I was playing my one Tragically Hip album for Canada Day – Tragically Hip being a Canadian band – when it hit me: there seems to be a number of Americans who seem to have ascribed to the dominion to the north powers and abilities far beyond those of mortal countries. They seem to think of Canada as just like the United States, only not on steroids. Yet – and it has been proven in poll after poll after poll – Americans don’t know jacksquat about about Canada.
Quick, Americans: how many provinces and territories are there in Canada?
OK, Canadians, how many states are there in the United States? OK, the flag design DOES make that a bit easy.
Americans: Who’s the current elected head of government in Canada? What do you call the elected head of the government in Canada?
Canadians: What do you call the…OK, Canadians, put down your hands.
Lessee. Americans: in terms of size, area not population, where does Canada rank in the world? Bonus question: where does the United States rank?
Canadians: Same questions.
Americans: Mame the two houses of the Canadian legislature.
Canadians: Name the two…oh, never mind.
Americans: Name the two largest cities in Canada, and the capital.
Canadians: Help me find fairer questions.
My point is that some Americans have seemed to have romanticized Canada with having any real sense of the place.
There is, however, one thing to be said for considering moving to Canada. when the global warming really hits – as though it hasn’t already? – and the maple stops flowing in New York and Vermont because it doesn’t get cold enough for long enough, I suspect the provinces at least will be quite temperate.
Background Note: Canada from the US State Department.
Don’t recall the source, but it suggested that when dealing with US Customs agents and they ask you how long you’ll be in Canada, answer as though you know, even if you don’t. Otherwise, you’ll appear suspicious. Siounds right.
This site notes that there are 13 states that border Canada; I had forgotten states whose international borders are actually in the middle of the Great Lakes (Wisconsin, Ohio, Pennsylvania).
I’m not a big fan of Canadian-born singer Sarah McLachlan, but I love this scene from Toy Story 2:
And it’s equally affecting in Portuguese.