What you learn about Canada when you move abroad.

Oh 90's Canada...you're so cute. (click to enlarge)
Having grown up in Canada and having attended school all over Canada I have a pretty broad experience with Elementary school Social Studies. I've seen every single Heritage Minute ever made and I rocked Canadian history in Junior High and High School so when we moved overseas I felt pretty firm in my Canadian trivia and knowledge. Oh how naive I was. You never stop learning...even about the place you call home. Here is just a brief summary of just a few of the things we've learned about Canada since leaving.

Saskatchewan is the butt of jokes even to Europeans. 

I kid you not. It's one thing when John and I laugh about Saskatchewan (dear readers who hail from "the gap" you understand as Manitobans we're obligated to giggle about your province.) On two separate occasions many weeks apart we've had virtual strangers make jokes about Saskatchewan. Once when we were renewing John's train pass and the nice man at the counter asked where my last name was from (this happens often) I said it was a popular name where I'm from in Canada. The nice man then proceeded to tell us he had been to Canada and really enjoyed it. He then told us all the places he had been and then said, "but not Saskatchewan...who wants to go there?!" The second occasion was recently when I met a bunch of the teachers at the school I will be teaching at. I was asked about what brought me to Switzerland and I mentioned my husband. I was asked about him and I mentioned he was from a town the middle of no where in Canada that was home to about 200 people. The person I was speaking to responded with, "What? Is he from like Saskatchewan. They have a lot of nothing right?!" Bahahahahahaha. Here's the thing, where John is from is about 7 minutes from the Saskatchewan border.

Everyone has a cousin in Toronto.

I am of the firm opinion now that the entire population of Toronto and the surrounding area is made up of nothing but the cousins of people we meet here in Europe.

Quebec speaks a lovely 13th century french.

I always knew the the French spoken in France and the French spoken in Canada were two very different things. I even remember being told by one French teacher in grade 9 that the french we were learning would not help us in Quebec but it would help us in France. So yeah, I knew they were different...but I didn't know WHY they were different. We have a lot of French friends so I cornered one of them once and made them tell me what was up with the differences in French and it couldn't be as simple as just different dialects. I was informed that they spoke a very nice 13th century French in Quebec, some would even argue it was a more pure form of the French language. If you were to say, "The light it out on my car." in France you would be saying just that. But in Quebec you would be saying something similar to, "The lantern is out on my ox cart." Go figure. Though this friend did maintain he prefers French from France he does find the French from Quebec to be quite melodious.

Canada is a Bucket List Item

Apparently every European we meet wants to go there. I had one woman tell me it was her dream to one day visit Canada. Another person told me visiting Canada was on their bucket list. The "true north strong and free" is home. Europe is my adventure. It's pretty eye opening to meet people who see it as the other way around. These two people had traveled extensively throughout Europe but seemed pretty "meh" about it. But Canada was a far away wonderous place they had only ever read about in books or learned about on TV. I've always thought Canada was pretty cool, I've seen every province so I could back up how awesome it can be but I would never think of it as a "dream destination."

Maybe more people should.


Anonymous said…
I can so identify with the last point. My Swedish friend Bjorn is very much in love with the idea of coming to Canada. He's super obsessed with the Rocky Mountains and visiting them!

He'll be here in 2 1/2 weeks, and I can't wait to show him the sights.. and lucky for him, we're not bringing him to Saskatchewan ;)

Anonymous said…
Yes, but do they make Newfie jokes in Europe?

My husband's family (in Croatia) is fascinated by the idea of Canada. His cousin came last year and found it a very interesting experience, though not exactly what they had expected.
Tatiana said…
No they don't actually. Most Europeans we meet have very little knowledge about the East Coast of Canada in general so making a Newfie joke would be almost impossible.