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My first 30 minutes as a Canadian.

The Florida Keys, where I spent my thirty minutes as a Canadian

The Florida Keys, where I spent my thirty minutes as a Canadian (image via visitfloridamaps.com)

One of the things I look forward to every year is my trip to the Florida Keys. I get to spend a week with great friends, listening to music and having a few beers in a perfect place. I’m heading out this year in about a week and a half. As a result, there are a lot of emails flying around between my friends and I about travel arrangements, things we plan to do etc.

One of today’s emails reminded me of the first and only thirty minutes of my life that I spent as a Canadian.

But First…

Some background before I go on. I have some distant family in Canada and have also had a good bit of interaction with Canadian colleagues from my profession. One of the things that has struck me in being around these folks is how little we Americans understand about the nation right next door.

I’ve seen Canadians asked what language they speak. This wasn’t a reference to the French/English requirements in Canada. The questioner actually had no idea what languages people spoke in that nation.

Several times I’ve been with Canadians who were introduced to a new person who promptly said something like “I know someone from Canada, do you know Marty and Linda from Ottawa?”

For those of you who cringed when you read that, please know I apologized to those Canadians  on behalf of the entire smart population of the US.

And Now, Back To Our Story

Anyhow, my thirty minutes as a Canadian started in the evening, after a day of drinking various beverages with friends, one of whom, unlike me, has been a Canadian since birth. The guitarist  in one of the bands we were watching was Canadian and my friend wanted to bring a Canadian flag to the stage for him. He asked for my help and I obliged. We brought the flag to the stage, then walked back toward our starting point.

On the way back, several people were very kind and told us how nice it was to have us in the US. My friend was cordial with them and I was too. I thanked them and told them I was sure I’d be back…because that was simpler than explaining that I was facilitating my friend’s national pride. It was also kind of nice that people were giving me beer for being from Canada when no one was going out of their way to do so for North Carolinian me.

The Jig Is Up…

When we got back to near where we had started our trip to the stage, a man asked “what flag is that you just brought up there?” I told him it was a Canadian flag. He then asked if I was from Canada.

A voice inside me said “you’ve been drinking, he’s been drinking. Go for it.”  So I said I was.

I said I was from Canada and that I was so enjoying the hospitality of all the people I’d been meeting in the US. He reached in his cooler and gave my friend and I both a beer and welcomed us to the states. We both thanked him. My friend lingered a second, then started laughing and drifted away to watch the charade from a distance.

For the next half an hour I was a Canadian for this gentleman. I have to point out that I really made no effort to disguise my accent, which leans sort of southern United States-ish. He didn’t seem to notice.

I answered his questions and spoke glowingly of my time in the US. We toasted both of our nations. I told him I did not know Susan from Montreal, but I was certain she was a lovely person. I enjoyed another of his beers.

Eventually we grew close enough that he said “may I ask you a question about Canada?” I told him he certainly could feel free to.

“If that is a Canadian flag, and you are a Canadian”…the jig is up, I thought, he’s not as drunk as I believed… “why is the country called Canada and not Canadia?”

Apparently The Jig Was Not Up

I explained to my American friend that, just as the United States of America goes by shorter names like America or the U.S., my country had its full legal name, and the more commonly known one. By the time we parted ways, I educated him that the nation he knew as Canada was actually called, in its constitution, The United Provinces of Canadia.

Shortly thereafter, I returned to my group of friends and resumed being American.

My friends, please, be kind to our neighbors to the north..and to everyone for that matter. Afford their nation the respect it deserves. Try learning something. Remember, chances are that they do not know that nice Canadian you met on a cruise any more than you know the someone they know in Akron.

I’m probably preaching to the choir here…but it feels good to say it.

The jury is still out whether I will repeat this experiment again this year. Just in case, though, I have decided I will be from Saskatoon.

I posted this about a year ago. Since it is almost time for me to head south again I thought about it and was considering editing and reposting it. And then I read a post that made me think about it more. You should read it too.

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50 Comments on “My first 30 minutes as a Canadian.”

  1. shoutabyss says:

    Damn. I’ve got to give it up for that guy. “why is the country called Canada and not Canadia?” I never would have thought to ask that question.

