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Old 11-18-2009, 06:10 PM   #15
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Only if he can get himself out of that darn sewer pipe!
Now that will be covered by US news outfits!

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Old 11-19-2009, 12:37 AM   #16
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In a typical newscast on US TV, you will likely only hear about US news, and 98% of that is about politics, and 2% will be about something like a kid that got stuck in a drainpipe.
Hi, I think you have it all wrong; 98% of the US news is commercials, teasers of "AT 11:00 PM", And what we told you yesterday, [food item] that was good for your health, today it can be deadly. And the 2% part of the news is corrections on jumping the gun in the days before. Small female cop didn't bring down gun man, little boy wasn't really in balloon, and that new car that gets 200 MPG won't be sold in this country.
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Old 11-19-2009, 02:59 AM   #17
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A 12th generation Canadian, I grew up in Windsor, which meant all US TV and Radio stations from Detroit and regular cultural trips there to Henry Ford/Greenfield Village, Jazz clubs, concerts, plays and galleries.

I now live in Toronto, but spend nearly a third of every year touring all over the states plus have regular contact an equal number of American as Canadian business colleagues and friends. I'm comfortable saying that in most general respects we're not that different. Friendly folks is friendly folks. I love travelling through the US ...it's geographically beautiful, diverse, safe and one of the best experiences of practiced freedom I can imagine.

Yes Canada is clean but not necessarily cleaner than the US. Most of my time in the US is on the road not in the air and I find American roadways are clean, in good shape. Major US cities have been investing well in infrastructure with fresh buildings, roads, clean parks and maintained with care by citizens too. Urban and rural, the pride is showing and it's great!

Culturally however, there are some BIG differences I've noticed:

- In Canada, you'd never see a sign entering a restaurant that says "Check your weapon" or "No shoes no shirt no service" or both.

- Americans generally know or care about things within their continental US only. Few are exposed to or taught well matters of the world outside their door. Knowledge of world geography or history is often laughable. You have a great country but it's a big world and y'all oughtta get out more.

- Most Americans have no concept of "grey" or middle ground on most issues. It's mostly black or white, straight or gay, democrat or republican, red or blue, right or left, christian or anti-christian, haves or have nots. It's as though the pendulum swings only to the extreme left or right, where most Canadians appreciate that the truth most often lies in the balance.

- Canada is multi-cultural, US is a melting pot. Both nations basically have the same mix of immigrants, but in Canada the dress, food and culture continue mostly unchanged from their native homeland. Imagine a buffet laid out with a variety of distinct and exotic foods presented with pride for all to sample. That would be Canada. Now imagine that same buffet all pureed by some giant blender. Now pour some Ketchup on it to put back the flavour. That would be the US.

- Canadians share a higher level of social concern, evident in health care and community programs that continues through our banking and corporate culture too. This creates a less radical disparity of income etc. (it's that balance thing again.) In US this "look after your neighbour and your own world is a better place" becomes twisted into political (ie. socialist) or special-interest agenda.

- Canadians are fortunate to not be burdened with the responsbilities of feeding a super-power military industrial complex. I'm probably most thankful that of any place in the world it's the US that has that leadership, but I'm even more thankful that we don't have to fund it to the same extent. It may be good business to be cop of the world, but only if you're in the cop-business.

- Canadians don't seem to move forward on plans or make decicisions as quickly. We're slower, more rational, almost to a fault... so for both better and worse this slows down our pace of business and development. This is why the US leads in creating technology then move on to the next big thing, unfortunately not so much for improving quality or efficiency. That's where the Europeans and Asians come in.

- Canadians are generally less fanatical about media, celebrity, wealth and fame. You can be the wealthiest, most famous person. Walk through the busiest streets of Toronto and most people either won't recognize you or care. Even if they do, your status (WHO you are) is less important than the quality of person you are. The Paparazzi culture isn't fed here.

One last reference most will agree on (found elsewhere on the web)

Here is a guide for Americans to understand Canada:
British Columbia = California + Oregon
Alberta = Texas + Wyoming
Saskatchewan = North North Dakota
Manitoba = Minnesota + Iowa
Ontario = New York + Michigan
Quebec = New York + France
New Brunswick = Maine without the overcrowding
Nova Scotia = Massachusetts without the overcrowding
Prince Edward Island = Delaware
Newfoundland = Maine + Iceland + back country Louisana/Alabama

I've gone on enough, but I'd be interested to read the reverse view on Canadians from an American who spends time up here.
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Old 11-19-2009, 05:15 AM   #18
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in Canada, you can go to mcdonalds and pay with U.S. currency and get back the correct change in either U.S. or Canadian currency.

