Author: Luisa Perkins
•6:57 AM
O, Canada. How I love thee.

I meant to write a post about Canada back on June 24th (St. John-the-Baptist Day, Québec's Fète Nationale), then again on July 1st, which is Canada Day. But other bloggers--actual Canadians--beat me to the punch, so I decided to save my ode for another day. That day has come.
I lived in Laval, a suburb of Montréal, for a short time years ago; it was the best few months of my single life. I left Canada in early October of 1989, so this time of year I always get a bit nostalgic. Enhancing these emotions, the other day I saw a Québecois license plate, the slogan of which is "Je me souviens," or "I remember." This motto, officially Québec's, means different things to different people, usually having something to do with the ongoing French-English conflicts in Canada. But for me, the words are a reminder of a wonderful time in my life.

Other things have me thinking about Canada this week. Last year, a friend of ours went hunting in Newfoundland and brought back a moose. He shared the delicious meat (it tastes like grass-fed beef) with his friends; I made the last of his gift into a wonderful stew last night.

It's my turn to lead our book group discussion this month, and the book I chose is The Blue Castle, L. M. Montgomery's novel for adults. The Blue Castle is Montgomery's only book set outside of Prince Edward Island; it takes place in Bala, Muskoka, Ontario, where Montgomery went on holiday once.

Here are more reasons why I love Canada:

Poutine! It's the ultimate comfort food. Take french fries, add fresh cheese curds, then pour delicious brown gravy over the top, so that the cheese melts somewhat, but retains its texture and shape. My mouth waters as I write. Oh, and Crème Budwig--like muesli, only a lot nuttier. Other delicious Canadian foods: toutons (bread dough fried in salt pork fat), figgy duff (similar to plum pudding), and maple fudge. Or really, maple anything.
Barenaked Ladies! Great Big Sea (I have a huge crush on Alan Doyle, second from the right in the photo above)! The Wailin' Jennys! Leonard Cohen! Rush, Triumph, Steppenwolf, and The Guess Who! Joni Mitchell and Neil Young! Oscar Peterson! La Bottine Souriante! There are so many great Canadian musicians. I even liked Céline Dion back when she was still singing in French and before she started beating on her skinny chest in platinum-selling, anglophone power ballads.

Robertson Davies! Mordecai Richler! Michael Ondaatje! Margaret Atwood! Mavis Gallant! Dave Duncan! Charles de Lint, Guy Gavriel Kay, and Yann Martel! Alice Munro and Lucy Maud Montgomery! A significan percentage of my favorite writers are from Canada.

Dan Aykroyd. Eugene Levy. Mike Myers. Catherine O' Hara. John Candy. Dave Foley. Phil Hartman. Howie Mandel. Andrea Martin. Jim Carrey. Canada is good at making funny people.

French without anxiety. I studied French for 12 years in school, but that doesn't mean I was a fluent speaker when I got to Laval. Imagine my relief when I found that the Québecois were thrilled with my French, a reaction completely unlike the ill-disguised sneers or looks of outright incomprehension I'd gotten when trying to communicate with those of a more Parisian profile. (The difference between Canadian French and European French is as dramatic as the difference between British English and American English.) Canadians were so kind and encouraging of my French, even sometimes asking me whether I was from western Canada (this is much better than sounding like an American, I assure you).

I have many ancestors who settled in or were born in places like Scarborough, Ontario; Grand Bay, New Brunswick; and Cardston, Alberta.

For my senior project in college, I wrote a detailed outline for a post-apocalyptic fantasy novel partially set in a mythical Canadian province called Nunavut. Right after I turned in my project for final approval in March 1999, the real province of Nunavut was officially created. I now (irrationally) feel as though I were the creator of this new province.

National health care. Americans, go see the movie Sicko. Really: I feel it is your patriotic duty to do so.
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On 13/9/07 , Annette Lyon said...

Doh! I still haven't gotten you Blue Castle stuff. When's book club?

I'd LOVE to visit Canada sometime!

