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Stuff Canadians Like (Part 1)

Sunset on the Ottawa River

After living in Canada for almost 6 years now, this is my best shot at a sociology study: “Stuff Canadians Like.”

Extreme weather: For most immigrants, Canada’s two seasons can be illustrated by the following words—“fucking hot” and “fucking cold.” And Canadians loudly complain about it too. Too much snow to shovel in the morning, freeway buried under blizzard and ice storms in winter, drought and floods in the summer. But deep down, I know Canadians enjoy the extreme weather. Why else would I see people jogging during a blizzard? Canoe to work? Sure, a few might escape to Florida but most Canadians want to retain bragging rights over temperate countries. Therefore, they spend winter at home, anxiously watching The Weather Network just to make sure they—not the neighbouring province—get the most severe snowstorm. Wimps. They only got two meters of snow!

Tim Hortons: Do you know what the headline of the newspapers was the other day? Nope, not Burma. A story about a Tim Hortons employee who got fired after giving a timbit for free to a baby. The nation was in shock: the woman was fired unfairly, sure, but… a baby got a free timbit? That’s how addicted Canadians are. Even though Timmies coffee tastes like brownish hot water, even though their pastries are just fried dough with sugar, even though there’s always a line-up even at 2 a.m…. well, there’s always a line-up even at 2 a.m. Go figure.

Going into the wild: One can’t help noticing that Canada is a huge country with, all in all, a small population. One also can’t help noticing that Canadians spend a great deal of time avoiding each other by going “into the wild.” On one hand, you have families who move out of the city to the countryside. Even though cities have a very low crime rate (we’re not talking of Toronto here) and that cities cores are not exactly cramped (we’re not talking of Hong Kong either), families routinely move in the middle of nowhere to “escape from the city”. Of course, they happily drive every day to the city to work (have you ever tried to find a job in bumfuck nowhere?), drop the kids to school, shop, go to movies etc. The only time they are at home is basically when they sleep. But, who cares, when you have such a great quality of life outside the city! The second group of people addicted to life in the wild are the vacationists who, instead of going all-inclusive like everybody else, enjoy camping trips up North where they carry their canoe overland (Canadian even have a verb for the place where the carrying occurs: “portage”) and sleep outdoors. Whereas there are perfectly fine hotels around. Canadians…!

The Canadian Dollar: First of all, it’s pretty, unlike the US dollar. We have fun colourful banknotes (some feature kids playing hockey) that you can actually tell apart. We also have cool slang for our coins: there’s the “toonie” and the “loonie”. But the best part about the Canadian dollar is its current strength. After an all-time low in the 90s and early 2000s, the value has risen sharply in 2007, mostly thanks to Alberta cowboys’ oil. This can only mean one thing for Canadians: Americans are weak, we are strong. Doesn’t matter that we get ripped off every day by paying too much. See, even though the $CA is stronger than the $US, we keep on paying the Canadian price, not the American price (this is especially true for books, which are typically priced at CA$9.99 but US$7.99). Who cares, as long as we are better than Americans! Worth the price, doesn’t it?

Roots and Lululemon Stores: In case you’re wondering, both are extremely popular Canadian clothes retailers. Even though Roots isn’t the official Olympic outfitter anymore (used to be from 1998 to 2004), the company clothes and accessories are worn by millions of Canadian, either casually, either to actually exercise (er… in the wild??). Is it the cute beaver logo? The Lycra pants? The overprice leather bags? Lululemon athletic clothes are equally popular (but often even more overpriced). Its yoga-lovers customers are well known for lining up all night in sub-zero temperatures for the annual sale and the chance to buy $200 pants (it happened not that long ago in Ottawa). Woohoo. It’s not the clothes—it’s the lifestyle.

Warning: this post is not to be taken seriously. Please, don’t report me to Citizenship & Immigration. Otherwise, I won’t be able to write part 2.

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