Tag Archives: Canada

Canadians And Their Social Values — Parts III and IV

I have been away from the blogosphere for a wee bit too long (for good reason and reason for which I’ll explain in my post manana, so come back!), but I would be completely remiss if I didn’t pass along the third and fourth articles discussing Canadians and their social values. This particular post is a long one, but stick with it — I promise you’ll thank me for it and there may just be a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. ūüôā

I must do this because very rarely do you run across a series of articles that compels you to read the entire thing from A to Zee, not Zed. Sometimes, on those rare occasions when both the sun and moon are aligned with Jupiter and you’ve just found a four-leaf clover, the articles are so good that you want to write about them. Such is the case with the series about Canadians and their social values written by the obviously brilliant strategy team at MacLaren McCann (specifically Heidi McCulloch (@heidimcculloch) and Lee Chapman (whose Twitter handle I don’t know, but will find out!) in partnership with the Canadian Marketing Association.

I’ve previously blogged about part one of the series that addressed Canadians’ individualism, and part two of the series which astutely canvasses the topics of tolerance and acceptance. Today, I bring you parts three and four.

The third part detailed Canadians’ quality of life and was simply fantastic. It eloquently summed up the main reason I love living in Canada so much. Sure, it’s expensive as hell, but if you like spending time with your family without feeling like you’re going to lose your job or can pursue your passion because you you know you’ll have healthcare no matter what that passion may be, then Canada’s your place.

Now, without further ado, part three of the series.

Defining Value #3
‚ÄúOne difference between Americans and Canadians is that Americans are still waiting to win the lottery. Canadians live as if they have already won the lottery.‚ÄĚ Michael Adams, Fire and Ice, 2003.

20% of Canadians cite Quality of Life as top source of pride in being Canadian. (Macleans Canada Day Survey 2006). Quality of Life is one of Canadians’ key defining values.

Quality of life, simply put, refers to how good life is. People throughout the centuries, and in various parts of the world, have defined quality in their lives in rather distinct ways.

Among developed countries, certain variables are consistent in defining quality of life ‚Äď life expectancy, purchasing power, literacy and education, housing, employment, finances. Against these variables, in study after study, Canada has always landed in the top ranks. For example, in the 2009 Mercer Consulting annual Quality of Living Survey among 215 cities, Vancouver ranked 4th and Toronto ranked 15th. In all of the Americas, Canadian cities of Vancouver, Toronto, Montreal, Ottawa and Calgary dominated the top spots.

Where does this come from?

‚ÄĘ Canada is endowed with nature‚Äôs majesty, in lakes, mountains, fields in our backyard. Our physical closeness to nature likely inspires a more mellow approach to life and living.
‚ÄĘ Since after the Great Depression, Canada instituted policies that would ensure that its people maintained certain standards of living – pensions, health care, protection from unemployment and other social support. Having a secure safety net gives people a certain reassurance that no matter what goes wrong, all will be well; in general, people have less to be anxious and stressed about. Unencumbered, people pursue a certain way of living that is more attuned to relationships, connections, rather than simply getting ahead in a rat race.

Points of Evidence
Macleans annual Canada Day poll offers up interesting proof points about Canadians’ distinct version of quality of life.

For Canadians, there is more to life than work: Canadians place A REWARDING CAREER behind Freedom; Family Life; Being Loved and Being Canadian on their list of things that they value the most. (Macleans Canada Day Poll 2006)

Asked which activities they enjoy most, Canadians cite: A nice meal with my partner; Having a few hours for myself. (Macleans Canada Day Poll 2006)

Canadians believe that Experiences, not Things, make one happy. When asked, what is the best thing that happened to you in the past year, milestones such as weddings, births, pregnancies, vacations, graduations rose to the top of the lists. Moving into a new house or getting a new car sat at the bottom of the list of best things. (Macleans Canada Day Poll 2006)
Canadians don’t care for keeping up with the Joneses. 29% of Canadians say it’s important that people admire the things they own, compared with 36% of Americans. (Fire and Ice, Michael Adams)

Marketing Reference

The brand believes in keeping healthy, exercising, and drinking eight glasses of water a day. They‚Äôre not just getting people to buy their clothes, but to embrace the lifestyle they promote. And that lifestyle, outlined in their manifesto, includes beliefs like, ‚ÄúFriends are more important than money.‚ÄĚ Their mission: Lululemon athletic creates components for people to live longer, healthier and more fun lives. If we can produce products to keep people active and stress-free, we believe the world will become a much better place. Lululemon has successfully tapped into a Canadians‚Äô unique view of what a good life looks like.

