake and Flowers, Banff National Park, Alberta, Canada picturesBy A.B. Thomas

Alberta Jiggles and Ontario Drags its Butt

From the map you can clearly tell that Alberta, my home, is a land locked province, located just east of British Columbia, or as it is more lovingly known around Canada as “Hydroponicland”. This does not stop Alberta from enjoying the water though.  From the Rocky Mountains on our Western border, clean water runs into many rivers and lakes that dot our geography.  We spend the entire six weeks of summer that we often are lucky enough to get on those water ways, battling huge mosquitoes or, going farther north, gopher sized black flies with Black Panther attitudes about who has the right to be in those there woods. Along with the lakes and rivers, we have a diverse landscape; partial permafrost in our extreme north yet badlands in our extreme south with forested lands in between. That being said, we often have long winters and though some would suggest that our almost perma-rouged noses and cheeks are from excessive alcohol consumption, it is actually because we, as Albertans, depending on your point of view, are either the densest or the toughest S.O.B.s in the world to work on a regular basis in -40 weather and end the day off by cracking the frozen lines of snot from our faces and saying, “Bit nippy today, eh?” Actually, this is not a uniquely Albertan fact.  Truthfully, the entire country of Canada has this toughness/denseness, save for Toronto, which just likes to whine about anything and everything – Jesus could come down and pronounce that redemption has begun in the very center of the Toronto Tower and at least thirty people would look at him and tell him that if those are the kind of sandals they were supposed to wear in order to be saved, they’d prefer to be damned because at least they wouldn’t just die if their friends saw them wearing over two thousand year old fashions.

Alberta was proclaimed a province September 1, 1905 and as of 2007, according to Alberta Finance, the population is around 3,455,062 people with an annual growth rate projected at 3.07%. Our main industries are the oil sands, natural gas, beef, lumber and some of the best darn ice fishing equipment ever to be invented. But that just doesn’t cut it for me to explain about Alberta is. Without a doubt, each province and territory (ten and three if you’re counting) has its own supporters, rightly so. Canada is a great country, perhaps not as full of its patriotic self as other populations but that’s because we have sort of adopted a cultural mosaic approach to our make up rather than assimilating the masses under one uniform banner. For instance, Stateside, when you ask a person who they are, they are most likely to answer, “I’m American”.

Ask me, and I’ll say, “I’m a Caucasian Canadeo-Albertan of Belgium French/Welsh descent, not Quebecois, for it’s not French as French was meant to be. A fact – if you talk to any one from Quebec, you will sternly and swiftly be corrected into restating that you are French, not Quebecois.  Quebecois is a distinct and unique culture found no where else on the planet except for Quebec – a fact that is greatly appreciated by those in Nigeria, France, Haiti, Belgium and any other primarily French state not considered Quebecois.

Another aspect of Alberta that is unique for any province or territory or even state, is that we have had the same political party, the Progressive Conservatives, in power for about 39 years now. Different leaders of course, but the same ideology has guided Alberta’s development for almost as long as I have been around. Ask an American who their leader is they will answer, either with gusto or an embarrassed sigh, “Obama”.

Ask me and I have to respond, “Well, Ed Stelmach is our premier but it’s politically correct to say that officially our leader would be our Prime Minister Stephen Harper.  But, since we have a federal minority government,  it depends on which party he is caving into the demands on who is the unofficial co – prime minister, which could be Michael Ignatieff, Giles Duceppe or Jack Layton.  However, if you really want the hard nosed truth, since we are part of the British Commonwealth, then Queen Elizabeth would be our leader; but not really, because in the eighties Liberal Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau brought “home” the constitution allowing her to officially wash her hands of the Toronto Bluejays and Mapleleafs…and our national treasure. (Some time ago I stumbled upon a diary of the Queen’s that she meant to flush into the Red Deer River but instead, got caught up in the sewer system. In the past, being a prime gutterslut, I found the diary one night as I sloshed my way from bar to bar peeking up women’s toilets and discovered her secret: in order to escape the madness of the monarchy she took another identity…Anne Murray, pretending to be Canada’s songbird just so she could spread joy and sweet song to her Canadian subjects. Apparently, Bryan Adams found this secret out a few years back and threatened to ‘out’ her so she had him thrown into the dankest cell of the Tower of London, letting him out occasionally so that his disappearance doesn’t raise any suspicion – the entertainment field, much like being the figure head for several nations, is a ruthless business to be involved in. But I digress). Take another look at the map…do you see it? Look close…really gander at it…see it?