    I’ve always enjoyed my time in that country very much. Can’t wait to go back and visit again.

  2. omawarisan says:

    I didn’t think someone like that could remember to breathe, but he kept right on doing it. I was impressed.

  3. queensgirl says:

    I’m STILL cringing.

  4. Knucklehead! says:

    Sing it, everyone!

    “Eat Tim Hortons’ every day;
    They’re comin’ to Canadia.
    Gonna watch some hockey, eh?
    They’re comin’ to Canadia . . . “

    • omawarisan says:

      No really, you can stop cringing, I did that really demonstrative I’m sorry…”I’m SO sorry, we’re not all like that”, so I think they knew I meant it.

      For those who don’t know, Tim Horton was the first Emperor of Canadia, a hockey player and a restaurateur.

  5. Kathi D says:

    I wish you would be from Labrador. That is my favorite part of Canada. Eh?

  6. frigginloon says:

    Years ago, as a solo young backpacker traveling around the world, I arrived in Toronto airport at some ungodly time of the morning. Someone must have noticed me looking around ( as nothing was open) because suddenly there was a tap on my shoulder and before I could say a word a middle aged couple slipped a handful of notes into my hand and said “Just in case you need it” and then quickly moved on. That gesture had a lasting impact on me as a traveler and as a person. A random act of kindness which I have replicated on numerous occasions since. When someone mentions Canada, that is the first thing I remember.

  7. planetross says:

    It’s actually the “Dominion of Canada” because people thought the “Kingdom of Canada” might provoke the pretty new U.S. to the south.

    I tried to pass myself off as Japanese in Peru to keep off drunks talking to me in English while I ate breakfast, but it was more trouble that it was worth. Even bringing up Alberto Fujimori as a Peruvian who looked Japanese didn’t seem to tinkle any bells for these guys.
    Caucasians can’t be Japanese for some reason. Even if there great great great grandparents came over on the boat with Richard Chamberlain … or whoever was in that Shogun crap.

  8. jammer5 says:

    I recall a conversation I had with a fellow who asked my why Kansas called the river the Ar-Kansas river, and not the Arkansas river. Being me, I told him the story of Arkansas declaring the sunflower, the Kansas state flower, a noxious weed, after which Kansas declared the Mockingbird, Arkansas’s state bird, a pest. From then on, anything to do using Kansas or Arkansas was verbalized according to which state one was in.

    I haven’t a clue as to truth, but it sure sounded good, and, like you, got me a free beer 🙂

  9. jammer5 says:

    “suddenly there was a tap on my shoulder and before I could say a word a middle aged couple slipped a handful of notes into my hand and said “Just in case you need it” and then quickly moved on”

    When all you’re wearing is a three wolf moon t-shirt and a snuggie, what did you expect?

  10. omawarisan says:

    Labrador might need to be my province. I can be a dog breeder.

    I may have some work ahead of me to convince someone I’m Japanese, but maybe it would be fun to try. I think if I can pull it off it should be worth a couple beers. The evidence seems to indicate that gullible people will buy beer for people who can tell them a tall tale.

    Loon, if you happen to be in Fort Lauderdale airport a week from Tuesday, I am the confused middle aged guy you’ll see

  11. Todd Pack says:

    Lying to a complete stranger while on vacation is something I’ve always wanted to try, but I don’t have a good poker face.

  12. I’m jealous. I’ve been in Canada for over a decade and I still get called out on my accent.

  13. This post reminds me of overhearing a story on the bus one day from someone who works in a store which provides souvenirs for our many cruise ship visitors: “So she holds up our flag, and wants to know if we have them in any other colours?”

    Cringing,
    Wendy

  14. It’s amazing that you kept it going that long. I’d have been grinning and laughing the whole time.

  15. That is a hysterical story. So glad you were able to follow your “story” through to the end without getting busted. I’m sure the abundance of beers helped.