Molsons’ Made From Canada
The Made From Canada spot pays homage to Canadas’s natural beauty, and the uniquely Canadian impulse to enjoy it as much as we can. Copy: Fact is, its this land that shapes us. We know we have the best backyard in the world and we get out there every chance we get.

Lee Chapman, Strategic Planner, MacLaren

And finally, article four, which tackles why Canada is just so peaceful (Hi, how about the “no guns allowed” rule? ;-)).

This post signals an end to our series on Dominant Canadian Social Values. We’ve outlined 4 Canadian Values: a unique balance between individualism and collectivism; an attitude of tolerance and acceptance; a heightened appreciation for a quality of life; and finally, an essentially peaceful predisposition.

We hope these guideposts will help you when crafting communications that can relevantly connect with and engage Canadians.

Defining Value #4
Borne of a legacy of cooperation and compromise, Canadians are essentially a peaceful people living in a peaceful place. An underlying sense of comfort and security manifests in our ideology with regards to peacekeeping and also is reflected in our business dealings. Further, it may be what allows us to attend to what we refer to as ‚Äėhigher level values‚Äô.

Points of Evidence
Canada truly and factually is a safer place to live. The murder rate in Canada is 1.85: 100,000 people, as compared to the U.S. at 5.6:100,000. The U.S. incarceration rate is approximately 6 times higher than in Canada; in fact, Canada’s murder rate has fallen by more than 40 per cent since 1975.

And perceptually Canadians feel safer as a people. Canadians afraid to walk at night is down almost 5% since 1975 and Canadians are more worried about Bullying than Terrorism.(MacLean’s Magazine Canada Day Report 2006)

How this Manifests
On Peacekeeping
: When Canadians are asked about the traditional role of the Canadian military, they speak with pride about Canadian participation in United Nations peacekeeping missions. Over the years, more than 125,000 Canadian military personnel have served on peacekeeping missions for the United Nations ‚Äď more than any other country. (cbcnews.ca, Canada: The World‚Äôs Peacekeeper)

In Business: Our peacefulness extends to our engagement style regarding business dealings. The 2008 Bribe Payer‚Äôs Index, prepared by the global civil society organization Transparency International, ranks Canada at No. 1, tied with Belgium‚ÄĒmeaning our companies are the least likely in the world to engage in payoffs. Only four per cent of Canadian business people have ever bribed high-ranking politicians or political parties, according to the survey, well below the international average of 13 per cent. (MacLean‚Äôs Magazine Canada Day Report 2009)

On ‚ÄėHigher-Level Values‚Äô: Canadians embrace social responsibility. Almost 7 in 10 Canadians (68%) pay attention to issues related to Corporate Social Responsibility; 52% have consciously refused to buy a product or a service from a company not conducting business in a socially responsible way. And Canadians see the global environmental issue as second only to healthcare as a pressing issue facing the country (note that this ranking has bounced about a little with economy factoring in of late). (Social Responsibility in Canada, Ipsos Reid 2003 and 2006)

A Marketing Reference
Need we look any further than the spiritually-based success story that is Lululemon?

But in the interest of not repeating ourselves, let‚Äôs reference Marc Thuet‚Äôs restaurant in Toronto instead ‚Äď Conviction Restaurant. Conviction Restaurant offers recently rehabilitated ex-convicts a chance to turn their lives around by helping give patrons ‚Äúthe most unforgettable eating experience of their lives‚ÄĚ. As testament to the success of the concept, planning for a second Conviction location in British Columbia is currently underway.

