Canada, eh!

Trip Start Jul 11, 2005
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Trip End Apr 04, 2006


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Flag of Canada  , Ontario,
Thursday, October 20, 2005


What am I doing here?

- Rimbaud writing home from Ethiopia

So Canada, eh. It's strange being here considering I'm supposed to be somewhere in India or Nepal right now. But I'm not going to get into that again.

North America is North America
So now that I'm here what of Canada? Well, it's somewhere I had not been before. So that's good. I have travelled quiet a bit in the U.S., or The States as Canadians like to call it, and from what I've seen of Canada so far (not much) it seems very, very similar.

It's hard, almost impossible, to speak about Canada without mentioning its louder, less pragmatic, less progressive neighbour to the south. Canadians won't admit it but the two countries are inextricably linked, especially economically and culturally, and although the differences between the two peoples are subtle, they are significant. Canadians are well aware that they live in the shadow of the U.S.A and like anything tempting to grow in the shade it can be a struggle. In the purest sense, the very definition of Canadian is 'not American' and Canadians have become attuned to small differences between the two (Canadians say 'zed' while Americans say 'zee'). Canadians have fought long and hard over the years (turning back many an American invasion) for the right to be not American. Making the mistake of calling a Canadian an American gets a similar reaction to the one I give when mistaken for being English. And the main reason Canadians make the effort to wear the small, discrete Maple Leaf badge when travelling? So they don't have to state they are not Americans, hoping the badge will do that dirty job for them. To the outside world Canadians are generally stereotyped as nice, polite, unarmed Americans in winter clothes with no sense of humour. But they see themselves as something like North American Kiwis; reserved, embarrassed by flag-waving nationalism, green and peace loving with a social conscience. And while I haven't yet seen any igloos, Mounties or beavers in the country I have learnt the following useless facts during my time in Canada so far:

1 - They really do say "eh" to end most sentences. Really, they do.
2 - They really do love ice hockey. But to avoid offending never call it so; it's simply hockey. See the photos here for more information on the obsession with the game.
3 - There are only 30 million people in the country, which is not much considering it's the second biggest country in the World. So you'd expect it to be sparsely populated, right? Well, no, not here in Ontario at least. 90% of Canadians live within 160km of the U.S. boarder making it one of the most urbanised nations on earth. That means if you venture up north you're likely to have the wilderness to yourself. Go for it.
4 - Admittedly it's only mid October but it's not that cold over here.
And finally .....
5... when in Ontario you're never far from a Tim Horton's location (see photos). Maybe that explains why Canadians eat 3 times as many donuts per capita as Americans, more than anyone else in the world.

I'll be in touch
So, that's about it from me for now. I'll be updating this entry periodically with photos of my time here in Kingston, where I am at the moment with my gorgeous girlfriend, Meagan (if you'd rather be reading entries from India, Nepal and Tibet you can blame her, right?). I'll also be detailing any trips I do out of Kingston while I'm here. Hopefully I'll get to see a few places of interest, assuming Meg lets me out?
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