Sleeping with an elephant

Posted by on December 22, 2010

Canadian English month brings you a guest post by Shauna Rae, a radio and television personality, freelance writer and social media blogger, based in Ontario, Canada.


In a rare rant for a Canadian, in this commercial, a favourite here, our hero dispels many of the stereotypes we sometimes get from those abroad. Mostly, I think these sorts of parodies (oddly many of them ARE contained in beer ads!) are aimed at our neighbours to the south that we try so desperately to separate ourselves from.

It was indeed Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau who uttered his now famous quote in reference to our relationship with the United States:

“Living next to you is in some ways like sleeping with an elephant. No matter how friendly and even-tempered is the beast, if I can call it that, one is affected by every twitch and grunt.”

One monumental difference between us in Canada and our American counterparts is that we actually have two official languages: French and English. All English-speaking students at school are required to take French, and most of us know the French equivalents of free, prize, and no sugar added, thanks to our extensive education in bilingual cereal boxes. Packaging here is written in both official languages. A wide variety of items produced or manufactured in Canada are now collector’s items, sold regularly on eBay, because of the dual language descriptors.

A plethora of “Canadianisms” relate to food. We eat donuts and Timbits (donut holes, small donut balls) with our double doubles (coffee with double cream and double sugar). We like poutine (a mix of French fries, chunks of white cheese and gravy) even though we can almost hear our arteries hardening with every bite. We like McIntosh toffee, KD or Kraft Dinner (a post-secondary staple), and pure Canadian maple syrup kicks Mrs. Butterworth’s ass over pancakes!

If you are Canadian, you are likely to know someone who has collected pogey (employment insurance), you have skated on an outdoor rink, and you have Canadian Tire money stuffed in your kitchen drawers. Canadian Tire, by the way, is busier on a Saturday than most stores are now during the Christmas season. Suprisingly though, it is impossible to find a sales associate.

And speaking of the season, how fitting that Canadian English month should be December, the festive season! Driving down a Canadian street, you can see Christmas lights hung on about two-thirds of the homes, mostly sparkling off the glitter of the snow. We love Christmas! And as the debate is raised every year on whether or not we should use the salutation Merry Christmas, we calmly sip on our rum and eggnog, take a spin on our ski-doo with the toboggan attached to the back, and snuggle up in our flannel pj’s to await Santa’s arrival to claim his cookies and homo milk.

Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Joyeux Noel, or Season’s Greetings – we are all one tapestry of celebration, woven with hope and empathy, enshrouded with a red maple leaf that will never lose its identity as a country. We could never be prouder!

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Comments (20)
  • Shauna, you hit the toque on the head! Proud to be a warm Canadian!

    Posted by Stephanie MacHorn on 22nd December, 2010
  • A good collection of true “Canadianisms” – great blog!

    Posted by Jody Moon on 22nd December, 2010
  • Great entry eh!

    Posted by Jon Stewart on 22nd December, 2010
  • Your post made me proud to be a Canadian. Right on, Shauna!

    Posted by Janis Stewart on 22nd December, 2010
  • Excellent commentary of our time. Love the references to all things Canadian.

    Posted by Lisa Roney on 23rd December, 2010
  • Right on Shauna….bravo for all the Canadianisms…I wonder if everyone is familiar with the zambonie or the 24 as well….there are so many of them..

    Posted by Gail Stafford on 23rd December, 2010
  • Superb post. Good ol’ Trudeau! God bless the True North, Strong and Free!

    Posted by Shane R on 23rd December, 2010
  • […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Abroad Languages. Abroad Languages said: RT @macdictionary: Canadian English month brings you another fantastic guest post: […]

    Posted by Tweets that mention Sleeping with an elephant | Macmillan -- on 23rd December, 2010
  • As a Canadian who live in the US, this article made me homesick! The biggest difference between us is ATTITUDE! Keep up the good work!

    Posted by Pat Arthur-Holmes on 23rd December, 2010
  • right on Shauna

    Posted by gary noble on 23rd December, 2010
  • this is great shauna we are finally proud of who we are good day eh!!

    Posted by arthur on 24th December, 2010
  • Well put Shauna! Nice job.

    Posted by Janet Walters on 27th December, 2010
  • Well said girl!

    Posted by gamble on 27th December, 2010
  • Ah, Canada! We have tons of reasons to be proud Canadians. Cheers.

    Posted by Brad Scrinko on 27th December, 2010
  • Shauna, All the best in the New Year.

    Posted by Cynthia Etheridge on 27th December, 2010
  • When I moved to Canada 25 years ago, I was surprised by milk in bags, chesterfields, broadloom, prams, sweeping ice as a sport, the coolness of the CFL, flashing green lights that served as a left arrow on signal lights and defining Canadianism as a national past time. Shauna, you’re well on your way on the last one!

    Posted by Jill on 27th December, 2010
  • Ah Shauna, so apt. Reminds me of wonderful times spent in Canada and the wonderful friends I have there. I am almost homesick for Canada!!!

    Posted by Sukradeva on 27th December, 2010
  • Beauty post, eh 🙂

    Posted by Victoria Thornton on 28th December, 2010
  • Beauty column Shauna – eh. 🙂

    Posted by Yvette Van Veen on 28th December, 2010
  • Sure sounds like Canadians! FYI – I do plan on cleaning out that drawer with the Canadian Tire money – someday .. Happy New Year

    Posted by Michelle Pozdyk on 4th January, 2011
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