Untitled

‘If some countries have too much history, Canada has too much geography.” Former Prime Minister Mackenzie King.

‘If some countries have too much history, Canada has too much geography.”

Former Prime Minister Mackenzie King.

On being Canadian …

 “They” keep telling us there’s no such thing as Canadian culture, Canadian identity is a myth, and you have to dig deep to find Canadian heroes and heroines, there’s just … just all that geography!

 “They” are like the Sasquatch — elusive.

These naysayers pop up every now and then, make snide remarks about our identity, culture and the like, then disappear before anyone can grab them.

We may have more than our share of geography, though almost half of it is north of the 60th parallel, which doesn’t seem to count all that much if we measure it by the attention span and interest up here.

After all, it’s got more dogs than people, two seasons — this winter and next winter — it’s cold enough that brass monkeys won’t live here, and they’ve got about 39 square kilometres each to wander in alone, so there’s more than enough lonely to go around, which seems to frighten the life out of most folks south of 60. Solitude heals!

Choosing to live where tomatoes won’t makes us seem not so wise as those southern guys, like that well-known fellow who said, “A Canadian is someone who knows how to make love in a canoe.”

Oh, no, Mr. Berton, we aren’t buying that one. A Canadian, at least a northern Canadian, is someone who knows enough not to make love in a canoe.

Then there’s the 135th meridian. Canada Games visitors are competing right on top of that meridian of longitude. A significant one it is too; if you trace it south to where it crosses the 49th parallel you’d need a boat.

You’d find yourself about a few hundred kilometres west of Victoria in the Pacific Ocean. This means Whitehorse is Canada’s most westerly city, and explains why Yukoners call BC the Near East, the Prairies the Middle East, Ontario and Quebec, the Far East, the Maritimes and Newfoundland as the Far, Far East.

Just having a little Canadian geographical one-upmanship fun. Oh, did you know the highest mountains in Canada are just 160 kilometres west of Whitehorse … sorry, enough already.

What’s this place all about then?

Well, my version is people. We were in the Far, Far East, in a tiny restaurant on Prince Edward Island on a day with more wet and wind than we’d ever met. We sought refuge and lunch.

 “What are you doing out on a day not even fit for ducks?” the waitress asked.

 “Never been out in the tail end of a hurricane before, thought we’d see what it was like.”

 “Where are you from?”

 “The Yukon.”

 “I worked in Faro for awhile, do you happen to know…?”

We did!

Our common friend brought us together; no more customers came, she and the cook joined us for lunch.

The lousy weather and our vast geography disappeared. Four Canadians  shared food and friends; our roots dug deeper into this large and friendly land.

That’s what my Canada is about — the people. Their door is open, their hand of welcome is out, tea is on, the table’s set and you’re as welcome as a chinook in mid-winter. 

Someone threw a new one at me last week. Some thoughts dig deeper into our roots than others, and this one did: “You can always tell when you meet a Newfie in heaven. He’s the one who wants to go home.” A lot of Canadians will empathize with that one, eh?

Rub shoulders with Canadians anywhere in our magnificent and varied geography and we find we have a lot more in common than in differences, and distance and geography disappear when we meet one-on-one in tiny restaurants, homes or during major events, such as the Canada Winter Games.

If there’s a fly in the ointment, as there often is, ours seems to be the people are leading the leaders.

As the song says in My Fair Lady: “Why can’t they be more like us?” From sea to sea to sea, hard-working, honest Canadians get along, work together, get it done and care for their legacy. Follow them!

A tip of the hat to Canadians, who were, this week, chosen in a BBC poll of 28,000 people in other countries of the world as the country which gets a gold medal for having the most positive influence on the world.

Not only Canada Games athletes get to take home medals and kudos. We all do!

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A bobcat is used to help clear snow in downtown Whitehorse on Nov. 4. According to Environment Canada, the Yukon has experienced record-breaking precipitation this year. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Yukon will have “delayed spring” after heavy winter snowfall

After record levels of precipitation, cold spring will delay melt

Yukon RCMP say they’ve received three reports of youth being extorted online. (Black Press file)
Yukon youth being extorted online

Yukon RCMP say they’ve received three reports of youth being extorted on… Continue reading

Fines for contravening the fire ban start at $1,150 and could go as high as $100,000. File photo
Yukon campgrounds will open on May 1 this year. (Black Press file)
Yukon campgrounds to open early

Yukon campgrounds will open on May 1 this year. The early opening… Continue reading

A Housing First building on Fifth Avenue and Wood Street will be taken over by the Council of Yukon First Nations and John Howard Society later this month. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
CYFN, John Howard Society take over downtown Housing First residence

The organizations have pledged culturally appropriate service for its many Indigenous residents

Legislative assembly on the last day of the fall sitting in Whitehorse on Nov. 22, 2018. Politicians return for the spring sitting of the assembly March 4. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Analysis: What to expect in spring sitting of the legislature

They’re back on March 4, but election speculation is looming large

A man walks passed the polling place sign at city hall in Whitehorse on Oct. 18, 2018. The City of Whitehorse is preparing for a pandemic-era election this October with a number of measures proposed to address COVID-19 restrictions. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
City gets set for Oct. 21 municipal election

Elections procedures bylaw comes forward

A rendering of the Normandy Manor seniors housing facility. (Photo courtesy KBC Developments)
Work on seniors housing project moves forward

Funding announced for Normandy Manor

Tom Ullyett, pictured, is the first Yukoner to receive the Louis St-Laurent Award of Excellence from the Canadian Bar Association for his work as a community builder and mentor in the territory. (Gabrielle Plonka/Yukon News)
Tom Ullyett wins lifetime achievement award from the Canadian Bar Association

Ullyett has worked in the Yukon’s justice ecosystem for 36 years as a public sector lawyer and mentor

The Blood Ties outreach van will now run seven nights a week, thanks to a boost in government funding. Logan Godin, coordinator, and Jesse Whelen, harm reduction counsellor, are seen here on May 12, 2020. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Blood Ties outreach van running seven nights a week with funding boost

The Yukon government is ramping up overdose response, considering safe supply plan

Ranj Pillai speaks to media about business relief programs in Whitehorse on April 1, 2020. The Yukon government announced Feb.25 that it will extend business support programs until September. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
Government extends business relief programs to September, launches new loan

“It really gives folks some help with supporting their business with cash flow.”

Whitehorse City Hall. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
A look at decisions made by Whitehorse City Council this week

Bylaw amendment Whitehorse city council is moving closer with changes to a… Continue reading

Susie Rogan is a veteran musher with 14 years of racing experience and Yukon Journey organizer. (Yukon Journey Facebook)
Yukon Journey mushers begin 255-mile race

Eleven mushers are participating in the race from Pelly Crossing to Whitehorse

Legislative assembly on the last day of the fall sitting in Whitehorse on Nov. 22, 2018. As the legislature prepares to return on March 4, the three parties are continuing to finalize candidates in the territory’s 19 ridings. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Nine new candidates confirmed in Yukon ridings

It has been a busy two weeks as the parties try to firm up candidates

Most Read