Canadian Gothic
October 23, 2019 1:56 PM   Subscribe

 
O_o, Canada.
posted by chavenet at 2:00 PM on October 23 [16 favorites]


Very unsettling. Thank you for sharing this twitter thread.
posted by Fizz at 2:06 PM on October 23 [2 favorites]


Don't wanna be a Canadian idiot
Won't figure out the temperature in Celsius
posted by Your Childhood Pet Rock at 2:07 PM on October 23 [6 favorites]


You know, at first I assumed this was just another one of those firmly tongue-in-cheek lists of Regional Gothic "experiences" which are all borderline jokes. And certainly it reads like that.

But a much higher than you might expect percentage of my current and former favorite creatives are from Canada, and I was just thinking about it, and they are from Vancouver and Victoria and Calgary and Winnepeg and Toronto and Nova Scotia and... and I don't think I've ever actually encountered a Canadian who actually claims to be from Edmonton. I can't even think of a Stop Podcasting Yourself guest who has said they were from Edmonton.

Are they any Mefites from Edmonton? Please chime in, I'm only sort of joking.
posted by Caduceus at 2:09 PM on October 23 [13 favorites]


What?

Every other paragraph/ tweet got a WTF?! from me.

The author isn't living in Canada, they're living in TO, is the most plausible explanation I could come up with.
posted by porpoise at 2:10 PM on October 23 [13 favorites]


Edmonton? Never heard of it.
posted by figurant at 2:12 PM on October 23 [3 favorites]


I am not from Edmonton, but I have been there. AMA.
posted by nubs at 2:12 PM on October 23 [10 favorites]


Van... couver? Never heard of it. Are you kidding or did you just make that up?
posted by bonehead at 2:16 PM on October 23 [1 favorite]


I don't think I've ever actually encountered a Canadian who actually claims to be from Edmonton.

Well then, there's a childhood wasted.
posted by bonehead at 2:17 PM on October 23 [6 favorites]


The lady on the train repeats, "Union, Union station". The train slows, but the tunnel is still black. No one around you reacts. You can't see the end of the train down the hall.

This is a reference to the flex in the new "Toronto Rocket" subway trains (which are one long articulated car vs. separated cars) as they round the curve that leads to and from Union Station. Here's some video of that happening.

Van... couver? Never heard of it. Are you kidding or did you just make that up?

Wait'll this person hears about Chibougamau and St. Louis-de-Ha-Ha!
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 2:18 PM on October 23 [12 favorites]


When visiting big city eastern Canada as an American, I definitely get an uncanny valley vibe from the place. Not in a bad way, though.
posted by Apocryphon at 2:19 PM on October 23 [1 favorite]


Nobody who lives in Vancouver is from Vancouver.
posted by Reyturner at 2:22 PM on October 23 [10 favorites]


Every Canadian Tire I've been to has tires/tyres. Are there Canadian Tires that don't?
posted by any portmanteau in a storm at 2:22 PM on October 23


Well then, there's a childhood wasted.

Not at all, I find your existance very reassuring. I'm pretty sleep deprived and the world's been bananas lately. I'm genuinely only half-joking that I wanted to make sure I hadn't Slidered my way though so many parallel universes that Edmonton disappeared.
posted by Caduceus at 2:22 PM on October 23 [4 favorites]


Ms kneecapped lived in Edmonton. We visited her family there when we were living in Winnipeg. It's a great town. I'd choose it over Calgary if I had to live in Alberta. Which I don't, not do I aspire to. We have the cheapest hydro rates in Manitoba. Which is fair, as it gets cold here on occasion.
posted by kneecapped at 2:22 PM on October 23 [1 favorite]


The Premiere looks like the President of America. He talks like the President of America. He has the same views as the President of America. People hate him like they do the President of America. He is not the President of America, though.

This is great.
posted by any portmanteau in a storm at 2:23 PM on October 23 [6 favorites]


Every Canadian Tire I've been to has tires/tyres. Are there Canadian Tires that don't?

It's been a couple of months since I was in there, but I feel like the one at Bay and Dundas Street here in Toronto doesn't, or at least they're not prominently displayed. They still have automotive stuff, though.
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 2:25 PM on October 23 [1 favorite]


Do Kiwis and Aussies experience the same sensation when they travel to each others' country?
posted by Apocryphon at 2:25 PM on October 23 [3 favorites]


I had an online friend who said they were from Edmonton, but they also said they were a helix made of light rather than a person in the traditional sense.

Maybe neither was true, maybe both were.
posted by Phobos the Space Potato at 2:26 PM on October 23 [18 favorites]


The lights are gorgeous in Edmonton.
posted by bonehead at 2:33 PM on October 23 [7 favorites]




Do Kiwis and Aussies experience the same sensation when they travel to each others' country?

I live in Sydney; I felt Melbourne was more uncanny than Auckland.
posted by Merus at 2:37 PM on October 23 [5 favorites]


I live in Sydney; I felt Melbourne was more uncanny than Auckland.

Not enough toll roads. It just isn't Sydney without being gouged at every interchange.
posted by Your Childhood Pet Rock at 2:42 PM on October 23 [2 favorites]


Everyone says the other language everyone speaks is French.

Sol the dirty clown can help you out with that.
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 2:46 PM on October 23 [3 favorites]


The thing that struck me as the most alternate universe feeling about being in Canada last week were the election signs - not the existence of them, which, yes, of course, you're going to have an election and I'm not going to recognize the local politicians and only understood what a riding was during the trip. But the fact that all of the election signs looked exactly the same. Single color background corresponding to party, three quarter to shoulder-up shot of candidate, candidate's name and party symbol. Maybe a slogan on one or two of them. I think they were all using the same font, too? It honestly looked like a TV show version of an election season and I ended up trawling through Canadian election law to see if I could figure out the reason why, then local lawn signs for comparison.

