It’s Canada Day! I’m sure many of you have donned your favorite sweaters and maple-leaf long-underwear and are headed out to enjoy a summer’s day on one of Canada’s many beaches, possibly while listening to the musical stylings of Bryan Adams. For those of you unable to make it out to a chilly northern beach (seriously, it’s a whole country north of Minnesota – think about it) – I present my top reasons Canada (and Canadians) are awesome.

  1. Socialized medicine. I love how we’re at eachother’s throats about this issue, thoroughly convinced that if we pass socialized medicine in our country, it will instantly signal the end of days, and everyone will become bankrupt because they’ll have to pay for elective plastic surgery for illegal immigrants. Canadians, on the other hand, sit quietly on the other side of our shared border, wondering what all the fuss is about, breathing maple-syrup scented air into their healthy lungs.
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  2. Poutine. For you those of you unfamiliar with this heavenly concept, it’s french fries, topped with cheese curds and veal demi-glace. It’s also proof that if there is a god, he might just live in Montreal.
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    Mmm ... fries-cheese-gravy.

    Mmm ... fries-cheese-gravy.

    Photo courtesy of sashafatcat, via Flickr.com
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  3. My friend Lindsay. She’s awesome, friendly, and I felt like we were friends after talking for 10 minutes. If she was the only good thing Canada had ever produced, it would still be a great country.
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    Her husband is also adorable, but hes not Canadian.

    Her husband is also adorable, but he's not Canadian.

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  4. Cuban cigars. Okay, so they’re not really Canadian, but you can by them there, and that’s pretty neat.
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    These basically make anyone look badass.

    These basically make anyone look badass.

    Photo courtesy of alexbrn via Flickr.com
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  5. Worldwide, everyone’s cool with Canada. Seriously – no one hates Canada. Find me one person who legitimately hates Canada, and you’ll find they probably hate puppies and birthday cake, too. Like vanilla ice cream, Canada might not be everyone’s favorite, but they won’t complain if they get it.
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  6. Rick Moranis. I don’t like to think about what the world would be like without him. He’s given us such noble characters as Louis Tully, Wayne Szalinski, and Barney Coopersmith. And speaking of his artistic canon …
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  7. Strange Brew. Seemingly a movie about two Canadian brothers and their adventures in a brewery, this comedy is based on Hamlet. Did you hear me? A COMEDY BASED ON HAMLET. Only Canadians can be that brilliant.
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  8. Their flag. I know that the maple leaf gets metaphorically crapped on a lot of the time, but let’s be objective: from a design perspective, it’s actually quite well done. It’s also non-hostile, easy-on-the-eyes, and nature-loving – just like a lot of Canadians I know.
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    Canadian Flag

    Canadian Flag

    Photo courtesy of TKOwned, via Flickr.com
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  9. Cupcakes in Vancouver. Years before cupcake boutiques became mainstream, Rand and I stumbled onto this little shop in Vancouver during a long weekend trip. It happened to be their opening day. Rand and I had been dating for two months at the time. During that weekend, he kept suggesting we go back to the cupcake shop. After three consecutive days of eating cupcakes, I was approaching a diabetic coma. It was wonderful.
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    I wish I was there right now.

    I wish I was there right now.

    Photo courtesy of rick via Flickr.com.
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  10. Bryan Adams. Admit it: at some time in your life, you thought at least one of his songs was awesome. And you still know all the words to it. He may have funky teeth and look a little bit like Mark Hamill post-car-accident, but the man can deliver a catchy tune.
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  11. The Jurinas: Ken and Kim. They’re friends of ours, and they just became parents. They’re just damn terrific.
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    Theyre son is the luckiest kid in Canada.

    Their son is the luckiest kid in Canada.

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  12. DeGrassi Junior High. Essentially Canada’s 90210 equivalent (but featuring actual teenagers, instead of 30-somethings), this show has tackled everything: self-mutilation, abortion, murder, bullying, sex, teen pregnancy – without flinching. Don’t let anyone tell you Canadians are bland.
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  13. Jean-Talon Market. Located in Montreal, Rand and I wandered through this open-air farmers’ market in a daze. It was like Pike Place Market had gone to finishing school in France. Rows of sausages, cured meats, creamy cheeses, and maple-flavored desserts. I could live there.
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    Why, hello there.

    Why, hello there.

    Photo courtesy of snow pea & bok choi via Flickr.com
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  14. Pierre Elliott Trudeau – My favorite of Canada’s former prime ministers (Okay, fine, so it’s not like I can name that many or anything). He’s responsible for implementing bilingualism. And he once said, “The state has no business in the bedrooms of the nation.” Right on, Pierre.
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  15. Foie Gras – I concede that eating meat is barbarism – there is no question about it (yet I feel man can be both civilized and barbaric. That is our nature. Discuss.) But if you start trying to determine which meat eaters are worse than others, it gets a weensy bit Orwellian. So let’s just leave it at this: foie gras is tasty. It is also plentiful and affordable in Canada. If you don’t like it, then don’t order it. And if you do like it, then we should be friends.
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  16. Kinder Eggs! Aero bars! And for that matter, lots of other European candies, all available at the corner market. For an American, finding this sort of thing just a few hours away from home (and not paying an arm and a leg for them) is a revelation.
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    Anytime food has a toy inside of it, count me in.

