Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Oh Canada!

Last night I purchased two tickets to Ottawa and back. I'm going to spend at least six of my seven nights in Canada in a cottage in the woods, but I'm working on convincing my boyfriend that we should spend the last night in our northern neighbor's capital city.

This will be my first venture into Canada, and it almost feels like I'm preparing to depart for a mythical utopia of social progressiveness, universal health care, and unusually friendly hockey fans. (If I don't spy Wayne Gretzky in a Royal Canadian Mounted Police uniform officiating a same-sex marriage while one of the grooms gets a state-funded appendectomy, I'll be very disappointed.)

Given that my expectations are, uh, unrealistic, and given that I'll only have about 24 to soak in Ottawa, what clues should I be looking for when I mentally tally my list of "Canadians sure are different from Americans!"-isms? How will the the constitutional monarchy manifest its progressive policies in its everyday attributes?

When I was in Munich, for example, it struck me how eco-friendly ideas influence the nuances of the local culture. There are designated parking spaces for fuel-efficient Smart Cars; the redemption value on beverage containers is over twenty cents; in fact, the whole country sanitizes and reuses glass beverage containers instead of using disposable (and difficult-to-recycle) plastic; even the escalators to the subway remain dormant until you step on a sensor that sets them off.

Will I find similar expressions of intelligent policy when I visit Canada? (Also, on a personal note, what should I do if I only have one day in Ottawa?!)

1 comment:

Tommaso Sciortino said...

My tip: middle-class people in Canada don't really have strong accents. But chat up a taxi-driver and you'll find out what linguistic shift is all aboot.