22 Rebuttals to Cape Breton Tips for American Immigrants

It started as a joke by a local radio announcer, which turned into a full-fledged website, which then went viral as tons of people genuinely began to research how to move to Cape Breton should Trump win the US Presidency. It’s been an amusing thing to watch, no doubt about that, but one of my favorite bits so far has been this little article, entitled “21 Cape Breton Tips for American Immigrants“. Ignoring, for a moment, the fact that there are actually 22 tips on the list, I got a huge kick out the article because many of the tongue-in-cheek statements are quite true. So, I thought that I’d look into them a little deeper, give my opinions, and confirm or deny each individual bullet point.

(Big props to Rory Andrews, of course, for coming up with the list in the first place.)

1. Never make fun of a man in a kilt. The kilt-wearing type of man is also the face-punching type of man.

True; take this one to heart. Don’t go thinking that, just because this is at the top of the list, there are droves of men in kilts wandering around Cape Breton, but if you see one there’s a good chance that he’s damn tough enough to be wearing it. Just this past Remembrance Day, we had an outdoor ceremony on my work site in Alberta, and a good ol’ Cape Breton boy was there to play the bagpipes. He was wearing a kilt and a pair of knee-high socks. It was -15 degrees Celsius at the time. No one with half a brain cell would try to pick a fight with a man wearing a kilt in -15 degrees for almost a full hour.

2. Never take the last Timbit. The last Timbit is sacred.

I don’t know if it’s so much that it’s sacred, as much as we’re just too polite to be the one to take the last of anything. Generally, I’ve found that the last Timbit gets sneaked when no one is looking because no one wants anyone to know that they’re the one that took it.

3. Don’t complain about how much you miss Krispy Kreme. We’ll send you back to Trumpsylvania from whence you came. In Canadian, “Krispy Kreme” translates to “The lesser doughnut.”

Yeah…Canadians just don’t get Krispy Kreme. We love our sweets as much as the next person, but Krispy Kreme donuts seem to us like the creation of a three year old with a major sweet-tooth and no self-restraint.

4. Don’t try to impress us with your fancy sports car. Get a good price on a used backhoe, then we’ll talk.

We’ve got no use for fancy sports cars in Cape Breton; our roads are too bad to be bothered with that kind of nonsense. But farm equipment, four-wheelers, skidoos, golf carts, all those kind of things? Yeah, that’s how you’re going to impress us for sure.

5. In Cape Breton, houses are the price of a new Mercedes. Boats are the price of a new Honda. You can live like a retirement ad on a shoestring budget, but our booze prices will put you in the poorhouse.

Dear lord, yes. Other Canadians, never mind Americans, look at Nova Scotia and wonder how the hell we even manage to get drunk for those prices. In NS, 24 bottles of any average beer costs about $45, and other forms of alcohol are similarly outrageous. It’s no wonder there’s such a thriving moonshine underground.

6. If you’re the superficial type, and are leaving America because Donald Trump looks like toad covered in drainage hair, our Prime Minister is now quite attractive.

As a female member of the island, I can confirm this statement. He ain’t bad.

7. When a Cape Bretoner asks you “What do you play?” Scrabble, Xbox, and ultimate frisbee are unacceptable answers. Acceptable answers include every musical instrument ever invented.

Honestly, those first few answers probably wouldn’t even occur to a Cape Bretonner. Maybe, maybe, that question would cause us to think of answers such as “hockey” or “curling”, but 99 times out of 100 the average Cape Bretonner is going to know right away that they’re being asked which musical instrument they play. And make no mistake, the overwhelming majority of us play at LEAST one instrument, or at the very least, can play a mean set of kitchen spoons.

8. If you are having a hard time finding things to talk about with Cape Bretoners, ask them how they heat their house. They’ll talk for five hours.

Dear lord yes. I think this one stems from the fact that, at one point in time pretty much everyone in Cape Breton had electric baseboard heaters, and then slowly but surely our electricity prices became higher than almost anywhere else in the country. So, these days we’re known to talk at length about which non-electrical method we’ve been using for heat, how good it works, how much it costs, and how it’s so much better than what you’re using.

9. There are 3 religions on Cape Breton Island. The Church of Bruins, the Church of Canadiens, and the Masochistic Ministry of the Maple Leafs.

There are a lot fewer of the Bruins members than the Canadiens or Leafs, but yeah, this pretty much holds true. Effectively everyone on the island roots for one of these three teams, and the Leafs fans are harder on themselves than anyone else. Even if an official NHL team was created in Nova Scotia tomorrow, I’d be willing to say that 99% of people here would keep right on rooting for these three particular teams.

