The summer before starting medical school, I trekked through Europe carrying an oversized nylon backpack draped with a giant red maple leaf. I would run into many other travelers sporting similar colors, naively assuming that their choice of emblem identified them as fellow Canadians. But two weeks into the trip, I became suspicious after bumping into a group of four guys from El Paso. They spoke with lazy Texas drawls, yet claimed to hail from Vancouver, which turned out to be the only Canadian city they could name. To add insult to injury, they failed to correctly answer the most basic of all Canadian questions: Who won the Stanley Cup that year? Over a couple of beers, they intimated that their reception in Europe became far more pleasant after they donned the Canadian colors.
Explore this issueFebruary 2012
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To many Americans, Canada is that vast, friendly swath of land to the north inhabited by folks who speak English with a funny accent (maybe not as funny as a Texan?). Its major exports include cold weather (since most of Canada has two seasons, winter and July), hockey players, and great comedians who end up performing on Saturday Night Live (see Mike Myers, Jim Carrey, John Candy, Leslie Nielsen, Dan Ackroyd, and Lorne Michaels, to name a few).
But there are real differences between the two countries. There are the trivial ones—besides word pronunciations, the spelling sometimes differs: “Is that flag the colour red?” The country is crazy about hockey, not football. In fact, the $5 bill depicts boys and girls playing hockey on a frozen pond. So Canadian! Peace, order, and good government. That’s a phrase lifted from the Canadian Constitution, which expresses much about the Canadian temperament.| | | Next → | Single Page