Zigging and Zagging Along the 49th Parallel


In 1972, the Canadian Broadcast Company held a radio contest, asking listeners to finish the sentence “As Canadian as…” The goal was to find the Canadian equivalent of “As American as apple pie.” The winning entry: “As Canadian as possible under the circumstances.”

It’s a well-known story in Canada because Canadians have long wrestled with the question of national identity. Just google “Canada” and “identity crisis” and you’ll see what I mean. Heck, Wikipedia has a lengthy article dedicated to “Canadian identity.” (Search for “American identity” and you get redirected to “American culture.” Search for “German identity” and you’re sent to “German nationalism.” Make of that what you will.)

“Identity crisis” isn’t the right word because a crisis is by definition a deviation from the norm, and Canada has been suffering from acute confusion for like four centuries.

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