Geez, no, it doesn’t look like a screwed up block of cheese – it looks like the profile of a woman’s breasts – and not just any kind a woman’s breasts; we’re talking brick house here baby! Look at how perky we are, here in Canada’s lactation central – damn straight we are. See, you Eastern Canadians? We out west aren’t scary, we’re bouncy boobs and that is not a negative connotation in any stretch of the imagination for me. Being called a boob to me is like a badge of pride, because, well, boobs are damn multitalented in my opinion. Not only are they a source of nourishment, but I have found them a source of entertainment for hour upon hour in my younger days – you spar with them, you can play ham radio operator, a good assortment of boobs on hand can become quite a grand bongo set, setting down rhythm after rhythm that will keep you up…dancing, yeah, dancing, well into the early morning, depending on the coolness of the temperature, you can even string an elastic on a pair and play a little tune and lets not forget that boobs are excellent ski runs for those who indulge in playing with…I mean collecting…”Star Wars” action figures. The possibilities are endless, it could be a steep hill in the Dagobah system, an icy slope on Hoth, or in between it could be the support canal of the Death star! Never let it be said that being called a boob is a put down, rise up against this injustice! Not just for those who have been called boobs, for perhaps you’ve been called a boob in your past, but for the great province of Alberta! That’s right! Flash them proud! Show your support for the Alberta Advantage and give a little jiggle for the West! Alberta isn’t scary at all, are we? Just to put things in perspective, look closely at Ontario, see it?

That’s right it looks like a big demonic tailed butt – which isn’t the fault of the majority of Ontario’s population; no it has the unfortunate infestation of Ottawa, the Capital of Canada to contend with. Ottawa, to quote the great George Lucas, can be akin to the quote “You will never find a more wretched hive of scum and villainy. We must be cautious” – mostly because of the inherent amount of Liberal and New Democrats that fester there.

Now a lot of folks are under the misunderstanding that Ottawa is derived from the Algonquian word adawe, meaning “to trade” or “to buy and sell”, but in actuality it is a British term for those in Government in the early 18th century who went around going, “Ought to wha?” Confused mostly by the French defeat,  as a sign that they were not the victors, they demanded that everyone had to cater to their every whim like a spoilt child would expect – which the Federal politicians still honor to this very day.  You can tell by the dead look in a politician’s eyes. It’s a shame really…it’s that look an would animal gave you where if you were on a farm… a look of pain and suffering.  The only right thing to do would be to grab your rifle and put it out of its misery.nwt_lake

Alberta even has strong masculine sounding city names: ED-monton, Cal-GARY, GRAND Prairie, Red DEER (you may not think that deer exude that masculine factor but here’s a little known piece of trivia for you: The thing that you have to know is that unsuccessful hunters coined the simile, “like a deer caught in the headlights” as a term for being frightened beyond the point of being able to react. Nothing could be farther from the truth – the deer aren’t scared, in fact, they are most assuredly the polar opposite – they’re damn right defiant. They challenge the headlights due to a genetic mutation instigated by a severe psychological fixation with Clint Eastwood. It was back in ’71 in Deerborn, Michigan, at the local drive in theatre they ran the movie “Dirty Harry” for more than just the local human populace. The concession stand at the time had the unhealthy practice of dumping its old popcorn reserves into the bushes at the back, which provided ample coverage for the gentle forest animals, mainly two families of young deer and a few already lethally inclined squirrels  plotting to take over the world, to partake in the maize remnants. As fate would have it, on the week they were showing “Dirty Harry” nightly, a speaker close to the concession stand was shorting in and out releasing electro-magnetic waves of the actor’s lines out, and in turn infusing them into the brains of the popcorn munching deer.
From that accident, the altered brain patterned deer wandered far and wide spreading their new found lore through massive breeding programs. When you look at a deer looking at a car or truck; it’s not fear.  It’s the genetically altered brain feeding the lines into the deer, who most all by now think that they are  Clint Eastwood  saying, “I know what you’re thinking. ‘Did he fire six shots or only five?’ Well, to tell you the truth, in all this excitement I kind of lost track myself. But being as this is a .44 Magnum, the most powerful handgun in the world, and would blow your head clean off, you’ve got to ask yourself one question: Do I feel lucky? Well, do ya, punk?”

