Ever since I can remember I've heard the comment that there is "no difference" between Canadians and Americans. I respectfully beg to differ as there is a difference on so many levels! We have unique Canadian culture consisting of Canadianisms, a Canadian perspective on world events, Canadian cuisine as well as products and foods only available in Canada. This blog is dedicated to celebrating all things Canadian from "my perspective" as a Canadian. Please enjoy your visit and be sure to visit often.

Garden Gnome
Americans should never underestimate the constant pressure on Canada which the mere presence of the United States has produced. We're different people from you and we're different people because of you. Living next to you is in some ways like sleeping with an elephant. No matter how friendly and even-tempered is the beast, if I can call it that, one is effected by every twitch and grunt. It should not therefore be expected that this kind of nation, this Canada, should project itself as a mirror image of the United States.
- Pierre Trudeau

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Canadian Humour

There is no doubt about it Canadians have almost a unique sense of humour. It has a bit of a British humour edge but it's different. There are several wonderful examples of our Canadian humour with one of the funniest being Rick Mercer poking a tongue in cheek fun at how much Americans do not know about Canada. If you haven't seen Rick Mercer in all his Canadian glory, here is a great video clip of him Talking to Americans. Notice how he can deliver the lines without cracking a smile? Well there you have Canadian humour at its finest, eh?

The best part of our Canadian humour is not about poking fun at other countries although we do take a good crack at England on occasion, we really take pleasure in poking fun at ourselves. This can be very, very funny stuff. Why? Well, why not? Hey, we have to do something during the 6 months of winter darkness we enjoy each year, snuggled in our igloos, watching our one and only tv channel (kudos to CBC!) while waiting for Wiarton Willy to come out and tell us that winter will now last another 6 months! This is always a bit discouraging because at some point one does have to fasten on the snowshoes and hit the rough hewn trails to go for maple syrup, peameal bacon, beer, Kraft dinner®, ketchup and poutine. It does not even fizz us that our navy (one canoe) cannot gracefully glide through the iced up waters. Despite all this no we are a friendly, polite bunch ready to poke fun at ourselves every chance we get.

Joel Klebanoff, a fellow Canadian, has been gratiously debunking myths about Canada on his blog. You can read four of his entries here, here, here and here. I will warn you to not be drinking anything while reading his entries unless you need to wash your monitor. His entries are another great example of Canadian humour. Funny, must read stuff!

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

A Bit of Canadian Terminology

Canadians have their own unique terminology for certain things. It sets us apart from the rest of the world. Here are a few of these more common and uniquely Canadian terms with meaning in brackets are:

  • Canuck (Canadian)
  • loonie (dollar coin)
  • toonie (two dollar coin)
  • toque ( hat)
  • pop (soda)
  • pogy (Unemployment insurance)
  • a 24 (case of beer)
  • 6 pack (6 beers)
  • rye (whiskey)
  • Timmy's (Tim Hortons®)
  • timbits (donut holes)
  • double double (coffee with 2 creams, 2 sugars)
  • zed (last letter of alphabet
  • Francophone (French speaking Canadian)
  • Anglophone (English speaking Canadian)
  • brown bread (whole wheat bread)
  • runners (athletic sports shoes)
  • click (kilometres)
  • States (USA)
  • across the crick (Europe)
  • housecoat (bath robe)
  • Newfie ( a person from Newfoundland)

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Canadian Tire

Canadian Tire Money

Every Canadian is familiar with Canadian Tire. Canadian Tire Corporation was founded in 1922 and remains a Canadian icon. The first Canadian Tire opened in 1925 on the corners of Yonge and Isabella streets in Toronto, Ontario. It is one of Canada's 35 largest publicly traded companies (TSX: CTC). Canadian Tire Corporation, Inc. head office is in Toronto, Ontario and operates Canadian Tire Retail, Canad's largest independent gas station network, Canadian Tire Bank and it owns Mark's Work Wearhouse (retailer of casual and work clothing) and PartSource (retailer of auto parts and accessories). Stores are located across Canada in most town of any size and multiple locations in larger cities. Some locations have pit stops, gas bars and/or car washes. The Canadian Tire Retail portion of the stores sells home products, hardware and tools, automotive, sports, camping, lawn and garden products while the automotive portion of the stores sells automotive parts and accessories as well as providing automotive repair and maintenance services.

What sets Canadian Tire apart from other retailers is Canadian Tire Money (pictured above). The man on the money is Scotty McTire, a fictional character. When you make a purchase you receive 0.5% of the value of your purchase before taxes in Canadian Tire Money (CTM). CTM can then be used as script in Canadian Tire stores or gas bars. It cannot be redeemed for cash. Canadian Tire money itself has become a Canadian icon. Some privately owned businesses accept Canadian Tire money as payment because they shop at Canadian Tire themselves. Some charities will collect Canadian Tire money as a fund raiser. Others simply save up their Canadian Tire Money to make a larger purchase at some point.

There are two problems with Canadian Tire Money. First they are not official currency so as one unlucky person who collected $3,000 worth of Canadian Tire Money found out the hard way when the CTM was stolen during a burglary. Their insurance company refused to cover the value of the CTM because it has no real monetary value. The second problem and one that has received complaints is if you return an item to Canadian Tire you need both the receipt and the CTM issued otherwise the CTM value in real currency is deducted from your purchase. So legally CTM is not currency but Canadian Tire itself treats it as money. Really, CTM is more of a loyalty program where you are rewarded for buying at Canadian Tire but penalized if you return any product. At any rate, Canadian Tire money is one Canadian icon that remains ingrained into Canadian culture.