Eh?: Canadian #AtoZChallenge

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Today’s #AtoZChallenge was a no-brainer, although I had to be told by a friend that it was the perfect Canadian “E” word. Many of Canadians don’t think that we say the word “Eh?” enough for the [mostly] American stereotype to be true.  That is, until your co-workers point it out every time you do.

In fact, “Eh?” is such a Canadian stereotype that it has it’s own Wikipedia page!  In essence, “Eh?” is a tag used at the end of a sentence to indicate a subliminal request for an answer, comprehension or agreement.

“The weather is crazy here in Colorado, eh?”

You could replace “Eh?” with “Right?”  or “Isn’t it?”, but “Eh?” just comes out so naturally.  So naturally, in fact, that your American colleagues make it a past time to make fun of you whenever you say it.  Because “Eh?” is so much weirder than “Ya’ll”.

Now that I think of it, I wonder if Bob and Doug McKenzie might be partially to blame for our excessive use of “Eh?” and for the rampant stereotyping of Canadians:

One of my American friends recently decided to tell me a hi-larious joke about how Canada got its name. The settler decided to put all the letters in a hat and pull them out one by one to spell the name of this new plentiful land across the Atlantic.  They pulled them out read them to the settler writing the name down: “C, eh? N, eh? D, eh?” Sounds legit although I didn’t learn that in school (something about an anglicized version of “kanata”, an Iroquois word meaning “village” or “land” – but who knows…).

It’s easy to see how accent tags can spread and become so popular. The more people use them, the more others subconsciously start to use them as well.  I’ve experienced this first hand here in Colorado. Since I’ve moved here, I’ve noticed that if you say “Sorry” to someone (another Canadian stereotype!) the response isn’t “That’s okay” or “No problem”; it’s “You’re fine”. It was the weirdest response, but now after 3 years in Colorado, I actually find myself saying it to others as well!  I don’t even think about it and I can’t control it!

So, sure, “Eh?” is a Canadianism. We can’t deny it although we try to, but apparently the term is slowly being replaced by urban youth with other tags, such as “Right?” or “You know?”

I guess as an older generation Canadian (can’t believe I’m saying that), “Eh?” will stay in my vocabulary for a while…

 

 

 

Donair: Canadian #AtoZChallenge

DYou’re probably wondering what crazy Canadian thing could a “Donair” be? An animal? A Canadian term for a kite?

Well, picture this:  a gyro or a Turkish Döner kebab but wayyyyy more awesomer!!!!

Donairs came to be in Halifax, Nova Scotia back in the early 1970’s, and have since become a nationwide premier choice for late night, drunk delicacies!  Donairs started off made with beef on a vertical rotisserie, and were then wrapped with diced onion and tomato in a flatbread.

But that’s not all!  There’s no tzatziki sauce on these addictive treats!  Donairs come with a special sweet white sauce.

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Source: The National Post

Donairs now have expanded across Canada, but they are truly still an east coast delicacy.  Halifax’s King of Donair claims to be the first restaurant to sell Donairs and is usually the first place Canadians go if they’re visiting the coastal city.

Donairs are so engrained in east coast life, that Halifax city councillor put forward a notion last October to make the Donair the official food of Halifax!

So, if you’re not in eastern Canada, or have never tried a Donair, here’s a recipe on Allrecipes.com that may give you the experience without visiting! I make sure I have one every time I’m back home!

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Celsius: Canadian #AtoZChallenge

CThis is a fun one!  I call it “Canadian Degrees” to my American friends down here.  I also use it to make it seem colder than it is.

For example:  “Wow, it’s really mild today, it’s only -5° out!”

The look on their faces is priceless.  Especially since they actually believe that Canadians think -5° is warm!

Now how is it that two countries so close together, use completely different measures of temperature?

Forty-one years ago, the weather was the first to go in Canada’s efforts to shift to metric measurements and coincidentally, the switch from Fahrenheit to Celsius happened on April 1, 1975.  What an April Fools joke!