Thanks again for your valuable time and attention!

Heidi McCulloch, V.P., Senior Strategic Planner, MacLaren McCann

So there you have it. Four defining reasons that makes Canada, and Canadians, great. Longtime ATGAIC readers already know that I love Canada, but just to set the record straight, I don’t in any way hate the States; on the contrary. Rather, it’s more like trying to fit into your favourite high school sweater; even though it might not fit quite right anymore, you’ll always have a certain fondness for it and you have to buy something new. Who knows, maybe I can figure out a way to live in both of “my” countries, by which I mean if you are a Canadian sugar daddy looking for a cute American girl, you know where to find me. ūüôā

Leave a comment

Filed under Canada

Canadians And Their Social Values, Part Deux

Back in April, I blogged about a series of articles written by MacLaren McCann via the Canadian Marketing Association around Canadians and their social values. I found the first part, which addressed the specifics of these social values, absolutely fascinating!

When I saw that the second part had been published, I got all giddy and couldn’t wait to get home and blog about it! You’re welcome. ūüôā The second part of the series addresses the attitudes of acceptance and tolerance that are the hallmarks of this great nation, such as the fact that, by 2017, one in two people in Toronto and Vancouver will be visible minorities. Long time TIC.com readers will know that I absolutely agree with these attitudes and, once again, is one of the zillions of reasons why I so love Canada.

Another reason is that I don’t think these minorities have necessarily been here for generations, as in the U.S., either. Rather, because Canadian immigrants are so new to the western world, the businesses, communities, and families are authentically real. When I eat at a family-owned Vietnamese restaurant, I know that the food they’re serving is probably very similar to how it’s done in Hanoi, for example. My favourite Thai restaurant is owned by a husband and wife who only moved here from northern Thailand six years ago. Authentic, indeed.

That’s not to say that every single “native” Canadian is as welcoming as they’d like to believe; of course that’s not the case. Take a gander for yourself, though. Do these Canadian hallmarks sound different than American attitudes about attitude, tolerance, and immigration?

Canadian Social Values:

Dominant Themes in Canadian Culture

Defining Value #2
We Canadians value an attitude of acceptance and tolerance. Over the course of our history, Canadians have embraced a liberal, open attitude, extending goodwill and acceptance to others who might be different.

Because of this pervading attitude of acceptance and tolerance, Canada is not just multi-cultural, but multi-everything. Note the diversity of beliefs, lifestyles, opinions, worldviews. Some would go so far as to say that this diversity is our greatest strength. (Macleans Canada Day Poll Report, 2006)

Diversity and pluralism are celebrated in Canada. Multiculturalism, in particular, has been noted as one of the most distinctive features of our society. More Canadians cite multiculturalism as central to the national identity Рmore than bilingualism or hockey. Canada’s top source of national pride is Multiculturalism, second only to Democracy. (Michael Adams, Unlikely Utopia, 2007)

Adams asserts further: ‚ÄúCanadians aren‚Äôt unique in living in a diverse society. Rather, Canadians are distinctive in the way that they have incorporated Canada‚Äôs policy of accommodating diversity into their sense of national identity.‚ÄĚ

(I tend to disagree with the first part of the statement ‚Äď that Canadians aren‚Äôt unique in living a diverse society. Canadian diversity IS unique and more intense. Take the United States: First nations and British colonial roots, but no French. Same goes for Australia. Canada counts among its peoples a first nations group, not one but two colonial forebears, and substantial waves of immigration from all over in recent years.)

The rest of his statement, however, rings true. Canadians have imbibed a strong attitude of acceptance and tolerance, so much that it defines and binds us as a nation.

Where does this come from?

How did we get here?

History: Canada was never a unitary entity. Canadians have never been one people in one place; we‚Äôve always been a diverse people ‚Äď Aboriginals, colonial British, colonial French, European immigrants ‚Äď spread across a vast territory.

Our religion ‚Äď or lack of it?

