I am not making this up.
When my sisters came to visit me over the winter holidays a few years back, I took them to see the sights, including Parliament Hill and the Cat Sanctuary. When they asked me why it was there, I — perhaps inspired by something I happened to read during my BA in English literature — told them that back in aught six, the Canadians had a hugely elaborate battle with the cats. I went on for several minutes, detailing the uniforms (little cats in tiny hats!), the cause of The Great Cat War, and so forth.
Eventually, the fighting stopped, and the Canadians vowed to establish a sanctuary for the cats as a token of their apology for killing so many of the cats when they should all just live in harmony, etc.
For the most part, my sisters caught on and laughed, but one of them became kind of convinced that I was in earnest, so I continued the farce past the broken bell behind the Library of Parliament (another token from the disastrous Cat War) before caving, laughing myself, and pointing out that it was ridiculous. My gullible sister’s retort? “Well, so is Canada!”
A few months later, we were visiting Starved Rock State Park and, whilst perusing the exhibits in the visitor’s center, I came across this image:
I told my sisters that the French-Canadian on the right who helped to build the park amenities was my advisor. This wasn’t that far-fetched of a notion, as we had a history teacher in high school who canoed across Canada, worked a boat on the Mississippi, chased bears, and once calmly put out a fire on his own arm while camping.
So they all believed me until they noticed the date on the informational plaque: 1912. That sort of ended the joke for two of them, but again, with that other one, I’m not so sure…
The moral of the story might be: don’t believe everything I tell you!
Or perhaps it’s: things sure are a lot funnier when they’re believable but hyperbolic or outright untrue.
Or, better yet: Canada is ridiculous. Maybe that’s why I love to study it.