Travel enough, and it’s something you’re almost guaranteed to hear from a local: “You’re from Canada? Do you know Lauren from Moose Jaw?”
To those who’ve never even seen the Great White North on a map, North America’s largest country is a place where it snows 10 months of the year, everyone plays pond hockey two days a week, and you can’t look out in the backyard without seeing a moose. Or Lauren from Moose Jaw.
The degree to which those from other countries underestimate the size of Canada is driven home by the third season of BBC’s Race Across the World, which started airing at the end of March. For this edition of the hit reality show five British couples are tasked with travelling across Canada with a minimal budget and no flying allowed. The race started in Vancouver for episode 1 , where said travellers quickly made some shocking, and baffling, discoveries.
Like how getting from Vancouver to Haida Gwaii isn’t something that you do in an afternoon.
And that, unlike the UK, British Columbia hasn’t exactly mastered the art of making trains run on time. Or at all.
And that as much as buses are a legitimate tourist attraction in London, bus travel in BC isn’t necessarily for those in a hurry to get somewhere—or, really, anywhere.
The best parts of the BC episode included confused contestants attempting to get a straight answer on how to make the trek to Port Hardy. And how one gets to Victoria on public transit when marooned in Cowichan.
In a Guardian piece on the series, Destination Canada spokeswoman Maureen Riley suggested that the hit show should boost interest in United Kingdom residents picking Canada as a travel destination.
“The UK has always been a top market for Canada, and initial Twitter comments are showing that the first episode has already inspired Brits to start researching trips to Canada,” she said. “As the show carries on over its nine episodes to explore lesser known areas of our country, hopefully it will encourage Brits to go deeper, further and stay longer.”
There are other lessons to be learned, many of them revolving around, as noted by Twitter’s James Hansen, the lack of decent public transportation in BC.
Those include that Campbell River is the “last major outpost of civilisation on the journey north.” And that one will be sorely disappointed upon approaching a driver in Whistler with, “Hi there sir. I believe people are very willing to car share around here. We’re heading north towards Prince Rupert.”
They didn’t follow that up with, “You’re obviously from Canada. Do you know Norman from Nelson?”
But they probably wanted to. And, yes, we, weirdly, do.