Religion, by its very nature, prescribes a certain code of conduct and belief. One’s religion helps a person make sense of the world, and pass judgment on what’s acceptable or not.
Canada is a secular nation. Compared to the United States, there are twice as many Canadians who say they have no religious affiliation. Church attendance has been on a steady decline, with almost 2 in 5 Canadians saying they never/almost never attend church. With less religiosity, Canadians are less likely to adhere to hard-and-fast, black-and-white judgments on right or wrong. This, in turn, makes for a more laissez-faire stance towards difference in beliefs/lifestyles.

Points of Evidence
Canadians are a tolerant and accepting people, who value and celebrate diversity. Festivals such as Caribana, Taste of the Danforth, Pride are the most obvious (and colourful) expressions of such.

Other data points support this value:
‚ÄĘ By 2017, 1 in 2 people in Toronto and Vancouver will be visible minorities.
‚ÄĘ 57% of Canadians live side-by-side within the five largest cities. Canadians ‚Äď of whatever colour or stripe ‚Äď are able to live amicably in close proximity to one another. Contrast this with other modes of settlement where people who are ‚Äúdifferent‚ÄĚ confine themselves to either ghettoes or gated enclaves.
‚ÄĘ 78% of Canadians believe immigration is good for the country (vs 64% of Americans).
‚ÄĘ Canada was the fourth country in the world and the first country in the Americas to legalize same-sex marriage nationwide

A Marketing Reference
In one of the most iconic pieces of Canadian advertising, The Rant aka I Am Canadian from Molson‚Äôs, ‚ÄúJoe‚ÄĚ actually lays out the policy, and the pervading belief of Canadians ‚Äď I believe in diversity, not assimilation. [Ed. note: this is a fantastic commercial and one I blogged about long ago!]

During the Olympics, Tim Horton‚Äôs aired a spot that drew directly from the immigrant narrative ‚Äď the first things that newcomers to Canada experience are the cold, and Tim Hortons. The spot rose to the top as both ‚ÄúMost Memorable‚ÄĚ and ‚ÄúBest Ad.‚ÄĚ (Marketing Magazine, April 19, 2010)

Of late, Virgin and LCBO tipped their hat to the LGBT communities in their ads targeted to their mainstream audience, signaling that sexual orientation is a non-issue for these brands.

Lee Chapman, Strategic Planner, MacLaren

Photo credit: www.slapupsidethehead.com

Leave a comment

Filed under Canada

Canadians And Their Social Values

I have an ongoing dialogue with a few of my close Canadian friends about the distinct differences between Americans and Canadians. We may be neighbours, but in reality we’re very different. For me, the conversations I have with this group of smart, open, but opinionated friends is extremely healthy, and has been a huge part of my Canadian learning experience.

One of these said friends sent me an article from the Canadian Marketing Association in partnership with MacLaren McCann that details four dominant themes that are unique to Canada called Canadian Social Values: Dominant Themes in Canadian Culture (just like the article title says. Ahem.). The article is the first in a series addressing the four key defining defining values in Canadians, and I found it to be spot on. I highly identify with the social values referenced in the article, which is probably why I’m so deliriously happy in Canada (and why so many Americans who don’t identify with those values so unhappy here).

Of course, you could argue that the points are so broad that anyone might identify with them, but I believe that, after living here for three years, these are more uniquely Canadian attributes than they are anything else. And, while the author makes the inevitable* comparisons to the US, I think the article does a fantastic job of discussing just what makes Canadians so, well, Canadian.

Canadian Social Values: Dominant Themes in Canadian Culture

Defining Value #1
We Canadians value a unique balance between individual autonomy and collective responsibility. It is a very special attitude we uphold as Canadians, in that we believe in having the ability to self-determine the way we want to live, but importantly, we also expect and even defend the right for others to have that same privilege. So while one may choose differently from another, Canadians generally believe in each person’s right to make their unique personal choice. Said simply: Canadians respect difference.

Where does this come from?
Canada is a nation founded ultimately through cooperation, with a history of accommodation, and this is reflected in the founding principles of ‚Äėpeace, order and good government‚Äô (outlined in more detail by Michael Adams in his book Fire and Ice). Through these historical roots, the wants and needs of various diverse Canadian groups were acknowledged and accommodated to create a workable collective.

