Saturday, April 7, 2012

Oh, Canada

That title is not supposed to be read as if you're starting the Canadian national anthem. It's meant to be read like you would say "oh, you." So more like, "oh, Canada." 

Good. I'm glad we got that all sorted out. Moving on.

I have returned victorious! I don't really know what kind of victory I've won. Certainly it was not the victory of me fitting in with the French Canadians. Because that... that did not happen. It's ridiculous that I've now visited two French speaking countries and STILL have not learned French. That is a true testament to my laziness.

Rather than describe every detail of my trip, I think I'm going to throw out a list (you know how much I love listing) of the things that surprised me most about Canadians. Or French Canadians.

Things I didn't know about Canada:

1) French Canadians love to bundle up. 

The Canadians in Montreal looked like they were preparing for the snowpocalypse. And the way they bundled their kids was even worse

Careful Jimmy... sunlight!

It was at least 55 degrees when this photo was taken. The woman is no indication of how warm it actually was because she was also overdressed. I was in jeans and a long sleeve. But I could have worn a t shirt if I wanted to. And these kids, in winter hats, gloves, coats and boots (no snow, by the way) are on the lighter side of the winter clothes spectrum. We saw one woman put her poor daughter into a straight-up Ralphie-style snow suit.

I can't put my arms down

I don't understand. When the weather gets above 50 degrees, Wisconsinites prance around outside in shorts, synchro-dancing much like the teens from Footloose. 

Plus it's the end of winter. Canadians know it's the end of winter. I hear that they've experienced winter once or twice before. So it's not like they're getting a warm snap in the middle of February and they don't want to pull out their shorts just to get burned by mother nature once more. Now that it's warm, it's gonna stay warm. BUST OUT THEM CAPRIS, PEOPLE. You only get about two months of summer up there, after all.

2) Their vending machines are healthier.

So, Canadians aren't that much healthier or skinnier than Americans. For the most part, they look and eat exactly the same. However! Their vending machines were sometimes oddly healthy.

Please, form a line. No shoving. You'll all get your share of dried fruit.

And to drink?

This was actually kind of awesome because they had chocolate milk

Milk. I remember begging my parents to give me a quarter so that I could buy a handful of some god-awful candy while they paid for groceries. Imagine my disappointment as a child if I had walked up to the vending machines and saw trail mix and milk. If I wanted trail mix and milk I would have gone to my lame friend's house where they had to eat healthy snacks because their mom was a nutritionist!

No. I'm looking for runts, or one of those sticky hands that you can throw at your brother, or perhaps those gumballs that look like watermelons. You know the ones.

3) The subway system is unsettlingly friendly and clean.

The Montreal subway is nice. Clean, futuristic, relaxed. I didn't feel like everyone was judging me for taking a few extra seconds to get my ticket through the ticket-reader. The subway system that I have the most experience with is the "El" in Chicago. And that thing is nasty. In every sense. Plus everyone is always in a hurry. If they hear a train coming from the top of the stairs you better flatten yourself against the wall because they will run you over in their mad dash to make it before the doors close. And they won't feel bad about it. Even though the trains run every 5 minutes.

But in Canada, everyone is just a little more relaxed. People let you get off the train car before they start pushing in. They don't all crowd at the door, insistent that they be the one let off first. Also, I don't know how they do it, but somehow there aren't 3 homeless men sleeping in a train car at any given time.

Plus, there's this sign

It says "Be safe and considerate." That's just nice.

4) Tim. Freaking. Hortons. 

I had never heard of Tim Hortons before this trip. Here is how my reaction to Tim Hortons went, as I began to see more and more of them.

-My first Tim Hortons: Hm. I've never heard of that restaurant. Oh well. must be Canadian.
-My second THs: Another one! Ha. Well I wonder what they serve?
-My third THs: Wow it must be a chain.
-My fourth THs: Okay what is happenin-
-My fifth THs: How is there another one already?!
-My sixth THs: Are they selling the elixir of everlasting life?
-My seventh THs: What is it? What is it? What is it? I must know. What. Is. It.
*I actually visit a Tim Hortons*
-My ninth-200th THs: Hm. Another Tim Hortons.

For those of you that don't know, Tim Hortons is basically a Dunkin Donuts. Except they offer really small sizes on all of their drinks for some reason. If you see someone in the morning drinking coffee from a to-go cup, it's going to be Tim Hortons.

But here's the thing, Canada has Dunkin Donuts too! And Starbucks. I don't know how they're managing to support these chains while still remaining steadfastly devout to their beloved Tim Hortons, but somehow they've managed it.

Every gas station? Tim Hortons. Every oasis? Tim Hortons. Every third street corner? Tim Hortons.

I only WISH I were exaggerating. An example of a Tim Hortons in the middle of Chinatown. It was not the only one.

And they're WILDLY popular. There's always a huge line. No matter what time of day. I don't want to imagine the morning rush. Here's a pic I snagged while in line at 11 am.

It was this full every single time I went in to Tim Hortons. Which was twice. So I suppose I'm no better than the Canadians. They just have such good coffee...

And that's it. My Canadian surprises. All in all, an awesome trip. I really have no good sign off here so I'm just going to leave you with an excellent GIF.

Hannah's GIF of the day:


  1. They have dried fruit vending machines? That is so wrong!

    Did you make that gif yourself?

  2. I'm no where near that good. Definitely stolen.