We went to Sault Ste. Marie (Ontario) this past weekend, and drove up through Michigan to get there. Now, it’s not like I’ve never been to the US before, in fact I’ve been countless times. I’ve visited about half of the 50 states. At my last job (1994-1997), I traveled to Boston a couple of times a month for three years. I’ve also travelled on business to San Francisco (twice), Naples Florida, Washington DC, Baltimore (3 times), and New York City. I lived in Redmond, Washington for four months back in 1991. I live less than an hour’s drive from the border at Niagara Falls, and even closer to Queenston/Lewiston. I even have a US Social Security number, though I have no idea what it is or where my card is.
Canadian and US culture is unquestionably similar, but there are a few differences (some subtle and some less so) that a seasoned traveler will notice. Here are some examples of the roadside signs and billboards we saw during our trip that you would not see in Canada:
- Bail bonds
- Fishing line (priced by the yard) – not that we don’t have fishermen in Canada, but I’ve never seen ads like this
- “Guns Galore” and “Gun sights and outfitters” – though there was a gun show in the Sault (Canadian side!) while we were there
- Bob Evans, Stuckey’s, Cracker Barrel (never had these in Canada)
- Big Boy, Ponderosa (used to have these in Canada – why don’t we anymore?)
- “Entering prison area. Do not pick up hitchhikers”
- Ads for health insurance
- One billboard was entirely in Spanish. This wouldn’t surprise me in California, New Mexico, Texas, or Arizona… OK, maybe it would in Arizona. But in central Michigan?
- The Marines
- poopycredit.com – containing the slogan “Does your credit stink?” This is a real web site, though one of the worst commercial sites I’ve seen. There are only six links on the site – two of them bump you off to different sites. Contact Us gives a “page not found” error, Privacy gives a document with multiple font sizes that looks like it was cut-and-pasted with no formatting, Additional Forms gives a very badly formatted form with a zillion fields, and I don’t know about Video. I am not going to click on a link marked “Video” on any site with the word “poopy” in the title.
Please note that this is not a criticism, just an observation. In particular, I like the Marines billboards, and I’d love to see more billboards in Canada regarding the Canadian Forces – I like the “Fight with the Canadian Forces” ads that have come out recently.