That and the feeling that large swaths of the 17th and 18th centuries were just not discussed in history museums. What happened? What are you hiding?
posted by dinty_moore at 2:50 PM on October 23 [14 favorites]


and I don't think I've ever actually encountered a Canadian who actually claims to be from Edmonton. I can't even think of a Stop Podcasting Yourself guest who has said they were from Edmonton

Ironically, this weeks guest, Kathleen McGee, is from Edmonton.
posted by rodlymight at 2:51 PM on October 23 [5 favorites]


That and the feeling that large swaths of the 17th and 18th centuries were just not discussed in history museums. What happened? What are you hiding?
posted by dinty_moore at 2:50 PM on October 23 [+] [!]

Probably horrible atrocities against native peoples, to be honest.
posted by Canageek at 2:55 PM on October 23 [37 favorites]


Lived in Canada most of my 51 years, most of those years in Toronto. No idea what this person is talking about in 90% of this. WTF indeed.
posted by dobbs at 3:01 PM on October 23 [6 favorites]


There was voyageurs, Louis Riel, that time we burned down the White House and nothing else.
posted by Reyturner at 3:01 PM on October 23 [2 favorites]


I'm kind of surprised that bagged milk hasn't made an appearance yet.
posted by any portmanteau in a storm at 3:01 PM on October 23 [11 favorites]


Nobody who lives in Vancouver is from Vancouver.

There's lots of us that were born here. We just live on the water in paddleboard-based yoga colonies that are closed to non-locals.
posted by good in a vacuum at 3:08 PM on October 23 [27 favorites]


"Are they any Mefites from Edmonton? Please chime in, I'm only sort of joking."

Born in Edmonton, to my eternal embarrassment. My dumb parents were on some weird entrepreneurial high in the late sixties and decided the frontier was the best place to find their fortune. At least that was their story, likelier version sees them getting the hell away from their respective hell beast inlaws. My parents were born in Vancouver, hell 3/4 of my grandparents were, yet I bear the ignominy of an Alberta issued birth certificate. Lived there until I was two then they decided to move on and then eventually back to Vancouver.
posted by Keith Talent at 3:09 PM on October 23 [2 favorites]


BioWare is founded and headquartered in Edmonton, which is interesting.

Also the makers of Gundam saw fit to destroy it in one of its series.
posted by Apocryphon at 3:13 PM on October 23 [6 favorites]


Mosquitos don't exist here

Haha what bzzz ouch fuck
posted by Beardman at 3:15 PM on October 23 [15 favorites]


Are they any Mefites from Edmonton?

Hello! King Edward Park represent!
posted by aramaic at 3:19 PM on October 23 [5 favorites]


I have seen a picture of the CN Tower with Drake sitting on it. If the picture is to scale, Drake is over twelve feet tall. Yet no one refers to Drake as the world's tallest rapper, or man.
posted by Beardman at 3:20 PM on October 23 [11 favorites]


"It is unwise to provoke the men who drive the container cars." Ell oh freakin' ell.
posted by hearthpig at 3:22 PM on October 23 [1 favorite]


Not just Edmonton, PURPLE EDMONTON
who's with me
posted by elkevelvet at 3:25 PM on October 23


There is an alarm in every room. It shrieks and screeches loudly every time you bake food or make toast. Your neighbour says it's normal, and it's to keep you safe, but they presume you already know what the alarm is keeping you safe from.

Do they not have smoke detectors/fire alarms in the UK?!
posted by eviemath at 3:28 PM on October 23 [4 favorites]


I have seen a picture of the CN Tower with Drake sitting on it. If the picture is to scale, Drake is over twelve feet tall. Yet no one refers to Drake as the world's tallest rapper, or man.

I believe the proper term is tallest free-standing person.
posted by any portmanteau in a storm at 3:38 PM on October 23 [28 favorites]


Born in Calgary, I have lived in Edmonton since 1976. It has become Alberta’s Austin, electing only socialists to the provincial legislature in the last two elections. It is pretty good for live music and such. We are a long way from anywhere else and so we must make our own fun. World Water Park at West Edmonton Mall is a poor man’s Mexican vacation. The river valley is a great urban nature reserve. The summer nights are long and warm. The winter can be tough, but you learn to cozy up. Tommy Chong is from Edmonton. I can’t think of many other well-known celebs.

As for the gothic part, yeah, well, this is a terrible place to live. That movie, The Revenant? Yeah, pretty much. Sure, we have cities and furnaces and what not. But take those away, and… well, sheesh. This summer, we went on a short hike along the old overland trail to the Klondike out of Fort Assiniboine, northwest of Edmonton. Two hours of sultry heat and mosquitoes was enough. I read up on that trail and it is a for real horror story. Three thousand horses died on that route due to flies, exhaustion and mistreatment. There is a grave marker for a little girl who died there just days into the trek. *Shudder*.
posted by No Robots at 3:44 PM on October 23 [9 favorites]


"Sorry," someone says, passing by. "Sorry," another one says. You do not know what they are sorry for. "Sorry." You do not know what they did to you to make you apologise. You hold back tears.

If Canada did not exist, Haruki Murakami would need to invent it.
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 3:46 PM on October 23 [14 favorites]


You guys do realize it wasn't really Drake sitting on the CN Tower in that picture? That would be crazy. It was actually a 3D-printed polymer replica, hand-painted in Stouffville, that stayed up for a couple of weeks in the fall of 2015. Even though he was a bit overscale most people didn't even notice.
posted by Flashman at 3:51 PM on October 23 [2 favorites]


Encircling a plane of ice, they chant rhythmically, under command of the sun, of the approaching rise, and how they stand guard of the True North fervently. It is a haze of emotion. How many will be hurt tonight? How many will turn on their families and siblings?

The plane of ice is good, yet the plane of ice is bad, when the line of air does not spray upon the wing, and families are separated, awaiting the sickly-sweet poison that will not come.
posted by swr at 3:53 PM on October 23


I've actually been to St. Louis de Ha! Ha!

Not by choice, though. My back right tire blew out, somewhere while passing through the area. The nice fellow at the garage in St. Louis de Ha! Ha! did not laugh, and put on a new tyre.

And that's my story about St. Louis de Ha! Ha!
posted by Jubal Kessler at 3:59 PM on October 23 [8 favorites]


Toronto is the least Canadian part of Canada.

