By Rob Ficiur
This summer we spent a couple of weeks visiting family in four different cities across the USA. During these visits, it is interesting the random Canadian content that comes up.
1. Tim Horton’s is a common restaurant near Rochester and Buffalo, New York. This makes some sense. Tim Horton was a defenseman with the Buffalo Sabres at the end of his career. Saw several times where Tim Horton’s was teamed up with a Wendy’s restaurant. However, outside the Buffalo-Rochester area I have not seen a Tim Horton’s anywhere in the USA. Most Americans don’t know what Tim Bits are.
2. Grassy Lake Graduate – Nearly 2500 miles from home, I ran into a former Grassy Lake resident. Tom Redd was the volunteer in charge of helping maintain about 500 men’s costumes at the Hill Cumorah Pageant near Rochester.
3. Canadian Health Care – As we met one of our son’s friends, this 25+ year old’s first response to our Canadian-ness was “Wish I had your health care system.” At home we know that our Canadian health system is not perfect, but there are many who wish they had what we Canadians take for granted.
4. Canadian Family Connections – At least twice (this trip) as we met friends of our family it was pointed out when people had relatives in Canada. One lady told me (when no one loyal American could hear) that her distant Canadian relatives were Loyalists during the American War of Independence. Loyalists were those who supported the King of England (and thus did not support George Washington). When the war was over, many Loyalists moved to the remaining British Colonies of Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Upper Canada (Ontario).
Earlier that week I had watched a TLC television show called “Who do you think you are?” In this show celebrities find out about their family history as researchers take them to the sites their fore bearers had once lived. In this episode an American actor was horrified to find out that his fifth Great Grandfather fought against George Washington in the War of Independence.
It was not like these people’s distant great grandparents were criminals who spent years in prison. They chose the losing side in a government protest that went viral. Two and a half centuries later, Americans interpret this war as a fight for personal freedom and liberty. It could easily be argued that the revolution began as an economic protest against high taxes; in other words a fight for money.
5. Canadian Sports Teams? Thirty years ago when I married into a family of 100% Americans, living in the New York state, it was nearly impossible to find much Canadian sports content in the local rural New York papers. Since the Toronto Blue Jays played in the same division as the New York Yankees they were easy to follow.
In the age of the internet I thought I could access all the Canadian content I wanted. Not so! Several Canadian sports websites would not allow me to download video clips. The error message said that since I was outside of Canada that video was unavailable. Still found out more Canadian content on the internet than I did thirty years ago.
6. Senior’s Visit – My wife and I visited Mary in a senior’s home. Thirty years ago she was at our wedding. As a wedding present she knitted an afghan blanket with the Canadian Maple Leaf on it. Three decades ago Mary shared with me a moment of Canadian history that no one else, (that means no Canadians as well) has ever shared with me.
Mary’s story went back to 1965. After years of debate and contests, the Maple Leaf was officially approved to be Canada’s flag. Mary told me several times (all enthusiastically) about the amazing experience it was to watch Canada’s new flag to be unfurled for the first time. (For Your Information on February 15, 1965 the old flag (the Red Ensign) was lowered at the stroke of noon and the new maple leaf flag was raised. The crowd sang “O Canada” followed by “God Save the Queen”.
7. Eh? Eh? I have spent more than thirty years trying not to say Eh? infront of Americans. The phrase Eh seems to trigger an automatic giggle out of many south of the border. When other Canadians use Eh in their daily speech, I get to hear about it. Normally Canadians are passive, but I stood on guard for our country by replying “Eh sounds very sophisticated.” I am right…eh?