What do you get in Ontario? Sudbury, which sounds like the place for deceased beer drinkers, Hamilton – when I think of the name Hamilton, I think Scott Hamilton and while he may be a great role model, figure skater, etc, he is not what most women would think of when they’re looking for their caveman – Windsor; how tough can a person be if the wind gives them aches? Then there is Toronto, which when you think about it, sounds like someone with a speech impediment walking up to another person in sandals, looking down and making the comment, “Oooh, you got a tore on yer toe”. The one hiccup in the Ontario wimp name factor is Thunder Bay, but if you’ve ever been there, you’d realize that the thunder is people trying to get the hell out of there and baying when they are trampled into the mire by the thousands others who are trying to do the same thing. Anyways, back to Alberta and our big brick house hooters; we live up to this responsibility by being the largest producer and exporter of natural resources, lowest taxes and  one of the lowest unemployment rates in North America.

Manitoba and the Northern Territories

Now some may say that Manitoba is far perkier in its bosomy appearance than Alberta.  However, it must be pointed out it has that augmented perkiness look to it rather than the pristine natural full slight sagginess that the Alberta profile exhibits. To further the argument, a history lesson perhaps is in order as well. Back in 1870, when the name of the newly acquired Rupert’s Land was being discussed between several newbie political types from Lower Canada and Louis Riel, they found themselves at a stalemate. As with all great political questions, it was decided that it  best be discussed further at the local tavern where inspiration (or was that perspiration) was known to come out in great quantities in a relatively short amount of time. They even took their newly made map and set it on the bar…I mean…discussion table and proceeded to have a lively debate on the various shapes and sizes in relation to fruits of certain counterparts of the more feminine nature. Coincidently, the grand father of Laurence Welk, Finkle Welk and his big polka band were providing the night’s entertainment. Now Finkle was in quite a state. He knew his band was good but there was something he was missing, but he couldn’t put his finger on it – it had been on his mind for months. It was after the third encore of the “Beer Keg Polka” that it hit old Finkle what his band had been missing, a tuba! But he was an entertainer, not inclined to remember much that didn’t have a few notes scrawled between lines so he quickly jotted down, “Man, a tuba” on the only thing available at the time, which happened to be sitting on the discussion table; the map. The next morning, the politicians and Louis Riel, realizing that they had somehow forgotten the important document at the tavern the night before, rushed back to see the name “Manitoba” written across the very territory whose name they had been disputing for several days. Of course, each person tried to take responsibility for coming up with the name, but really you have to give credit where credit is due: Finkle Welk, the man who named a province because of extremely poor penmanship and in turn spent the rest of his natural life wondering exactly what was missing from his polka band, not realizing that all he would have had to do was look at a map of Canada to see what the missing element was.

Resting atop the provinces are the three territories of Canada: The Yukon, Northwest and Nunavut territories. The majority of the inhabitants of these three territories are the Inuit peoples, who under 1982’s Constitution of Canada, are recognized as being a unique Native population, apart from the traditional native and Metis populations of Canada. Up until this legal designation of heritage change, the common term for the native population of the arctic regions was Eskimo, which is still largely recognized as these people’s description in literature and pop cultural references outside Canadian borders.

