An American in Canada: Money!

[In an attempt to expand his insular perspective, Rendar Frankenstein became An American in Canada! Join Rendar as he tells of the wonders encountered while traveling through North America’s most jovial nation. It’s one-third travel guide and three-fourths misguided interpretation!]

In the seven hours I’d spent on the road since leaving Boston, I hadn’t had any problems.

Which is really astounding, given the fact that I seem to be a real shit-magnet when it comes to travel plans. If an airline baggage handler finally decides to express his displeasure at the fact that his boyfriend left him three years ago for a younger man, it’s my bag that’s getting pissed on and thrown on the wrong plane. If the terror alert goes from beige to cyan, it’s the very day I’m hopping on a transcontinental train. And if my iPod is going to die, it’s going to be right when the elderly couple I’m sitting next to on the bus decides to discuss their love of vomit-sex.

But it’d been seven hours of open road and blue-sky optimism. Hell, I even got through customs without any trouble. Actually, that was pretty easy – I just gave a fake name (Rendar Frankenstein raises eyebrows) and told the guy I was on vacation. Ha! He didn’t even suspect that I was going to be looking under his country’s fingernails for the cultural dirt!

Anyways, I was cruisin’ along New Brunswick’s highways, taking in the wonderful scenery – no doubt modeled after Middle Earth – when I saw a sign that made me gasp. The posting shouldn’t’ve been a revelation, as it was just another bit of standard freeway fare. But in my excitement to venture forth into alien territory, any thought of such a sign or its implication had slipped my mind.

Nevertheless, there it was: TOLL AHEAD.

Which was no problem, aside from the fact that I didn’t have any Canadian cash!

What would they do to me? Lock me up in a Canadian prison, effectively transforming me into a commodity to be traded for flannel shirts? Make me work off my debt in the maple syrup mines? Force me to watch The Red Green Show in a Kubrickian contraption?

Panic was afoot.

“I’m really sorry,” I preemptively apologized, leaning out of my window so as to show the tollbooth worker my earnestness, “but I don’t have any Canadian cash yet. Any chance you take Empire Bucks?”

“Oh, of course!” The red haired Canuck quelled his laughter by pushing against his paunch, “Lo! These days, a dollar from the States is the same as a dollar from Canada!”

I handed the jovial fellow a faded green bill adorned with the image of a slave-owner, and he handed back to me a small stock of multicolored wonder. I forgot about the money until I hit my next pit stop and decided to buy a coffee. I gave the cashier a bill worth many dollars more than the coffee, and he handed me back a bunch of coins.

It was at this moment I decided to inspect my small collection of Canada-currency.

In short, Canada’s money is fucking awesome. See that pile of five coins pictured above? That pile is worth eight dollars! Those gold-lookin’ pieces are called loonies and are worth a buck a piece, and the three pieces with bears on `em are the two-dollar toonies (I can’t make this shit up)! Although I initially thought the loonies and toonies were a bit silly, I have to admit that there’s something bad-ass about paying for things with coinage. For example, if I were to go to a bar in the United States and pay for my beer with three coins, I’d either be derided or asked to leave.

In Canada, three coins’ll get you a frothy brew and the barkeep’s admiration.

Even more impressive is Canada’s paper money. Sure, the United States has redesigned its bills over the last couple decades, but the end results are still pretty drab. But look at Canadian cash! All those colors! Foil strips! Images that bleed into one another! This shit is art!

But my deepest respects go to the back of the Canadian fiver. What’s to be found here, you ask? Well, in tiny letters is the following quotation:

The winters of my childhood were long, long seasons. We lived in three places – the school, the church, and the skating-rink – but our real life was on the skating rink.

[Roch Carrier]

Accompanying this quotation are three pictures – a kid sledding, a pair of ice skaters, and a big beautiful image of kids playing hockey on a frozen pond. Hockey! On money! How wonderful!

If you ever find yourself in Canada, enjoy your monetary experiences. With the coins, you’ll get to swag out like when Han Solo apologized to Wuher for having made a mess. Anytime you use cash, you’ll feel like you’re about to buy Park Place from your bankrupted friend.

Canada is a nation that puts bears and hockey on its currency. `Nuff said.