Canadian Epigeography

Is that a word? I don't know. But a couple of weeks ago, as I was in a crowd of Canadians compelled to struggle through our national anthem ...

Oh, wait, if you're not Canadian, you probably have no idea why Canadians have to "struggle" through the anthem. Well, the thing is, see, we don't sing it very often, so we don't always remember the words.

Anyway, eh, if you don't see something wrong with this sentence, eh, you've just failed the being-Canadian test and you won't understand the rest of this blog entry. So stop reading now. This is Canuck business.

No, seriously. Take off.

Okay, now it's just us. The word "eh" is a handy shibboleth for spotting fake Canadians, is that not so?

Anyhow, I'd like to discuss our general ignorance of our own country. Not only do we not know our own anthem (or, at least, which version is currently au courant), but we generally don't know much about any provinces that aren't immediately adjacent to ours.

Well, I could be wrong about that. Sorry.

Okay, now that I've said I'm sorry like a proper Canadian, let me expand upon the topic.

I suspect that many of us, with no real knowledge of our geography, are forced to fall back on a kind of internal metonymy when thinking about the Great White North.

My Canada includes ... Québec and Ontario. For everything else, I resort to dreadful generalization. Herewith, then, is Canada, as seen by me ...

Québec: The french province
Ontario: The rich province
Newfoundland: The poor province
Alberta: The redneck province
British Columbia: The stoned province
Manitoba: The cold province
Saskatchewan: The flat province
New Brunswick: The friendly province
Nova Scotia: The province Halifax is in
P.E.I.: The tiny province


As a good Canadian, I'm friendly and fairly polite. I'm also as inclusive and tolerant as I'm supposed to be. But I do generalize, which I'm not supposed to do. I can't help it; I'm too ignorant to know better.

As for the territories, I know even less. Here's what I've got:

Nunavut: The really cold territory
Northwest Territories: The territory that is as cold as Nunavut
Yukon: The territory they found gold in, once.


Lest you think that I'm completely one-dimensional, let me hasten to assure you that I do know some other things. For example, sometimes I think of the Yukon as "the upper left corner of Canada".

I suppose this all ties into the big "national identity" problem the people on TV say we have. Are we just Americans with health care?

I don't think so. There are many things we do have in common, such as our ignorance of our own country, our institutionalized aversion to worry, and our propensity to apologize.

That reminds me ... I was recently in a chat room where we were trying to think of a good collective noun for Canadians. A flock of Canadians? A herd of Canadians?

I think it's safe to talk about a pride of Americans, but what word would be used to represent a group of Canucks? I proposed "a flurry of Canadians", and that was well received. But I think the best was one I'd heard from a comedian: "an apology of Canadians".

I found a link to this expression here, but darn it, for the life of me I can't remember who actually invented the term.


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