Edmonton has skies like you wouldn’t believe.
posted by Construction Concern at 4:07 PM on October 23 [8 favorites]


Toronto is the least Canadian part of Canada.

Yeah, I lived in Toronto as a Younger Person. Definite uncanny valley effect to this American. Other parts of Canada were actually reassuring since they felt more different.
posted by Justinian at 4:14 PM on October 23


I did not think that Canada was a land of Gothic horror. The more you know!

"People praise the coffee shop. They joke about the coffee shop. They say the coffee shop is central to their collective identity. You mention that you have been to the coffee shop before, and you liked it. The people are horrified. You decide not to visit the coffee shop again."

Huh?!? I thought everyone worshipped at the Altar of Coffee.
posted by jenfullmoon at 4:22 PM on October 23


Vancouver feels generically Pacific Northwest, how would Toronto be the least Canadian? And what makes Montreal more Canadian?
posted by Apocryphon at 4:26 PM on October 23


Huh?!? I thought everyone worshipped at the Altar of Coffee.

I got the sense that this passage was specifically targeting Tim Hortons, and our weird and shifting relationship with it.
posted by good in a vacuum at 4:32 PM on October 23 [13 favorites]


One of my favorite bits of Canadian gothic: plane goes down in Canada's third largest city... wreckage found 47 years later.
posted by No Robots at 4:36 PM on October 23 [7 favorites]


Born and raised in Edmonton. Edmonton bonus points: Grew up during Gretzky's run with the Oilers. Was at a birthday party during the tornado.
posted by flyingfox at 4:36 PM on October 23 [2 favorites]


We were at Boston Pizza one night in the '70s when Gretzky et. al. were there. On the way out, my sister backed into their car in the parking lot. Lowe got out of the car and gave her a hug.
posted by No Robots at 4:46 PM on October 23 [6 favorites]


That and the feeling that large swaths of the 17th and 18th centuries were just not discussed in history museums. What happened? What are you hiding?

At that point European colonization was mainly concentrated in the St. Lawrence valley and the Atlantic provinces, so we know relatively little about the rest of Canada at that moment except for what fur traders and missionaries would report, and what we can gather from oral histories and archeology.

So colonization, progress of agriculture and fur trading, wars with the English/British and native groups, founding of towns and cities on the St. Lawrence. But New France only had about 60000 colonists in 1760, so nothing terribly exciting.
posted by Monday, stony Monday at 4:49 PM on October 23 [2 favorites]


Grew up during Gretzky's run with the Oilers.

That era was probably Peak Edmonton, although I believe the 70s also have a viable claim (judging by the odd late 70s "Edmonton for kids/teens" books I was handed down). Personally I think the 80s win, since they also get WEM.

I mean, shit, the 80s Oilers so dominated life that my math teacher used their jersey numbers in test equations (I mean literally using Messier/Gretzky/Semenko/etc. as constants that we were supposed to have memorized right along with Pi or e. Fucked me over the first time I saw that, which unfortunately was the final. Bastard. Divide Messier by Pi? WTF?)
posted by aramaic at 4:59 PM on October 23 [15 favorites]


Edmonton must exist - John Byrne has pictures.
posted by not_that_epiphanius at 5:05 PM on October 23 [1 favorite]


We were at Boston Pizza one night in the '70s

As testament to the uncanniness of Canada, it would take a Canadian to think Boston was the American city to choose to name your franchise after because it's...renowned for its pizza. Or to decide to put pineapple on one.
posted by juv3nal at 5:19 PM on October 23 [3 favorites]


At that point European colonization was mainly concentrated in the St. Lawrence valley and the Atlantic provinces, so we know relatively little about the rest of Canada at that moment except for what fur traders and missionaries would report, and what we can gather from oral histories and archeology.

Okay, but I was in Montreal! New France was doing things! Or at least existing! I am kind of comparing it to US east coast settlements, but it still seemed like it went from 'lots of French men arrived' to 'oh yeah, they made us the capital and then we burned it down so that moved'.

Anyway, on another note - I did notice that every single historical site/tour we went on started with an acknowledgement of the native peoples that settled the area before Europeans, what the native people called the area, and that the European colonizers stole their land. Not much actual information on the indigenous population, but a lot better than what I remember US sites covering the same information.
posted by dinty_moore at 5:43 PM on October 23


As testament to the uncanniness of Canada, it would take a Canadian to think Boston was the American city to choose to name your franchise after because it's...renowned for its pizza.

It might be apocryphal, but I've always heard that the founder's first few name choices were already taken, so he just went with Boston on a lark because it was the surname of a friend of his.
posted by northernish at 5:56 PM on October 23


I get the sense of disorientation, the concept of Canada as an existential entity is fuzzy compared to most other older nations with more clearly defined national identities.

The Canadian Museum of History in Ottawa/Gatineau is curated in an accessible manner, in an attempt to address the various cultural conflicts & contradictions that come together into something like a depiction of what Canada represents. I'd be curious to hear what the author thinks of this place, if they have a chance to visit it.
posted by ovvl at 6:28 PM on October 23


I got the sense that this passage was specifically targeting Tim Hortons, and our weird and shifting relationship with it.

Yeah, everyone loves Timmies except for everyone who hates Timmies and did you know their donuts are shipped to stores fROzeN?????!!?
posted by Rora at 6:48 PM on October 23 [4 favorites]


It has only ever been called SkyDome
posted by aiglet at 6:52 PM on October 23 [9 favorites]


Or to decide to put pineapple on one.

For those of us in the U.S. this pizza also introduces us to the idea of Canadian Bacon.
posted by atoxyl at 7:01 PM on October 23 [2 favorites]


"Canada is the vichyssoise soup of nations. It's cold, half-French, and difficult to stir." - Stuart Keate in the Vancouver Sun.
posted by Harvey Kilobit at 7:25 PM on October 23 [9 favorites]


You want to move in. You ask someone about what the electricity bills are like. They ask you if you mean "hydro". You say you weren't talking about water, but electricity. They insist it's called "hydro". You accept this.

I was in my mid thirties before I realized that a) not everyone calls the electrical utility Hydro and b) just how weird and confusing calling the Electrical utility Hydro was.

