Friday, July 1, 2011

Happy Canada Day!

So today is Canada Day, a national holiday for our friends to the north. It commemorates the anniversary of the July 1, 1867 enactment of the “British North America Act” uniting three British colonies into a single country called Canada within the British Empire. It was originally called “Dominion Day” but the name was changed in 1982 when Canada gained full independence from the United Kingdom.

Funny story: back in the late 1970s I was working as a busboy at Archibald’s, a fancy restaurant on Woodward Avenue in Birmingham, where I grew up. After our shift one Friday night, a waiter and I decided on a whim to head to Windsor and hit the bars. (Canada’s drinking age was 19; my chances of passing for 19 were better, I thought, than my country’s limit of 21.) We never got to test my assumption.

We were stopped by Canadian immigration officials at the Canadian end of the tunnel from Detroit to Windsor and told to park next to a windowless structure and wait for further instructions. After a few moments, two official-looking types approached us and demanded that I exit the vehicle and open the trunk for inspection. I was more irritated than worried since I didn’t make a habit of transporting corpses and wasn’t trying to hide anything. But I had forgotten to declare an electric weed eater (the landscaping tool) that my dad had put in my car as a reminder of my chore.

Long story short, we were treated with haughty suspicion, told that my car and the lawn enhancement equipment were now “the property of the Queen,” and forced to use the Queen’s phone to make a frantic long-distance, collect call to my dad back in the states. Since it was after midnight, he was not only home but had been asleep and was therefore crabby. He spoke to one of the Queen’s Lawn Equipment Interception Agents for a few minutes; I don’t know what he said but his smooth-talking worked because we were ushered back to our car, the weed eater was returned to the trunk and we were ordered to head back to the states poste-haste before they changed their minds. I was so relieved that I shouted, “Thanks, Queen people!” out the window as I turned around and headed for the tunnel.

I learned a few things from the Canucks that night. One: Don’t decide to leave your country to drink alcohol illegally. If you’re persistent and lucky enough, you can drink illegally within your own borders. And Two: Never, ever try to smuggle landscape enhancement equipment past Canadian immigration and border patrol officials because they apparently receive extensive training in this area and you will not be successful and you might just end up turning your beloved 1972 Mercury Cougar over to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth The Second.

* * *

My Facebook friend Michelle J. Elmgren lives in Burnaby, British Columbia, and is therefore qualified to be affectionately referred to as a Canuck. Michelle’s very charming and we seem to have a lot in common – we both have daughters named Nikita, we both wear eyeglasses, we’re both bipeds and we both like music – so when she made a reference to Canada Day on my Facebook wall, I decided to beg her to write a little something about the Great White North for “What’s the Diehl?” Surprisingly, she agreed:

Often on Facebook, I see how unabashed and proud Americans can be to be American. Many times I turn away from the boastful and sometimes arrogant postings. Some of my “friends” on Facebook equate my socialist country with communist regimes, or they accuse Canada of letting terrorists into the United States.

I sometimes wonder if my fellow Canadians are humble or just apathetic - maybe a bit of both. Let me share some things which CAN be blamed on Canada that perhaps you didn't know (I didn’t know some of this myself):


1. Basketball; James Naismith, 1891
2. Bone Marrow Compatibility Test; Barbara Bain, 1960
3. Green ink used in currency; Thomas Sterry Hunt, 1862
4. Heart pacemaker; Dr. John A. Hopps, 1950
5. Instant mashed potatoes; Edward A. Asselbergs, 1962
6. JAVA; James Gosling, 1994
7. Jolly Jumper; Olivia Poole, 1959
8. McIntosh apple; John McIntosh, 1796
9. Standard Time; Sir Sanford Fleming, 1878
10. Zipper; Gideon Sundback, 1913

So now you can officially blame Canada when you get something caught in your zipper! Happy 144th birthday, Canada!

If Canadians are so creative, I don't see why the Queen's henchmen need to confiscate weed eaters from lowly American busboys with acne and a taste for Molson. Can't they just invent their own?

Happy Canada Day to all!

1 comment:

  1. Oh Yeah? Well, we invented everything else!