    Any time food has a toy inside of it, count me in.

    Photo courtesy of cocoinzenl via Flickr.com
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  17. Canadians are subjects of the Queen. I find this fascinating.
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  18. Loonies and Toonies. Dollar coins and two-dollar coins are plentiful in Canada. For an American, this is tre awesome, because what you think is just a handful of change can actually equate to a lot of money.
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  19. Sushi. In Vancouver it’s generally affordable, amazingly fresh, and often served in huge bamboo boats. ‘Nuff Said.
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  20. These were not on a boat. Or even in Vancouver. But I really love this picture.

     

  21. The Canadian accent. For an American, it’s not that different than our own. It’s subtle and varied, and changes as you drift across the country, just like ours. Most of my European friends can’t differentiate a Canadian accent from an American one at all – and when they see me pick out Canadians by cadence or inflection, they’re absolutely floored. It’s an awesome linguistic superpower that binds us to our northern neighbors.
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  22. It’s only three hours away! Okay, fine – this only applies to folks who live in Seattle (or cities close to the Canadian border) but this a big selling point for me – it’s a whole other country, three friggin hours away. It’s a weensy bit like Europe, except that you can drive there. Magic.
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  23. My friend Laura. One of the most clever and lovely women I’ve ever met. She’s also darkly hilarious, edgy, and sarcastic.
    Laura - I totally stole this photo off of Facebook.

    Laura - I totally stole this photo off of Facebook.

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  24. Eh? Come on, it’s just fun to say.
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Okay, folks,  I know I haven’t covered everything, so help me out here. What are you favorite things about Canada?

Full list of categories:  Random Musings » Rants and Raves » Top Ten
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Comments (26)

  1. 1

    Okay, so a lot of people who live in Canada would disagree with point number one. But I did want to mention that the only movie Brett and I had two of when we moved in together was in fact Strange Brew. A total classic (speaking of which. Did you need your own copy?).

    Also on poutine, I mean, Quinn’s serves it with veal demi-glace, but I think in general you get regular gravy. Often from a can/mix. Less sexy. Except at 3am. Then more sexy.

    Speaking of sexy at 3am, my number one thing I love(d) about Canada was the drinking age being 18 Montreal being 3hrs from my college.

  2. 2
    Everywhereist says:

    @Gastrognome – my experience with poutine has been at Quinn’s (in Seattle) and also at Au Pied in Montreal. So probably the fancy-pants end of the poutine spectrum.

    No, I don’t have my own copy of Strange Brew. Yes, I would like yours. I guess this means you two kids are serious, if you’re willing to give THAT up.

  3. 3

    Having grown up in Canada, and left it for Oregon almost 20 years ago, I just HAD to throw in my 2 loonies worth:

    Socialized medicine: when I left Canada in 1992, the total cost per taxpayer in Ontario was $300. That’s for 100% coverage, NO copays, and it was for a YEAR. And in the 22 years I lived there, I never heard of anyone I knew having any problems getting treatment, waiting forever, etc.

    Poutine: a word you must always spell very carefully. If you forget the “e”, it means something quite different :-)

    Jean-Talon Market: I lived in Montreal for 6 years, but I think Kensington Market kicks its ass. And both of them kick Pike Place Market’s ass BAD.

    Pierre Trudeau: still remember when he gave Western Canada the finger from the back of a train. You think I’m kidding? http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/Trudeau_salute

    Best part of Canada is that you can spell it with just 3 letters if you’re Canadian. C, eh. N, eh. D, eh.

    • 3.1
      Everywhereist says:

      Michael – Okay, this is a total newsflash to me, because I thought you were a Pacific Northwesterner just like myself (though even if you lived in Canada, that’s still true).

      Anywho, I agree with you on all points, except that you had better lay off the Pike Place Market. I can pick on it, because it’s my mine. You can’t. That’s the rule of hometowns. :) Oh, and Kensington was great, too – I just forgot the name of it.

  4. 4
    Trisha says:

    Canada is one of my favorite countries! And how lucky that TBEX will be held in Vancouver next June, so you could totally go to it!

    As for Strange Brew, it is indeed a classic. Everyone should own a copy of it, eh? And based on Hamlet, you say? I rather thought that parts of it were inspired by The Manchurian Candidate, what with the brainwashed hockey players and such. No matter, it’s comedy gold whatever it’s muse.

    All I can remember about Pierre Trudeau is that he was the first world leader since JFK to have a ‘hot’ wife.

  5. 5
    Katie Hammel says:

    I grew up in Detroit (the only city NORTH of Canada – wrap your head around that, eh?), which means my experience with Canada started at the wee age of 17, when I stole my 19 year old (the legal drinking age in Canada at the time)sister’s ID, and began going across the border to get hellaciously drunk with my older friends. Ah, those long rides back through Windsor Tunnel traffic, trying desperately not to puke all over my friend’s Neon until we’d passed the border patrol. The Friday mornings waking for school at 7am (after going to bed at 3) still slightly drunk, reeking of kamikazies, with random loonies and toonies spread around me on the bed. Good times.