Every Canadian Tire I've been to has tires/tyres. Are there Canadian Tires that don't?

The big Canadian Tire in town (ya we have two CTs, Suck it Kelowna!) has the tire section off in a side annex, you probably wouldn't see them unless you were specifically looking.
posted by Mitheral at 7:40 PM on October 23 [7 favorites]


I got the sense that this passage was specifically targeting Tim Hortons, and our weird and shifting relationship with it.

Yeah as an occasional visitor to Canada that bit was very clearly about Tim Hortons.

A conversation I've had many times:

Me: "So, anyplace to eat around here?"

Canadian: "Well, there's a Tim Hortons around the corner. It's our national chain, y'know - coffee, donuts, sandwiches."

Me: "So I should go there, then?"

Canadian: "Oh God, no. The food is terrible and the coffee's worse."
posted by soundguy99 at 7:43 PM on October 23 [17 favorites]


If you haven't read the Threadreader version, I highly recommend you do so, even if you've already read all the tweets. The tweets are all nice little thoughts and jokes and platitudes, you can take each one or leave it. But when you read it all as one long neverending essay it becomes this Canadian fever dream that sucks you right in and makes the walls feel bendy.
posted by Mchelly at 8:35 PM on October 23 [12 favorites]


I've only been to, uh, BC so all I can say is Vancouver mostly feels like the Pacific Northwest but with better transit and dollar coins.
posted by atoxyl at 8:39 PM on October 23


Lived in Canada most of my 51 years, most of those years in Toronto. No idea what this person is talking about in 90% of this. WTF indeed.

Try moving to Canada from anywhere else and it makes plenty more sense.

I don't expect anyone else here to relate to me and I suspect I may even get a lot of pushback for what I am about to say, which would be amusing since that kind of pushback is just one of the many things that Twitter thread is getting at.

When my husband told me I should read this because he sensed I might find it relatable, I told him (before I read it) that whatever alienation I have felt (plenty) since moving to Canada probably pales next to the alienation this writer feels. I'm white and grew up in another North American country- the paradigm shifts are going to be fewer for me no matter what. But I was comforted to find that the author seems to have picked up on much of the same unsettling - yes, even gothic - weirdness that *I* have quietly taken to noticing about Canada. Too often that weirdness feels beyond indescribable. I have been struggling to describe it even to my own husband who immigrated here nearly two decades ago.

That's why I'm so grateful to see the author nail these otherwise inscrutable thoughts and feelings I have been having ever since I got to Canada. I say this not with judgment or revulsion toward Canada. That type of criticism is hardly what I am focused on. Because it's not about criticism, it's about being an outsider in a very specific place with a very specific set of rules that are so subtle in their differences from what I have always known that I shy away from pointing them out because I assume most people will think I am overreacting or talking nonsense. I guess I'm just in awe to hear from someone else that maybe my feelings and reactions to this country aren't just mine to endure alone; that maybe I am not as crazy and existentially alone with these thoughts as I was beginning to believe. It's hard to admit all of this out loud here in the comments. But I'm okay with that, because at least I now know that at least one other person out there understands.
posted by nightrecordings at 8:40 PM on October 23 [26 favorites]


I've only been to, uh, BC so all I can say is Vancouver mostly feels like the Pacific Northwest but with better transit and dollar coins.

Which is to say pretty great, cost aside.
posted by atoxyl at 8:43 PM on October 23 [2 favorites]


Can confirm: Edmonton is mythical. I've worked there, even for a company with Edmonton in its name, but it's an elaborate hoax.

Brown's Line is where the distortion field starts. TBH, as a dedicated east Torontonian, I have my doubts about anything west of Bayview.
posted by scruss at 9:02 PM on October 23 [1 favorite]


What the hell is Canada?
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 9:03 PM on October 23 [1 favorite]


Phobos the Space Potato: "I had an online friend who said they were from Edmonton, but they also said they were a helix made of light rather than a person in the traditional sense.

Maybe neither was true, maybe both were.
"

What? No, the light helix people are from Red Deer.
posted by Chrysostom at 9:24 PM on October 23 [2 favorites]


Well sure anything sounds bad if you only talk about how deeply cursed it is.
posted by ckape at 9:27 PM on October 23 [8 favorites]


I don't know that much about Edmonton, but there is one sentiment I have heard expressed in one way or another by its denizens on repeated occasions.
Perhaps stated most succinctly by Edmontonian Ella Grant...
What's the story there?
posted by bartleby at 10:09 PM on October 23


Calgary is the Toronto of Alberta.
posted by Reyturner at 10:16 PM on October 23 [3 favorites]


And, Mandoline conspiracy, there's also Yahk, Spuzzum or Eyebrow.

Seriously, western Canada has the weirdest, weirdest place names.

And the author of this thread is an utter genius and is obviously in Toronto...
posted by jrochest at 10:29 PM on October 23


Yes it does. Oddly, people who know nothing else seem to know that there is a place in Alberta called Medicine Hat. Is it because there is something there? Or is it just one of those romantically exotic yet plausible NA place names like Moose Jaw, Wisconsin?

Also, in case no one has pointed it out, Banff is neither a word nor a place name. It is an onomotopoeia. (For what, I don't know. Faceplanting into a snowbank while learning to snowboard?)
posted by bartleby at 10:42 PM on October 23 [6 favorites]


Eh?
posted by nikoniko at 11:01 PM on October 23 [1 favorite]


oui
posted by mannequito at 11:07 PM on October 23 [1 favorite]


Moose Jaw, Wisconsin?

Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan, shurely?
posted by benzenedream at 11:08 PM on October 23 [5 favorites]


"I've been to Yahk and back! "
(My whole family bought tshirts that said this in the Yahk gas station/store one road trip)
posted by chapps at 11:27 PM on October 23 [2 favorites]


But this is the kind of stuff any stranger could right about anywhere, no? (And no mosquitoes in Canada, you really must be in an alternate universe.) Or am just not getting this? Yeah, I get the overall vibe, but between the spelling mistakes and exaggerations, I'll give a bit of a meh.
posted by blue shadows at 11:39 PM on October 23 [1 favorite]


I don't think it's aiming to be realistic; the exaggeration is at least partly the point.
posted by juv3nal at 11:41 PM on October 23


(oh dear spelling mistakes complaining about spelling mistakes. Forgive my tiredness.)
posted by blue shadows at 12:06 AM on October 24


(Disclosure: I'm not American, but I've been to the US a few times)

The thing about Toronto specifically is that there is something uncanny about it. It's a unique place that has its own thing going and I have a hard time comparing it to any American city, and that makes it uncanny for me. Out of instinct, I wanted it to be like New York but it's not like New York (save for a street or two where I legit felt like I'm in Brooklyn), for example. So besides appreciating the joke I do empathize with the writer.
posted by KTamas at 2:30 AM on October 24 [3 favorites]


The Canadian Museum of History in Ottawa/Gatineau is curated in an accessible manner, in an attempt to address the various cultural conflicts & contradictions that come together into something like a depiction of what Canada represents. I'd be curious to hear what the author thinks of this place, if they have a chance to visit it.

When I lived in Ottawa there were signs, those brown tourism signs, pointing across the river to Quebec that just said "Civilization". I always enjoyed that the capital of the country directed people across the river, into another province, to find civilization. (The Museum of History used to be called the Museum of Civilization).

The peacekeepers statue in Ottawa also features three soldiers keeping a very close eye on the U.S Embassy.

The passive aggression is well beyond mid-western levels.
posted by srboisvert at 4:28 AM on October 24 [7 favorites]


You speak of the Middle City's name. Before you even reach the next word, everyone knows you're not from around here, and they give you suspicious looks....

Photos speak of the East City, inviting you to its nestled shorefront location beneath blue skies....


What are the Middle and East cities being referred to here? (and what are the jokes?) So curious!
posted by andrewesque at 4:50 AM on October 24


My guess for the East city is Halifax, since it is at the shore. The Middle City could be Toronto itself because how you pronounce it is A Thing I think?
posted by KTamas at 5:04 AM on October 24


(these are just half-educated guesses, though.)
posted by KTamas at 5:04 AM on October 24


The tap water is not clear like at home, but white and hazy. It stirs after landing in your cup, then disappears into nothing. The government insists it is harmless to drink. You believe them, but some part of your mind is always unsure.

I thought the author was from England.
posted by acb at 5:13 AM on October 24 [1 favorite]


When visiting big city eastern Canada as an American, I definitely get an uncanny valley vibe from the place. Not in a bad way, though.

It's not quite an "uncanny valley" feeling, but every time I travel to Montréal and Québec (and Montréal is a city that I love and would probably move to in a heartbeat) I feel a little bit that I'm in an alternate universe.

The thing I find uncanny about Montréal is that it's unambiguously North American, and even "old big city North American" in its built environment, but the fact that everything is in French makes it feel like I'm in a bit of an alternate universe.

As in, having been to Brussels, Paris, Lyon and Marseille, everything is obviously also in French there, but I'm also unambiguously in a different built environment: streets are a lot narrower, buildings are a lot older, streets are winding and grid-less, Paris in particular has a distinctive look thanks to Haussmann, and even things like the weather are different (a narrower temperature band year-round and in particular a lot warmer in winter than in the northern US/southern Canada). And when I'm driving in rural France, it's definitely different from North America -- highway signage is quite different, not to mention ubiquitous roundabouts everywhere.

But when I'm in Montréal, or driving elsewhere in Québec, the built environment feels so familiar. If I blocked my ears and fuzzed out the signs in French and then plunked myself at a random street corner in downtown Montreal, it would look and feel very similar to your typical old, dense North American downtown -- gridded streets, skyscrapers, general windswept emptiness on weekends. And while the residential neighborhoods, say the Plateau, do have those distinctive plexes and outdoor staircases, it feels just like another variation in the pantheon of North American old big-city vernacular architecture: it slots right into the variety provided by Toronto bay-and-gables, Brooklyn brownstones, Philadelphia and Baltimore rowhouses, Chicago greystones, etc., all found on gridded neighborhood streets.

And when driving on the highways in Québec it feels just like driving elsewhere in North America -- the use of cardinal directions and even the use of highway shields on highway signs, the the long distances between cities, the tracts of suburbia (and even the ubiquitous backyard swimming pools that remind me of California where I grew up!)

But then everything's in (at least) French! The built environment is telling me "you are somewhere in the US/Canada" and therefore my assumption is "English everywhere," and so when there's French everywhere -- 40 NORD on the highway signs, ARRÊT on the stop signs, CAFÉ STARBUCKS, it feels like I've stepped through the looking glass into a North American city swapped into French.

I'll end this already long-winded comment by saying that of course I know it's not this simple and that Quebec isn't just "Ontario in French" -- I watch Tout le monde en parle and many/most of the cultural references are totally foreign to me, and let's not even get into the Bill 21 debate. But when talking just in terms of built environment, feeling and impressions this is certainly the impression I get.
posted by andrewesque at 5:31 AM on October 24 [4 favorites]


For those of us in the U.S. this pizza also introduces us to the idea of Canadian Bacon

Huh? Canadians put bacon on Hawaii'n pizza. They do not put Canadian bacon on Hawaii'n pizza.
posted by dobbs at 6:18 AM on October 24


Just learned on a podcast about a contestant on The Bachelor who was Canadian, and they made her take speech therapy to get rid of her accent before realizing it was the only interesting thing about her. It seems like if Americans can't immediately place you in to their mental grid they get really distressed. Similar to how American co-workers would ask me where I went to college and I'd say my perfectly normal Canadian university name and they wouldn't know what to do with that information.
posted by Space Coyote at 6:38 AM on October 24 [1 favorite]


the author of this thread is an utter genius and is obviously in Toronto...

He's swum in Lake Ontario, though, so the Ashbridges Bay Nanobots have clearly started working.

