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Thursday, October 21, 2010

If My Life Had Been Different


Sometimes I like to make this pronouncement: “I would have been a good Canadian,” following which my resident devil’s advocate likes to say, “What do you mean by that? How would you have made a good Canadian?” I tell him I would have obeyed the law of the land and worked hard to make an honest living. If I were a Canadian, I would continue my lifelong education, vote in Canadian elections, recycle religiously and be as kind as I could be to those around me.

“So how is that different from being a good American?” the devil’s advocate asks. In my book, it isn’t different at all. That’s really my point.


Since this is the season when maple leaves command our attention, anyway, I was more than delighted yesterday to find Manning’s Maple Leaf Creme cookies at NJ’s grocery store in Lake Leelanau. There was Red Rose tea, also, and these homey little things reminded me of our last vacation on Manitoulin Island with our old dog, Nikki, so I had cookies and memories last night with my after-dinner tea.


The daughter of a friend of ours has co-written a couple of humorous little books about Canada. So You Want to Be Canadian, by Kerry Colburn and Rob Sorensen, is an introduction to Canadian culture for Americans, while The U.S. of Eh? offers evidence for the tongue-in-cheek claim that Canada has created and continues to control 70% of American culture. Have you been “Canucked”? These books may surprise you with their answer.


What’s the weather on Manitoulin Island these days? Up in Wawa? Over in Montreal? Okay, eh, I couldn’t resist going back into this post and adding links to these favorite Canadian places named. Check them out! Some of my beloved Up North places are close to home. Others are over the border.

13 comments:

torchlakeviews said...

I don't think I would make a very good Canadian. I don't want to spend my vacation in Florida. ;)

P. J. Grath said...

No problem for me, as you know. Actually, there have been fewer Canadians on the Gulf shore the past couple of years.

dmarks said...

I recall reading that Manitoulin is considered to be the original home of the Odawa.

You could get half of America to move to Canada once you told them that they'd be free of Sarah Palin there. Then the other half would join them once they found out they'd be free of Pres. Obama there also.

A total aside: how come the Blogspot/Blogger automatic spell checker knows how to spell something as obscure as Manitoulin, but it STILL says Obama is a mispelling?

P. J. Grath said...

The first time we drove into Manitowaning (and I could be misspelling the name of the town here), people were dragging lawn chairs out to the side of the road for a little parade. It was a little parade, too. Felt just like Northport. And by the way, neither my computer spelling program nor the Blogger speller recognizes the name Northport.

Thanks for the visit and the comment. Always good to hear from you, dmarks.

P. J. Grath said...

I also meant to respond to the political observations of dmarks. What we don't often see from this side of the border are the political issues dividing Canadians--and no, it's not just the language thing, either. They have all the problems (except lack of health insurance) that we have in the U.S. The difference is that they are inundated with our news, and we seldom hear any of theirs.

dmarks said...

And I hear of the problems of Canadian health care from a friend of mine, who is happy she lives close to the border so she can come to the US and work around the problems. She also doesn't like the Canadian censorship of satellite TV there, so last time I knew she had unauthorized receiving equipment set up.

Glad you appreciate the comments.

There's a huge apathy in the US toward Canadian matters. It is probably less so at the borders where the Canadian radio stations cross over into US territory.

P. J. Grath said...

I don't suppose that in all of world history there has ever been a society with 100% satisfaction among its members. Human beings are imperfect, so human societies and institutions are imperfect. But isn't it fascinating to see all the different ways people try to live together? Canadians I've met in my bookstore have had no complaints about their health care and wonder how we can live without a system like theirs, but I'm sure some Canadians, like your friend, have problems with it. When we were returning by car from Montreal, we heard a few very bitter complaints about Quebec from people in Ontario. Otherwise, most of the issues dividing Canadians are similar to those that divide Americans. There is a certain amount of racism (which surprised and saddened me, though I don't know why I expected Canadians to be different from the rest of the world), there are huge issues of agriculture, water, timber and minerals, there are Canadian military personnel overseas, and always, in matters tiny and enormous, there are ideological differences.

As Americans, we hear very little news from other parts of the world with the exception of whatever is the current hot spot where all the reporters are clustered. If you want to follow what's happening in another country when it isn't "in the news"--that is, our news--you have to make a big effort to hunt it out. Seems very strange we should have to do this in the case of Canada, which shares a border with Michigan, but that's how it is, unless you live close enough to the eastern or northern edge of Michigan and can get Canadian news directly, as dmarks points out. When my mother-in-law was alive, over south of Port Huron, one of the perks of visiting her for me was seeing TV straight from Canada. There was another country, right across the river! Wow!

flandrumhill said...

Pamela, would you believe I spent most of my childhood in a little town just north of Manitoulin Island? My brothers still live in the area (which I visited last month) and both my sisters spend their summer holidays on the island.

As a child I looked forward to summer vacations in West Bay, which is not far from Manitowaning. The sand beach there seemed so magical.

P. J. Grath said...

Well, now I want to know which town it was, Amy-Lynn! Blind River is the first name that comes to my mind without looking at the map. I find everything about Manitoulin magical. Yes, that could very easily have been the setting for my alternative Canadian life. Isn't imagination wonderful? Travel, too!

flandrumhill said...

It's Espanola :)

Cockburn Island at the western tip of Manitoulin is supposed to be THE most magical spot on the island according to some in my family. It's very close to the border, next to Michigan's Drummond Island. My sister crossed paths with an Eastern Cougar there. With its abundance of wildlife, it's quite the place.

P. J. Grath said...

Espanola is the name I couldn't think of--the last little town before the bridge to Little Current, right? This means that even though our paths have not exactly crossed, our histories have. Like mine and Richard Burton's on the stage in Toronto! Sorry, it wouldn't be much of a story on my side, but I couldn't help thinking of it.

Kathy said...

I must have missed this post. Part of me would like to be a Canadian, too. Chris gave his dad a US eh? t-shirt for Christmas. People comment on it a lot.

P. J. Grath said...

Hey there, Kathy! I am mystified: Why is this old post, almost a whole year old now, suddenly getting hits again? Well, anyway, you know what I was saying here, and that's the main thing. 10/11/2011: A friend is just back from a trip up to Wawa. I'm jealous, even if he did say peak color had passed before he got there!