Sunday, May 16, 2010

Two Neigbours, with a River Fence

Living on the border between the U.S. and Canada is a unique experience.
Of course, there is the "cross-border" radio station that likes its listeners to welcome weather reports for both sides, one in Celsius the other in Fahrenheit, as if that were bridging the two cultures. The news is read from the Canadian side, leaving no time/space/content for the Upstate N.Y. news, except for the occasional commercial for a campaigning politician.
There are hockey tournaments with young teams from both sides of the 49th.
There are American license plates (tags) roaming through the towns and villages on the north side, and likewise Canadian plates with shoppers on the south side of the border.
There is an international M.B.A. between Queen's and Cornell University in N.Y.state, whose students, mostly having their tuition sponsored by their corporate employers, can boast an "international" education.
Occasionally, one might see a copy of the New York Times being read in a Canadian coffee shop, but not an Upstate paper, and undoubtedly, there is a very small distribution (if any) of a Canadian daily in any of the Upstate towns or cities.
But there is really very little flow of information either way. Rarely are U.S. schools competing, even in exhibition games, with Canadian schools.
Rarely is the U.S. mentioned in the local newscasts, as I am sure is the case in reverse, in N.Y. state.
I always thought, in fact believed, that an enhanced awareness of one's neighbour made one a more tolerant, more integrated and more cosmopolitan neighbour. It seems provincialism, or is it parochialism, defines the non-connectedness between the two neighbours, who once hearlded the great joint accomplishment of the St. Lawrence Seaway, and the International Bridge over the river.
We're certainly not enemies, but we're not getting to know one another in any substantial way either.
Why is Canada'a External Affairs Department not instituting a series of lectures to American audiences, in an effort to stem the tide of mis-apprehensions and outright distortions of our country?

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