Kenmare ND - Upside Down Under

Real People. Real Jobs. Real Adventures.

Upside Down Under

By Marvin Baker, a new weekly column in The Kenmare News


As Canadian as poutine...

Posted 1/02/18 (Tue)

People will deny it, say it’s coincidental or they’ll come up with some other lame excuse that disqualifies them from being “Canadian.”

By virtue of the international boundary, they live barely into the United States, but no matter who you see or what you do, you might as well be in Manitoba.

Check into your CanadInns hotel room for the weekend, turn on the TV and what is the first thing you see, the George Stroumboulopoulos show on CBC-TV?

As you leave the hotel on your way to see a hockey game in a building that Wayne Gretzky “would have killed to play in,” you drive past the local Tim Horton’s donut shop and then see a Tim Horton’s satellite vendor in the arena.

You grab a Labatt’s beer on the way to your seat, you sit down and the Zamboni is just getting the ice ready with Tim Horton’s advertising plastered all over it.

After the hockey game starts, there’s a penalty and while it’s all getting sorted out, you hear the music of Trooper, a Canadian band blaring on the intercom system.

It’s a long delay so the Jumbotron shows an excited fan with a red hockey jersey with “Canada” written across the front.

OK, the good guys win the hockey game and as you’re leaving, you pick up a package of Tim Bits on the way out so you have something to munch on as you head back to CanadInns to relax for the rest of the night.

You get a good night’s sleep, get your shot of Tim Horton’s coffee while you’re reading the Winnipeg Free Press, then head out to do some power shopping.

Got to have breakfast, right? So you stop in at a local restaurant and the first thing you see as you walk in the door, a 40s something couple both wearing Saskatchewan Roughrider apparel.

They tell you almost instantly that the Roughriders beat Ottawa in the playoffs and are one step away from the Grey Cup, the Canadian Football League championship game.

Oh darn, you left your credit card in the car and have to pay cash for breakfast. No problem, you have some loonies in your pocket.

In this day and age of plastic, businesses still accept the Canadian dollar here. You pay for the meal with a red and tan $50 bill.

Wow! That was a good breakfast, but it’s time to get to the mall and take care of that shopping we talked about earlier.

As you leave the restaurant, there are Manitoba and Saskatchewan license plates all over the place, with a few Alberta as well as a couple of Ontario plates. You also see several from Minnesota, North Dakota and there’s even one from Iowa.

As you wander around one of the stores, you hear some people speaking French as they wander around the store as well. But, the overwhelming majority of shoppers are speaking English. Francophones are indeed a minority here.

It doesn’t take long for you to get bored, so while your wife is shopping for the grandchildren, you’re going to find a tavern because that Labatt’s at the hockey game was refreshing and you think another one would really hit the spot.

You locate a sports bar in the mall, take a seat, look up at the big screen TV and the Toronto Maple Leafs are playing the Minnesota Wild in hockey.

The bartender puts a napkin in front of you and says, “what’ll you have?” This place just happens to have Labatt’s on tap... Perfect! You’re wife calls on the mobile and says she’s done and it’s about time to leave town because the next day is a working day.

You hit the road going west and as you pass the local airport and get out on the open road, you pass two semi-trailers, one has Brampton, Ontario written on the door and the other says Sawatzky Farms, Altona, Manitoba.

Have you figured out where this is? There are a number of clues in the story line, but if not, this isn’t in Canada, but is within the boundaries of North Dakota.

It’s a community that has so much Canadian lore, the locals don’t notice it because they are so used to it, it’s like that every day.

Wherever you go, you see the Canadian flag flying with the U.S. flag. Nearly every business accepts the Canadian dollar and two Canadian national TV networks are on the local cable TV system.

It’s Grand Forks, a city that has gone out of its way to cater to Manitoba residents. It really seems to be paying off, and this is while the loonie is weak against the U.S. dollar.

Several media say 30 percent of Grand Forks’ economy is based on the Canadian dollar. That’s 30 percent in a city of 50,000 people. I’d say that’s savvy marketing.