Monday, October 15, 2012

JoJo: Honourary Canadian


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! heart

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.

That, friends, is why god invented the comments button.


By the way, this is the best thing I have ever read from an American writing about Canada.
Best.

Thank you, JoJo.

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.  

Around that time, Gordon Lightfoot released his haunting 'Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald' which still brings me to tears to this day.  


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'.  

Railed against the Olympic judges when Sale' and Peltier were denied the gold medal in 2002.  


I purchased a Canadian Road Atlas and would pore over it while eating my cereal.  

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.

33 comments:

  1. Hi, Joanne! Why do you have Vincent D'Onofrio's picture on your Blogger profile?

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    1. My blog was intended to be a fan site for VDO when I started it in 2006. :) He's one of the few non-Canadian actors I love. I'm nuts about John Pyper Ferguson, Peter Keleghan, Keanu Reeves, Kiefer Sutherland....not to mention many, many others (Pat McKenna, Leslie Nielson, Paul Gross, Leah Pinsent and her dad Gordon....)

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  2. One item on my bucket list is to do the Canadarail tour, if it still exists. But I will always pull for the Tigers. :-P

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    1. Is there one now? I would love to do it too. Prefer to drive though. If you ever get a chance to see Last Train Across Canada you should. I enjoyed it so much. Esp. the side trips to Moosonee and Churchill.

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  3. What a truly lovely guest post. You do find some amazing people Cathy - it is a reflection of your own wonderful and generous nature.
    I love, love, love the television program Due South. And always liked the episodes in Canada much the best. Thank you Jo Jo and thank you Cathy. Another winner.

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  4. So nice to meet an American who doesn't think of us as the frozen north full of igloos and innuit.
    Great guest post Cathy and Jo Jo.

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    1. p.s. hasn't Gordon Lightfoot reached dinosaur status yet lol?

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    2. LOL!!! Poor Gordon!!!!!! Mine's also the only car in any parking lot with a Canadian flag sticker on the back bumper. ;D It makes finding it much easier.

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  5. JoJo, what a fantastic account of your LOVE for Canada. No worries about Canadian Politics, as I have been Canadian all my 53 years and have never paid it no mind! *Sigh* also nice to find out someone really does know we do exist North of the Border... Loved your Guest appearance here with our Northern Cathy !

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    1. I was gutted when Jack Layton died. I would have voted for him in a heartbeat if I could have. He was such a good and nice man. I think he would have been great for your country.

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  6. Thank you so much Cathy for the kind words and featuring this post!! You are so sweet and I'm glad we met. Great job with the extra graphics too, esp. loved 'Marg Delahunty'. She cracked me up. Mary Walsh is da bomb.

    I have a pic of Vincent b/c when my blog started in 2006, it was going to be a fan site for Vincent but then my friends just did a better job on their sites, so all that's left now is my picture which I keep for sentimental purposes.

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  7. The teacher who acquiesed to the u's would be staggered by the extras in this essay! You pulled together so many little snippets of fact we all know and have in loose places in our minds. Years ago I was destroyed to learn someone had moved to Alberta, Canada. But it didn't motivate me to learn all the provinces betweeen us. Great post.

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    1. I even knew that Ralph Klein was the Premier of Alberta a few years ago. Not sure who it is now though.

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    2. You're thinking of Alison Redford. The woman who rules Alberta. Even if she was born in B.C.

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  8. As a PS, I cannot believe I failed to mention my wonderful and fun trips to Vancouver Island and Vancouver the City over the years. Duh! lol It never failed to blow my mind that every time I went up there, despite my looking like a tourist, other tourists would always ask me for directions to this place and that store...I must've looked like I belonged there. And the scary thing is, I was always able to give them the info they needed...

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  9. This was so much fun to read, JoJo! Do you know about the music group The Arrogant Worms? I think you'd love them. Not only are they excellent musicians who sing in gorgeous harmony, but their songs are hilarious and mainly Canada-related. Some examples: Canada's Really Big (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g_RPp4dbam8) and Rocks and Trees (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kxTpIMK5NSo). Some other gems: Carrot Juice is Murder and I am Cow, Hear Me Moo.
    Thanks for sharing your enthusiasm for Canada with us. And Cathy, thanks for sharing your blog with JoJo for the day. :)

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    1. No I've never heard of them!!! I'll have to check 'em out! :D

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  10. Oh a great post. I was born in Canada, and it makes my heart swell to know that other people love this country too. :)

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    1. I have always felt kinda bad that the American culture has been forced down your throat so much, and it really does bug me that Americans don't know anything about Canada at all.

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  11. What a great post. I believe you have a 'glowing heart'!

    JoJo when you come to Canada, please make a side trip to Muskoka. Cuzin Cathy & I will show you a reel good time.

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    1. I sure will! So many people have all these bucket list trip ideas to places like Europe or Tahiti and when I'm asked what I'd like to see the most, I say, 'Canada. All of it.' I'm hoping that they restart the ferry service from Maine to Nova Scotia. My fiance' has family up there. All lobster/fisherfolk too, in Yarmouth NS. A proud tradition.

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  12. Wow! You're more Canadian than some of the Canadians, I know, Jojo. But I guess you've come by it honestly, eh? Niagara Falls does that to some people.

    I've always considered myself fortunate to have been in all the Canadian provinces, nine by time I turned 25, then Newfoundland a few years ago (when I was a bit older than 25). I still use "u" spellings in my words, and my American friends either understand, or at least tolerate, my Canadianism.

    Hope you do get to spend some winter time in the Great White North, and learn more about Topics, eh?

    Blessings and Bear hugs, eh?

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    1. I look forward to seeing the Maritimes for sure!!! Hopefully soon.

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  13. One other thing. Like Anthony St. George of This Hour Has 22 Minutes, I'm sorry for the problems in our Canadian relationship with you in the US, eh? Honestly, I am.

    Apology to Americans

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    1. BWAA HAAA HAAAA I remember watching that when it aired on 22 Minutes back then. What a hoot!!!

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  14. I just had to say that I love that song, Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald.

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  15. JoJo, you're all over the bloggersphere this week. :) Great post girl!

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  16. Great guest post today, Cathy and JoJo... as a Canadian, I thank you, Joanne.

    One more dinosaur for the list: Brontosaur Blowhardus DonCherryaur.

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