October 27, 2003

O Canada

Dude, Canada is the great release valve of the American liberal soul. If not for Canada, there would be rioting in the streets every two weeks. As long as there's Canada, a pissed off liberal can say, 'I am this close to moving to Canada.' Take that away at your peril.

Ogged responds to a latter-day expression of American manifest destiny. He is absolutely right to say that "Canada isn't just cold America." And it's not just Quebec, and it's not just hockey. There is also the matter of donut consumption. One day while driving down Bloor Street with one of my sisters, we entertained ourselves by counting the number of donut shops (yes, we northern rustics have to make our own fun). For a good two-mile stretch, we counted at least one donut shop per block. It was only after having spent some time in the States, however, that I realized the essential difference between the two nations could be summed up as follows: Canadians eat more donuts than Americans.

Posted by Invisible Adjunct at October 27, 2003 10:21 AM

Canadians eat Americans? Forget the merger.

You know, it's not just donuts. There's something about bread products more generally. I've had it sworn to me that there are wonderful croissants in Montreal and that the bagels there are the best anywhere. Of course, several trips later, I have yet to taste either because, well, it's never quite the right time of day, or the best place to get them is on the other side of town, etc.

What I'm saying, IA, is that I find these claims a bit doughy. I need proof. A fresh donut in my mailbox would be nice. Perhaps a tourist map of donut shops in your favorite Canadian city? Or will you too make excuses and ask me to take this all on faith?

Posted by: ogged at October 27, 2003 11:53 AM

Donut production and distribution in Soviet Canuckistan is dominated by a ruthless monopoly, Tim Horton's. Krispy Kreme and Robins supporters are routinely villified in public places, are subject to degraging CSIS investigations, and routine harassment by the RCMP. So-called Canadian peacekeeping efforts overseas spread their sinister donut propoganda, while a secret fattening agent in the donuts themselves, activated by Tim Hortons coffee, ensures popular support for state-provided healthcare. Truly a terrifying threat to free markets and civil liberties.

Posted by: random polisci guy at October 27, 2003 12:44 PM

Tim Horton's although founded by a Canadian is owned and run by an American company, Wendy's, headquarted in a suburb of Columbus, Ohio.

They have opened a number of Tim Horton's in Columbus. some of them free standing, some paired with Wendy's. The coffee is quite good and the donuts are pretty decent.

Posted by: Robert Schwartz at October 27, 2003 01:08 PM

Bread products... but doesn't that bring the whole argument full circle? Isn't greater consumption of carbohydrates directly related to temperature/climate?

I find it interesting though that obestity levels are so much lower in Canada, in re the faddish Atkins diet.

Posted by: paul at October 27, 2003 01:19 PM

What I've noticed in my visits is 1.) each province has its own beers and won't accept deposit bottles from other provinces and 2.) all the sports are different, even "Canadian Football". When I visit my brother we watch lawn bowling, field hockey, and soccer. I draw the line at watching curling on TV but my brother does it when I'm not there.

Posted by: Zizka at October 27, 2003 01:27 PM

Yes, bagels. Ignore the donuts -- go for the bagels. You should be hanging around close enough to that area of Montreal anyways (Fairmont & St-Laurent) -- the bagels are worth one (or many) side trips. It's always the right time of day for bagels, too.
And you can get good croissants anywhere in Montreal (and in many areas, more easily than donuts).

Posted by: wolfangel at October 27, 2003 03:02 PM

Ogged, you misunderstand my position. I don't claim any superiority in the taste and quality of Canadian donuts. I merely assert that Canadians eat more of them.

Robert is right: Tim Horton's is now owned by Wendy's, and the coffee is pretty darn good.

By the way, Canadian wheat is "harder" (ie has more protein), which makes Canadian all-purpose white flour at least marginally more wholesome than its American counterpart.

Posted by: Invisible Adjunct at October 27, 2003 04:29 PM

My apologies, IA. Next time I try to gin up a controversy in your comments, I'll make the argument a bit tighter.

It seems you're right about donut consumption. A search I never anticipated doing, for "canadians doughnuts per capita," turns up this corroboration. Though that "according to an often-cited statistic" just might be the laziest bit of journalism I've ever seen.

