Saturday, February 18, 2006

I am Canadian

A Canuck. A herringchoker and Maritimer by birth, a Newfie and Atlantic Canadian by choice. An Anglophone. English and Irish by ancestry.

My paternal grandparents emigrated from England (via Gibraltar) sometime around 1908. My grandfather was born in Surrey and my grandmother in Liverpool.

My maternal grandparents were Canadian-born. My grandfather was a rabid member of the Orange Lodge, so I presume my ancestors on that side were Ulstermen. My grandmother's roots are less known, but were supposed to be Irish with one German grandmother. Very typical Atlantic Canadian roots.

It's funny being a Canadian. It's kind of like being the somewhat obscure sibling of a superstar. Everyone knows you exist, they just don't know that much about you. Even our accents (for there is more than one) are unknown. In England, I am asked if I am American. In America, I'm asked if I'm English. And they can work against you here. In Western Canada, I would be scorned as a Maritimer; here, I'm snubbed as a Mainlander.

Despite our being the second largest country (in area) in the world, non-Canadians generally have no idea of the scale of the country. Relatives from other parts of the world tell you they'd like to go shopping in Toronto on Saturday and what time would you have to leave St. John's to get there by car. Oh, around, say... 8:30 in the morning... on Thursday. It's a 10-hour drive from here to the west coast of Newfoundland*, then an 8-hour ferry ride to the east coast of Nova Scotia and then at least another 16 hours or so to Toronto.

Or you'll meet someone whilst travelling the world and when they find out you're Canadian, they'll ask if you know their cousin Dave in Winnipeg. I got bussed to school, but not that far...

Even we don't always know how big we are or where we end or begin. Or at least the advertising agencies don't. There was an Anacin commercial a few years back that boasted it could keep you headache-free as you flew from coast-to-coast - from Vancouver to, not St. John's, which would truly be from coast to coast, not even Halifax, which would be close, but... Montréal. They'd only left out four provinces. Four of the smallest provinces, granted, but still. I guess it was as far east as they could imagine travelling. Or maybe as far east as they'd want to, but that's another post. If you consult the map above... okay you can't exactly do that, it's too small, but you can find a readable version here. Otherwise, you'll have to trust me on this. Montréal is in Québec, the big green province on the right and St. John's is in Newfoundland** and Labrador, the purple province on the right and as far east as you can go before you have to start treading water. Let's just say if I stood at an airline counter in Vancouver airport (in the yellow province on the left) and told them I wanted to fly to the opposite coast and they sent me to Montréal, I'd be a tad peeved. And have a very long walk ahead of me.

So. Due to the travellin' feet of my grandparents and probably in no small way to the Irish potato famines of 1800's, I am Canadian. I think Joe says it best.

Molson Canadian - Joe Canadian ad

*Newfoundland, while the 15th largest island in the world and approximate half the size of Great Britain, is only 4.1% of the total area of Canada.

**Newfoundland is pronounced to rhyme with 'understand' with the middle syllable sounding more like 'fen' than 'found'. Newfoundland, understand?

The Wrath of Dawn. Educating the world one blog reader at a time. Fnarr and, indeed, guffaw. As if.


Anonymous Ricardipus, nationalistic said...

Man, I love that ad. Thanks for reminding me.

I thought the comment on the CBC last night by Brian Williams was very enlightening about Our National Identity (TM): in reference to Erik Guay's comments about coming fourth in men's Super-G, Williams said something like (and I paraphrase): "Isn't it refreshing to hear a Canadian athlete say that fourth place ISN'T GOOD ENOUGH"?

Kind of sums up our (mostly) humble nature I think.

Goooooooooooooooooooooo CANADA!!!

P.S. Nobody, that is nobody, is allowed to mention Switzerland and hockey to me today. Don't do it. I'll set The Wrath Of Dawn (TM) on you if you do. I swear.

February 19, 2006 at 10:12 a.m.  
Anonymous Ricardipus, commenting said...

P.S. Beautifully articulated essay on Canada, O Wrathful One. Well done.

February 19, 2006 at 10:13 a.m.  
Blogger The Wrath of Dawn said...

What if I mention it?


Just checking...

February 19, 2006 at 10:17 a.m.  
Blogger The Wrath of Dawn said...


Gawrsh! Thank you!

February 19, 2006 at 10:17 a.m.  
Blogger Gary J. Wood said...

I understand about Newfoundland. But I'm still confused. Is it LAB-rador or labra-DOR?

February 19, 2006 at 10:26 a.m.  
Blogger The Wrath of Dawn said...

Ooooh! How clever to even know there's a difference! (And I'm not being snarky, really. Most don't.)

It's the 2nd one.

Bless you for asking.

February 19, 2006 at 10:36 a.m.  
Blogger Scaryduck said...

Like I said, I used to live in Vancouver. Just round the corner from you in your tiny, tiny country.

February 19, 2006 at 12:15 p.m.  
Blogger Aunty Marianne said...

Good for you. My flatmate's Canadian. Born in Syria, but Canadian. I like Canadians. I say Canadians shouldn't take any shit from countries where over 75% of people don't own passports and where they clearly couldn't organise a pissup in a brewery, much less a decent hurricane evacuation.

February 19, 2006 at 12:25 p.m.  
Blogger merlinprincesse said...

I love your essay! :) Switzerland won???? What Olympics? There are Olympics now??? I'm a frog. A big one. And not green. I should do an essay on Québec.... And I've been in LabRaDor... once. For 2 minutes... Nice place. But very very different from NF... In fact, Canada stole it from Quebec to give it to NF. But I could not care less... HeeHee.... ;o)

February 19, 2006 at 12:32 p.m.  
Blogger The Wrath of Dawn said...

