The Country of my Honourary Citizenship

One night while out drinking with friends and colleagues at a beloved conference held that year in Vancouver, BC, someone slipped up and anointed me with honourary Canadian citizenship. Now you and I both know that such a declaration wouldn't hold water with any of the now extra-prickly immigration officials, but that's beside the point.

I can now proudly proclaim to all who will listen that besides being an Ugly American I am also an Honourary Canadian.

I return with fair regularity to the country of my honourary citizenship, as the pictures on this page and on my photos web site attest. I have made the amazing drive from Vancouver to Whistler. I have visited Toronto (many times), Calgary, Windsor, Montréal, Québec, Edmonton, Winnipeg, Saskatoon, Halifax, Fredericton, St. John's (Newfoundland), and Victoria. A Royal Canadian Mounted Policeman found my wife and I in a...uh...compromising position in a grove of trees beside a British Columbia road one day. I have kissed the cod in Newfoundland and have the certificate to prove it. I love the music of Stan Rogers. I have, in other words, experienced many dimensions of that great nation and have come to love its land and people.

And it's the people who really make Canada what it is. Modest and self-effacing to a fault, they do amazing things that only rarely get the attention that they deserve. Americans typically only notice amazing Canadian performers, for example, when they come to the States to perform. The fact that many beloved performers in the U.S. (we'll leave Celine Dion out of this if you don't mind) are actually Canadian is viewed by the few Americans who notice as a quaint detail. We Americans are so full of ourselves that no one else hardly matters to us until they show up in our playground.

That is why I've been particularly gratified that at least among technically adept librarians who have a clue, our Canadian colleagues are colleagues of the first order. Through such channels as the Access conference in Canada and the Code4Lib chatroom and conference, we have developed a strong network of tech-savvy librarians who ignore the border between our two countries. I'd like to think that someday soon there will be many other professions who have achieved the same, since there is much to be gained by such deep cross-border collaboration and nothing to be lost except the hubris and parochialism that is uniquely American.

The Centre Block Tower of Parliament Hill in Ottawa.

The Centre Block Tower of Parliament Hill in Ottawa.