Happy Canada Day!

By Caitlin Kelly

This is the week I celebrate both my countries — July 1 is Canada Day. I was born and raised there, (Vancouver, Toronto, Montreal) and the U.S., where I’ve lived since 1988, celebrates July 4.

We have a big Canadian flag we’ll hang off the balcony. After my hip replacement, in February 2012, I walked the hospital hallway, thinking it might be fun — with ceramic and metal in me for good, now — to look like a super-hero.

caiti flag

It’s odd to have become a long-term expatriate, (a word often mis-spelled, with an interesting twist of meaning, as ex-patriot.) When do you become an immigrant? When you take the citizenship of your new land? I will probably do so here because of estate planning issues; I’ll be able to retain both passports.

Ironically, my ability to come to, and stay in, the U.S. was thanks to my mother’s American citizenship. She now lives near my birthplace, Vancouver, and I now live near hers, New York City.

I do miss my Canadian friends and a shared set of cultural references so Jose and I head north usually 2-4 times a year.

Will I ever move back? Hard to say. Living in the States is rougher professionally, but new opportunities come much more easily here, I’ve found.

Here are some fun Canadian facts:

— Insulin was first produced by Frederick Banting and Charles Best at my alma mater, the University of Toronto.

English: Frederick Banting ca. 1920–1925 in To...
English: Frederick Banting ca. 1920–1925 in Toronto, Ontario (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

— The singer Neil Young had a very nice guy for a dad, Scott Young, who worked in the same Toronto newsroom as I did, The Globe & Mail, as a sportswriter.

— If you love the work of smart, tough-minded women writers like Margaret Atwood (who attended my Toronto high school), Alice Munro, Margaret Laurence and Miriam Toews, you’re reading Canadians.

— If you’re in Canada and need a painkiller, ask a pharmacist for a bottle of 222s, which have codeine in them (forbidden in the U.S. without a prescription). They work great.

— Canadian candy bars rock! My favorites include Big Turk, Crispy Crunch, Aero and Crunchie , all of them in milk chocolate. American mass-market chocolate, like Hershey’s, is a contradiction in terms.

— To truly understand how Canadians ran the 18th. and 19th-century fur trade, kneel in  a wooden canoe and paddle for a week or so. Then do some really long, twisty, slippery, muddy, rocky portages, swatting away black flies and mosquitoes as you hump the canoe and all your packs on your shoulders between lakes or rivers. Visit the Canadian Canoe Museum in Peterborough, Ontario to see a replica of a voyageur canoe, used by the earliest explorers. They are simply amazing. It’s one of my favorite museums in the world.

— There are some astounding fossils to be seen in the Badlands of Alberta. The Royal Tyrell Museum is well worth a stop!

— A great way to enjoy Vancouver’s Stanley Park is to rent a bike and ride the whole thing. As you circle the seawall, you’ll see huge freighters off-shore and dozens of float-planes zooming overhead.

Splurge on a helicopter ride from Vancouver to Victoria; the cheapest fare is $150. The views of the ocean and the Rockies are stupendous.

— Did you know the Vikings arrived in Newfoundland? I’m dying to visit L’Anse Aux Meadows, the curiously bilingually-named site from the 11th. century.

— If you enjoyed the movies Superbad and Juno, and the star Michael Cera, he’s Canadian, from Brampton, Ontario.

— If you’ve never tried poutine, tourtiere, a butter tart or a Nanaimo bar, go for it! They’re all caloric suicide, but well-loved: cheese curds with gravy; a meat pie; a sweet small tart and a chocolate, icing-covered brownie. Hey, those long cold Canadian winters require some metabolic stoking!

Nanaimo Bar at Butler's Pantry, Toronto, Canada.
Nanaimo Bar at Butler’s Pantry, Toronto, Canada. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

And here is my favorite short video of all time, Canadian Please.

Enjoy, mes cher(es)! C’est un pays bilingue.

