Why Canada is Canada, and We are US, Part 1 of 4

Introduction

Today is the 100th anniversary of the ending of World War I. Since 1938 this anniversary has been an official federal holiday. It was originally called Armistice Day, but that name was changed to Veterans Day in 1954, to honor all of our military veterans, from all of our wars.

In Canada, today is called Remembrance Day.

I’ve decided to honor our veterans, as well as Canadian veterans, with a four-part post. And I’m going back, way back, to our very first wars.

We partly fought these wars against Canada, and they help to explain why Canada and the United States are two separate nations, rather than one unified country.

Today is part one. Tomorrow is part two. Whatever the hell day comes after that is part three. And if my math is right, I think I’ll have part 4 come after part 3.

Why Canada is Canada, and We are US

Part 1 of 4

Ever wonder why Canada never joined the United States? I mean, what’s wrong with us? Bad breath? Impolite manners? All of the above? We’re good guys, so it just doesn’t make sense.

One way to make sense of it is to understand the little hamlet of Ticonderoga, in upstate New York, just 80 miles from the Canadian border. I lived for a year in that little hamlet, having come from California to stay with my Dad for a while. I even graduated high school there. And to tell you the truth, I never quite understood the town myself. But I’m going to give it my best shot, with these posts.

Ti High, the brain factory where I graduated several score and many years ago. Whenever I did or said things out of the ordinary, I’d get brained by a teacher or student. So this is where I got all my brains.

Ticonderoga straddles the land between Lake George and Lake Champlain, and was once a very strategic spot for raiding, robbing, and killing people. Native Americans slaughtered each other on this spot for thousands of years, before we came along. Now the town’s natives just assassinate each others’ characters and run off black people. But that’s a whole different story. Perhaps one to tell after sundown.

An Indian battle near Ticonderoga, in 1609. Drawing by the explorer and cartographer, Samuel de Champlain.

There’s a waterway highway of sorts that travels from the mouth of the Hudson River, at Manhattan Island, all the way north to the St. Lawrence River in Quebec. And before the invention of the airplane it was the easiest, quickest way to get from south to north, or vice-versa, in this neck of the woods. Otherwise, you had to climb a bunch of mountains, or take a long sea voyage.

Native Americans used the route for trade and travel. They’d paddle up Lake George in their canoes, and then portage four miles from Lake George to Lake Champlain. Portage means, getting out of the water and carrying your frickin’ canoe on your frickin’ back, while you slog from one body of water to another. It’s a pain in the back, ass, and feet.

Naturally they wanted to take the shortest route possible on this portage. And so naturally that’s where rival tribes would hide out and ambush them, stealing all the goods they carried with them, that they had brought to trade. As they say in the mafia, “It’s business. Just business.”

Ticonderoga is an Iroquois word that means, “the place between two waterways.” Or maybe it means, “the place where you have to carry your frickin’ canoe, while wild savages chase you around with a hatchet.”

The entrance to the inner workings of Fort Ticonderoga. Many famous people passed this way, including Ethan Allen, Henry Knox, and Benjamin Franklin. And a man named George Sleppington often bathed himself at the nearby lake. So it is said that George Sleppington washed here.

Anyway, the French came along and colonized the St. Lawrence River valley. They were the ones who started the whole Canada thing. Meanwhile, the British stole New Netherlands from the Dutch, and renamed it New York. Then they both proceeded to try to murder each other.

That’s when World War Zero broke out. WW0 refers to any world war that occurred before World War One. Apparently there’s been a bunch of them. But the WW0 I’m referring to is the Seven Years’ War. Which lasted nine years, by the way.

We Americans call it the French-Indian War, but that just refers to the North American front of a greater war fought all over the world by France and all her allies, against Great Britain and all of her allies.

WW0 started right here in America, in 1754, when 22-year-old Major George Washington led Colonial troops against a French fort in present-day Pittsburgh. French General Teré Bradshau kicked Washington’s ass, leaving him so embarrassed his skin turned red. So he returned home and chopped down a cherry tree just to take out his frustrations. Later, he started a football team.

14 of the cannons at the restored Fort Ticonderoga, were provided by the British government. These cannons had been cast in England during the American Revolution, but the war ended before they could be deployed.

In 1755 the British got it up their butts that they could sail up Lake George and Lake Champlain, and drive the French out of their Canadian colony. They fought a great battle for Lake George, and eventually ended up victorious.