This change in definition was due to an event that was related to Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau by  the sole member of the Department of Political Correctness; a shadow department of Statistics Canada, Ethel Klitterklup (a smallish, rather sour looking older woman with blue hair and though her fancy is to wear flowery turtlenecks with matching suit pants that wear frumpily upon her – once she had fallen asleep at the Canadian National Museum of Civilization Gatineau, Quebec, where an overly-tired archaeologist spent several hours excitedly studying an extremely rare polyester ming vase).  As she steadfastly refuses to recognize that the tag on her pants size reads 40 waist, which means  her panty size would have changed from the size 6 she wore that summer when she was seventeen, resulting in a bunching of material in the most uncomfortable of areas, she became the natural for judging, from a government point of view, of what is politically correct.  The definition was implemented  on a fact finding tour in Yellowknife, Northwest Territories, November third, 1979.

Ms. Klitterklup was sitting in the lobby of the Explorer Hotel with her constant companion, a tabby cat with only one ear and a very touchy stomach, Mr. Squiggles VII, when a group of very confused Iranian students wandered into the hotel. The group, who were on a pilgrimage to Makkah, had unfortunately chosen as their leader HedAyat Shakibi. It wasn’t that HedAyat was a bad person, per se, in fact he had brought his wife and teenage son along for the journey to Saudi Arabia, but being cross-eyed with an inner ear infection that affected his sense of direction perhaps, in hindsight, should have made the group of University of Tehran students consider someone else. The group, four months before had decided to honour their ancestors by walking to Makkah, but by this time they had been wondering if they should have rented a bus instead. HedAyat, understandably, was quite irritated as it was that he could not understand the dialect being spoken around him – he was after all, a professor of Arabic and had spent well over twenty six years learning the different nuances, only to discover that no one in Arabia spoke Arabic. He meant to write a very stern letter to the local paper about the serious loss of culture that oil development had taken on the traditional lands when he got home. His son, who had spent years under his blanket reading Nation Geographic, and for three months and 29 days had kept his mouth closed out of  respect for his father, could hold his tongue no longer and said three words in response to his father’s muttering of where the heck were all the Saudi’s,  would forever impact Ms. Klitterklup.

The boy pointed at one of the Native population who was standing at the magazine rack reading and said, “Eskimo, huh, dad”. This caused HedAyat to look angrily five feet to the right of his son as along with his chronic inner ear infection he had a large piece of ear wax that had frozen which reduced his hearing to the extent that what he heard was, “I kissed Mohammad”.

In one of those strange acts of bad timing, Mohammed Pahlavi, happened to stroll into the hotel lobby on a diamond buying trip, as his wife calculated that by  changing the calendar from Islamic to Imperial two year prior meant that he owed her for 1180 missed anniversaries. HedAyat was not a supporter of being on the hook for 1180 anniversaries himself, or that his son had joined Mohammed’s Rastakhiz party (HedAyat, who was an academic which are not famous for having a grasp on reality, did not realize that there was no other political party) and now had apparently admitted to being a homosexual, flew into a rage and flung himself at Pahlavi, screaming loudly and very quickly, “Iknewit!IknewitI!knewit!” Ms. Klitterklup, her hearing partially impaired at the time because of the loud purring of Mr. Squiggles and the meal of spoonhead sculpin he had enjoyed earlier not sitting as well as it had gone,  interpreted HedAyat’s repeated proclamation of certainty as “Inuit”. Fortunately for Pahlavi, there were two American bikers who had been stranded in Yellowknife for the past several weeks because of a mistaking the Iditarod for a hawg race, who came to his aid and attempted to pull HedAyat off. Ms. Klitterklup was further convinced that the Iranian group had taken offence to the term Eskimo by witnessing several of the group in the telephone booth near by talking excitedly into the receiver about the current situation taking place and that there were Americans helping out Pahlavi.Yellowknife

Ms. Klitterklup was aghast; if foreign nationals were avid about the term “Inuit” over the term “Eskimo”, what kind of a nation would Canada be if it still legally defined its Northern natives as such? In the ensuing melee, Ms. Klitterklup phoned herself to immediately schedule a meeting to discuss the possibility of having a meeting to open up a dialogue on the feasibility of having a meeting.