in NY you can go to Mcdonalds and give them Canadian currency and they will ask what it is that you just handed them after staring at it for a while. we quickly pass off Canadian currency because we don't know what to do with it.

we have a deposit on water bottles now in NY. maybe they should also be made relective.
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Old 11-19-2009, 05:40 AM   #19
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Paul, excellent and thoughtful post. My wife and I have often travelled in Canada in the past 9 years. I lived on the border in the '70's and my first trip to Canada was in the 1940's

We are far more alike than different. I feel like I am traveling in the US 50 years ago. I think the US was a happier and more successful country 50 years ago, so Canada feels pretty good. The possible exception is that part of Ontario closest to NY and Michigan—it feels like NY and Michigan, maybe 20 years ago. The comparisons of the provinces and certain states are quite accurate.

A long time ago, maybe in the 1960's, a professor in Toronto (have no idea who) said Canadians ought to erect statutes of Uncle Sam, because without the US to look down on, Canadians wouldn't know who they were other than not-Americans. This did not go over well in Canada and, of course, 98% of Americans never heard about that statement. There is some truth in that statement and it had a good effect—Canadians did have to ask who they are beyond being not-Americans. Americans seem just as confused who we are, but won't admit it. Some Americans want to force out of the country Americans who don't agree with them. I can't imagine that happening in Canada.

Canadian politics, so far as I can find out since US media doesn't know Canada exists, are more like the politics of 50 years ago in the US too. Much more civilized and rational. The center in Canada seems like the left in the US.

There are certain setbacks to traveling in Canada. I feel like I'm in a math class all day. I have to constantly multiply km. by .62. If I don't do that, I don't know what the local speed limit is (generally slower than the western US) or how far away someplace is. Since I see far fewer cops in Canada (with the possible exception of Ontario), knowing the speed limit is not too important. I also have to convert liters to gallons or quarts and money frequently. There is a palpable sense of relief when we cross in the US and see a sign telling us how many miles it is to somewhere. That's a view from the windshield.

We find restaurants are generally better in Canada. You don't often get greasy breakfasts in Canada, but often do in the US. We find we can go to a restaurant in a small town in Canada and get really good food, but in the US most small town restaurants serve unhealthy or poorly prepared meals.

How big Canada is and how few people there are is very different. We have driven as far north, east and west you can drive in Canada and it sure takes a long time, and much of it is forest or prairie plus a lot of tundra. Canada has 1/10 the population and more land. We've never been to Windsor or London, so we have set to see extreme southern Canada. Even the American west seems busy compared to much of Canada. There does seem to be much more acceptance of diversity in Canada while the US seems to be dragged into it kicking and screaming.

There's a theory that countries that were colonized by others reflect the attitudes and times of the first colonizers. Thus the Puritan thread in the US and the more liberal beliefs of Canadians and Australians. But the effects of TV are causing change. Canadians get much US TV. It has an effect. In fact national TV in the US does the same—as one example, it becomes harder and harder to hear regional accents in the US. They're still there, but it's changing, slowly, to a universal midwestern English. No one group holds on to their culture and language more than the Quebecois though. American disunity is manifested in politics, Canadian disunity is fostered by the Quebec vs. everyone else issue.

Although we had heard people were unfriendly in Quebec we found that not to be so at all. We enjoyed our time there, but the official policies of the province felt unwelcoming (road and other signs mean a lot) and we were glad to leave. The dislike of Quebecois by other Canadians is also palpable. This split is Canada's burden as a nation. Quebec seems to act as if it;'s a separate country. Much of what is said about Canada in the US means not-Quebec Canada.

America's burden is being a world power. Our huge military saps American economic strength. Every empire crashes eventually and military expenditures are a big part of it. The burden of world power affects politics and culture promoting an us vs. them outlook. Being a world power means developing something of a warrior culture.

I was taught in school that the US was the best, richest, smartest, most innovative country in the world. Because this was right after WW II, there was much more truth in that than today. Best is a value judgment and a conclusion. But the others are not true facts. Rich is true now for some, but for most Americans the standard of living is declining. The standard of living in some other countries is now higher than the US. Smart people are everywhere and innovation is becoming worldwide. I don't know what they teach children today in US or Canadian schools., but it would tell a lot about both countries.