The people of the United States on the other hand, wanted nothing to do with this crazy method of measuring temperature.  Congress passed an act allowing the voluntary conversion to the metric system. Voluntary. It seems when faced with change, people are content to stick with what they know.

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Here in the states, I have difficulty knowing what the temperature will “feel like” when I hear it announced in Fahrenheit.  I often have to switch my weather apps back and forth when checking the weather and when talking with friends about the weather.

In Canada, we usually discuss weather in Celsius, however for some strange reason, we mix between the two when cooking and baking. Many Canadian ovens either either display Fahrenheit only, or both.  This is a side effect from the metrification of Canada and varies among generations.

My weird metrification quirk is referring to the temperature in Fahrenheit when it’s above 80°F and Celsius when it’s 26°C or lower!  I do appreciate having 0°C represent the freezing point and 100°C representing the boiling point. That makes  a lot of sense to me.

Oh, and when it gets to be -40°C, it’s also -40°F.  Which, essentially means it’s so ridiculously cold that you shouldn’t bother even going outside unless you want instant frostbite.

Blue Rodeo: Canadian #AtoZChallenge

The Canadiana that starts with the letter B for me is the Canadian band, Blue Rodeo.

You may already know that I’m a big fan of Canadian music. From Rush to April Wine to Great Big Sea to Shania Twain, we have such a wide variety of great musicians that we should be proud of.  There’s nothing I love more than being in the U.S. and hearing a Canadian song on the local radio – and then experiencing disbelief when I tell them the song/band/singer is Canadian.  Prime example:  Life is a Highway by Canadian Tom Cochrane.  The song hit #1 in Canada and #6 on the Billboard Charts in the United States. But no one knew it was a Canadian song!

So back to Blue Rodeo.  One of my favourite Canadian bands. Mostly led by Jim Cuddy and Greg Keeler, two, incredibly talented singers and songwriters,the country rock band came to be in 1984 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

I love pretty much all of Blue Rodeo’s music – I never get sick of listening and singing along to their most popular songs, my favourite being “5 Days in May” from the 1993 album “Five Days in July”, also the band’s most successful album.

Lead singer Jim Cuddy has also pursued a solo career on the side while continuing to be a part of Blue Rodeo.  You can hear his Blue Rodeo influence in his own solo pursuits, such as “Pull Me Through” a great hit from 2006.

Enjoy!

Avro Arrow: Canadian #AtoZChallenge

Good morning!  I didn’t have a theme reveal, but I decided – since I’m a Canadian living in Colorado – that I am going to focus my #AtoZChallenge on Canadiana.  Words, phrases, things, foods, places.  This should be interesting.  Believe it or not, I’ve had a hard time coming up with topics for every letter of the alphabet: I think mostly because I take those things for granted.

So, today I’d like to talk about the CF-105 Avro Arrow! This is a little different than my usual kayaking and adventure posts, but I hope you’ll find it interesting…

The CF-105 Avro Arrow made its first test flight almost exactly 58 years ago (March 25, 1958). It was supposed to be a state-of-the art Canadian designed (and made) delta-wing, hypersonic interceptor, intended to fly at Mach 2 speeds over 50,000 feet.  This aircraft was going to put Canada on the aviation map.

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Source: The Canadian Aviation and Space Museum

 

But it didn’t quite happen that way and has gone down in history as a legend, a conspiracy story, a failure.

In February of 1959, the entire project was cancelled and within two months, there was very little evidence that the aircraft ever existed.

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Source: canadianhistoryforkids.com

 

This is where things started getting interesting. There were so many theories abound: one that a Russian spy had infiltrated the production line; many political theories; and rumours that one Avro Arrow was hidden from destruction, to name a few.

Only five years ago, information surfaced suggesting that an ejection seat from a CF-105 was found in the United Kingdom, owned by a private collector, refuelling speculation about the possibility that a complete jet was saved from destruction and possibly flown across the Atlantic. The owner of the seat told CTV News that he was “100% positive” he saw an Arrow land at RAF Manston Air Base when he was a teen, living near the base.

