By G.D. Maxwell
Canadians are funny, eh? Not funny ha-ha - although comedians have been one of the Great White North's best-known exports since pioneering Canadian funnymen realized they'd have to go abroad to find an audience with a sense of humour - but funny weird.
One of Canada's trademark funny weirdnesses is the never-ending quest for a unique national identity and the way that quest very often - always - seems to get reduced to a search for ways in which Canadians are unlike Americans.
To the list of we're peacekeepers not warriors, we've never manifested a destiny, we have a parliamentary system of government and our national leader knows how to pronounce nuclear, can be added this differential insight: Canadians are reluctant to celebrate themselves.
When it comes to beating our own drum or blowing our own horn, Canadians stand mutely on guard for thee. Take the coin of the realm for example. All our coins have some British dame on one side and a parade of animals on the other side. The most recent prime minister engraved on a Canadian note is the Rt. Hon. William Lyon Mackenzie King, looking pretty in pink on the fifty. King first held office in 1921 and left politics to set up the country's first 1-900 Psychic Hotline in 1948.
Granted, U.S. money honours its share of dead white men from another century too, but it also includes likenesses of Roosevelt, Eisenhower and Kennedy. And Jimmy the Greek is giving even odds the current wave of rabid Republicans won't leave office before Reagan's likeness graces everything from currency to airports to a big monument depicting the Republican's greatest single achievement - deficit spending.
Once you get beyond money though, the US really leaves Canada in the dust. From buildings to bridges to mountains to parks to public squares, the U.S. celebrates its heroes, the great and near great, movers and shakers, and more often than they're probably comfortable with, scoundrels and scalawags.
Canada, on the other hand, well, just isn't comfortable with such public showings of praise. Canada slumps its shoulders, sticks its toe in the sand and turns its attention to celebrating events more than people. When the last Parliament considered the 'appropriateness' of offering up a monument to Pierre Trudeau who, love him or hate him, dragged Canada kicking and screaming into the 20 th century, the best they could come up with was an obscure mountain in the Northwest Territories and they never did reach an agreement on that.
Canada doesn't do monuments.
Well, we've got a street named after Rob Boyd. Another one honouring Seppo. A couple of bridges no one knows are dedicated to former mayors and a park named after Ross Rebagliatti. There are scant few runs on either mountain named after people and the one celebrating Ross' Olympic gold medal has reverted back to its former name. In a largely overlooked press release, Whistler Bla. let's not go there this week, announced the run formerly known as Ross' Gold was reverting to Gandy Dancer due to the fact that, well, that everybody still called it Gandy Dancer. I'm waiting for the press release that officially renames Rat Fink, Dad's and Marmot, Mum's, Afterburner, The Sewer and whatever they came up with to rename Toilet Bowl, Toilet Bowl. What's sauce for the Ross, guys..