SD - I go there often on weekends...

AM - We are kinda sweet, ain't we? I have no idea of the other identity to whom you might be referring... *cough*

MP - I was in Labrador once, for about 4 days. Interesting place. I would have liked to have explored more but I was there for a drama festival and was doing well to find time to eat and sleep, never mind explore.

Don't worry about the theft. We sold the hydro-electric power back to Hydro Québec for a dollar. Or something...

February 19, 2006 at 1:09 p.m.  
Anonymous TC said...

Nice one, D. I think we can safely say you are a northener, heh? But seriously North...

February 19, 2006 at 1:12 p.m.  
Blogger merlinprincesse said...

You did? That's a shame. Bad bad bad Hydro-Quebec... And the prices are going up and up and up again!!!
*sigh*. And with the minus 25...Argh!!!

February 19, 2006 at 2:28 p.m.  
Blogger The Wrath of Dawn said...

tc - North but not seriously North. Thar's polar bears up there!

mp - Something like that. Minus 25? Brrrr! And I thought it was cold here... it's only -4.5 with a -11 wind chill. Child's play, really.

February 19, 2006 at 11:12 p.m.  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I had a little friendy thing going with a lady from PEI (not PIE) who was managing the shop I worked in in Toronto.

February 20, 2006 at 9:17 a.m.  
Blogger The Wrath of Dawn said...

Tsk, tsk. Work romances never... well... work...

PEI is just a badger's throw from New Brunswick where I (alledgedly) grew up.

February 20, 2006 at 11:13 a.m.  
Blogger zoe said...

i visited vancouver once. it was cold.

that's me on canada.

oh - and the people are rather sweet and eat maple syrup and always have a maple leaf on their backpacks.

fountain of knowledge, moi.

just don't get me started on québecois.

February 20, 2006 at 12:13 p.m.  
Blogger The Wrath of Dawn said...

That's why we're sweet. It's all the maple syrup. Don't be too hard on the québecois. They invented maple syrup, after all. Or nicked the recipe off the Cree or something like that.

February 20, 2006 at 12:43 p.m.  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I never had a romance with her. Just got close. I was a disposable friend to help her through her relationship bust up. With the regional manager.

Work. Romance. Don't. Work.

February 20, 2006 at 1:13 p.m.  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

February 20, 2006 at 1:15 p.m.  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Eeek! Molson!

Gold. Good beer.

Better than that yank stuff. Their light beer is like making love in a canoe* - fucking close to water.

*done that.

February 20, 2006 at 1:15 p.m.  
Blogger Anna said...

So that's were all of the chainsaws come from! :)

February 20, 2006 at 2:15 p.m.  
Blogger Tai said...

I love being Canadian.

It's the best, 'eh?

February 20, 2006 at 3:18 p.m.  
Anonymous ricardipus, canoeing said...

gw - [jealous noises]

About the canoe thing of course.

Hmmm... [thinks]... every canoe I've been in was 1) a great lump of fiberglass, 2) a great lump of aluminum with a leak in it, or 3) a really nice kevlar/cedar strip dealy that was really tippy and you'd fall out of in an instant* if you engaged in such things**.

*done that

**ain't done that

February 20, 2006 at 8:32 p.m.  
Blogger The Wrath of Dawn said...

gw - Not surprised. Yep. Dunno.

anna - Yep.

tai - Yep.

r'pus - That's because we Canucks know better...

February 20, 2006 at 9:15 p.m.  
Anonymous ricardipus, wet said...

...sadly, yes.

The kicker is that I have canoe'd, on and off, all my life. More or less. With no spills.

And at the tender age of thirty- oh go on it might almost be forty- something, I dumped myself in the lake (in about 3 feet of water) right next to the dock. After 30+ years of (sporadic, but uneventful) canoeing.

Verrrry ridiculous.

My friend Chris, who had been in the f*cking thing with me, ran off to find a camera. But to his credit, helped me dump the water out of the thing. He didn't get a good picture. If he had, he may have found himself introducing himself to a few Lake Trout (mean distance below surface = a few hundred feet = a hundred metres or so).

Ok, I exaggerate. 'Twas funny. And it was hot so I ended up cool. But it took me 30+ years to dump a canoe, which is probably better than average.


[see The Wrathful One(TM)'s earlier post re: Joe Canadian.]

February 20, 2006 at 9:27 p.m.  
Blogger The Wrath of Dawn said...

Tee hee! Snicker! Sputter...

I have never fallen out of a canoe. I suppose I have kept the odds of that happening low by only having been in one about a half dozen times in my life. Lovely water craft they are, but tricky... very tricky...

Just goes to show. It can happen to the best of us.

February 20, 2006 at 10:04 p.m.  
Blogger Spider Girl said...

Heh, I loved this post.

Probably because I. AM. CANADIAN.

British Columbian. Vancouver Islander--about as west as you can get.

Irish/Scottish ancestry and my family was one of the pioneer families on Vancouver Island.

I love to travel but I'll always be Canadian.

Thanks for posting.

February 21, 2006 at 3:11 a.m.  
Blogger Mr. Fabulous said...

Canada is indeed a beautiful and vast country. The vastness will prove to be a small obstacle when we eventually invade, but it will only slow us down a little bit. We look forward to adding several more states to the union. Please try to keep everything pristine until we get there...

February 21, 2006 at 8:08 a.m.  
Blogger The Wrath of Dawn said...

Thanks, Spider Girl and welcome to The Wrath. I'm always amazed that people seem to love the longer posts in which I ramble on like the cranky old badger I am. Defies all the blogging advice you get to keep things short.

Mr. Faboo - I got one thing to say to you, buddy. 1812.

February 21, 2006 at 9:53 a.m.  

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