It's important for us to explain to our nation that life is important. It's not only life of babies, but it's life of children living in, you know, the dark dungeons of the Internet. -- G.W. Bush, Arlington Heights, Ill., Oct. 24, 2000
Recently Pigdog has received many letters from readers who are apparently puzzled and upset by our regular coverage of the mysterious nation north of our border, Canadia.
The problem, it seems, isn't so much the strange reports that continually issue forth from that vast, mostly uncharted region, but that such a place exists at all. Apparently most Americans are totally unaware that such a place as "Canadia" even exists!
The common thread that tugs at Pigdog readers, however, is one of deep, unsated curiosity. "I would like to visit Canadia," begins a typical note, "but I am unsure whether or not I would be welcome there. What should I bring? Is it safe to drink the water? Is it true that Canadians use giant stone donuts for currency? Does Berlitz offer a course in Canadish?"
Sensing a Great Need, Pigdog now presents a short field guide to Canadian culture, history and economics in the interest of those Americans brave enough to chance a trip across the border.
Canadia was first settled by immigrant yak farmers who crossed the Bering Strait land bridge many eons ago. For thousands of years, very little happened in Canadia. Then dynamite was discovered. The French arrived, and appointed a provincial governor to bring order to the loosely organized tribal nations who flourished along the frigid shores of the Hudson Bay. Trade routes were established with Europe, and over time decorative Canadian knick-knacks were found in plentiful supply in curio shops all over Paris. Then the English arrived, and an uneasy co-existence with the French was maintained until the year 1902, when the first indoor plumbing was installed. Today the English and French descendants of the earliest European settlers enjoy many of the modern conveniences we take for granted here in the USA, including electricity and liquid glue.
A communist nation since 1946, Canadia gained self-rule in 1972, in the aftermath of the infamous Maple Leaf Rebellion, when invading Soviet tanks rolled through the streets of Toronto, and were pelted with rocks and garbage by indignant Canadian hockey players. Although technically remaining behind the "Iron Curtain," Canadia, which has been ruled with an iron fist by First Marshall Tito since 1948, did not abandon its totalitarian rule after the collapse of Soviet-style communism in the late 1980s. A fiercely independent (and isolated) nation, Canadians still labor under severe government edicts which greatly restrict their freedoms of speech and right to travel freely.
People and Culture
A hardy people of stern, Northern stock, Canadians tend to be deeply suspicious and distrustful by nature, although it is unclear how much this has to do with the severity of the current system of government. Canadians live and work in commune-like "work clusters," and rarely leave the town where they are born for very long, if at all. Although little is known of the interior operations of these clusters, the few Canadians who have escaped to the south tell mysterious -- but unconfirmed -- tales of "giant robot insects" and harsh living conditions in tiny igloos.
A popular misconception regarding Canadian culture is that cannibalism is not only tolerated, but taught in schools as a proper social behavior. Fortunately, this appears to be merely an urban legend. Canadians don't attend schools, for instance, and plentiful sustenance is available to all Canadians in the form of the rich maple syrup which forms in pools in many areas. A popular treat in Canadia is the "Slop Wafer," a bland, doughy cracker-like bread which is coated liberally with the ubiquitous syrup and then consumed at special occasions, like birthday parties, or the annual Festival of the Enormous Moose, which caps the main holiday season in August.
Although most Canadians don't own or have access to television, many citizens are well versed in the antics of American sitcom television characters due to the efforts of village "story speakers," a sort of shamanistic figure who has obtained the use of a television during state-sponsored seminars, and returns to his or her village to pass along the stories to his "comrades". A particular favorite is "Sanford and Son," and it is not uncommon to witness Canadian children "Pulling a Sanford" in public: imitating Fred's hilarious mock heart attacks.
Amplified music is forbidden by the Canadian government; bagpipes and accordians tend to be the most popular musical instruments. Many village pubs feature live polka music, and a lively time is sure to be had by all.
A word of caution: it is considered impolite to shake hands with a Canadian, probably because napkins are outlawed. Such an attempt will generally encounter a stern glance and possibly even a visit from the local constable.
Canadians consume great amounts of alcohol, which they call "hootcho," and typically will insist that a foreigner sit before them and exhange liquids via mouth-to