    I’m really looking forward to TBEX in Vancouver next year, and the chance to expand my knowledge of Canada outside of the Howl at the Moon saloon.

  6. 6
    Candice says:

    Hahaha yeah, the legal drinking age being 19! Woot.

    Awesome round-up, G. See you in Vancouver next year?

  7. 7
    TravelholicA says:

    - Walking in the underground city in Montreal
    – Eating a lot at Julieta & Chocolat – my favourite caffee in the city
    – Beautiful landscapes
    – Diving in the snow
    – Spending a nice day in the Old Port (in the winter or summer)
    – Free festivals all the time

  8. 8
    Mindy says:

    I got married on Canada Day. I honeymooned in Montreal. So let me just share a few favorites: underwear from Jacob, Celine Dion, Robin Sherbotsky, Tim Hortons. I’m serious about half that list, hoser.

  9. 9
    Deanna says:

    I cannot wait to get my fat, greedy little hands on Canadian cupcakes when we hit Vancouver in August. Also, did you know there’s a poutine bot on Twitter?

  10. 10
    Everywhereist says:

    The poutine bot talked to me. At first, I thought I was hallucinating. But he’s real.

  11. 11
    Lindsay says:

    Awww! Thanks for the shout out! We’ve been moving for what seems like a month… with two teething infants… in a record five day raining spell. This was a lovely break from the grind. I need to buy you a copy of the book “How to be Canadian”. If you remember, I was trying to find it one night while you visited us here in FL. It has other good nuggets along the lines of what you’ve pointed out in this post.

    xoxo
    LW

  12. 12
    Michael says:

    Poutine is the #1 reason! Love that stuff.

  13. 13

    On point #1, a lot of Canadians just don’t get what the fuss is about with Americans and socialized medicine. And they always use us as an example “think socialized medicine is a good idea? Just ask a Canadian!” – and to this Canadian, yea, it’s pretty great, you should try it sometime. It’s not a perfect system (nothing is), but it’s better than dealing with corporations.

    I pay $20/mo. for my BC health care (based on income – max is ~$50/mo.). I’m totally fine knowing that the money will go to help someone if I don’t use it. Would you pay $50/mo. to know that if your mom got cancer or your best friend got into a car accident, they’d be treated great and not have tens of thousands in medical bills when they leave the hospital? It seems worth it to me.

    On a happier note, poutine is the greatest thing ever but a lot of my friends from the states think it sounds disgusting. I can’t wait to convert them when they come up to visit.

    And you totally forgot to add Justin Bieber to the list :P He’s the latest person Canada doesn’t want to claim. Celine is getting a lot less flack nowadays.

  14. 14
    Mark B says:

    I found your blog from a link on SEOmoz which is a service we use at work daily. I really like what Rand and company have built. Now I know why I like SEOmoz and Rand’s stuff so much! You see I am an ex-pat Canadian spending a little time down here in the US. I think this blog may become daily reading much like the SEOmoz blog. I may even have to start a blog myself. Keep up the good work! :)

  15. 15
    Josh M says:

    Holy crap! Socialized medicine *and* Kinder Eggs? I’m moving to Canada tomorrow! I lived in Germany for a few years in the mid-Eighties, and Kinder Eggs were my favs. Chocolate with a toy in it? Most awesome thing ever.

  16. 16
    Midnightwolf71 says:

    I am a Canadian. And we kick butt…
    That is all

    • 16.1
      Everywhereist says:

      Duh. Michael J. Fox is Canadian. It’s like a given that your entire country is therefore awesome.

  17. 17
    Melissa Billard-Layman says:

    Poutine is not that good for you but it is still so good that i cannot stop getting it all the time, so i need some help of me not eating poutine anynore.

  18. 18
    Zan says:

    Ok, I was weirded out when I went to the states and they didn’t have any smarties or aero bars! Those things are amazing! And health care IS amazing here. My dad has had multiple painful kidney stones and he literally had to wait 30 seconds at the ER here in London which is a pretty big city. I’ve also had to get jaw surgery because of an overbite, and I got AMAZING care the entire time, and I didn’t have to worry about big medical bills (the doctor told me it would have cost me over 20,000 dollars without healthcare. Like who can afford that?!?!)

  19. 19
    tony baloney says:

    why the heck dont you know the difference between “BY” and “BUY” ?

  20. 20

    We are Canadian … this is intersting. perspective.

  21. 21
    24 says:

    hockey

  22. 22
    Tanya says:

    What a fun article! Also:
    Ketchup chips. I understand they are not a standard down there? Also all dressed chips, coffee crisp candy bars, president’s Choice brand products, maple cotton candy…

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  1. » Happy Independence Day. There is no cake. » The Everywhereist - 04. Jul, 2011

    […] are so radically different from the English. Even the Canadians, who are so damn close to us, are strange and exotic in my mind, largely because they are subjects of the queen. As an American, queens are relegated to fairy […]

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