|Joanne Mendonza on one of the dinosaurs that were still roaming the earth |
and the museums of Niagara Falls, 1975. This was when she
fell in love with Canada. I hate to tell her that Canadian dinosaurs
are now extinct. Well, except for Stephen Harper.
It started, as most things do these days, on Facebook.
I posted a link to a post I did on whether Canadian authors should set their stories in their own country, or in the U.S.
Before you could say Stompin' Tom's Beaver on a Mountie, Joanne Mendonza had an answer for me:
Canada Canada Canada. Don't cave in to the pressure to set your stories down here. Be proud of your 'home and native land' and set them there! I'd MUCH rather read stories set there! Of course I'm an honourary Canadian...but still!
Our Facebook conversation went back and forth for a while and I wondered why this Buzzards Bay, Massachusetts blogger was so hung up on all things Canadian. Finally I just up and asked her to do a guest post, so I could pick her brains and discover more about this "honourary Canadian."
By the way, don't think for one minute that she didn't earn big brownie points for putting the 'u' in honourary, or for quoting from Canada's national anthem ("our home and native land"). But then, it's hard not to give Joanne, or JoJo, as I have come to think of her brownie points just for being herself.
JoJo is one of the most positive-thinking and enthusiastic people I've met on the internet. I came across her blog during the A to Z Blogfest and at first I thought she was actor Vincent D'Onofrio, because that's whose picture was on her blog face, and quite honestly I was devastated to learn that a Hollywood celebrity was not following my blog. As to why she has Mr. D'Onofrio's photo instead of her own, I have no idea. I suppose if you want to know, you'll just have to ask her.
By the way, this is the best thing I have ever read from an American writing about Canada.
Thank you, JoJo.
Around that time, Gordon Lightfoot released his haunting 'Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald' which still brings me to tears to this day.
I have been obsessed with Canada for as long as I can remember. When I was little, there was a great Canada tourism commercial that aired on TV and the music they used was so awesome that I never forgot the tune. I was beyond thrilled to find it on You Tube! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=il3StIQDL9c
In the fall of 75, right before I turned 11, my parents took me to Niagara Falls. It was my first time outside the USA, and I was fascinated by the Canadian flag and all the pictures of the mounties on postcards. I loved being there, even though we were just across the border from NY and never got to see anything outside the Falls area.
I was still flying high from that trip when I heard about the Edmund Fitzgerald disaster the following month. I was horrified by it and intrigued at the same time.
In the fall of '76 I entered the 7th grade and my history class covered all the explorers to the new world. I was so interested in their search for the storied Northwest Passage. Amundson, Cartier, Cabot, Hudson, Champlain....I would spend hours pouring over maps of Canada.
My obsession with Canada kind of waned as I became busy with high school and college and, in fact, I had become a rabid Anglophile and toyed with moving to England.
In the 10th grade I started spelling 'colour' and 'honour' with a 'u', much to the chagrin of my English teacher. She told me I was spelling the words incorrectly. I argued that those were accepted spellings. She said, 'But we don't spell them this way in America' and I said, 'If there was an exchange student here from England, would you mark them down for it?' She admitted that no, she wouldn't, and I said, 'Then you admit it's an accepted spelling.' I got my way.
During that time, I was a huge fan of "SCTV", especially Bob & Doug McKenzie's Great White North skit and resulting novelty song.
One time my dad took me to see my beloved Boston Red Sox up at Fenway Park. They were playing the Blue Jays and it was the first time I'd ever heard "O Canada". Fell in love with it.
Unfortunately I never got back up there, but wanted to soooo badly, especially after seeing Murray Sayle's 2 part documentary on PBS called 'Last Train Across Canada', in 1991, in which Gordon Lightfoot's 'Canadian Railroad Trilogy' featured prominently.
Between the scenery, music and the stories, I was transfixed and it reignited my obsession, but I was living in California and just never had the cash to go north for a visit. In January of 1999, my now deceased ex-husband suggested we move to Washington State. I balked at it until he dangled a major carrot in front of me, "But it borders British Columbia....just think how close you'd be to Canada!" We were in Washington 6 months later.
Our cable TV company carried the CBC and I began watching it all the time. "This Hour Has 22 Minutes", "Royal Canadian Air Farce", "Red Green", "Made in Canada", "The Newsroom", "This is Wonderland", "Rick Mercer Report", BC Lions CFL games.....I was hooked!! I learned so much about Canada and politics from watching Rick Mercer & Mary Walsh.I joined the Red Green fan club and became a lifetime member of Possum Lodge, even meeting Red himself when he came to Renton for the only Western WA showing of "Duct Tape Forever".
Learned the lyrics to 'O Canada'.
I became fascinated with the Maritime Provinces, esp. Newfoundland, after reading and seeing The Shipping News and watching the short lived Mary Walsh show, 'Hatching Matching & Dispatching'.
My fave Hudson River School painting are those by Frederic Church of Grand Manan Island and the Icebergs off Newfoundland.
I am very sad at how little my fellow Americans know about our neighbours to the north. It seems as though the USA focuses more on Mexico and their culture. It distresses me that very few people can rattle off the names of the provinces and territories, with their capitols.
I don't 100% understand how Canadian politics work but I probably have a better understanding of it than most Americans. I'm usually one of only two or three other Americans to do Facebook posts for Canada Day & Canadian Thanksgiving. Whenever I see a movie with dramatic scenery, I am nearly always correct in guessing that it was shot in Alberta or BC.
Someday I hope to get up to the Maritimes, now that I am back on the east coast. I want to beachcomb when the tide's out in the Bay of Fundy and see the icebergs floating past Newfoundland.
For now, I'm an American whose heart belongs in Canada.
|JoJo made this Canadian flag using a real maple leaf.|