I LOVE the Beaver on hockey skates on this mug! It was obviously a made-to-order for tourists mug and was bought in a souvenir shop in Windsor that was owned by an immigrated French national. The fact that the shop was run by a Frenchman is very important to the mug’s story!
In March of 2003, Kelly and Brooke came up to Michigan to visit for Spring Break. It was a “Zoo Holiday,” as Kelly’s visits usually are, for the whole family, a week of gatherings, dinners, and fun activities. One of our day trips was John and I taking Kelly and Brooke to Canada for lunch and a visit to the sculpture gardens in Windsor. I was Brooke’s first visit out of the country!
Brooke was 17 and having spent a decent portion of her years in Missouri, had that funny way of always asking “What accent? I have no accent! Y’ALL have an accent!” She was also excited about going to Canada to hear another language!
Canada, our sister-country to the north has 2 national languages. All the packaging in Canada is written in both of them as are the road signs. This recognizes English, the language spoken in most of Canada and French, the language spoken as a first language in Quebec, the only language in some areas of Quebec. Brooke was completely naive of the fact that there were two languages and that English is still the most common of those spoken there. In fact, she refused to believe that she wouldn’t be showered in French the moment she crossed the border.
Well, as much as the 3 adults, who’d been to the foreign country 20 minutes away from our places of birth many times, told her that in Ontario they speak English, she insisted in knowing how to say “hello,” and other key phrases in French before we got over the border. With a chuckle, I obliged. When we parked the car near the Big Tomato, where were having lunch, the giggles in the three of us became stomach aching laughter as Brooke, insisting that she was going to proudly speak the Canadian language, began to greet people loudly in her “accent free” Missourian tones “Bone-Joor!” The reaction she got was sometimes a laugh, sometimes a quick look away and even quicker steps away and sometimes a look like we were taking our patient out for some fresh air!
She was troubled that our waiter didn’t speak French, not even when she asked him to! She continued to greet strangers at the outdoor sculpture garden with “Bone Jour” and continued to get the typical responses. No one said “Bon Jour” back!
Of course, she did realize that we were being straight with her when we said that they speak English in Canada, but was having a grand time TRYING to embarrass us. When you are a teenager, you don’t realize that the older you get, the harder it is to embarrass you! Actually it was a barrel of laughs and smiling memories for us all!
The end of our day in Windsor was stopping at a few of the souvenir shops. Kelly and I were still browsing in one shop when Brooke drug John along to a store a couple doors down. When Kel and I walked back onto the street, Brooke was excited. “I FOUND MY FRENCHMAN!”
Kelly and I looked at each other, a little surprised but laughing. John was shaking his head and smiling. He told us, it wasn’t even a French-speaking Canadian. Brooke drug us all into the shop. The shop keeper, who was about a grandfathers age to Brooke and spoke English just fine, was laughing at Brooke with adoring eyes. He spoke a few more lines of French to her and she gushed with approval and satisfaction. We were 5 people smiling and laughing nonstop.
Before we left the store, I found this mug, very touristy-Canadian and NOT with any writing in French. But the mug is still filled with great memories of family, fun and a sweet man from France, who absolutely made an American girl’s day speaking his native language to her in his new home country on her first trip to Canada.
Bone Joor, Y’all!