It never used to be hard to cross the border. Canadian border officials were friendly and welcoming, US not, but is wasn't very difficult. The passport thing and the other border barriers put up by the US are self isolating. Contact between the countries is bound to suffer. I think Canadians are insulted by how the US has treated them—not as cousins, but as potential enemies. Our crossings have generally been easy, but not as easy as they used to be. I can't imagine what it's like to live on the border now and have friends and relatives on each side. This may seem like a little thing to most Americans, but I think it matters a lot to Canadians who travel a lot more in the US than Americans go to Canada (I think, but not absolutely sure).

We have always found Canada to be a welcoming country and enjoy being there. We have had bad meals there, met mean people, but very little of that. I sure would like to know what's going on there when we're not there, but we hear more about shootings here than we hear about Canada.

It is commonplace to say Canadians are very polite and a bit reserved. But when talking to Canadians I find that once they are comfortable in the conversation, they are as blunt and open as most Americans, though they stay fairly rational.

Gene
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Old 11-19-2009, 08:11 AM   #20
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Some very good thoughts here, Paul, Gene. Thanks for the time it took to write them.

Here's my last bit:

If, in a crowd, an American accidently steps on a Canadian's toes, the Canadian will immediately say, "Oops, sorry!".
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Old 11-20-2009, 02:02 AM   #21
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There are certain setbacks to traveling in Canada. I feel like I'm in a math class all day. I have to constantly multiply km. by .62. If I don't do that, I don't know what the local speed limit is (generally slower than the western US) or how far away someplace is. Since I see far fewer cops in Canada (with the possible exception of Ontario), knowing the speed limit is not too important. I also have to convert liters to gallons or quarts and money frequently. There is a palpable sense of relief when we cross in the US and see a sign telling us how many miles it is to somewhere. That's a view from the windshield.
Gene
Hi, forget the math and enjoy the scenery. Look closely to your speedometer, it has an inner and outer scale; One for MPH and one for KPH. Also most newer vehicles with digital read outs, have buttons for changeing MPG to KPL Etc. [my Lincoln does] As for gas I just fill it up, hand over my Canadian dollars, and cry for a short time and move on.

When in Canada I feel like I'm in a crime free country. Canadians correct me if I'm wrong, but my understanding of the legal system of Canada versus U.S. is that, in the U.S. robbing a store would be 5 to 10 years in jail, but could be lower depending on the judge. In Canada the the crime for robbing a store would be 5 years and that is exactly what you get period. [note: these are just examples, not real numbers]
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Old 11-20-2009, 04:31 AM   #22
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Interesting to read your reply Gene. LOL I feel similar math-relief every time I cross into the states. Speedos in my old '65 Corvette and '75 Silverado are both miles per hour (before Canada went metric) and I grew up listening to weather and measurements always expressed in fahrenheit and feet.

You know, I've never had a negative experience crossing the border on the US or the Canadian sides. Sure border tensions and security are escalated and well, these days they need to be. There are a lot of illegal drugs and weapons seized as a benefit. Entering Detroit last month for our three week road trip to the southwest, the US Customs got a real laugh at our "Don't mess with Texas" bumper sticker on a truck with Ontario tags. I had everything ready for him to go through all our gear, but he didn't, and frankly didn't have to. Coming back was like greeting a friend at our own front door. We may have to present passports now, big deal, but man I hope that border crossing goodwill never changes. I have huge respect for the job they do.

La belle provence, Quebec is spectacularly beautiful and culturally diverse, a very special Canadian treasure. People there are just as friendly as you make it possible for them to be... just like anywhere else. There is that French "refinement" thing many mistake as snobbery. Vive la difference! True they must be forceful to maintain their language and heritage. I often feel the need to exchange currency first before going there, then realize it's still Canada (which unfortunately means slightly more cost for gas and most everything else.)

More Quebecois are perfectly fluent and articulate in English as French. Most Canadians outside Quebec can't speak French, or even if they can their French is not as good as the Quebecer's English. Yup Gene, the younger people there also have that non-regional non-accent thing you mention which I agree is growing across Canada and US. When I travel in the deep south, we often hear thick accented southerners comment "Yoooor cunaydiuns? Y'all shore don't talk like one!" Then we find out they've been speaking to older generation Quebecois who mostly speak like Celine Dion. It will indeed be a sad thing when accents go away in another generation or two.

One last point on that odd professor - I've never ever heard of him or that bizarre perspective. We don't define ourselves by who we are not. I think that's bass-ackward, like telling the girl at Baskin Robbins the 30 flavours you don't want instead of the 1 you do. We are what we are, not what we are not.

Could sum it up with a comment I received at a car show by an excited young man, who exclaimed when he saw my Sting Ray "my uncle had a car like that! It was exactly the same, but totally different."

