In the novel “Arse Over Teakettle, Book One of the Toronto Trilogy,” the main character is a young boy named Tom Hudson. He tells of his father’s version of the ten most common characteristics of Canadians. Tom’s father is a proud Canadian, but loves to poke fun at himself and his fellow countrymen. His tongue-in-cheek sense of humour is reflected in the following passage from the book in which he discusses with his son the traits that Canadians share in common.
1. Canadians are possessed with the seasons and never stop talking about them. Without weather to grumble about, they would be forced to remain silent in elevators, or heaven forbid, go out and vote in an election for something to do. (Note: the election of October 2015 proved that this characteristic is now in question.)
2. Before Canadians will believe that something or someone is great, they require confirmation by other nations, especially Americans. However, after they guzzle two bottles of Canadian wine, they concede that their vintages are among the world’s finest and the hangovers are “world class.” (apologies to the excellent vintners of Ontario and B.C.)
3. Canadians not living in the Toronto area, all know that it is an evil place, even if they have never stepped foot within its precincts. Astute political observers expect a Toronto Separatist Party to develop sometime in the near future.
4. In a crowd, Canadians prefer invisibility to being obvious. They are invisible when in foreign lands, despite the fact that they are the only people in the world who speak the English language without an accent (wink wink!). Also, they are the only North Americans who know that the final letter of the alphabet is pronounced “Zed.” They also know what “double-double” means. In summer, they have barbeques, not “barbies” or “cook-outs.”
5. Though Canada is not a Christian nation by constitutional law, the majority believe in a code of ethics that is similar to “Christian values,” whether they are a Muslim, Jew, Buddhists, atheist, or agnostic. The phrase, “I’m going to put up an agnostic tree next Christmas,” is as Canadian as hockey, maple syrup, or Tim Bits.
6. Canadians strive to see both sides of an argument. Tolerance and compromise are preferred to dogmatism. However, if their favourite hockey team does not make it to the play-offs, they allow no arguments over the statement, “Well, there’s always next year.”
7. They are passive by nature, hate to make a fuss, and prefer to keep their opinions private. (The latter quality, I might add, is now being destroyed by Facebook and Twitter.) However, if they are aroused, they can become a potent force. An international hockey tournament is a sure-fire way to arouse the land of the maple leaf. They are quick to adopt Europe’s finest sporting traditions (Google articles written about “crazed” soccer fans at professional games.)
8. Patriotism is an internal emotion, independent of flags, symbols, and rousing anthems. Besides, most of them do not know the lyrics of their national anthem. They would hold their hands over their hearts when saluting the flag, but during most of the year, it is too cold to take their hands out of our pockets.
9. They are usually practical by nature, though it is said that Canadians are the only people in the world who step out of the shower to take a pee.
10. The “GST” they hate with a passion and love asking, “Can I pay cash?” (wink-wink). As well, they believe they should obey the law, even if it is inconvenient. However, they do not recognize any customs that refer to “tipping,” and resent adding the expected fifteen or twenty percent to their restaurant bills.
It might be added that if Americans are asked the difference between a canoe and a Canadian, they reply that a canoe tips.
Similar to Tom’s fictional dad, I am also a proud Canadian, but cannot not resist poking fun at myself and my fellow countrymen through my writing. I have written eight books, fiction and non-fiction, which employ Toronto as a background. My home page lists the books and provides a short description of their content. Two more books will be available in the spring of 2016 (see below).
To view the Home page for this blog:
To view links to other posts placed on this blog about the history of Toronto and its heritage buildings:
To view over 130 posts on this blog about old movie houses of Toronto—historic and modern
My most recent publication is entitled “Toronto’s Theatres and the Golden Age of the Silver Screen.” The publication explores 50 of Toronto’s old theatres and contains over 80 archival photographs of the facades, marquees and interiors of the theatres. It also relates anecdotes and stories from those who experienced these grand old movie houses.
A link to place an order for this book: https://www.historypress.net/catalogue/bookstore/books/Toronto-Theatres-and-the-Golden-Age-of-the-Silver-Screen/9781626194502. Book is also available in Chapter/Indigo, the Bell Lightbox Book Shop (TIFF) and by phoning University of Toronto Press, Distribution: 416-667-7791 (ISBN 978.1.62619.450.2)
Another book about Toronto’s old movie theatres, published by Dundurn Press, contains 80 more theatres and will be released in the spring of 2016. It is entitled, “Toronto’s Movie Theatres of Yesteryear—Brought Back to Thrill You Again.”
Another publication, “Toronto Then and Now,” published by Pavilion Press (London England), explores 75 of the city’s heritage buildings. This book will also be released in the spring of 2016.