These are a few of my favo[u]rite [Canadian] things
blog by S.J. Velasquez • July 01, 2011 @ 7:50am
When I was a kid growing up on the South Buffalo - Lackawanna border, I thought everything beyond the Skyway was downtown Buffalo or Canada. Now, I’m not saying I was the smartest child; I’m just saying, I was on the QEW probably more frequently than Hertel Avenue.
As one Western New Yorker who writes for Huffington Post Canada says, I consider myself part Canadian. Our Ontario friends might think we’re pulling their legs, but most of us Buffalonians would probably admit we have a little maple syrup running through our veins, thanks to the close proximity to Canada and the many Canadian media resources made available to us growing up. So happy Canada Day, Canadians! And happy Canada Day, kinda-sorta Canadian-influenced Buffalonians.
In honor of today’s holiday, let’s take a look at why I—and others who grew up in the Queen City—am celebrating with our Canadian neighbors, eh?
1. Tim Hortons. As much as Tim Hortons is viewed as a Canadian coffee and bake shop, Western New York boasted Timmies storefronts way before many parts of Canada. It’s true. The first Tim Hortons U.S. location opened in 1985, right here in Western New York—Amherst, to be exact.
I, for one, do not run on Dunkin. I run on Timmies, thank you very much. I’m sure many Buffalonians would say the same.
2. Sesame Park. No, I didn’t stutter. Sure, we grew up watching all our favorite Sesame Street characters—Elmo, Fozzie, Oscar, Miss Piggy—on our local PBS affiliate station, but we also loved Basil the Bear and Dodi, characters exclusive to Canadian Sesame Street, which eventually adopted the name Sesame Park in the ‘90s.
And we weren’t watching just Canadian Sesame Street. We expanded our imagination with “Mr. Dressup,” learned about monitoring our finances as teens by watching “Street Cents,” and we always thought it was weird when CBC and CTV newscasters forgot to use the word “the” before “hospital.”
Also, I always knew there was something weird—something Canadian—about the kids’ accents in Nickelodeon’s “Are You Afraid of the Dark?”—which was, in fact, filmed in Canada with Canadian actors, primarily.
3. Pocketful of Canadian pennies. Think back on all the times you sifted through loose change to pay for your double-double and thought nothing of mixing copper coins donning Abe Lincoln’s face with similar-looking cents featuring Queen Elizabeth II. I have taken this one step further by having been known for carrying loonies and toonies in my change purse.
Just last month, I was visiting friends in Manhattan, and an urban scavenger hunt group busted into the bar where we were hanging. The scavenger hunters asked if we had any foreign currency on us, and if we’d be willing to give it to their group, as foreign currency was an important item on their list. Who just happened to have a few extra Canadian dollars on her? THIS GIRL.
4. Driving through Canada to get to other parts of America. It sounds wild, but just listen. Every summer, the extended Velasquez family goes back to our modern ancestral hub—Bay City, Mich.—for the annual family reunion. Instinctually, you might imagine having to drive through the midwest to get to the destination, but this is not true at all. By simply driving through Canada, we shaved hours off our travel time. That’s right. Don’t believe me? Consider this handy comparison of driving routes:
5. When other American kids are all excited to turn 21, it’s really no big deal for Buffalonians because we’ve been drinking since 19. Legally. A simple flash of the New York drivers license (today’s kids need a passport or enhanced license) to the border patrol agent, and we were on our way to drankin’ on Clifton Hill. Come on and admit it, you sucked up your pride and raged at Rumours Night Club in your late teens / early 20s.