By Tristin Hopper
When it comes to national stereotypes, Canada has a lot to be thankful for. Polite, igloo-dwelling, frequent ‘eh’ usage – these are pretty harmless labels. Germany and Poland, I’m sure, would swap stereotypes with us any day of the week. Besides, stereotypes are untrue, aren’t they? For any stereotype-thumping foreigner that crosses the border into the vibrant metropolises of Vancouver or Toronto, they quickly realize that Canada is a progressive, industrialized nation immune to their ignorant categorizations.
Up here, not so much. The further you get from the 49th parallel, the more Canada morphs into a bizarre exaggeration of itself. Canadian stereotypes, just like Santa Claus, spend most of their time in the North.
In 2004, Fox news commentator Tucker Carlson drew flak when he suggested that the average Canadian is too busy dog sledding to be critical of US foreign policy. At least in the Yukon, most mushers are able to multitask.
Whenever there’s a major event or announcement in Whitehorse, it’s common that a senior RCMP official will attend. At these events, I’ve noticed a trend: If the announcement will be attended solely by Canadians, the RCMP official will show up dressed in a standard 20th-century style blue dress uniform. If, however, the event has invited Americans, we make sure to dress our mountie in red serge.
While most Canadian cities are no snowier than New York or Chicago, the North is guaranteed at least six months of on-the-ground snow. Hollywood location-scouts call this “guaranteed snow,” and it’s one of our best film-industry selling points.
The national animal of Canada runs wild throughout most of the 13 provinces and territories. The North kicks it up a notch; 10,000 years ago the region was overrun with buck-toothed rodents the size of black bears. Giant beavers, if you will. It’s like finding out that ice age United States was inhabited by handgun-toting bald eagles with faulty mortgages.
When you’re just north of a country that has the most powerful military in the history of the universe, it’s natural for your army to look a little piddly by comparison. In the Russia-threatened North, however, Canada’s first line defence remains a part-time force of about 4,000 snowmobile-mounted Rangers armed with bolt-action WWII rifles. If the Russian invasion is composed solely of polar bears, we might be okay.
Things aren’t much different over in Alaska. After all, when the Republican Party needed a folksy, good-with-a-rifle caricature of Americana to stand in as their VP candidate, they needed to turn no farther than the 49th state. The moral of this story? The more remote and snowy your outpost, the more your life resembles a cartoon.