(NB, for T.: there are no Ashbridges Bay Nanobots. They are a made up thing. They could be useful, though, if we could get 'em to cluster and light up the lake in a giant sign that said ROCHESTER SUCKS. I'm not sure why we'd do that, though, because Rochester is clearly a made-up concept too)
posted by scruss at 6:42 AM on October 24 [1 favorite]


I always got kind of a similar feeling of "bizarro world" when travelling to America as a Canadian. The smallest one that occurs to me is that often the font and graphics choices on local businesses are often just... different, in a way I can't really articulate. I also think there's generally fewer trees, but I live in a particularly tree-heavy city so that's not really limited to just America.
posted by one of these days at 6:43 AM on October 24 [2 favorites]


I'm not sure why we'd do that, though, because Rochester is clearly a made-up concept too

Why do you think Kodak was headquartered there? Rochester is a mere simulacrum.
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 6:47 AM on October 24 [1 favorite]


I find it baffling that so many people find these tweets hard to comprehend. Maybe because some of them are too Toronto-specific? I dunno. They feel a bit like those alien comics from Nathan Pyle, except maybe instead of aliens the writer is, I dunno, an elder god.

Nobody who lives in Vancouver is from Vancouver.

My sister-in-law -- who was born and raised and lives in Vancouver -- likes to tell people she was born at VGH, because it astonishes them so much. "You're actually from here? Nobody is from here!"

But the fact that all of the election signs looked exactly the same. Single color background corresponding to party, three quarter to shoulder-up shot of candidate, candidate's name and party symbol. 

Weirdly, as soon as you cross the border from Ontario into Quebec -- which I do every weekday because I live in one, and work in the other -- the election signs all change. They are all still exactly the same, but different from how they are exactly the same in Ontario.

When I lived in Ottawa there were signs, those brown tourism signs, pointing across the river to Quebec that just said "Civilization". I always enjoyed that the capital of the country directed people across the river, into another province, to find civilization. (The Museum of History used to be called the Museum of Civilization).

Dear god, I have told people about those signs for years, based on a brief tourist visit I made to Ottawa, long before I lived here. I have even posted about it on MetaFilter before.
posted by jacquilynne at 6:50 AM on October 24 [4 favorites]


The crossing-lights in Tokyo now tell you in Japanese that it is safe to cross, and to please be careful.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 6:59 AM on October 24


>Perhaps stated most succinctly by Edmontonian Ella Grant...
>What's the story there?


The basis of the Edmonton-Calgary animosity is that Calgary historically has looked down on Edmonton because north east Alberta was settled in large part by eastern Europeans while Calgary imagines that it was founded by remittance men or gentleman ranchers from England.
Which is very amusing now because it is not unlikely that the average Albertan has come from Newfoundland or Hong Kong
posted by canoehead at 7:23 AM on October 24 [2 favorites]


I always figured the uncanny thing about Toronto was that it was a stand in for so many East of the Mississippi US cities in the 90's-2000's (especially Chicago) that going anywhere makes it feel like you're in a TV version of reality. And then Vancouver feels like you're in a sci-fi series.
posted by dinty_moore at 7:26 AM on October 24


At first, when they were talking about the name of "Middle City," I thought they meant Regina (which can confuse people who've learned UK registers of English). Then I realized they just meant Tirannuh.


My brother lived in Edmonton for a while. Or at least, that's what he tells me.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 7:38 AM on October 24


Also the makers of Gundam saw fit to destroy it in one of its series.


Random Gundam trivia: Amuro Ray was actually born in Prince Rupert, B.C.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 7:46 AM on October 24 [2 favorites]


It bothers you how, when it comes to Canadian post-secondary institutions, everyone outside is only aware of the University of Toronto. Surely they have not done enough research. The other universities and colleges are real.

So, I had an interesting experience when I was choosing a law school. Everyone told me that if I was interested in anything with an international bent, I had to go to UofT, because that was the only law school anyone outside Canada had heard of.

But when I talked to my American lawyer friends, and even some non-lawyer friends, they were actually more familiar with Osgoode Hall. They just thought/assumed Osgoode Hall was the law school at UofT.
posted by jacquilynne at 7:59 AM on October 24 [1 favorite]


No one knows what Labrador is or where you can find it. All they know, all they can tell you, is that it showed up suddenly one day, not long after you were born.
This made me laugh out loud because whole years, even near decades, can go by without my remembering that Labrador exists. Although I once knew someone who would drive there just to kayak along the shoreline past the ice bergs and I have seen the photos.

By comparison, I went to sumner school in Edmonton and later met friends who live there.
posted by TWinbrook8 at 8:09 AM on October 24


"You find an old Canadian animated film, with a funny premise and story. When you start the film, it blares an angry note at you, as the symbol of a man encapsulated by an all-seeing eye appears dead centre of the screen. It leaves, the film starts, and you forget about the man. "

What's the story behind this one?
posted by Grither at 9:50 AM on October 24


The thing about Toronto specifically is that there is something uncanny about it.

Most vistors from the anglophonie are intimately familiar with Toronto before they arrive. They've seen its streets a thousand times, know the look of the inhabitants, the cut of their clothes, have heard their accents, observed their body language. These detail haunt the background of the media they consume. Never their favourite shows or movies, but the ones that follow after, those set in ersatz NYs or some other poorly defined American north east city. Front and centre, the US stars and brands take up the centre of attention, but the background detail, in the audience's peripheral view, Toronto quietly takes its place their sense of normal.

So when they arrive, there's a feeling that they know the place, without knowing the geography. The streets and landmarks are all new, as a traveler would expect. But that plain alleyway, that sidestreet, they've seen that before. They've walked it, or their tv avatar has, dozens of times. They know this place. They may not know why.

Vancouver is exactly the same, but is the dreamland for any US midwest or west coast city.
posted by bonehead at 9:51 AM on October 24 [2 favorites]


"You find an old Canadian animated film, with a funny premise and story. When you start the film, it blares an angry note at you, as the symbol of a man encapsulated by an all-seeing eye appears dead centre of the screen. It leaves, the film starts, and you forget about the man. "

What's the story behind this one?


Its the ONF/NFB logo.