Posted by: ogged at October 27, 2003 05:59 PM

"Next time I try to gin up a controversy in your comments, I'll make the argument a bit tighter."
Yes, please do, Ogged. I run a tight ship here. You want me to send you some cookies?

Posted by: Invisible Adjunct at October 27, 2003 06:26 PM

Cookies! Yes, please.

Posted by: ogged at October 27, 2003 07:36 PM

Mmmmmm. Maybe I should move to Canada. ;)

Posted by: Naomi Chana at October 27, 2003 08:44 PM

This thread is making me homesick (sniff).

But in all honesty, and much as I love my home and native land, I would have to concede that Canada's gifts to the world do not lie in the area of cuisuine. Unless we want to count poutine.

Posted by: Invisible Adjunct at October 27, 2003 09:09 PM

The area around Newport Boulevard near the 55 is full of donut shops. Specifically if you go down 19th street (I think this is the right street) a few blocks, and then turn around and go up Newport again until around 17th, there's at least five of them.

Posted by: ben wolfson at October 28, 2003 12:09 AM

With a quick Google, pastry recipes using Screech can also quickly be found, thus wrapping all of Canadian culture except curling in one tidy package.

Posted by: Zizka at October 28, 2003 10:27 AM

Ever checked the stats on how many people ACTUALLY move to Canada? When I lived in BC from 1996-2000 my sister would often come up from Seattle and make just such noises. But you really might want to try earning Canadian $ and paying Canadian taxes. My summary is, "Individual Canadians, fantastic. Caring, stoic, funny. Canadian governments and institutions, way overrated". My perspective may be a bit jaundiced. Those of you who know anything about the country will recall that BC was under the control of the left-most Canadian party, the NDP, and it set new records for corruption and bad government.

Posted by: gerald garvey at October 28, 2003 12:09 PM

"My summary is, 'Individual Canadians, fantastic. Caring, stoic, funny. Canadian governments and institutions, way overrated.'"

Fair enough. Of course, many Canadians would say something similar about Americans and American governments and institutions. Which only goes to support Ogged's position.

Posted by: Invisible Adjunct at October 28, 2003 12:36 PM


Canada is a psychic, rather than demographic (or physical) release valve. It's the possibility of moving to Canada that makes it important. In fact, the fewer the people who move there, the more effective it is, because there's less disillusioning word of mouth. I know this sounds flip, but I do think that the possibility of moving somewhere civilized when things get really bad in the US keeps people here and sane.

Posted by: ogged at October 28, 2003 12:43 PM

My brother and his wife followed a job to BC and finally took citizenship after ten years. They're very happy with the system up there and make snarky Canadian remarks about the US. If I were a more viable candidate I would dfinitely think about it.

As dual citizens they get to vote twice. They deliberately vote for every Oregon tax-increase just to piss off their dittohead brother-in-law.

Posted by: Zizka at October 28, 2003 02:27 PM

Ogged, I think you have it exactly right for the most part. Here is a useful exercise/corrective for this sort of daydreaming. Be as detailed as you can about the place you are fantasizing about. In the case of Canada, what? Like, what exactly does social solidarity or whatever you want to label it, look and feel like? Does it require turning over all your worldly goods to a government? Or do you spend all your time in politics? Similarly, for those who yearn to live in free America, well what does that look like? Everyone armed? I find it a useful corrective 'cause I share that tendency to be discontented with where I am. BC was hardly hell, and for me as an academic and outdoors-guy it was a pretty good place. It was actually toughest on my wife who is an entrepreneur (taxes and regulations, plus BC's very weird local economy was really hard on her) and a Aussie (dark and damp weather wore on her pretty hard). So, at the end of the day, I am grateful for a world where we have the ability to move between countries and jurisdictions. Zizka's brother found his place and I think I may have found mine. Now we just gotta fix little things like the INS....

Posted by: gerald garvey at October 29, 2003 11:11 AM

There was a statistic on the evening news the first year I lived in Montreal (that was four years ago) that there were 60,000 Americans in Montreal. There are also 600,000 Anglophones in Montreal. So it works out that 10% on English speaking Montrealers are Americans. Sounds like colonalization to me. Most likely its only for the bagels.

Posted by: Ben at October 29, 2003 12:13 PM