Additionally and importantly, the Canadian ‚Äėsystem‚Äô is built with an emphasis on the provision of social support services. Canada features a public education system, a public health-care system, a public welfare system and with that, a corresponding tax system to fund it. This system functionally places responsibility on the community to be supportive of its residents.

And thus Canada has bred an orientation to life amongst its residents that believes the collective has a responsibility to the individual, and concurrently, the individual has a responsibility to the collective.

Points of Evidence
Respecting Difference:

– More than two thirds of Canadians say they relate to non-conformists, compared to just half of Americans (Michael Adams, Fire and Ice);
– 60% of Canadians approve of homosexual relations, where only 38% of Americans feel the same way. ‚ÄúWe‚Äôre one of the world leaders there.‚ÄĚ In fact, in 2005, Canada become the fourth country in the world to legalize gay marriage (Reginald Bibby in 2006 Maclean‚Äôs Canada Day Poll and 2009 Maclean‚Äôs Canada Day Poll).

And the Collective:
– A third of Canadians want a more active government (Michael Adams, Fire and Ice);
– And more Canadians feel a sense of social responsibility than Americans (Michael Adams, Fire and Ice).

A Marketing Reference
Speaking of ‚Äėrespecting difference‚Äô, recall as far back as 1995, when RuPaul was signed to a modeling contract for Canadian company, MAC cosmetics, making him the first drag queen supermodel?

Watch for the next post, Canadian Defining Social Value #2: Attitudes of Tolerance and Acceptance. We continue to look forward to hearing your comments and reactions.

Heidi McCulloch, V.P., Senior Strategic Planner, MacLaren

So, what do you think? If you’re American, do you identify with any of these definitions? Do you think they’re applicable to us, too? If you’re Canadian, do you think they’re true of Canada?

* Inevitable because there’s not a day that goes by that I don’t hear someone here comparing something with the U.S.

Photo credit: ridgeglobal.com

Leave a comment

Filed under Canada

May These Gates Never Be Closed

Canada, like the rest of the world, is in the midst of¬†serious Olympic fever. I’ve personally contributed to that fever by watching¬†so much Olympics coverage that I now know the minutiae about¬†things that never occurred to me to matter before now, such as the proper landing positions for¬†the triple axel and the triple lutz, and the difference between the skeleton and the luge.¬†Really, Canada has every right to be uncharacteristically* Canadian during the 16 days that¬†Vancouver¬†is hosting the Olympics; they have every right to be¬†filled¬†with glowing hearts.¬†They are doing a fabulous job of managing the expectations of the world, even without snow…at the WINTER Olympics, to be sure.

There has been article after article, show after show, and video after video about the Games, but it wasn’t until I saw^ the video Tom Brokaw produced for NBC that¬†I really took notice. The video apparently aired in British Columbia just prior to the start of the Games as an “education” piece about Canada for Americans. God knows we need it, too. Watching this video made my heart well up with pride and my eyes with tears¬†for *both* of my countries — the one in which¬†I was born and the one in which I choose to live. A better piece of journalism has never been produced, imho!

Now do you see why I love Canada? Swoon!
* By which I mean allowed to go crazy and show their passionate pride for their country, something that actually took urging from their Prime Minister! Those crazy Canucks.

^ I actually found it because it was trending on Twitter.