Also about mosquito, in urban center they're very few in numbers.... but they increase to ridiculous numbers once you go in the woods to the north, but its true we get ridiculous flies too. Clearly the author is in Toronto.
posted by WaterAndPixels at 9:56 AM on October 24 [6 favorites]


I grew up in north eastern North Dakota
The closest "big city" to there is Winnipeg
I am reading all of this thread with an accent in my head
posted by flaterik at 11:24 AM on October 24 [1 favorite]


"no mosquitoes in Canada"

someone's never been to Manitoba in the summer
posted by flaterik at 11:30 AM on October 24 [2 favorites]


The Middle City could be Toronto itself because how you pronounce it is A Thing I think?

It's definitely a thing. Locals will quickly judge how long you've lived here based on how many syllables and more importantly how many T's Toronto has.

I'd say that having lived in this city for 22 years that a good portion of this is recognizable if you do stop to think about it. And the author is right not to speak ill of the Poutine or question our relationship with Timms too much.
posted by cirhosis at 11:48 AM on October 24 [1 favorite]


I am from Edmonton and my partner is from Moose Jaw. Sometimes if you look really close you can see the flicker of our holograms.
posted by thebots at 11:49 AM on October 24 [1 favorite]


Also wanted to say that the whole thing felt a bit like Welcome to Nightvale.
posted by cirhosis at 11:49 AM on October 24 [1 favorite]


Trelvix? A decade ago, I used to be a part of a group of friend/followers on Tumblr. Among them was the brilliant, yet cryptic @Trelvix. He died of cancer sometime in 2013? This Kav? He has a posting/writing style that is so eerily similar to his that it is though @Trelvix were tweeting from the beyond. Thank you so much for linking this.
posted by MidStream at 11:55 AM on October 24


Huh? Canadians put bacon on Hawaii'n pizza. They do not put Canadian bacon on Hawaii'n pizza.

I don't know how to parse this comment!
posted by atoxyl at 12:15 PM on October 24


(In the U.S. it's conventionally "Canadian bacon," almost the only place one is likely to encounter the term - or just regular ham. I think you mean in Canada it's usually regular bacon, because I do not think it is true that Canadian bacon is called "bacon" in Canada, but I have no way to know this for sure!)
posted by atoxyl at 12:18 PM on October 24


"Hawaiian" pizza was born in Chattam, ON, in the 1960s by a Greek immigrant, a Mr. Panopoulos. He used ham on the pie, not peameal or back bacon. And that's stuck as the classic combo in Canada.
posted by bonehead at 12:20 PM on October 24 [1 favorite]


"Canadian" bacon is known as back bacon or Peameal bacon in Canada. It's easy to find, but not nearly as commonly used as regular (streaky) bacon made from smoked pork belly.
posted by bonehead at 12:24 PM on October 24


Would Canada be interested in adding a province or two? Please?
posted by ZeusHumms at 12:37 PM on October 24


it would take a Canadian to think Boston was the American city to choose to name your franchise after because it's...renowned for its pizza

Wait wait wait... Boston Pizza is a Canadian chain? I had no idea.

Gotta check something...
Holy crap. Montana's is Canadian too. Aaaaand So is New York Fries.

I feel like I have to apologize to Americans now. I've been judging them for their crummy chain restaurants, and all this time it was us. We did it to ourselves.
posted by Secret Sparrow at 12:48 PM on October 24 [13 favorites]


Nitpick: There can be no 40 Nord, because even-numbered highway in Quebec run East-West, and vice-versa for odd-numbered highways. The numbers for the main autoroutes (under 100) go up from South to North and from West to East, so the 20 is mostly on the South shore of the St. Lawrence, the 40 on the North Shore, and the 30 is on the South shore but close to the river and only around Montreal and a bit in Bécancour, across from Trois-Rivières.
posted by Monday, stony Monday at 1:43 PM on October 24 [2 favorites]


Every Canadian Tire I've been to has tires/tyres. Are there Canadian Tires that don't?

Weren't those called Target?
posted by ZeusHumms at 1:58 PM on October 24


The tap water! I thought that was just the hotel we stayed at. What's going on with that?

(Although this is missing the trash pandas and aveeneeyous, the two main things I learned about Toronto during my brief stay there.)
posted by capricorn at 1:59 PM on October 24


I was always told that the whiteness in tap water was due to dissolved air in it and that it clears up as the air leaves the water. Our tap water is clean and tastes good so some initial whiteness isn't a problem to me.
posted by any portmanteau in a storm at 2:52 PM on October 24 [1 favorite]


Weren't those called Target?

Ah but Canadian Target didn't just not have tires. They also not had everything else!
posted by srboisvert at 3:06 PM on October 24 [7 favorites]


I don't get this at all. But then again, I'm from Edmonton.
posted by kitcat at 3:16 PM on October 24


I find it baffling that so many people find these tweets hard to comprehend. Maybe because some of them are too Toronto-specific? I dunno.

I've lived in Toronto nearly my entire life and I find many of the tweets hard to comprehend. In fact, the ones that make the most sense to me seem to have the least to do with Toronto.

You tell someone you've studied near London. They are confused, as they don't know any places near London. You realise they are not talking about the same London you are. No one talks about the same London you do.

Unless there is a THIRD London that is not London, Ontario or the capital of England, I don't know how on earth this could be true.

You make a friend in the West. He has a Japanese name your recognise, but you've never met him before till now. You invite him over, and he brings a lot of bags for a one night stay. He never tells you what is in them, but you know better than to ask.

Literally have no idea what this is referring to.

You look outside and the sky is a deep orange. The smell of barbecue beckons you out the door. When you take the step, you choke, your eyes burn, and you barely escape indoors. The barbecue smell is gone.

Forest fires, maybe? But that's not a Toronto thing. B.C. is the province that has a wildfire problem. Smog I'd believe more, but that's not even remotely a Toronto-only thing.

The city is filled with tall buildings, rows and rows of towers. But you have been here for over a year, and you still don't know anyone who lives in one. None of the people you know, knows anyone who lives in one. Their warm lights at night have stopped reminding you of home.

