Who is this Simcoe Guy, Anyway?


Happy Simcoe Day, everyone!

Since those of us with cottages get to stay at them an extra day this weekend, I figure we should at least take a moment to understand why. And thanks to Craig Marlatt’s helpful page on the subject, I can tell you this:

  • Toronto City Council came up with the idea of a midsummer holiday in 1869, beating England to the inauguration of their national bank holiday by two years.
  • In 1969, two anagrams later, it was officially renamed “Simcoe Day” after Major-General John Graves Simcoe (above), who among other things helped to abolish slavery in this country, almost a quarter-century before the Brits and more than fifty years before the Emancipation Proclamation in the States.
  • Though most of Canada has the day off—sorry Québec—the holiday goes by different names in different provinces. As a matter of fact, the “Simcoe Day” moniker only applies to the city of Toronto proper.

So if you’re outside the GTA today you can avoid any faux pas by honouring the local excuse to skip off work and drink beer.


My Bermuda High Society Slight


So I’m back from “The Rock”, and had a great visit with my two brothers and their families, except for my last evening when I made the very tough but deliberate decision to abandon them.

We were invited to a Forth of July party at the swanky Mid Ocean Club. Now some people might be impressed by the sight of a golf course made up to look like the deck of a cruise ship, but what the photo above couldn’t quite capture was thick stench of pretense that quite frankly made my skin crawl. You have to understand that I spent a good part of my childhood dragged by the ear on a regular basis to another snooty Country Club, so wherever I get that same vibe my immediate instinct is to bolt.

I thought it polite to inform the people who had invited us that I was leaving, with a heartfelt apology and thanks. Others thought I should quietly disappear, like crumbs swept under a rug. Without going into any more specific details I can now say with some authority that Bermuda is home to an incestuous inner circle of high society expats who have nothing better to do than watch each other’s every move.

Once off the property and back on public roads I breathed in a fresh dose of pretense-free island air and pointed my scooter towards the town of St. George, where I took in the fireworks from the weekly Market Night street festival. After that I got some more local colour as a kind resident led me to a back-alley burger joint—there wasn’t even a sign on the door, but everyone inside addressed the lady at the grill as “mamma’, and she served up a mean fish sandwich!

Patriotism: Canada vs. USA


I’m off to Bermuda for the double-holiday weekend; while I’m away I’ll leave you with the results of this University of Chicago report on the differences between patriotism between Canada and the U.S.

If you’re too lazy to click, here’s the gist of it:

Canadians rank higher regarding pride in their social security system and their treatment of different groups within their society than on any other dimensions. They ranked relatively low in their pride for their sports, arts and literature, military and history.

I’d say they’ve pretty much got our number. For me, what I love about Canada is:

  1. We’re generally more tolerant and—let’s face it—smarter than Americans.
  2. We wouldn’t dream for a even a moment that we’re the center of the universe.

And here’s what I hate:

  1. Like Americans (and others), we’re generally complacent and lazy, too self-absorbed in the myopia in our everyday lives to care about big important stuff.
  2. When it comes to our art and culture we have a huge inferiority complex, and neither our broadcasters or government are doing much to help.

How about you? Share your loves/hates in the comments section, and lets see what we can do to make our goddamn beer-drinkin’, butter tart-eatin’, hockey-watchin’ country an even better place to live!