O Canada

Since returning to Canada, I’ve experienced some (completely unpatriotic) location confusion. I may have even said something like “when I get back to Canada…” while standing on Ontario soil. What I mean of course is when I get back to BC, because there are just a few things about Ontario and Quebec that strike me as entirely foreign, and even hilarious.

For one, why so much roadkill?? Sure we have roadkill in BC too, but we don’t have maimed racoons, deer, squirrels, beaver, and other unidentifiable furry brown things distributed every few kms along our highways. At this point, I’m not even sure they are real road kill anymore. I imagine it’s some sort of public safety stunt.
“No one reads signs anymore, eh Pete.”
“Ya Pat, but I got an idea. Stay with me here. We get some of ‘em taxidermy animals, rough ‘em up a little and bolt those down to the asphalt every so often.”

Of course there weren’t enough taxidermy deer, so they still had to make a few signs.

In BC our signs read something like this:
*Cute picture of a deer*
Next 20kms

In Ontario the signs read something like this:
*Cute picture of a deer*
NIGHT DANGER
Next 20Kms.

Night danger?!?! Is that some sort of deer gang?

Well before you crap your pants in fear, good news. Ontario is full of adorable roadside attractions sure to fill your heart with an unbearable dose of cheesy country charm. In fact, you literally can’t miss them since each corn maze or goat zoo gets a full size road sign, as if heritage grist mills are just as important as hospitals.

So on your way from Toronto to Ottawa, why not make a quick stop at Pingle’s Fun Farm or better yet, Saunders Country Critters Zoo. Then fill your belly with some of Mrs. Garrigles fine mustard. Finally, finish of your adventure with “The Spooky Wagon Ride” featuring grotesque squash growths and life size models of Kathleen Wynne.

Of course the signs that made me laugh the most were not in Ontario, but in Quebec. There is one street sign that is the same almost everywhere we’ve been: Greece, Germany, Holland, Spain, Portugal, even France. The stop sign. No matter what language the locals speak, it is always a bright red octagon with the letters: STOP. Except in Quebec. And of course that’s okay, because we like Quebec. Just the way it is. Never change (and please don’t leave).
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But signage aside, BC and Ontario, and yes even Quebec, really don’t seem that different at all. Here’s how I know that I’m actually not in Europe any more:

People ask how you are all the time. Grocery store cashiers, the visitor centre staff, the poutine guys, EVERYONE. It puts a smile on my face immediately. I don’t even care that they don’t really care. It’s just nice to be asked.

It takes so freaking long to get anywhere. While driving between Montreal and Quebec City I commented that it looks just like the Netherlands. Big flat farm land and water water everywhere. But then I paused for a second. There was not a single church steeple in sight and I knew we wouldn’t be hitting another town for the next hour and a half. Nope we certainly aren’t in Europe anymore.

Peeing for FREE! While in Europe I got in the habit of scheduling my bathroom breaks around train rides and dinner times, just to be sure that I wouldn’t have to pay a cent for bladder relief. In one moment of desperation, I even snuck into a five star hotel in Rome and explored two floors in hopes of finding a free toilet. In Amsterdam, I shopped around for the cheapest port-a-potty, before realizing that one euro was the going rate. If a pee costs the same amount as a beer, than we’ve got a problem.

The service at restaurants. Yes that’s exactly what I mean, the fact that there is service. In Spain, Portugal, Italy, and most of France usually we had to explain ourselves before sitting down: “To eat? Can we eat?” Nine times out of ten we sat in the wrong section, came at the wrong time, or asked for the wrong menu. It was never easy to trade money for food. So when we sat down for dinner in Montreal and were brought a glass of water and a menu with no questions asked we almost cried with joy. Sure they turned into real tears when we saw the total and remembered that yes tipping is a thing here. But mostly tears of joy, because we are back in Canada. Even if the stop signs are in French and there are no mountains in sight, we really are back in Canada!

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3 thoughts on “O Canada

  1. As a born-Ontarian, who returns about once a year, and now a British Colombian since 1996, I have made comparisons as well over the years. Such as that ever-present road-kill, the manicured grassy ditches, and then the heavy humidity in the summer months. And then there is the way of speaking, I took note of that when I first met northern BCers. But now, my sisters tell me that I have taken on a northern BC accent! Really!?! Maybe. 😉

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  2. Even if you have a Northern BC accent now, I think you and your sisters still sound a lot alike. When we were visiting with Aunt Marjorie last week, there were times that I felt like we were chatting with you!

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