That's what Canadians and Americans are like. Exactly the same but totally different!
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Old 11-20-2009, 06:26 AM   #23
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Paul, our Toyota has the km on the speedometer in such small numbers I can't read them, so .62 it is. Barb and I compete sometimes to see who can do the math faster. I suppose it's a mental game to keep us alert while crossing long expanses of the prairie provinces. When we ask a Canadian "how many miles is it to _____?" the older ones answer right away, the younger ones don't have a clue. When they say on TV how much rain will fall in centimeters, it could be 2 feet and I wouldn't have a clue. Temps in centigrade I can with effort translate—and I know 0 is cold and 20 is warm. Maybe when Americans hear a weather forecast that it's going to be 20, they think it's winter all the time in Canada when it's only winter 11 months of the year.

As I said, the people in Quebec were all friendly, the road signs and politics of Quebec seem not to be. All over the world road signs are often in the native language and English—even in Saddam Hussein's Iraq. These are small things that make a big impact and affect relationships all out of proportion to their purpose. Store signs are troublesome too when we wanted to buy something and couldn't figure out what the store sells—you can look in the window when walking, but not when driving. We did run into people in small towns who couldn't speak English. In one instance we struggled through it trying some Spanish (didn't work) until someone who did speak English spoke up. We couldn't figure out how much an ice cream cone cost but we got it figured out. I have studied Latin, Spanish and Portuguese (badly), but French is beyond me. I can read just enough of it to keep me out of jail. So for a traveler, Quebec can be a struggle.

That obscure professor—right after that Canada started the Canadian content efforts on TV and otherwise to keep Canada from being overwhelmed by American media. So maybe it had some impact.

Efforts to stop cultural change always fail. Americans try to do it too. It takes a few generations for change to happen. I think it's unfortunate Americans and our media ignore Canada. In some ways it's a more successful country and we could learn from Canada. For ex., Canadian banks did not go crazy and regulators continued to regulate and Canada was not nearly so affected by bank failure.

The same but different debate goes on. I enjoy talking with Canadians about the differences and sameness and find it to be a topic on their minds. Their beliefs about the US are generally correct and well thought out. It's good to get another perspective on ourselves.

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Old 11-20-2009, 06:56 AM   #24
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Re: Canadian accents

I grew up and continue to live just a short 'stone's throw' from both Ontario and Quebec. Our televisions in the 50's and 60's were full of Canadian programs in both English and French, so we are quite used to the 'accents'. Many of the settlers in this area, including my family, were from Canada, or 'Over Home' as those of my grandparent's generation referred to it.

The Canadian English accent element most noticable to my ear is the rise at the end of statements that make it seem the speaker is asking a question.

Try this example.
American English: We are going to Grandma's house.
Canadian English: We are going to Grandma's house?

It's almost as if the speaker isn't quite sure of him/her self, and is asking the listener for confirmation. Is this a cultural lack of confidence? It's probably not, but sure sounds that way to the American ear.

OK now here's a Canadian Bumper Sticker Joke:

"No STUPID, I said REGINA!"

If you don't get it, say it a few times.
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Old 11-20-2009, 08:10 AM   #25
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Paul, our Toyota has the km on the speedometer in such small numbers I can't read them, so .62 it is. Barb and I compete sometimes to see who can do the math faster. I suppose it's a mental game to keep us alert while crossing long expanses of the prairie provinces. When we ask a Canadian "how many miles is it to _____?" the older ones answer right away, the younger ones don't have a clue.
Gene,

That's why God invented GPS: you can have it SAY the data in metric, US, gallons, Swedish, Uruguayan, or French. There are even at least two flavours of Hinglish!

Then you can swear at it in Kaybecois French: "Maudite affaire, kriss! Collin de bin!!"
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Old 12-01-2009, 06:29 PM   #26
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Although I find it very amusing that some Americans think we speak "Canadian" and live in igloos, in my mind what stands out is 9/11.

When disaster struck, the Canucks were shoulder-to-shoulder with the Yanks. Isn't that all that matters? eh,
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Old 12-01-2009, 06:42 PM   #27
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We have been all over Canada and have never seen an igloo. You do speak Canadian, however—English sounds a little different when a Canadian speaks. Perhaps a linguist can explain it, are you out there Lynn?

And then there's the Newfoundland version of something like English. I'm unsure what it's called.

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Old 12-01-2009, 07:10 PM   #28
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It's called "Dialect". However, the history of Newfoundland, you have to research...very interesting.
And and yes when I vactioned in Vegas, they asked me what country I was from. Too funny.
Born in Fort Churchill Manitoba, polar bears, Inuit and igloos.
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