For past issues of Insane Mumblings, go here.
This week, I've decided to pick on one of my favourite topics: "Why don't Americans know anything about Canada?" Sure, you might scoff, and think "I'm sure they know something!, but thats part of the problem. The little bits they do know are usually just plane wrong.
Americans think it snows in Canada 11 and a half months out of 12. Canadians often live in igloos, and there are just as many husky dog-sled teams in Canada as there are Suzuki Sidekicks. Canadians drink beer, and only beer, eat maple syrup, and watch hockey on TV every hour that God sends. Americans think you can ski in Toronto in July. Those of them that know where (and even what) Toronto is.
When asked to name the capital of Canada, responses typically include "Toronto", "Ontario", and "Blue Cheese". Very few Americans know that the answer is, indeed, Moose Jaw. If you are knodding sagely right now, telling yourself that you knew that already, then smack yourself in the head, Mr. Faker-pants. The capital city of Canada is Ottawa. I was just testing you.
Who knows why Americans know so little about their neighbour to the north? Part of it must be blamed on their schooling. Lets face it, its not like we're on thier priority list of Countries to learn about. We Canadians can accept the fact that Americans are primarily interested in themselves. But we did kinda think we might generate enough interest for you to learn that we have "Provinces", not "States".
Canadians know that we're not too important in the eyes of the US. Sure, it hurt at first, but we're basically over it. Hell, its even become something of a running gag over here. Behind the jokes, however, there are some hurt feelings. We can't help but feel we should be just a bit more important in the American scheme of things. US Politicians love to talk about "our unique relationship with Canada", and love to go on about "the longest undefended border in the world". But that seems to be the extent of things. We're paraded out to be displayed in front of the US's buddies at the U.N., then shoved backstage when our role is done.
Maybe Americans just don't understand the way Canada thinks about them. To us, America is like a big older brother. We look up to him, envy him, sometimes we hate him. But he's our brother, so we always forgive. Sometimes, he acts like we don't exist, specially in front of his friends. Sometimes, he gets pissed off when we refuse to do things his way; not because we necessarily disagree, but because we need to express ourselves as individuals. Its easy to be overwhelmed by such a larger-than-life sibling. Sometimes, we see our brother making a mistake. We know he'll never listen to us, but we try to help out. He usually gets mad.
Don't get me wrong. Its not that we don't like Americans. If you're a Yank reading this, please do not be offended. It's just that we're tired of being ignored, misunderstood, and taken for granted. If this bothers you at all, then feel free to pop down to your local library, and look up some information on Canada. Easier yet, you're on the net: there are thousands of sites devoted to Canadian history, culture, geography and society. Under the history bit, you'll even find something called "The War of 1812", in which Canada....well, we won't go into that right now. Suffice to say, you have us to thank for the term "White House".
© 1998 by Garry J. Sled