A Canadian in Chicago

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Let’s start this off with an apology.

Sorry guys, I’m Canadian. Born and raised.

  • I like hockey.
  • I drink good beer.
  • I speak French, the language of love and separatism.
  • I’ve seen Anne of Green Gables so many times I know the camera angles.
  • I voted for a prime minister.
  • I learned my provinces and territories in grade 1, not first grade.
  • I coloured Dr. T’s notes with my pencil crayons and throw in a “u” wherever I damn well please.
  • Sorry I said damn, I didn’t mean to offend anyone.
  • I read the 20/20 line: T-Zed-E-C-L. This is not 20/20-1.
  • I will never understand yards, gallons, acres or pints. Unless it’s a pint of beer. That one I know.
  • I write exams instead of taking tests. I receive my mark instead of a grade, shortly thereafter.
  • I wear a toque when it’s warranted.
  • I don’t think that -10 degrees is particularly cold, but I’d rather die than go outside when it’s 80. (Although let’s be real, I have yet to master Fahrenheit.)
  • I like everyone.

One of those things is a lie. I like almost everyone.

Being Canadian in Chicago is like being a fish on a bicycle. It’s cute and weird. While I have successfully been able to convince one poor soul that I lived in an igloo (partially because I am cruel and partially because I can’t resist an easy target), 99.99 percent of Chicagoans have welcomed us Eskimos with nothing but kindness, warmth and genuine curiosity.

I love that everyone knows Vancouver and Toronto, but the vast panoramic landscape between those cities is as mythical as the Bermuda Triangle. Saskatchewan is real, ladies and gentleman, believe it or not.

It never ceases to amaze me that when people are asked where they are from, you get answers like “Naperville, a suburb outside of Chicago, in DuPage County” and everyone nods appreciatively because now they can place that beautiful suburb on a map in their minds. But when a Canadian responds with just “Canada”, that’s more than enough. Canada is the second biggest country in the world! You need specifics!chicago 3

I love Chicagoans. I love the way they draw out their As and their Os. I think the Midwestern accent should be preserved for the ages because no one sounds more legit than a Chicagoan talking about last night’s Bears loss. Sorry, I had to.

I love how passionate Chicagoans are. Don’t you dare ask for ketchup on that hot dog, you blasphemous tourist! Canadians are notorious push-overs. We don’t want to be a bother. I love Chicagoans’ sheer audacity. Don’t tell anyone, but I kind of like the brazenness of Chicago more–like that old man who operates his motorized wheelchair at one mile an hour in the middle of the road down Indiana Avenue, forcing disgruntled vehicles to negotiate around him. Love it.

I love that you can see every corner of the world in Chicago. It really is an epicenter of culture and an anthropologist’s dream, where one train ride can allow you to see the scenery of 30 different socioeconomic classes, all merging together and navigating around their city. It is a tapestry that cannot be described until you immerse yourself into its fabric. You can always find something or someone to relate to in Chicago, often when you least expect it.

I love summertime Chi. Now throw yo hands up in the sky.

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There is always something fun to do in the city, no matter the season. You can mellow out at Blues Fest, scour the bookshelves at the Printers Row Lit Fest and get the meat sweats at Ribfest—all in one weekend. You can skate at the ice rink in Millennium Park, believing you are Elvis Stojko, and take photos of your reflection under the Bean. You can nurse your $13 cocktail in the John Hancock Signature Lounge. You can marvel at the artwork on display at the Art Institute for hours on end and still not see everything you wanted to. You can try to smuggle a penguin out of the Shedd. Try being the operative word.

I don’t think any city in the world can compete with Chicago’s lake shore. I have spent countless afternoons biking up and down Lakefront Trail, marveling at every scenic landscape. My camera tells the tale better than I ever could—but if there is one thing I could insist everyone do at least once, it’s bike along the trail at sunset and soak up the beauty of that epic skyline as it meets the watery edges of Lake Michigan. You won’t be disappointed.

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I love that sworn arch-enemies in Canada, Calgarians and Dedmontonions, for example, become fast friends when they live in Chicago. I’d never be seen fraternizing with the enemy back home, but here, we are family. In fact, here we are Co-Prime Ministers of the Canadian Club. This one’s for you, Dave Friesen.

I love how Canadians quietly integrate into ICO’s student body, careful not to step on any toes but determined to succeed none the less. Half these bloggers are Canadian! You don’t want to know how many Iowans I had to shank to get this position.

And where did I learn how to make a shank? You may be wondering.

In Chicago, of course. Just like Sinatra, it’s my kind of town.

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2 Responses to “A Canadian in Chicago”

  1. CG

    A great read! Enjoy Chicago, most of us miss it when we head back up to our igloos!

  2. Judy Lynn

    I couldn’t have put it better myself. When I visited Toronta and Vancouvar I enjoyed the visit. The only confusion I had was the metric system. Also, Beer Stores and Liquor stores. Other then that it looked like Chicago and my part of the U.S.A. Good people on both sides of the border and also, we both have those other kind of people too. I actually was crazy about a Canadian Guy years ago. He wanted me to move to Canada, but my life at that time was here in Chicago. He had a bit of an attitude, but long distance relationships are difficult. Without trust you don’t have much.

    I took him around the city when he came to Chicago and he kept saying that our buildings were nothing and that the space needle in Toronto dwarfed our tallest buildings. He seemed to have little respect for the City of Chicago. Don’t know why as it was very much like Toronto only a larger scale. Unlike you he didn’t even thing much of our lake front, but I knew better that it is what sets Chicago apart from other cities and makes us shine above New York City. I met a few wonderful people that were Candians and unfortunately time and space put a wedge between our continued friendships. Unfortunately the man I was taken by from Canada ended up turning into a cruel person. His jealousy ended something between us that could have been beautiful. Once a man that sent me endless gifts and called daily from Canada turned into a man that made up vicious lies and rumors about me out of his own lack of confidence. Heck I even wore the Toronto Maple Leafs Jersey he sent me, although I was a life time Hawks fan. I guess I wore it because it was from him and part of him. Unfortunately some of my HAWKS fan friends destroyed it and I was angry. I hope to travel to Canada again as it’s a beautiful country. Plus we all know American is the best place on the planet any border. 🙂

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