Friday, June 28, 2013

I am Canadian {TGCBB}

The Great Canadian Blog Bash

Happy Canada Day weekend! I'm getting excited to hit the road tomorrow and celebrate our country's 146th birthday with friends at their cottage. This is our yearly tradition and is always much anticipated, although we skipped last year to head to Disneyworld, right in time for their July 4th celebrations. That was pretty awesome too, I have to say.  I somehow don't imagine that our fireworks by the river this weekend will in any way measure up to the July 4th fireworks in the Magic Kingdom, but we will enjoy them nonetheless. Most likely right after we've filled up on delicious S'Mores from the campfire.

Before I head out for the weekend (or really, before I head down to the crawlspace to dig out our camping gear), I'm going to share with you a couple of posts as part of this year's Great Canadian Blog Bash. This is my third year participating in the blog hop, and I think it's a great way to meet other Canadian bloggers and learn about our country. Thank you so much to our dedicated hosts Mom Vs. the Boys, Whispered Inspirations, and Maple Leaf Mommy. Please be sure to visit to find and connect with a great group of Canadians, and to enter to win fabulous Canadian prizes!

In past years I've given you ideas on how to celebrate Canada Day in my local Scarborough, and shared some interesting tidbits about my awesome home province, Newfoundland and Labrador. This year, I think I'll tell you a little about me, and my experience living both here and in the US, and how things have differed.

I was born and raised in St. John's, NL. Other than one line of my family, which came from England in the early 1900s, my family has been in Newfoundland for longer than birth and death records exist there. This makes doing the family tree a bit challenging, but no matter. Since Newfoundland only joined Canada in 1949, my parents were born into the Dominion of Newfoundland, under the Commission of Government. Essentially, Newfoundland gave up its responsible government in 1934 (it had been an independent country), and existed under British control much like other British Crown Colonies until it joined Confederation with Canada in 1949. So, technically I'm a first generation Canadian.

Growing up on an island, albeit a really huge island, had its challenges. Getting off the island by car of course involved a long ferry ride and getting on those very busy and full ferries wasn't always straightforward. Air travel was easier, but expensive. As a teenager this felt a bit claustrophobic and led many of my friends to make a break for the big cities, Toronto or Montreal.  I spent a few months living in Halifax, and was thrilled to be able to just jump in a car and drive to the States. It was awesome! So liberating.

Later on, I left to pursue my graduate studies in the US. I spent three years in Medieval Studies at the University of Notre Dame, which is located in north central Indiana, just 90 minutes from Chicago and right on the state line with Michigan. I could drive to visit family in Ontario in about  9 hours. Living in the US was quite the experience, and really highlighted a bunch of differences between our two countries. Mundane differences perhaps, but they made me appreciate home all the more.

For instance, you know how people on TV never seem to take their shoes off indoors? Well, in my first month at Notre Dame, my boyfriend came to visit, and we were invited to a dinner party held by two of my new friends. One from Ontario and one from Illinois. When he and I walked in their door, we naturally took off our shoes. And my Ontario friend proudly announced, "See! I told you it wasn't just me. All Canadians take off their shoes when they come inside." We were totally being used in a little experiment to prove which roomie was right about this shoe thing. The US guests were all amazed.

Of course, there are lots of language differences, not least of which is our Canadian use of British spellings, like including the letter "U" in many places Americans don't. Colour vs. color. Neighbour vs. neighbor. I really struggled with that for a while in my writing, to keep my professors happy. I now vigourously defend the letter "U" whenever I can. Spell-check be darned.

Do you use cutlery or silverware? As Canadians we define silverware as the fancy stuff brought out with the good china for special occasions. It's actually silver. Cutlery is our generic term for forks, knives and spoons. In the States, silverware is the more generic term and cutlery refers only to cutting items. I would get blank stares if I asked for cutlery.

Candy bar (US) vs. chocolate bar (Cdn). They are made of chocolate, right? I never understood that one. Soda (US) vs. pop (Cdn.) Or, if you're in the south "coke" for all pop. My friend from Georgia always confused me with that one.

And then there's the difference in products available. Americans don't have Smarties for instance. Well, they do have something called Smarties, but they are the little round candies we call Rockets. Confused yet? I always brought a stash of Smarties with me from home. They were on my "import" list. And don't try to get vinegar in a fast food restaurant. Three heads people, seriously. My poor fries. I think that's where I really got hooked on mayo for fries. We have Gravol, they have Dramamine. Actually those have the same active ingredient, so don't worry. 

Worst of all, when I lived there, they had no Tim Horton's. Dunkin Donuts just doesn't cut it. A Canadian friend of mine told me how he had once driven 3 hours to cross the border from his US undergraduate institution, just to get Tim Horton's coffee. Yep. That there is Canadian. Through and through.

image from
So, now I'm off to pack up some Smarties and pop, plus the makings for our S'mores. Needless to say, I'll be grabbing a Timmie's coffee on the way in the morning. 

Happy Canada Day to you all! Enjoy the long weekend!

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