Tuesday, April 20, 2010

My Canada

With nothing really exciting happening in my life in Russia lately, my thoughts have turned to home. I've been missing ordinary life in Canada, and it is the little things that I miss most.

I miss the smooth roads (compared to Russia they are paved with silk) and doing my grocery shopping at Sobey's and Zehr's, where cashiers are friendly and smile and put your food in a bag for you (rather than scowling and tossing a bag at you with disgust). I miss nodding my head "hello" to people on the street and hearing banter in a language I can understand and, yes, I even miss French/English signage.

I miss seeing eagles and hawks, mountains and ocean and farms, and ultra-modern Petro-Canada gas stations. I miss watching playoff hockey on the CBC, especially with three Canadian teams still alive (the Ottawa Senators, aka "the Sens", the Montreal Canadiens, aka "the Habs" and the Vancouver Canucks, aka "the Vancouver Canucks"). I miss watching the evening news with Lloyd Mansbridge on CTV and The Hour with George Strombopolis or Snuffaluffagis or whatever on CBC.

I miss VIA Rail and Air Canada and WestJet. I miss seeing the RCMP (Royal Canadian Mounted Police aka "Mounties") in their traditional red uniforms for the tourists on Parliament Hill or in their more contemporary black uniforms with armored vests in their Dodge Chargers and Ford Crown-Vics on the highways. I even miss the OPP (Ontario Provincial Police), although because they cross-train with the LAPD one never knows if you're going to be shot when they pull you over.

I miss the 401 (the massive 10-lane highway that goes from Detroit to Toronto to Montreal, and is also the most heavily travelled highway in North America) and the Trans-Canada (a massive highway that stretches from Halifax in the east to Vancouver in the west). I miss the names of towns and cities I learned all my life from stories, news and travels.

Places like Vancouver, Victoria, Nanaimo, Banff, Whistler, Calgary, Edmonton, Cold Lake, Medicine Hat, Regina, Swift Current, Winnipeg, Brandon, Thunder Bay, Sault-St-Marie, North Bay, Ottawa, Toronto, Hamilton, Guelph, Kitchener-Waterloo, Mississauga, Scarborough (although I don't really miss Canada's crime and murder capital), Gatineau, Montreal, Quebec City, Levis, Riviere-De-Loup, Fredericton, Truro, Halifax, Lunenburg, Antigonish, Mabou and St. John's.

I miss the 10 provinces of Newfoundland-Labrador, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island (PEI), New Brunswick, Quebec, Ontario, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta and British Columbia and I miss hearing about the 3 territories of Yukon, Northwest Territories and Nunavut.

I miss $1 and $2 coins (loonies and toonies, respectively) and drinking large double-doubles from Timmy's (large coffee with two cream and two sugars from the best coffee chain in the world, Tim Horton's). Oh and do I ever miss our beer! Russian beer sucks, and doesn't come anywhere close to Alexander Keith's, Molson Canadian, or even, and I know it's a stretch, Labbatt Blue.

I miss buying hardware and gardening tools and car supplies (and, for some reason, Christmas decor) at Canadian Tire where you can "Give like Santa and save like Scrooge" but Canadians have ultimately renamed the chain "Crappy Tire".

This habit of Canadians to rename things makes for an almost foreign language if a visiting American were to listen in. "I was on the way to Crappy Tire, sipping on a Timmy's when I reached for a toonie I saw on the floor and a fuckin' Mountie flashed his cherries and pulled me over!" (I was driving to Canadian Tire, drinking a Tim Horton's coffee when I saw a $2 coin on the floor and as I reached down to pick it up an RCMP officer turned on his sirens and pulled me over).

Although I have all my favourite Canadian bands on my itunes playlist, I still miss hearing them come up randomly on the radio (and Toronto has some amazing radion stations, better than most of the US ones save for one out of Buffalo which rocks). Bands like The Tragically Hip, Sam Roberts, Our Lady Peace, I Mother Earth, Mother Mother, Blue Rodeo, The Headstones, The Tea Party, Ashley MacIsaac, Sarah McLaughlin, Nelly Furtado, Bif Naked, Big Sugar and so many more.

There's even our older artists, like the Guess Who, Neil Young, Platinum Blonde, Men Without Hats, Tears for Fears, Tom Cochrane, Kim Mitchell, April Wine, Rush (fourth best-selling rock band in the world after The Beatles, The Rolling Stones and Aerosmith), Joni Mitchell, Gordon Lightfoot and Paul Anka.

I could mention Brian Adams, Celine Dion, Creed and Nickelback but I won't, because I wish to apologize to the world for them on behalf of my country. Okay, I apologize for Corey Hart and Loverboy, as well.

That's enough. Here's a video I made by blatantly stealing other people's videos from YouTube and mashing them all together.


  1. As publisher of http://TransCanadaHighway.com, I need to post a quick correction. The Trans-Canada Highway starts in the west at Victoria (not Vancouver and extends 7,821 km to St John's in Newfoundland (not Halifax, Nova Scotia which does not lie on the Trans-Canada) Interestingly, Victoria has a monument to "Mile 0" while St John's celebrates "Mile One", making this technically the longest "Mile" in the world!

  2. My mistake! Duly noted. Actually, in hindsight I do remember seeing "Mile 0" in Victoria but never figured out the meaning. Thank you!

  3. I love your blog, its very interesting to read such a different perspective from mine. I am from Moscow and moved to Canada 12 years ago. You look at things very differently depending on where you grew up. The first time I tried decent beer and saw normal driving on the roads was when I went back to Russia for a visit.

  4. Well, Canada is full of tourist destinations but few of them are most beautiful and a must see for everyone. I really like your blog which is quite interesting. Thanks for sharing wonderful posts.