10. You’re not a true Cape Bretoner until you can say “yeah” three times while inhaling.

Agreed, and I’ll explain a little further. You know how Newfies talk so fast and with such a strong accent that nearly no one else in the country can ever figure out what they’re saying? Well, that’s because they try their damnedest to get their entire train of thought out in one breath. Cape Bretoners, on the other hand, prefer breathing, so we talk a little slower but neglect to stop talking even while taking a breath. It’s a phenomenon that apparently only really occurs in Cape Breton specifically. Similarly, the more musical of us are able to whistle while breathing in, so as to not have to interrupt the song in order to avoid passing out.

11. In Cape Breton, you never know if you’re talking to the president of a multi-million dollar company or your local garbageman. We all dress the same here. It’s kind of like a nudist colony.

Truth. You will very rarely see someone walking around in a suit, but it’s the exception rather than the rule. Jeans and t-shirts are the uniform of choice for everyone from surgeons to farmhands in Cape Breton.

12. If you’re invited to a potluck and don’t know what to bring, the correct answer is egg salad finger sandwiches.

Yes. And if you’re not a fan of egg salad, you can also go with ham and Cheeze Whiz.

13. Cape Bretoners will ask you where you’re from. When you say America, and we don’t immediately respond, it’s not because we don’t trust you. It’s because we honestly don’t know how to react to the situation.

And the reason that we don’t know how to react is because we can talk about pretty much any answer that you could give if it’s a location within Canada. As long as we’ve cracked the general geographical location we can get a conversation going based on whatever we happen to know about the area because we know at least a little bit about every possible area. But the US? It’s not that we’re ignorant, we just don’t pay as much attention. Ya’ll have way too many states. It gets too confusing trying to remember which ones are where and known for what.

14. Don’t be surprised when the midget hockey 50/50 clears $50,000. All the best fundraisers on the island are thinly veiled forms of gambling.

Thinly-veiled may be overstating it. Completely transparent sounds closer to the truth. Also, $50,000? Psh…that’s nuthin’.

15. If you’re sober when The Mull River Shuffle starts, you’re doing it wrong.

SO wrong. An alternative of this is that if the Mull River Shuffle starts and multiple people are sober, that particular DJ may never work in the business again.

16. We don’t drink Bloody Marys here. We drink Caesars, which is a Bloody Mary made with clam juice. Trust me, the clams make it better.

I can neither confirm nor deny this particular statement because I don’t think I’ve ever had either version, but that’s because I’m not a fan of drinking tomato juice. Bleck.

17. If you come here and want Mexican food, you’re going to have to make it yourself… and invite me over. Margaritas would be nice too.

Yeah, the closest thing we have to Mexican food is Taco Bell, and I think we all know that there’s nothing even remotely Mexican about Taco Bell. We’ve got some damn good cooks on the island though, so give us a recipe and I guarantee we’ll be able to whip it up in a jiffy.

18. A Cape Breton Standoff is when two people hold the door for each other at Tim Horton’s. It’s way better than a Mexican standoff, where everyone gets shot.

Addendum: if we hold a door for you and you pass through it without saying “thank you”, you’ve been judged and found wanting and no witness of the event will ever properly forgive you for as long as you live.

19. Take your shoes off when you when you come into the house. This isn’t a barn.

Do people in other parts of the world actually wear shoes in the house? And if so, what the hell is wrong with you people? Do you not realize that I have to vacuum and mop up after you and your inconsiderate loafers? If your feet are cold there are at least half a dozen pairs of slippers in every Cape Breton house.

20. We have parties in the kitchen because it’s closer to the fridge.

True facts. You know what’s in the fridge? Beer and food, which are the only two 100% necessary components of any Cape Breton Kitchen Party.

21. Cape Breton goodbyes last at least an hour. Plan accordingly.

Yes. Saying, “Well, I must be off,” is code for, “Okay, I’ve only got about 60-70 minutes before I absolutely need to be out of here, so get out any stories that you’ve been keeping in until the last minute because I’m starting the slow backward shuffle toward the door now.”

22. We’re all cousins here. Please come. We need a bigger gene pool.

This one sounds worse than it really is, but there’s definitely a grain of truth in there. For comparison purposes, there are approximately 145,000 people living on the island right now, and I alone have something like 40 cousins. That’s one hell of a ratio.


So what do you guys think? Does that clarify things a bit for you? Anything else you’d like to know? I’m more than happy to share, because if there’s one thing all Cape Bretonners have in common, it’s that we’re more than happy to talk about Cape Breton.

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2 thoughts on “22 Rebuttals to Cape Breton Tips for American Immigrants

  1. Great commentary on a great list. I wish we had better roads so I could get a fancy car. It really does make sense to drive a backhoe everywhere. Yay for kitchen parties!

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