This scared the hell out of the French, so they decided they needed to build a fort at Ticonderoga, to stop any future British advances.

Some of the cannons at Fort Ticonderoga have been artistically designed and cast. It gives soldiers some beauty to enjoy, while going through the horror of being shot at.

They constructed a star-shaped fort, at first made of wood, and then stone, and named it Fort Carillon. It got this name from the nearby La Chute River, which connects Lake George to Lake Champlain. La Chute means, “The Shit” in French. It seems the tinkling sounds of the rapids on The Shit sounds just like carillon bells.

And speaking of shitting, as sure as a moose shits in the woods, the French were right. In 1758, British General James Abercromby had all the gall and stupidity to attack Fort Carillon. He really wanted to ring the French’s bell.

Will he succeed? Or will he get his ass kicked? You’ll just have to wait and see tomorrow, same bat blog, new bat post, and find out in Part 2. (And no cheating. Stay off Wikipedia.)

An inner rampart of Fort Ticonderoga, with cannons protruding through battlements. Rather intimidating, wouldn’t you say?

Stolen Quote: Friendship

I always felt that the great high privilege, relief and comfort of friendship was that one had to explain nothing. ~ Katherine Mansfield, Author


Yes, my experience has been that the best friends require the least amount of talking.

Stolen Quote: Death

Explain the concept of death very carefully to your child. This will make threatening him with it much more effective. ~ P. J. O’Rourke


I think it’s more effective to take your children to church. Then threaten them with more church if they don’t stay in line.

Vote Moderate!

Stay centered and vote moderate!

I am not Democrat or Republican. Nor am I liberal or conservative. No, I’m a boring, nonpartisan, mealy-mouthed moderate.

I don’t like demagogues, revolutionaries, or charismatic leaders. I prefer politicians who are as middle-of-the-road and monotonous as me. I like those who serve as ballast, sitting in the center of the boat and suppressing dramatic rocking actions.

I want political progress to inch along slowly, deliberately, and contemplatively, rather than dramatically jumping back and forth. And I want to read about it not on the front page of the newspaper, but somewhere around page 10.

I prefer political leaders who hem and haw. I like them best when they scratch their heads and say such things as, “Gee, I don’t know,” “Shucks, maybe,” and “Heck, I guess so.” I like a legislator who votes for or against a bill and then later says, “Hmm. Maybe I should have gone the other way.”

That’s because I want our politicians to be reflective. They’re making important decisions that affect our lives, so I want them to cogitate carefully about what they support and what they resist.

Let’s not hold it against them when they waffle. Allow them to change their minds a dozen times. There’s a difference between being vague and evasive, and frankly admitting, “I don’t know.” Evasive politicians have already decided. They just don’t want to reveal their decision. But the truly indecisive ones are candid about their inability to make up their minds.

Am I right? I think I am. Or maybe not.

And I believe those leaders are dangerous, who pound the podium with thundering declarations, while stirring up crowds and making news headlines. They make politics exciting, but they also put everyone in peril. They stir up movements that inspire equal and opposite counter-movements. The resulting conflict polarizes our country, destabilizes our institutions, and hamstrings progress.

At least, that’s my view.

Family members turn against each other. Violence against those who disagree with us becomes acceptable. And the economy suffers when the present is chaotic and the future contains great uncertainties.

What do you think? Correct me if I’m wrong.

But moderate politicians have a soothing effect on society. They help us keep calm, stable, and on steady footing. Sure they may be monotonous, and at times exasperating in their indecisiveness. And their mealy-mouthed speeches do have a soporific way of inducing comas. But when you listen carefully, you’ll find them complex, thought-provoking, and empathetic to all sides.

This is my current belief.

Tomorrow is Election Day. I encourage you to get out and vote, if you haven’t done so already. And please be careful, deliberate, and reflective in the manner in which you vote. Yes, please be boring tomorrow. As you study your ballot, take your time. Look for those candidates who interest you the least. Avoid the exciting ones. Seek out the eggheads, the nerds, and the wishy-washy, mealy-mouths. And put your “X” by their names.

Vote moderate!

(But only if you really want to.)

Stolen Quote: Utopian

Every daring attempt to make a great change in existing conditions, every lofty vision of new possibilities for the human race, has been labeled Utopian. ~ Emma Goldman, Anarchist


Although in America we tend to label them European.