The Avro Arrow will go down in history as a Canadian legend, and unsolved mystery and to many a missed opportunity to make aviation history.

O = Ottawa

OThis is embarrassing to admit, but I was having trouble finding an “O” word to write about for the A to Z Challenge. I actually considered writing about Ostriches, which I had seen in the wild in Africa.

I told my husband that I needed an “O” word, and after a few inappropriate suggestions, and my claim that it had to have something to do with travel or adventure, he said “Ottawa.  Ontario”. Duh.

OMG.  As if I didn’t think of my hometown! My brain is seriously fried right now with work and school!

So here it is. I was born in Ottawa, Ontario and, despite being an army brat and moving every three years, I have lived there five different times in my life.

Ottawa is the capital of Canada. It almost wasn’t, but lucked out in 1857 when it was determined that the previous capital, – Kingston, Ontario – was too small and too close to the American border.  Parliament Hill, a limestone cliff overlooking the Ottawa River (and Gatineau, Quebec on the other side) is home to our country’s parliament buildings: unique, gothic revival styled homes to our elected government.

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Here is a list of seasonal Ottawa tidbits you may enjoy:

  • WINTER: Ottawa is home to the world’s longest outdoor skating rink: The Rideau Canal Skateway.  It is usually open January to March, depending on the ice, and hosts Winterlude, an annual outdoor festival in the heart of downtown.

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  • SPRING: Ottawa hosts the Canadian Tulip Festival each year, which started when Princess Julianna of the Netherlands thanked Canada for its role in liberating her country, presented Ottawa with 100,000 tulip bulbs and continued sending more bulbs each year until 1980. Still, today, the National Capital Commission plants tulips all over the city each year, bringing hundreds of thousands of tourists to Ottawa annually.

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  • SUMMER: ByWard Market is where the action happens in Ottawa’s Lower Town.  It is home to Canada’s oldest operating farmer’s market (first market in 1827), multiple unique eateries, bars, and boutique stores.

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  • AUTUMN: The area surrounding Ottawa becomes a mosaic of vibrant reds, yellows, oranges and greens as the leaves change colour in preparation for their demise before winter. Gatineau Park is the best place to truly enjoy the autumn colours.

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Ottawa is a city of all seasons, and despite being the capital of Canada exhibits a small town attitude. There is no shortage of things to do and has a unique mix of history and culture.  I hope you get to visit my hometown sometime!

N = Nicaragua

NNicaragua is a country situated north of one of my favourite places: Costa Rica.  Despite some uneducated people warning me that Nicaragua was dangerous and that there was fighting along the border, I did some research and decided to take a day trip into the country from Guanacaste.

I’m so glad I did!

Nicaragua is a beautiful country, despite being one of the poorest in the Americas. I was happy to contribute even a little bit to their economy and to my guide. Tourism in Nicaragua is quickly growing, and I expect as more and more expats retire and visit Costa Rica, Nicaragua will be the next hidden gem. There is so much history, culture and fascinating architecture to experience.

One of the highlights of the visit was enjoying a local band play on the hill overlooking Laguna de Apoyo Natural Reserve.

Enjoy the photos I took from my short excursion!  I will definitely be back!

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M = Mountains

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I grew up in Ontario, Canada.  In fact, before I moved out to Colorado, I had never lived anywhere else. Mountains were never really a part of my life.  I knew they existed but had never been given the opportunity to experience them first hand.

I learned to ski at Horseshoe Valley Resort, north of Toronto. Horseshoe Valley has a difference in elevation of 308 feet. Another place in Ontario where I have skied is Calabogie Peaks, which apparently offers the highest vertical drop in Ontario of 761 feet.

My new home resort, Keystone Resort near Dillon, Colorado has a difference in elevation of 3,128 feet.  Just to give you an idea of what I’m used to and what I’m experiencing here in Colorado.

So, back to mountains. To be honest, I don’t know how I managed to live the majority of my life without being surrounded by mountains! My first time experiencing mountains was in Bosnia and then Switzerland. It was astounding to see them jut out of the earth as if they were the most powerful things nature had to offer.  It was terrifying driving switchbacks in Bosnia with no guard rails. It was exhilarating noticing the thinner but cleaner air.