Quite possibly the most famous part of all of Canada would have to be the Yukon Territories, much to the chagrin of Ontario and Quebec.  It was the Klondike gold rush that started a frenzy of Americans flooding the Yukon to dig up all that Yukon gold. I’ve never understood this lemming behaviour to tell you the truth.  Sure, Yukon gold is good but I’ve always preferred the humble russet potato for my starch culinary needs. As every man who awakens every morning on his back is aware, the Northwest Territories is the phallic representation of Canada, and much like every guy’s opinion of his own, the population feel it is often overlooked, underused and neglected as a valuable resource and should be accessed much more than it currently is. Until 1999, Nunavut was part of the Northwest Territories when it was officially proclaimed as a separate entity.

I can proudly proclaim that I am partially responsible for not only the territorial lines but the name as well. It was back in 1993 that a committee  traveled the Northwest Territories, investigating whether or not there was a wide enough gap in identity across it to merit dividing the territory into two.  They stopped in at the very same tavern in Resolute, located on Cornwallis Island, where I happened to be employed at the time. I had gone up north earlier that year as part of an anti-sealer group,  but thanks to the over enthusiastic harpooning by Japanese whalers, the price for Greenpeace pelts had hit an all time low in the market and I was forced to moonlight as an assistant to the Chippendales to make extra money. I would be remiss if I did not admit that when I applied for the assistant job, I was unaware that the Chippendales were male strippers; I had thought that it was a traveling Disney show and that I would be holding the chipmunk’s snacks as they performed. Ultimately, I suppose, one could say that I was partially right though the only nuts I held nightly were my own.

The late eighties and early nineties were the hay day for social service agencies in Canada. In 1982, along with becoming officially independent from Great Britain, the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms was ratified, supposedly to guarantee equality and justice for all – providing you know the right people. Federal coffers were thrown wide open.  Any agency serving a visible minority or disability in their communities, was given money in order to secure this new social construct that then Pierre Trudeau was attempting to create: total dependence on the federal government for thought and movement. It was through a federal grant that the Chippendales were able to afford to hire me as an aide to daily living in fulfilling their obligation to service women’s entertainment needs. Several female residents of age were blind. The Chippendales fearful of being seen as denying accessibility to their club, chose to hire several of us to fill in the holes in their acts for sightless women who could legally position themselves for court action against them. Before hiring me, the management had tried scribes but they found that the ‘play by play’ style did not generate the excitement that the ‘normal’ visioned customers had and chose to explore another avenue that would give the women as ‘close to the action’ experience as possible. It occurred to them that one of the stumbling blocks for these women was that because of the music being so loud, the women could not hear the sounds associated with the performer’s actions. The Chippendales women would enjoy the show if they could hear the performer’s body movements. This posed a problem for the management.  Obviously having a blind woman sitting in the middle of the stage would not be semantically possible for the enjoyment of the women who were classified as ‘normal’,  therefore not allowed on stage. This could cause resentment, which would result in a loss of revenue or a spike in fork in the eye accidents.

I was hired to be the performer’s flesh slap double for those women in the audience that were visually impaired based on my asset of having a few extra pounds here and there…and there…and there…and there. So night after night I would stand naked on a wide seated stool with my groin approximately six inches from the client’s right eye and make the appropriate gyrations that would allow these women to formulate the appropriate image of what was going on stage.

Normally the client and I would be placed out of the way, at the back of the room but on one particular night the venue, which doubled as a conference centre, had double booked its space so the Chippendales were performing at the same time as the committee investigating the possibility of dividing the Northwest Territories was holding public meetings. Fearful of an inaccessibility lawsuit, the Chippendales had no choice but to create a workspace for me in the middle of the seating area. At first this arrangement seemed to work.  The Chippendales felt that they were legally safe and the boundary committee were pleased with the large turn out for their town hall meeting.

