There is nothing more Canadian than a Canadian who’s not in Canada. And since I’m not going to be in Canada next week, I’ve been spending a lot of time lately thinking about just what is Canadian.
Is it our multi-coloured money? Well, other countries have different coloured bills – even varying sizes so the blind can tell the difference between the denominations. Is it our loonie or the double-metal toonie? Possibly, but there are lots of other countries that use coins – the British pound, for instance.
By the way, Happy Birthday to the Loonie – it’s been weighing down our pockets for twenty years yesterday.
And on the subject of money, let’s not forget our good ol’ Canadian Tire money. For those not familiar with Sandy McTire (yup, he has a name!) Canadian Tire is more than a tire store, it’s a cross-Canada store that sells not only tires and automotive tools but gardening supplies and hardware. Sports equipment. Kitchen stuff. You name it. For every purchase you are given a percentage back in these ‘coupons’ which can be redeemed as cash for your next purchase. Every family I know has a jar filled with those bills – and we relied on that when Gizmo Guy got laid off a few years back. Every penny we didn’t have to spend on things like garbage bags helped. I always chuckle when I pay for my purchase using the money, and get some back – often the cashier pays the discount using your own bills.
Wylie did a blog a while back about Canadian inventions – the zipper, the Robertson screwdriver, the lightbulb, the snowmobile, etc. Yupper, we’ve changed the world bit by bit. And we mustn’t forget Banting and Best – the duo who discovered insulin and saved millions of lives of diabetics. Or the Canadarm on the space shuttle.
Then there’s the quintessential Canadian experience – Timmy’s. Tim Horton’s Coffee. And the Timbit – a ‘doughnut’ hole that is a great way to satisfy everyone’s sweet tooth. Timmy’s was founded by yet another Canadian icon. A hockey player.
But he’s just one of many. Mention the name Rocket Richard (that’s with the emphasis on the ‘shard’, please) and every Canadian knows just who you’re talking about. Gordie Howe, Ken Dryden, Eddie Shack with his trademark handlebar moustache, Phil Esposito, Mario Lemieux, Mark Messier, Bobby Orr – who played for the Oshawa Generals, as did Eric Lindros, Bobby Hull, and the great one – Wayne Gretzky. And while we’re talking hockey – I have to mention Don Cherry. Like him or hate him, he’s a Canadian hockey icon too.
As for sportsmen, let’s not forget Mike Weir and Sandra Post (golf), the wrestling Hart brothers – Bret and Owen, Sandy Hawley (an Oshawa native), Ron Turcotte (jockeys – Ron rode Secretariat to victory), Gilles and Jacques Villeneuve – who got into trouble in Quebec for calling his restaurant ‘New Town’ the English translation of his name. Why’d he get into trouble? Because it was English. But that’s a subject for a different blog which I’ll never write even though I’m from Quebec.
How about artists and other famous personalities? Wylie’s posted a blog on Canadian actors, but here are some other people who deserve a shout out: Lynn Johnston, creator of the ‘For Better or Worse’ comic; John (JD) Roberts – the anchor of CNN’s morning show and former White House correspondent and the late Peter Jennings; Ernie Coombs (Mr. Dressup – for our American friends, he was the Canadian Mr. Rogers); Bob Homme (the Friendly Giant who introduced kids to reading via a 15 minute show every morning); the late great Phil Hartman and John Candy; Mike Myers – the great Austin Powers himself; singers Avril Lavigne, Celine Dion and Alannis Morissette; Terry Fox and Rick Hansen who did so much to bring attention (and donations) to cancer and spinal cord injuries. The list is so huge – just go out and check Wikipedia’s entry, eh?
Eh? Yes, I’m afraid to admit, I do use this stereotypical saying, I even type it when I’m IM’ing people. I’m often not aware I’m doing it. Usually when I use it, it’s to elicit some form of response from whomever I’m speaking to. But if you look historically, it’s a saying that dates back to Regency England, and before. Often you’ll see pompous old men quoted as saying ‘eh what?’ I figure it’s just one of those sayings that got transported from England and flourished here where it died out across the pond. But no, I’ve never once heard someone pronounce ‘about’ as ‘aboot’. Well, maybe there is a downhomer who says it that way, but not here in Ontario, nor on the west coast.
Then there’s our Canadian beer (Watch the hockey scene in the movie Canadian Bacon – never insult our beer!) and our Canadian liquor – Canadian Club and Crown Royal – made in Gimli, Manitoba with its trademark purple bag. Our Smarties (think M&Ms), our orange-flavoured Kit Kat bars, and Crispy Crunch chocolate bars.
A friend from the States recently commented about a trip she made to Vancouver and what a kick she got out of seeing the packaging with both English and French.
And Gizmo Guy reminds me, our constant ‘niceness’ where we apologize to the rude person who bumps into us because, we’re so sorry, we must have gotten in their way. But as the sign says, this is probably a good place to stop. Sorry …