When I cycled through the Canadian Rockies, I was really nervous.  I thought, how can I possibly get my little bike up those HUGE mountains?  But the mountains can be forgiving.  There are ways to get through them without going straight up. Valleys and passes assist us in being able to experience their majesty without as much effort as we might think.

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Although they can be forgiving, they are also not to be messed with. When I climbed Kilimanjaro, I truly learned to appreciate that the mountains are boss.  We passed many people who simply couldn’t handle the altitude, returning down the slopes with looks of defeat on their faces.

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Since I’ve lived in Colorado Springs, the form of Pikes Peak follows me wherever I go. I can drive into the mountains each weekend if I want to. I truly feel as if “The Mountains are Calling”, and I truly feel as if it’s where I belong.

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L = Lake

As a child and Lgrowing up, there was one place that was my absolute favourite place.  The lake. My aunt and uncle had a cottage and every summer the entire extended family would spend time up there, in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by nature. Some of the family weren’t big fans, but for as long as I can remember, the cottage was my favourite place to be.

So much in fact, that I always dreamed of having a cottage of my own, living on the edge of a secluded lake with steep wooded shores and an abundance of wildlife, coming and going.  My memories of canoeing with my aunt, learning to waterski with my uncle and cousins, marshmallows on the bonfire, cliff jumping, playing Mille Bornes and Monopoly when it rained, or just hanging out on the dock in the dark watching the stars, and once watching something burn up as it entered the atmosphere.

Now I admit, there were things about the lake that I didn’t like.  I didn’t like that grass and seaweed and other things would grab at my feet while I was swimming.  I HATED the fact that I couldn’t see what was under me in the water, and those dock spiders weren’t as cordial as they may initially seem….  But here I am. Almost 40 years old and I STILL want a cottage of my own.

Maybe one day, Jenny.  It’s definitely part of my retirement plan. There’ll be no living in the city once I’m done working!

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Learning to waterski at the cottage!

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Canoeing in my Outdoor Rec highschool program “Ventures North”

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I miss that Sesame Street towel! You’re never too old!

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I caught a fishy in Frontenac Provincial Park!

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Peaceful solitude at Lac La Pêche

K = Kandahar

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I spent some time in Kandahar in 2009. Things weren’t great when I was there. But its history has seen much, much worse than what I saw.

Here are some interesting facts I put together about the city of Kandahar:

– It is one of the oldest human settlements in the world.

– Although it seems to be in a rather barren, uninhabitable area, it has held great strategic importance over centuries due to its location along important trade routes between the different edges of Asia.

– It was believed to have been founded by Alexander the Great in 330 BC and “Kandahar” comes from a local interpretation of “Alexander”

– Kandahar has been witness to alternating periods of war and peace and as such, the people have evolved to be resilient and adopt a survival instinct to keep their families alive.

– Kandahar International Airport was built in the 1960’s, by Afghans but under USAID support.  Over the years it has been controlled by Afghans, Soviets, Taliban and most recently, NATO, over the years. While the airfield was controlled by NATO, it was considered one of the busiest airports in the world with up to 5,000 military flights of all varieties coming in and out each week.Today, six commercial airlines service the airport and it is still used by NATO forces and the Afghan Air Force.

– Kandahar is also where my country spent a lot of time, effort and money trying to make things better after the Taliban were forced into hiding and NATO moved in to prevent them from using the area as a safe haven and training ground for terrorists. Canada put effort into eradicating polio, building schools and other infrastructure (such as the Dahla Dam), training teachers and security forces.  Kandahar Province is also where many Canadians gave their lives toward the effort: at least 130 young Canadians lost, and many more Afghans gone from this world because of constant conflict in the area. May they rest in peace.

I only hope that one day, Kandahar can be a thriving city in the crossroads of the world. Although, judging by its history, I’m not so sure that could ever be possible.
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