Canada's Maritime Provinces' Dark Secret
Are you planning on moving to the Maritimes, Canada’s Eastern seaboard through the Atlantic Pilot Program? With beautiful coastlines; wet, snowy and cold winters; relatively high unemployment; no major professional sports teams; and a francophone province between you and the rest of Canada? Yes, summers are beautiful with none of the humid, hazy, stay-inside-and-save-your-lungs kind of days that Torontonians occasionally get to enjoy. But there is a dark secret that any and all migrants to the Maritimes have to face up to if they are planning to settle in the Eastern provinces and work and live there.
It’s not talked about often, perhaps because of embarrassment. Perhaps because of a quiet, fierce pride on the part of local inhabitants. So, you had best face up to this reality and start planning ahead. Yes, getting ready for life in Canada requires a lot of paperwork, permits, and supporting documents, not to mention English courses to polish your language skills, as well as professional certifications. Or maybe even preparing to study at some of the Maritimes’ finest universities or technical colleges.
But moving to Canada also involves getting ready to adapt culturally. And that means more than just the weather. Ok, so you’ve bought what you think are ‘winter’ coats on a trip to Melbourne in June and you dragged them back with you to Manila, for example. Good luck with those puffy little coats in January in Saint John. And yes, you need to learn about hockey. Where the nearest Tim Horton’s is relative to the local arena, for example.
Then again, you could also learn about Curling. Why totter around a rink on poorly fitting skates with your helmet sliding down the bridge of your sweaty nose when you can be scampering along an icy lane clutching a stiff broom with your mittens, and ready to whack the ice? And unlike hockey you might even stop for a heart-warming beverage in the middle of the intense competition. And yes, it does get intense in Curling, make no mistake. When your hammer is a heavy that hurtles over the hog line to make a heck of a hit, why there’s just no words to describe the feeling.
But no, Curling is not the dark secret that the Maritime provinces hold behind the shimmering, bracing beauty of their unspoiled landscapes. It’s rather something that happens on the radio, and at parties, whether in trailer parks or in more upscale neighbourhoods.
Maritime Country Music
Yes, Calgary, Toronto, and the Ottawa Valley may have their share but if you want down home country music all over your radio, the Maritimes is where it’s at. It has been reported that country music sales in the Maritime Provinces are double what they are in the rest of Canada. So that means that if you are planning on migrating to Atlantic Canada, you have to start preparing yourself to listen to, to endure - and who knows? – to even like country music. So, here are 6 things to know about listening to Country Music in the Maritimes:
- If you think it’s just about banjos and fiddles, you need to listen to modern country music. Start with Sam Hunt’s "House Party.” Surprised? Now, if you just want banjos and fiddles, then you should check out bluegrass or folk music.
- Yes, country music can get loud and can even get a little funky, but the attitude and story telling behind the lyrics is what really distinguishes it from, say, Nu-Thrash Death Metal. Consider the lyrics of George Strait’s "All My Ex’s Live in Texas":
And Texas is a place I’d dearly love to be
But all my ex’s live in Texas
So I hang my hat in Tennessee
Go to YouTube. Find the song. Open a beer. Sing along. Open another beer. Keep singing. Have a shot of Rye Whiskey. Now you’re getting country!
- You also have to get to know all about Wilfred Arthur Charles Carter, or Wilf Carter as his fans knew him. Born in Nova Scotia in 1904, he was Canada’s first Country Music star, or leading light of Cowboy Music as they called it back in the 1930’s. He recorded his first hit, “My Swiss Moonlight Lullaby,” some 80 years ago, complete with yodelling. What more could you ask for? Look for the original on YouTube. Buy a 10-gallon cowboy hat at a costume store or have your aunt sew one up for you. Or buy those huge foam ones. Play the song loudly and sing along as you dream of working as a graphic designer for DHX Media in Halifax.
- You can’t play guitar? You’ll have to fix that. Time to get a Canadian-made acoustic guitar. Yes sir. Yes ma’am. You need to buy a Norman guitar. It’s a brand of acoustic guitars made in Quebec by Godin Guitars. You can buy one, lean it against the corner of your living room in Moncton or Halifax and someday learn how to tune it. Or use it as a hat rack for your collection of cowboy hats and tractor caps. Meanwhile, your country music credentials will get a boost.
- Purchase three dozen country music bumper stickers. You’ll need a visible place to show them off to the good citizens of your newly adopted home, so perhaps a Dodge Ram would be a good purchase in order to display them wide and far. Of course, any old vehicle will do nicely. Including your third-hand aluminum fishing boat. Careful about where you place the stickers on your outboard engine. Make sure the engine is off if you want to slap some on the propeller blades.
- And finally, you really should learn how to dance to country music. Yes, it can be embarrassing: whether trying to dance badly or trying to watch people dance badly. But did you know that there are videos showing you how to dance country music alone all by yourself in the privacy of your home? Yes, you can practice in your living room, but you’ll need lots of space. So, move the furniture, close the curtains, turn up the music, and start living Canada’s Maritime Provinces’ dark and morbid secret as you step and strut your way into country music.