You have seen the two other airports, Downsview and Bishop, on your maps many times. They are as old as the Earth they rest on. You have never questioned why they are there, or why you do not know anyone who uses them.

These make me wonder if we just live in completely different socioeconomic circles, because it sounds like the author is saying they don't know anyone who knows anyone who lives in a condo building or flies out of the city airport.

Are there eleven provinces and territories? Twelve? Thirteen? You think it's thirteen, but you keep scaring the locals who swore there were only twelve. You have long stopped asking them.

Come on, the creation of Nunavut wasn't THAT recent!

The tap water is not clear like at home, but white and hazy. It stirs after landing in your cup, then disappears into nothing. The government insists it is harmless to drink. You believe them, but some part of your mind is always unsure.

This, on the other hand, I get. I am intensely suspicious of hot tap water.
posted by chrominance at 5:47 PM on October 24


From the thread:
You have met a lot of Americans online when you were back in your hometown. When you arrive here, you learn that one of those Americans is actually a Canadian. All of them are Canadian. They always have been.
Ah shit. The jig is up.
posted by mhum at 6:10 PM on October 24


Unless there is a THIRD London that is not London, Ontario or the capital of England, I don't know how on earth this could be true.

?

...the paragraph works even if there are only two Londons?
posted by aramaic at 7:31 PM on October 24 [2 favorites]


There are no mosquitoes in Manitoba or Saskatchewan. Definitely not in Saskatchewan.
posted by ivan ivanych samovar at 7:52 PM on October 24


Unless there is a THIRD London that is not London, Ontario or the capital of England, I don't know how on earth this could be true.

I think you're overthinking it. I'm sure people where he lives are aware of London, England, but I'm also sure he is probably right that it's about the only region of the world where people think about London, Ontario more often.
posted by atoxyl at 10:37 PM on October 24 [1 favorite]


I always got kind of a similar feeling of "bizarro world" when travelling to America as a Canadian.

I took a road trip and couldn't quite believe the coffee shops and restaurants in usa had creamers thst came in flavours!
posted by chapps at 11:02 PM on October 24 [1 favorite]


I can't tell if this is insulting my Canadianess or just cause of the election but I'm tired of hot takes that basically underneath it all come down to American discoverers Canada isn't America.
posted by kanata at 3:16 AM on October 25 [1 favorite]


Would Canada be interested in adding a province or two? Please?

You joke but I don't know if a province can be added without amending the constitution, and this is a can of worm most people do not want to open.
posted by WaterAndPixels at 5:47 AM on October 25 [1 favorite]


I can't tell if this is insulting my Canadianess or just cause of the election but I'm tired of hot takes that basically underneath it all come down to American discoverers Canada isn't America.

The OP is originally from Hong Kong. National Post article.
posted by dinty_moore at 6:03 AM on October 25 [4 favorites]


American discoverers Canada isn't America

I think this is written by someone who is aware they are someplace different, expected it to be different but are disconcerted by things anyways.

From the NP article:
Ushiyama: Before I came to Canada, the only thing I knew about geese is that they look like swans and that they’re really good to eat. They’re really delicious when you roast them. In Hong Kong, roast goose is a delicacy. The geese (here) are like the swans in the U.K., they look really innocuous, but they can break your arm given half a chance. So I learned that (and) I get to Centennial and I’m staying in the residence and there is a flock of geese outside the window from where I live. ‘Wow, this is an omen, I am going to die.’ Obviously I am not dead. Unless Canada is the afterlife, which it may be.
posted by Mitheral at 8:05 AM on October 25 [2 favorites]


Apologies to the OP then. but I was also referring to things said in this thread. But then again as I said it might have to do with the election and also 3 years of hearing how we only exist as a place to escape to when their country blows up or a quaint novelty country. I'll just bow out now.
posted by kanata at 8:14 AM on October 25


Wait'll this person hears about Chibougamau and St. Louis-de-Ha-Ha!

It would be pretty easy to spin a yarn about how Canadian place names were created by a couple of guys trying to punk their buddies back home in the old country.

So they start off familiar: London, Surrey, Halifax. Then they start throwing in some French but still pretty recognizable as place names: Grande-Rivière, Montréal, Laval, Notre-Dame-des-Prairies. Once that has settled they add English names for aboriginal places: Medicine Hat, Red River, Meeting Creek. Once that's out of the way they add in easy to pronounce anglicisations of first nation names: Ottawa, Saskatoon, Shawinigan. Weird sounding but ok. Then our pranksters start in with gallicized first nations names: Métis-sur-Mer, The Pas. Then they stop fooling around and go with the stuff even semi locals have trouble with: Skookumchuck, Spillimacheen, Toronto (apparently). Next is something that looks like they just drew tiles from a (foreign) scrabble set: Nááts'ihch'oh. The buddies back home are starting to think they are being put on. But the nail in the coffin, the names that that finally make them convinced they are being punked: Swastika, Vulcan, Balls Falls, Crotch Lake, Dildo, Shag Harbour, Climax, Conception bay and Head-Smashed-In-Buffalo-Jump.

writing this up I realized I have no idea what an easy or hard to pronounce anglicisation or first nations derived name is. Places like Saskatchewan, Wetaskiwin, Cheakamus, Clayoquot or Tsawwassen flow off the toungue as easily as New Westminster.
posted by Mitheral at 9:27 AM on October 25 [2 favorites]


I personally know two Candians from Edmonton, and quasi-married to one who has, in fact, been there. :)
posted by ipsative at 10:41 AM on October 25


Wonderful Winnipeg
posted by nikoniko at 11:14 AM on October 25


Unless there is a THIRD London that is not London, Ontario or the capital of England, I don't know how on earth this could be true.

Lunar London. It's right by the Ice Cap on the dark side. It even has a Tim Hortons.
posted by srboisvert at 2:50 PM on October 25 [1 favorite]


There's a London, Kentucky.
posted by Chrysostom at 7:21 PM on October 25


I'm tired of hot takes that basically underneath it all come down to American discoverers Canada isn't America.

Agreed. I'd like to hear some Brits' opinions on how the colonies compare to ol' Blighty
posted by Apocryphon at 2:51 AM on October 27


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