This acclamation of area seemed to change though when the first performer sashayed onto the stage to the grinding beat of “I wanna be a cowboy” and I took my place on my stool. I could hear the committee members shouting at the top of their lungs questions they had for the audience. It got much worse when the performer, in a cowboy out fit and to the theme from “Rawhide”, began to mime the actions of riding a horse. I take pride in my work, no matter what it is, so I took my role as an aide for Chippendale appreciation very seriously and developed some techniques to ensure that my interpretation of the dancer’s movements could assist in the client’s ability to paint ae clear picture as possible to what was actually occurring. As the dancer began to move from a leisurely trot to a half-gallop I did what I had come up with that would best emulate his actions; twirling jumping jacks.

Human genetics are a wondrous and mysterious thing; take for instance the process of hair growth. Although the hair on the top of my head had steadily been decreasing in thickness since I was about 16, other areas on my body had been increasing the density of its hair follicles. With working up north I discovered something that I had not known previously, buttock hair is similar to the arctic hare’s fur coat –when the weather is colder it tends to thicken to resemble the undercoat of a chinchilla.

At the moment that I was beginning to do my 180 turn air turn jumping jacks, the committee had come to the point of their meeting where they were asking for suggestions of the name of a new territory but they were not receiving any feedback to their queries; only the sounds of choking and gagging. Frustrated, the head of the committee shouted, “Look what the hell do you people want?”

A small band of women who had been a little late getting to the venue and therefore had no choice but to take the tables behind my client pointed and screamed out in unison, “None of that! None of that!”

Some call it bad timing. Some call it the cruel hand of Fate. Some may call it the committee members pulling their heads out of the asses. Whatever one wishes to call it, the committee members looked up from their paperwork to the direction where fifteen women were pointing their fingers  and witnessed, thanks to a slow spot light worker who noticed that his light had slipped and was in the middle of readjusting it, their first indoor lunar eclipse. It would not be until the spring thaw of 1998 that the committee members would awaken from their respective self-induced comas, their minds sufficiently deprived of oxygen so that the horror that they had witnessed was naught but a hazed over shadow in their minds that would carve the boundaries of the new territory reminiscent of a pudgy balding man doing a pirouette and mistaking the echoes of women crying out as a united voice for the new territory’s moniker, “Nunavut”.

The Feminine Side to Canada

For those who have geographically pornographic mind sets and who are wondering since there has been a discussion on Canada’s knockers and tally-whackers, where the womanly good stuff is that isn’t classified by the inhabitants as being part of the wholesome reproductive system, but the down and dirty go to hell shit, well first off, shame on you! I don’t think I can condone what you’re doing in the bathroom with that world atlas, at all. Reprobates, all of you….. But I would be remiss if I didn’t point this out, just to titillate those who need this nefarious attribute overtly displayed. To look for the feminine center of Canada, one needs to look no further than Saskatchewan, the box province. Heck, to ensure that there is misunderstanding of what they most definitively represent those crafty Saskies even made sure that the capital of the province could be rhymed in a limerick with the very thing those of perverse mind seek, Regina.

That leaves just the remainder of the Atlantic Provinces after Prince Edward Island: Nova Scotia, Newfoundland and Labrador –provinces rife with beaver and the smell of fish coming off from their soft, rounded nubile brushed shores; it is only natural that seaman would the fertile soil so inviting to linger and settle upon. If one takes out the notion that the Maritimes were settled by people who had immigrated from areas around the world that had grown up by the sea, it leaves one open to the option that the traditions of “Kissing the cod” and the drinking of the almost turpentine like liquor “Swish” came about because they are all scions of an alien race that crash landed on the Earth at the same time Europeans were invading…uhm…exploiting…er…exploring North America. It should be noted that if you look at Newfoundland and Labrador closely, after indulging in several bottles of fermented barley, that it looks very much like a Klingon Bird of Prey. It all makes sense, damn it, Jim, it all makes sense.

Canada, though young in age compared to the global chronology of some of the other nations upon the Earth, has much to offer. From Newfoundland swish to British Columbian green, from Alberta’s Royal Tyrell Museum to Nunavut’s Ellesmere Island’s glaciers, one will never be bored traveling this great land. It is with high hopes that this little glimpse into the different provinces and territories will stir within the urge to travel to our country and provide those glorious tourist dollars…to the point where the federal government lowers our taxes so we Canadians can all afford to move to Arizona and Florida for the winter.