Have you been to Canada? What did you see?

39 thoughts on “Happy Canada Day!

  1. I was a baby when I first visited Canada, so I don’t remember it. However Canadian writers have or are critiquing my books, so there’s something to say for that and the wonderful job they have done or are doing.

  2. Nemesis

    [NoteToMsMalled: I don’t care what you say about CanuckCandyBars – nothing beats the American “PayDay” confection. And by the way, what is it with CandyBar nomenclature, anyhow? I mean, come on now… “Oh Henry!”; “Big Turk”; “Cherry Ripe”; “3 Musketeers”; “ButterFinger”; “ReesesCups”; “MilkyWay”… You just know that some SexMadGirly dreamt those up!]

    1. Nemesis

      Oh yes… How could I forget!?!

      The infamous “Eat More”…. “A good chew… and nuts, too!” You can’t make that stuff up.

  3. That song is driving me crazy. I do remember meat pies – loved them – and butter tarts are still a family specialty. My late brother would sneak them before dinner and none of us can eat a butter tart without crying for him. In 1967 I was still in high school. Meanwhile, my future husband, an American, was working in Canada; I had not met him yet of course. That is how I ended up in the U.S. – we married and he was transferred back. I will always think of myself as a Canadian and had a lot of homesickness for a long time but once I became an American citizen I gave my whole heart to this country. I miss my family and I have missed out on a lot of their life events but I will never live there again.

  4. Why would you never live there again?

    I actually met Bobby Gimby”s daughter at a party here in NY and her daughter has become a good friend of mine. What are the odds?

    1. Well, lots of reasons to not live there again – my husband and son are here, I have lived longer in this country than Canada and feel comfortable here, the cost of living, family entanglements, health insurance coverage is here. If I were to live there again, just musing, it would be on Prince Edward Island. Speaking of health care – Canada is held up as an example of national health care but based on reports from my sister who is ill, getting a specialist consultation is a waiting time of months. Surgery is months. People are paying for the restrictions placed on physicians as to how many patients they are allowed to see without being penalized.

  5. We are headed to Nova Scotia for vacation in a few weeks. The first thing we do when we cross the border is visit Tim Horton’s for some donuts. When we are there we overdose on all the Canadian junk food like Aero bars, Smarties, Cherry Blossoms, Hickory sticks, corn twists, roast chicken flavored chips, ketchup flavored chips and Ringolos. If I lived there again I’m sure we would very rarely eat that stuff but since we don’t have access to it the rest of the year we indulge. Happy Canada Day!

    1. It’s well worth it! Winters can be crazy cold and snowy in Toronto, Montreal, Q. City, Ottawa…points north. But, oddly, if you have the right clothes, including good boots, it can be fun and interesting to see the world in snow and ice. Summers can be humid in Toronto and winters rainy in Vancouver.

      Fall is a good safe bet anywhere, I’d say.

  6. John Matthew Barlow

    I’m not sure that 222s still exist in Canada! Last time I remember seeing them was the early 90s. But, Montréal, Toronto, Vancouver, the cities I grew up in. Happy Canada Day!

  7. Pingback: Canada Day Tour, Blogger-Style | Play

    1. I think (huge thing to say) we are much less constrained…we have health care, much better legal protections, even the Chief Justice of our Supreme Court (!) was a woman (might still be) recently. I see American women much less likely to speak out, as they are so roundly attacked when they do. (i.e. Hillary, et al.)

      1. Hey, even being self-employed is a LOT less stressful (which then influences, possibly, your behavioral choices) when you never have to pay for health insurance there. I miss that.

  8. Happy belated Canada Day! I spent it down by the Old Port in Montreal, eating maple ice cream, chatting with the shipmaster on the red carrier Mapleglen (she is wintering here I am told), being introduced to Canada-isms by a Canadian. And then we went back and celebrated his sister’s birthday and had 4 kinds of cake. It was a good Canada Day!

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