I went to Canada for the same reason explorers have always sought the horizon: It was an unknown, a land of mystery. I grew up in a border state but I couldn’t tell you which province is directly overhead. Sure, I laughed when George W. Bush was stuck for the Canadian Prime Minister’s name. But now that W is gone, I can say what I secretly thought then: “Glad that wasn’t me!” I know more about Mexico than I do about Canada, and I’m not sure why. It’s like there’s a long black hole stretched across the 49th parallel.
Among the few things I did know about Canada before my recent trip: It’s cold. It’s inhabited by a morally upright people. They like syrup and hockey. Their beer is even worse than ours. These things, I can now report, are all true. But there’s more! Canada, I discovered, is nothing like Jack London made it out to be. And Vancouver, the city where I stayed, is a lovely place with cars and electric lights, which is good, since the Winter Olympics will take place there shortly.
So, if you’re planning to attend, or go north for any other reason, here are a few more things to know before crossing the border.