  16. Oma…you are my hero. You are most welcome to claim Canadiancy anytime you like. I recall a time back in high school when I was part of our UN debate team. We travelled from southern Ontario to Kent State in Ashtabula, OH for a very exciting Model UN Conference. It was fantastic! I prepared before going to be some small African nation amidst the giants in my small group of 15 nations. We found out upon arrival that the team who was representing the United States in many of the sessions had to pull out at the last minute. Since you can’t just have a model UN without the US, many volunteers were sought to replace the school. I was one of those people. I ended up winning the gavel (this is a good thing in model UN speak) by the end of the three day conference for my outstanding portrayal of the US on little to no preparation. But even with all the accolades, the one thing I remember were the many ridiculous questions that we, from no more than three hours drive away, were faced with. We lived literally across Lake Erie from this small town, but they could not wrap their heads around the fact that the weather, culture, language, etc. were shockingly similar to their own. And these were model UN debaters…one would assume a different level of world knowledge than the average high school student at the time. Regardless, I know that knowledge is all about what you’re exposed to and what you seek. So I did not lose all hope in my friendly (for the most part) neighbours to the south. 😉 Awesome post Oma…awesome…

  17. planetross says:

    I was going to bring up the “Dominion of Canada” thing, but I see that I commented on this before.
    This year, just mention that you think “The Leafs” have a good shot at the cup … and look optimistic and daydreamy. You’ll be fine.

  18. Hippie Cahier says:

    And here I’ve always thought it was Leamingtonia.

    I have friends who are otherwise a normal couple, but one night in a similar situation, they decided for whatever crazy reason to tell another couple they met that they were from (this is true) North Carolina, complete with newly adopted southern-ish accents. Unfortunately for them, they picked a town that just happened to be where the couple had lived for some time and they couldn’t fake knowing all the little things they should’ve known. Their jig was up pretty quickly.
    Great post!

    • omawarisan says:

      The key to being falsely from North Carolina is to talk about Andy Griffith with great reverence and be prepared to discuss any given episode.

      Oh, and be prepared to discuss the two types of barbecue.

  19. pattypunker says:

    i always used my feminine wiles to get free beers, but this is certainly worth a try.

  20. That was a close one. I’ve heard a lot of Iraqis referred to as Iraqians. Maybe they are from Iraqia?

    Have a great time in the Keys.

  21. spencercourt says:

    So you’re coming to the Conch Republic, eh? We sure need the money, so I thank you for your support.

    Since a lot of Floridans (why should someone from Florida be anything other than a Floridan? I mean, the state is not called Floridia… 😉 ) visit NC in summer, it’s only right that you Carolinans (see Floridan) visit Florida when you need some warm weather. Is the Jolie coming too?

    Assuming you’re be driving through Florida City, you must stop at Robert is Here…Fruit Stand, the top one in the area, primarily because of his milkshakes. Here’s his website: http://www.robertishere.com/

  22. omawarisan says:

    I don’t think the Jolie will be along, she’s got other stops to make in order to get to you in time for Las Vegas.

    I go through Florida City, but I’ve never been to Robert Is Here…that is a distinct possibility! Thank you for the tip!

  23. linlah says:

    While working in North Dakota a co-worker asked me where I was from. When I said Colorado he asked me if I knew how to snow ski. In return I asked him where he was from and when he said Tennessee I asked him if played the banjo.

    What.?

  24. Betty says:

    Once, while in a business meeting, a windbag know-it-all colleague boasted about the long hours put in by his team. He was proud to tell us that one morning, he came in early to find one of his staff talking with someone in Hungaria. That was five years ago and to this day we still make fun of him.

  25. Greg says:

    Have fun on Duval St.

  26. Bschooled says:

    Haha!

    I’m Canadian, and I think I actually met that guy when I was in the States last year.

    He was so convincing that I almost believed him…

  27. […] Remember that time I pretended to be from you? No one could believe I got away with it, especially me. Get away with it, I did, Canada. Getting away with it tells me something, we’re good together. We’re different from one another, but we’re good. So good, that I’m just going to come out and ask you to do something for me. Look, they’re making more. That’s not funny. (Photo credit: Wikipedia) […]

  28. […] to be a Canadian. I don’t think it is cool to pretend like you’re from another country. In my defense, I’d had a good bit to drink and someone else started it. Does that sound a little like Mayor Ford? “I was drinking, it wasn’t my fault”? […]


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