On 13/9/07 , Anne Bradshaw said...

Great blog, Luisa. Thanks for sharing about Canada. It sounds like a good place to go.

On 13/9/07 , dawn said...

I love Canada. That is a great tribute, and I always wondered how Nunavut came to be. I haven't been to Quebec, but from my post today you will see I did make it to Ontario.

On 13/9/07 , bubandpie said...

I noticed your Canuck music preferences before, as you may recall. This post was such a treat!

On 13/9/07 , Catherine said...

I've hardly been to Canada, but I did live in Switzerland with a lot of Canadians, and I have a soft spot for them. It seems like it must be a fantastic country...great post!

On 13/9/07 , Tristi Pinkston said...

Sigh -- Blue Castle.

I say it again-- Sigh.

On 13/9/07 , Kimberly said...

On behalf of our country, I thank you.

I feel all loved and stuff.

And I have such a crush on him too.

On 13/9/07 , Brillig said...

This is, like, the ultimate tribute to Canada. Hahaha. Great post.

There was one time when I stood up and screamed, "THAT'S IT!!!! I'M MOVING TO CANADA!!!!" You can probably guess that it was right around the time that Bush was elected to a second term... :-)

On 13/9/07 , Jenna said...

Well, this IS a lovely tribute, and it does make me want to visit
Canada, but unfortunately, it makes me want to bring my own food. Maybe a taster table sometime could convince me otherwise? Anything to get you cooking for me.

On 13/9/07 , Sirdar said...

Thanks for the kind words about our country. Most Canadians are very proud of it and we hope we can stay that way in the future.

I've never been to Quebec but I would love to go there...even though I don't speak French. I've heard that the Quebec French and the French French (?) are quite different. However, the Maritime English is quite different than the rest of Canada too :-)

Now you need to go west to the prairies, the mountains, and BC. People who come from eastern Canada are surprised by the people in the west and the beauty of it. You are welcome to come anytime :-)

On 14/9/07 , NH Knitting Mama said...

I L-O-V-E Canada. Luckily, it's only a 6 hour ride from my house. One weekend Big Daddy and I said "oh, what the heck" and drove all the way to Montreal on a Saturday morning with just the clothes on our backs. (OK, we were young, and gas was 99 cents a gallon). Was one of the best times of our lives. So, the slogan means a lot to me, too.

On 14/9/07 , Syar said...

I really only need one reason to love Canada, which is one of my best friends is from there and is now studying there back in her hometown.

But you've upped the ante with poutine. You had me at 'cheese'. Then again at 'gravy'.

On 14/9/07 , Luisa Perkins said...

Thanks, Bubandpie! It means a lot coming from you.

Tristi, I know. Me too. Sigh.

Kimberly, I'm glad I'm not alone in unrequited crushdom.

Brillig, you and me both, babe. You and me both.

Jenna, I'll furnish a tasting table for you any time.

Sirdar, I mean to get out there someday. I've heard wonderful things about your part of the country.

NHM, ahhh, the days of spontaneous roadtrips....

Syar, it's even better than it sounds. I may have to make some this weekend, after all this contemplation.

On 14/9/07 , Jen said...

Oh, Luisa, I am SO with you on all of this!!! I LOVE Canada, love almost all of the things you mentioned. We *do* have a lot in common! And BNL rock!!! And I want to go to Montreal right now.
And if you can handle fairly gruesome mysteries - the Kathy Reichs series, especially the early books, takes place predominantly in Montreal, which is the main reason I got hooked, initially.

On 27/9/07 , Blue Momma said...

Great post! I totally should swipe that map and put it on mine.

I see you're on Cre8buzz. And number one in your group. Whoo hoo! I'm going to have to check your blog out further.

I wonder if I could find someone to start paying me for this? Because this writing/reading blogs? It's becoming a full time job for me!

On 3/10/07 , Joeprah said...

Great Big Sea! Yes! I thought I was the only one who knew of them in the states. Also, love that town Niagara on the Lake and their wine.