What Do You Do When You Look At The Map, Eh?

If you are looking at the map of North America and stray above the 49th Parallel you give a little start and say

” Oh. Canada…”

And in many cases you will be correct – save perhaps if you go too far north and are looking at Alaska or too far east and are looking at Quebec. Most of the rest is still Canada.

It’s not the Dominion of Canada, except to us old emigrants who cleared out of the place before 1982. The current flag is a red-and-white affair with a maple leaf on it* – symbolising a hockey team that rarely wins. This is considered quintessentially Canadian – both the hockey and the the not winning.

I suspect the current Prime Minister is also somewhat of a red-and-white affair as well, though it is naughty of me to say that. After all, he is someone else’s choice, saviour, and burden, and it’s not for me to mock the afflicted – or their afflictor, either. As Prime Ministers go, he will….eventually…and unless he takes out Australian citizenship I am safe. There is a whole planet full of molten lava between he and I.

I do miss Canada on some October days when the memories of the autumnal woods and the clear air return but then this is the start of Australian spring and the weather turns cheery here too. There is always solace in Canadian Club, maple syrup, and Red Green Show re-runs.

I am a little nonplussed by what our local hoteliers think makes for a Canadian celebration on Dominion Day – 1st of July. There is a great deal of foofle about Clamato and poutine  and no recognition at all of butter tarts. Remember these got a Prime Ministerial vote of approval in the days when Prime Ministers were real. I should be prepared to make a suitable Canadian menu up but some of my friends would be horrified at what was on it. Many of the dishes were developed before there were gluten or food allergies and quite a few of the ingredients were on the hoof, fin, or feather prior to being on the plate.

I shall celebrate the day with a highball and work on a model of a plane for my little RCAF airfield, wearing my plaid shirt, moccasins, and Red Green braces. It might not be the Inner Canadian that the novelists bang on about, but it can at least be the Inner Former Canadian, eh?

* A corporate logo. The old red duster for me. A proper flag with a flag and a crest on it.


Oh, Candida

In honour of the Dominion Day a’coming, I have written a little song that can be played and sung at school assemblies. It is perfectly suitable for Edmonton and Ottawa.

Oh, Candida


Oh, Candida, the home of native scams.

True, reasonably patriotic love, if that’s not too strong a word, in all our non-gender specific citizens command. Well, not command as such, but suggest, eh?

With glowing bongs we see thee rise, Trudeau’s North stoned and twee.

From far and wide, we stand aside, we stand aside for thee. Sorry.

God keep us all, even Quebec…

God keep us all from being Yanks, By Heck.

God keep us all from being Yanks, By Heck.




Poutine – Cultural Cuisine Or Misspelling?

We are just about to encounter Canada Day. It’s the 1960’s revision of the first of July –  Dominion Day – that allows Canadians to make slightly sad cultural asses of themselves throughout the world…or throughout the world that actually notices. This would be about 0.08% of humanity…

Shorn of its fun features – picnics on the shores of freezing lakes, fireworks, and a couple of months off school – Dominion …Oops…Canada day is a time of wild celebration for Canadians overseas. All through Kenya ice hockey and curling is breaking out. The mountains of Holland echo to the sound of gunshots as Canadians open fire on moose. The Indians dedicate another temple to Justin Trudeau and then flush it…

Just kidding. We go out a buy a carton of Molsons or a bottle of rye and some ginger ale and  scuff round the kitchen to see if that recipe for butter tarts has turned up. And we contemplate poutine.

I say contemplate, because I do not know any Canadian overseas who has eaten the stuff. Indeed, I passed a childhood and youth in the Dominion of Canada without ever seeing it, and I lived in Montreal and Chicoutimi for years. I did see strawberry pie in Quebec, but my parents were wise not to let any of it get on me.

Poitine would seem to be French fries with cheese and gravy. I should like to hear the Canadian Heart Association’s take on the dish, as it seems to be comprised of equal quantities of cholesterol, oxidants, and toxins. I am surprised it is not linked to Donald Trump. In an age that views anything other than salad as sin, how has poutine become a star dish? Is it because it is French Canadian, and is therefore excused from any goodness? Is it the culinary version of the Cirque du Soleil?

Well, for me, I shall celebrate Dominion Day with the aforementioned rye highball and something else Canadian enough to do the trick. I am going to get a pound of small fish, split them and roll them in cornmeal, and fry them in Crisco like Fraser River Smelt. Add some PEI potatoes and creamed corn and it will be as close to the True North Strong And Free as you can get in Western Australia. Unless I can gun down an elk on St Georges Terrace.

I may even put up a picture of the current Prime Minister, if I can find the dartboard, eh?

Happy Holiday – Did You Want A Receipt With That?

I used to like holidays when I was on the receiving end of the present machine. Something popped through at Christmas, Easter, and my birthday every year, and if August and September were a little lean, at least there was new stuff for school.

I sort of liked Dominion Day and the Calgary Stampede as well for the fireworks and the midway at the Showgrounds, and Thanksgiving meant good food. If it also meant boring relatives and visitors, that was the price you had to pay.

Nowadays there are other prices. I am on the giving end of the present-o-matic and get to set it in motion with a credit card. This also applies to the commercial holidays celebrating motherhood, fatherhood, and nationhood. The Melville City Council tries valiantly to gin up celebrations of neighbourhood, but until they use real gin I am not having any of it.

I see from the net that you can also qualify for the admiration of managements if you participate in national days for Canada, the United States, and France at various bars around town. July could be a busy time, though not if you have ascribed to the ever-so-slighty righteous charity that wants you to abstain from alcohol this month. You are to place the money you would have otherwise spent for booze on the table in front of their representative and raise your eyes to heaven. When you lower your eyes the money will have vanished. Can’t get much more miraculous than that…

I think I like the bar holidays better. They do not pretend to religion or miracles. Or even to good nutrition. And you don’t have to sing carols or hymns or decorate the house. You can celebrate them in old clothes and without having to be nice to the in-laws.

And no dishes to wash.


Dominion Day, 2017

Well it is that time of the year again, when all loyal Canadians assemble to make sure the Americans know that we exist. We have been dancing up and down, in our modest sort of way, for the last 200 years to make the point but no-one seems to care. But at least the people who kick-started Ottawa way back when did one thing – they made us a national holiday that is three days before the Yanks’ day and we can get in a little glory before it all rolls over us and swamps us for another year.

Here in Wet Dog we are going to have the traditional parade up Pearson Street ( formerly Diefenbaker Street ). Since the unification of the Canadian Armed Forces and the closing of RCAF WET DOG as a serving station, we have fewer Air Force personnel available for the march, but this year we have organised a fly-past of two Ansons and a Canadair Sabre at 12:00. Apparently they will be in tight formation for only a very brief period of time, so shutterbugs are advised to get their cameras set well before noon. Refreshments at the RCL Lodge 123 Hall will commence at 12:01 and continue until the mounties break it up.

This year we are going to have visits from First Nation representatives and the deputy vice-speaker from the Societeé Nationale de Francais from Chicoutimi, so be sure to give them a great big warm Wet Dog, Alberta welcome. But make sure you don’t get caught.

The July special down at Mangina Motors is snow tires and chains. 50% off if you have them fitted before August. Better safe than sorry, eh?