Filed under Canada

The Queen Is In; Healthcare Is Out (Day 15)

The book has officially been rewritten. Literally. And a most important, and historic,¬†rewrite it¬†was. Canada’s 47-page ¬†immigration guide, currently called A Look at Canada, but newly¬†named Discover¬†Canada,¬†and given annually to 250,000 new immigrants, has received a major facelift. Last updated in 19950¬†when the Liberals were in power,¬†the new guide has apparently taken a¬†less progressive¬†position, which probably isn’t¬†surprising given the current party in power. No longer will new¬†immigrants¬†learn that¬†various¬†cultural and ethnic groups live and work together¬†in harmony, even though¬†Toronto is¬†the multicultural capitals of the world. No longer will newcomers¬†be taught that all Canadians are¬†free to maintain and share their¬†cultural heritage and to participate fully and equally in the¬†national Canadian¬†life. They won’t understand the difference between what’s known fondly in Canada¬†as the “cultural mosaic” and the opposite ideology¬†that is¬†the¬†“melting pot”¬†of the¬†United States.¬†Say goodbye to aving an understanding¬†of Canada’s role on¬†environmental issues, its¬†land and, shockingly, health care1.¬†

Instead, say hi to more information than you could ever want about the (British) monarchy’s role in the government of Canada, as well as the history of the Canadian military. I knew Canada had an army, but I thought he died last year2?¬† All kidding aside, the new guide references the Canadian military’s role in Vimy Ridge¬†and Juno Beach, as well as the significance of the poppy, which I always wondered about before moving to Canada. New immigrants will learn about the role of the aboriginal3 people,¬†who Terry Fox was, the Exclusion Act¬†and, that, in order of importance, you should have a complete and thorough understanding of hockey, Canadian football, and curling4. ūüėČ

One of the coolest things I saw in relation to the announcement of Discover Canada was a wordle highlighting the featured words from the new guide (the top cloud) compared to the words emphasized in the old guide (the bottom cloud). Wicked cool for a word nerd like moi! 


Naturally,¬†Canadian Immigration practice tests were¬†part of the¬†articles accompanying the announcement of the new guide.¬†Of course, priding¬† myself on the fact that I have soaked up every bit of information about¬†Canada that my already¬†over-taxed brain can possibly manage, I elatedly took the test. and¬†I think you’ll be pleased to know that I scored a 90% (!!).¬†¬†


Actually the only question I¬†answered incorrectly was a question that was British Columbia specific — something about naming three¬†city councillors¬†in Vancouver —¬†as the test was published by the Richmond Public Library. As if —¬†I live in Toronto, for the sake of Pete! Scratch that question, though, and I would have scored 100%! And with that score, shouldn’t I¬†automatically be granted¬†citizenship?¬†Seriously.

0 Disclaimer: I saw two dates for the current¬†publication while researching —¬†1995 and 1997. Since I didn’t even know Canada existed then (kidding!!), I can’t say for certain which it really is. Let’s just agree on “late 90’s”, k?
1 Isn’t this sort of a Canadian hallmark and/or signature? How can this possibly be left out? To save trees?
2 A Canadian told me that quip, I swear! 
3 Or what Americans call “Indians” or “Native Americans”.
4 I still have yet to see a curling match, but it’s my list of things to do. I better get crackin’ if I ever want to pass the immigration test!

Leave a comment

Filed under Canada

Dear Winter: Please Come (Day 7)


Photo courtesy of Hermés on Flickr

For those of you just joining the ATGAIC party, let me give you a quick history. Two years ago, I packed up and moved 1,600 miles from Houston, Texas to Toronto, Ontario. What this should have meant was that I’d never be hot again. Houston, as I’ve said previously, is hot. Not “bringin’ sexy back” hot, but¬†“living-on-the-face-of-the-sun” hot.¬†Toronto, on the other hand,¬†is in Canada where everyone lives in igloos it’s supposed to be cold 9.5 months a year. What this should mean is that I should always be required to wear a coat and have on my heater, which is¬†pure awesomeness because I always “run warm” as they say here.¬†However,¬†can someone please explain to me why it’s 74F in my condo when it’s 41F outside? Can someone please explain to me why I’m sweating more in my condo¬†in Canada than I ever did in my condo in Houston?!¬†It’s inexplicable, really. Global warming, indeed.

