Yo Canada! (non immigration post)

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Subject: Yo Canada! (non immigration post)
  Yo, Canada!
Here´s how to honor our neighbor to the north (don´t forget your manners) without leaving Chicago

By Chris McNamara, Special to the Tribune, February 11, 2010

In honor of the Vancouver Olympics, here´s our guide to being Canadian for a day. Too much fun for just one day? Then feel free to spread it out over the entire run of the Winter Olympics, right through the closing ceremonies on Feb. 28.

Be polite, eh

Perhaps more than their syrup or sports, Canadians are famous for their courteous nature.

"They´re like us but just a tad politer," says Patricia A. O´Brien, founder of Skokie´s Manners, Please etiquette school. "They are more reserved. They take things a little more seriously than we do. On the other hand, they are very warm people."

A few tours of Canada have primed O´Brien to offer this advice for Chicagoans looking to class it up a bit. "Pay more attention to your surroundings. Open a door for someone. Assist someone with putting on a coat. Hold a car door."

Chicago Blackhawks center Colin Fraser, a native of Vancouver who has lived in Chicago for five years, adds, "Yeah, people say that Canadians are generally friendlier than Americans, but in Chicago I don´t see that at all."

Chris Moran, an Ottawa native now working at the Canadian Consulate General in Chicago, concurs that both cultures are exceedingly polite, though she jokes that a Canuck would apologize to the curb if she tripped over it. "Sore-ee!"

It´s all aboot the language

The differences between American and Canadian dialects are miniscule. Perhaps that´s why the minor variances — the pronunciation of "about" for example — are blown out of proportion.

"Americans [think Canadians] say aboot, but it isn´t like that at all," explains Robert "The Dialect Doctor" Easton, who taught Al Pacino to speak for "Scarface.´´ The speech coach describes the Canadian pronunciation of the vowels in "about" as similar to how we say "boat."

Easton advises Chicagoans trying to sound like Canadians to pronounce "leisure" like the word "pleasure," to tag the word "eh" on the end of sentences and to turn down the vocal volume.

"People in Vancouver are very polite. They´re not bombastic. They´re soft-spoken."

"You have to say ‘eh´ at the end of every sentence," confirms Fraser. "On the flip side, Americans like to say ‘huh´ instead of ‘eh.´ We also really enunciate our vowels, so to talk like a Canadian, over-pronounce things."

Moran, who writes a blog about her adventures in America (smartasana.blogspot.com), advises adopting some Canadian slang. Use "runners" in place of gym shoes; say "chocolate bar" in place of candy bar.

Moose call

You´re not going to lure any bulls by blowing a moose call in Chicago, but you might attract a few Canadian hunters. The Bass Pro Shop (basspro.com) sells a moose horn for $20, which reproduces the deep, guttural moans of cows in estrus and excites both male moose and those who hunt them.

Syrup and yarns

Canadians´ blood runs thick with maple syrup, so it´s no surprise that Ontario´s Maple Orchard Farms (800-461-5445, mapleorchardfarms.com) will ship you everything from maple syrup to elk droppings (chocolate-covered raisons, thankfully).

Local DIY syrup lovers should visit the North Park Village Nature Center (5801 N. Pulaski, 312-744-5472, chicagoparkdistrict.com), which hosts its annual Maple Syrup Festival March 20-21. Attendees can tap a tree and sample syrup fresh off the fire. Most intriguing is the promise of maple-tree tapping folklore.

Get on the ice

"Everyone plays beer-league hockey up there," says Fraser, referencing the amateur leagues for Canada´s national winter sport. (Lacrosse is the nation´s official summer sport.) "And even if you´re not playing, you´re a huge fan of the sport."

The National Hockey League is on hiatus while players — including a half dozen Blackhawks — compete in the Olympics. So there´s no puck play at the United Center for the next two weeks. But just a slap shot away is Johnny´s IceHouse (1350 W. Madison St., 312-226-5555; johnnysicehouse.com), which offers leagues for amateurs and ice instruction for players starting at age 2.

Know the weather

"Canadians like to talk about the weather," says Moran. "It´s not just small talk. It´s sort of a team sport and a way of bonding over the collective misery of winter."

