Canadian Henley Survival Guide
(Compiled just in the nick of time -- and only slightly over-budget -- at the suggestion of several of my Canadian rowing hosts, who also supplied the bulk of the most colourful and otherwise unattributable material)
Canada is part of the British Commonwealth, which means the Queen gets her picture on the money, people are civilized, and "honour" and "colour" get spelled with a "u".
Canada is officially a bilingual country [une pays bilingue]. Thus, all coxswain calls must be in both languages [donc, il faut que tous de notices des timoniÉres serais multilingue] or else the race will not be official [oÚ le contest non discernable]. Old Slavonic or Latin may be substituted only with the permission of the Clerk of the Regatta.
When Canada was founded as a nation, the hope was that, "...we would enjoy the blessings of English culture, French cooking, and American efficiency. Instead, we ended up with English cooking, American culture, and French efficiency." [Prime Minister's name withheld on request.]
Canadian money comes in "looneys" and "twoneys." The one dollar coin has a loon on it; the two dollar coin shows Her Majesty with a bear behind. [Get it? Say it aloud.] These coins can be spent in the fleshpots of Port Dalhousie and Port Colborne. [No relation to the author of this column; just a coincidence. Rumours that the town changed its spelling to disassociate itself from any legal liabilities resulting from my activities are not only untrue, but I know exactly who started them.]
One of the crowning glories of Canadian Henley is that it occurs just as the local fruit crop is ripening. That part of Ontario is known, for good reason, as the Garden of Canada. The fresh peaches - purchasable inexpensively at roadside stands everywhere - are heaven. One morning I bought a basket from a man who apologized sincerely because "these are not quite fresh; they were picked almost two hours ago."
Speaking of food, there are two different Canadian foods both called [and I couldn't make this up if I tried] "Beaver Tail." It is vitally important that you not mix them up, lest your faux pas expose you to social occlusion in restaurants. Beaver Tail One is when the tail is cut off a beaver and cooked in a pot of beans. Beaver Tail Two is a kind of flatbread shaped like a beaver's tail. Presumably the Northwest Territories are full of tailless beavers running around.
The beavers occasionally get their revenge. One furry family managed to wreck not one but two Canadian Pacific freight trains in the span of a few weeks. The water backing up behind their dam undermined the tracks.
Canadian politics works like British politics, only much more fun. Where else could you find a candidate for the premiership of a province referring to his opponent as, "an evil, reptilian kitten-eater from another planet"? [When reporters in turn asked the opponent which planet, and whether residency on a foreign planet invalidated his candidacy, the opponent refused to comment.]
Upon re-crossing the border into the US, when the border guards ask, "Where are you from?" the safest and least provocative answer is:
(a) Gee, officer, I really don't remember. Is it important?
(b) Oh, from a very small galaxy - you probably wouldn't have heard of it.
(c Delaware - you probably wouldn't have heard of it.
(d) Vesper, but we don't usually behave this way when we're at home. (Unless you actually are from Vesper, in which case "PennAC," "Riverside," or "the Vatican" may be substituted according to preference.)
(e) "Fockin' Brooklyn" has been tried before, and is incorrect.)