Of course, I did what any smart girl in the city does and told the superintendent, Sergeiy. I filled out the required forms in triplicate (old skool), turned it in, and got the requisite security¬†call that they were entering my suite. I knew they’d probably come back and tell me that there was nothing wrong, even though the temperature inside¬†literally never changes no matter what the temp outside, and sure enough, I was right. I don’t even think they walked into the suite, to tell you the truth. When I got home, there was a postcard flung on the floor near my front door.¬†I’m going to go out on a limb and guess that if they had actually walked into the suite, they wouldn’t have just dropped the card on the floor, but would¬† have probably left it on the counter. But maybe they do things differently in Canada. Anyway, the card read:

Dear Resident, We wish to inform you that during your absence, a representative of [redacted] entered your suite to [handwriting begins] there is not any problem found in your termostat. the all building is on heat (the system). [end handwriting] Should you have any questions or concerns, please contact the management office.

Gee, thanks. The nightly sweating has ensued.  

Oh, how I¬†wish everyone in Canada¬†really did live in¬†igloos because, believe me,¬†I’d be doing some serious igloo squatting. And forget rain dances — I’m down on my knees doing a serious¬†“Dancing With the Stars” snow dance. I really think I was meant to be born in the North Pole…after all, I think I’d¬†look great in an elf outfit. ūüėČ

P.S. Yes, that’s an ad for Herm√©s, but how cool would it be to live in that?! If I was going to live in an igloo, I’d totally want it to be covered with brightly coloured Herm√©s scarves, fo sho.

1 Comment

Filed under Canada

Fingerprints, Fingerprints, We All Love Fingerprints

I’ve lived in Canada for a little more than two years and¬†have been¬†working,¬†playing,¬†and paying exorbitant taxes in two countries the entire time. So when I was told I¬†had to submit fingerprints to le¬†government du Canada, I¬†sat back and giggled.Fingerprint 2¬†

Of course, who am I to argue with¬†Canadian immigration officials? For¬†fear of being taken to¬†Canada jail*, I did my civic duty, waited in the very lengthy queue (who knew so many people had to be fingerprinted?),¬†and had my digits inked. I felt so Hollywood; so glamorous! Except, of course, no one was taking my mug shot while I was having my prints done. And, I had to pay a hefty fee to get fingerprinted, whereas I’m sure Hugh Grant, for example,¬†did not.¬†¬†My prints and¬†requisite money orders in USD (a fun thing to try and get in, oh, I don’t know, CANADA), were¬†sent off to both the¬†FBI and the¬†great state of Texas, and the waiting began.

I thought to myself “this must be what it’s like to have to wait for the test results you don’t want to see —¬†like whether the sign is a “+” or a “-“. Waiting is always the hardest part. I thought¬†“Maybe I’ve¬†done something¬†and¬†don’t remember having done it? Like that time I¬†accidentally opened someone else’s mail or took the KitKat from the grocery store when I was four after my dad told me I couldn’t have it**”.

Excitingly, my records¬†came back this week. The good news? You can all rest assured that¬†I am¬†not, in fact, a criminal in the eyes of either the government of the United States of America or the¬†state of Texas.¬†What a relief! ūüôā The bad news? I still have to pay the¬†taxes.¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†


* my little term of endearment for the¬†good men and women¬†of¬†Canada Immigration who I fear will take me away to Kingston at a moment’s notice. That, or just simply escort me to the US/Canada border kicking and screaming. ūüėČ
** And who, after showing it to him in the car,¬†promptly turned me¬†around, marched me back inside, and made me tell the store clerk I’d taken it.¬†Because nothing says “convict” like a four¬† year-old in the clink.¬†ūüėČ

1 Comment

Filed under Canada

I Am Canadian — The Rant

Well, I’m not really Canadian.¬† I don’t say “eh”¬†or¬†“zed”,¬†I don’t¬†shovel snow,¬†I don’t know the theme song to Hockey Night in Canada¬†(old or new),¬†I don’t drink screech,¬†I don’t use the word¬†“chesterfield” in lieu of “sofa”, I’ve only had poutine once,¬†I don’t call a case of beer a¬†“Two Four”, and I’ve never been up the CN Tower,¬†even though it’s literally in my backyard.