Fraser counters that Canada´s reputation as a frozen wasteland is overblown, in some regions at least. "The big misconception is that it´s cold in Vancouver. It´s not — Chicago is colder," clarifies the 25-year-old. "It´s just wet and rainy."

Cheers, Canada

Canadian beers such as Molson and Labatt are commonly served in local bars, in addition to Canadian Club whiskey, which has been putting hair on Ontarians´ chests since 1858.

Chicagoans who enjoy a good Canadian drink should be thankful. A major difference noted by the Fraser is the ease Chicago locals have purchasing booze.

"You can´t buy beer at a 7-Eleven or a grocery store there. In Canada it has to be a liquor store. So that´s better in the states," Fraser said.

Eat like a Canuck

The greasiest Canadian culinary export is poutine: french fries smothered in cheese and gravy and served in various styles locally at The Gage (24 S. Michigan, 312-372-4243, thegagechicago.com) and The Bad Apple (4300 N. Lincoln, 773-360-8406; badapplebar.com).

Of course, you could simply add vinegar to your fries, as they do up north. You could seek out Prince Edward Island (PEI) oysters at local seafood spots. Or you could incorporate into your diet Canadian cheddar, salmon or peameal bacon, which is known in these parts as Canadian bacon.

They do yoga in Canada?

Sure, clothing coming out of Canada skews toward the cold-weather gear. The legendarily warm Canada Goose brand jackets can be found at Bloomingdale´s (900 N. Michigan, 312-440-4460; bloomingdales.com). But you might be surprised to learn that Lululemon Athletica yoga and athletic gear (locations throughout the city, lululemon.com) was founded in Vancouver. If you really want to impress the sales clerk, ask for a toque — pronounced "took "— to keep your head warm.

Stuffed, sore and soused

At the end of your day as a Canadian, you´re going to be tired, stuffed, sore from getting checked into the boards and perhaps a little drunk. So plop your Chicago bones into an easy chair, pour yourself one last Molson and tune into the "Late Show with David Letterman," where band leader Paul Shaffer — a proud native of Ontario — will send you off to sleep with the sounds of American rock and roll.


(in reply to: Yo Canada! (non immigration post))
LOL, OK, you know me, I can´t leave these one´s alone.

For the record, I can´t afford maple syrup. It is $13 for a bottle that would last a family of 4 one Saturday morning of pancakes. But, it is amaaaaazing. Put a tiny bit with some butter, salt and pepper on slices of yams and onions... bake them in the oven... OMG. to die for. Also very yummy on vanilla ice cream.

never had poutine either. looks disgusting. Very Quebecois!

Richard, you know how old I am - I have only seen a moose on TV.

OK, now... on to language

it is pronounced abowt. as in bow wow.

they are right about beer and 7 Eleven but then American beer is equivalent to soda pop so no need for concern.

absolutely vinegar on the french fries (inherited that from the British)... cheddar, salmon, peameal. yum.

I would die from heat exhaustion in a Goose brand jacket. I wear a leather jacket October - April. no coat after that at all.

Lululemon is our national dress around here.

Canadian Club Whiskey used to be the drink of choice. Now it is the tourist duty free drink of choice. We have moved on to Islay Scotch and Micro brew.

and finally, it´s tuke not took. Had to think about that one for a while.

As for Paul Shaffer... LOL we can do better than that. Nelly Furtato, Sarah MachLaughlin, Bryan Adams, Michael Buble, Diana Krahl, Leonard Cohen, Celine Dion (the last one is up for debate) David Foster...

(in reply to: Yo Canada! (non immigration post))
Richard Loved This!!!!! LOL LOL LOL

Saying Sor-ee to the curb after tripping over the curb LOL

Yesterday in the Grocery store a Lady rammed her cart into my heal and it hurt real bad and the first thing I did was turn around in severe pain and say sorry!


(in reply to: Yo Canada! (non immigration post))
3 more torch bearers to go and I can hear the landscapers outside mowing the lawn.


(in reply to: Yo Canada! (non immigration post))
American beer is, in essence, pony pee. It should be sold in a pet store. eh!
(in reply to: Yo Canada! (non immigration post))
Get a life oldies.....Killing time in an immigration site> WTF ???
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