Culture Guide: Jon’s Adventures In Canada

The best part about traveling up north? All the genuinely happy folks you encounter.

As Americans, we enjoy broadcasting our “superiority” to the world – and quipping about our lesser international counterparts. Canada and its citizens are on the receiving end of our braggadocio a fair amount of the time, especially here in the proximate Northwest. When I recently visited Canada, however, I found something real in the people there — authentic happiness.

 

As one who chases a certain level of comfort for myself, money, status and expectations are constant barometers. After witnessing and partaking in the economic downturn, I couldn’t help but question the American Dream and our collective pursuit of it. Admittedly, though, I wasn’t looking for a solution to our American woes during my travels through BC. I was looking to have a ridiculously good time, and I successfully accomplished the goal.

There’s a lofty sense of camaraderie among Canadians – they actually like each other. All colors, shades and economic brackets have merged together within the provinces and cities of this nation. Canada’s work-visa program with England, Australia, and New Zealand is more popular than ever. Choice of drink is more important than choice of religion — even though both influence one another.

So, what — I don’t think we have that in the States? Honestly, no, I don’t. Those who have traveled abroad are aware of all the baggage that the term “American” carries on a global level. Of course, the people to whom this stereotype most directly applies aren’t leaving the United States anytime soon. Still, it’s hard not to be on the defensive whenever talk of my nationality arises – and it always does.

 

While I’ve encountered resentment in other parts of the world, I felt a sort of sympathy from the Canadians. These people weren’t direct about it, but I got the sense they considered me to be a nice enough fellow – and perhaps their country was where I belonged, all national rivalries aside. We Americans are too busy puffing our chests and proclaiming the greatness of our lives to notice that Canadians simply go about their business.

We can make all the “eh” and “oot” jokes in the world, but somehow I feel like we’re still placing second to Canada. The people I spent time with were cool — really freakin’ cool. For instance, one group knew that the only way to get booze after hours was through a Hell’s Angels representative, and proceeded to place an order over the phone. Ten minutes later, our party had two handles and a half-rack in our possession. Like I said, cool.

That’s not all. They know the best places to drink and remember passwords for the speakeasies. They frequent restaurants with barred windows in the sketchy part of town, and flock as if they don’t understand the definition of “sketchy.” Simply put, they understood what is solely needed for a good time; not the hippest place or hottest club, but just a room, park or anywhere else people can meet and interact — because those people will do the rest.

It’s worth seeing for yourself.