However.¬† I love the idea of the cultural mosaic versus the melting pot,¬†the CBC,¬†spending summers outside without dying of heat stroke, Tim Hortons, butter tarts, Red Rose tea, First Nations and Group of Seven art, saying¬†“kill-AH-metres” but calling them “clicks”,¬†manners, tolerance, acceptance, gratefulness, family, humility,¬†and on and on and on.¬† I knew I’d become an unofficial Canadian when someone recently bumped into me and *I* apologized.¬† ūüôā

Everyone¬†knows¬†I have a serious crush on Canada, so when I was recently shown¬†this¬†commerical on Canadian nationalism called “The Rant”, I knew I had to post it here.¬†

“I Am Canadian” was the slogan for¬†Molson Canadian¬†from the mid-90’s through the early 2000’s.¬†¬†“The Rant”¬†is a Molson commercial that originally aired in April 2000.¬† It stars Joe, an average Canadian who takes great joy in distinguishing Canadians from Americans (“I believe in peacekeeping, not policing”) and¬†dispelling a¬†handful of¬†notions¬†(some) Americans have¬†about Canada (no, they don’t all live in igloos).¬†¬†It’s poignant, humorous and, in typically Canadian fashion, quietly proud.¬†¬†Canada, FTW!

You’re welcome. ūüėČ


Filed under Canada

Thus Endeth My Life as a Poutine Virgin. And Not So Happily, I Might Add.

I tried poutine for the first time on Friday. Total and utter letdown. Granted, I had it at Swiss Chalet, the¬†Boston Market equivalent in Canada, but still. This giant failure is analogous to someone ordering a taco at Taco Bell that doesn’t taste remotely like an actual taco.¬†¬†And, as you know, I’m usually into food porn, but the dish was so foul tasting that I couldn’t even bring myself to take its photo. Also, because I was with my new boss.

What is poutine, you ask? Poutine is a French Canadian snack that, at its basic, is made with french fries (nom!), gravy and cheese curds. It’s sort of like chili-cheese fries in the States, but not so much. The word means “mushy mess” in Acadian slang and was created in 1957 in Warwick, Qu√©bec. According to the people in the know, the french fries should be hand-cut and fried in pure lard, the gravy (also known as “BBQ chicken gravy”) should be dark and thick like molasses, and the cheese curds (apparently the most important part of the dish) should be only fresh, white, cheddar cheese curds. A veritable heart attack waiting to happen, n√≥n?

I’ve been to both Montr√©al and Qu√©bec City — the epicenters of French Canadian cuisine — but failed to try poutine in either city. I’m usually the √ľber-tourist, trying every local thing I can get my hands (and mouth) on, but for whatever reason, I didn’t try the gooey dish in either place.¬† I’ll just have to go back.

I have heard so much about poutine in my almost two years in Canada that¬†my expectations may have been impossibly¬†high. So far, though, I’m disappointed. Swiss Chalet poutine = Fail!


Filed under Uncategorized

365 Days

I¬†‚̧ the interwebz.¬† I am an avid amateur photographer and¬†love everything about photography, especially¬†how it¬†has the ability to capture a single¬†image at a split second in time.¬† I’d love photography even more if I was actually good at it,¬†but I digress.¬† I recently ran across the coolest Flickr group called¬†“365 Days”.¬† It’s a¬†project where each¬†group member takes a self-portrait every day for 365 straight days and posts them in the group photostream.¬† The photo should only be taken by you,¬†so¬†if you know me at all, you’ll know that this is right¬†up¬†my alley.¬† I actually have a “Self Portraits” folder in my pictures file.¬† Finally, an outlet for all of my shameless narcissism.¬†¬†

The 365 Days project is also fitting since I only have about 365 more days in Canada (sob).  I originally started my blog so I would have a snapshot of my time and adventures in Canada, and now I will have a photographic record of myself each day during my last year here, as well. 

Needless to say, I am supa-psyched.

Here are my first and second posted pictures, respectively.  Yes, I am a dork.

365 Days - Day One










9:45pm on March 7, 2009

9:45pm on March 7, 2009

Leave a comment

Filed under Canada, Flickr