As I mentioned before, I spent a lot of time in Canada while I was growing up.  Another source of delight for me was the fact that my allowance stretched much farther north of the border.  I would splash out on clothing and CDs knowing that the money I was spending wasn’t real and only cost me a fraction of the sticker price.  My senior year of high school, the Canadian dollar was particularly weak: 1 Canadian dollar = $.60 US, which made every concert I went to that year, and every pint of beer I bought seem like a wonderful gift, “Oh, Band X, I don’t even really like them, but it seems a shame not to go, it’s so cheap.”

Fast-forward to my recent trip to Montreal with Wise Lawyer Friend.  I used my credit card for most purchases, and when I came home and saw what kind of exchange rate I’d gotten, I nearly threw up.  The first meal we had there, Carlos y Charlies (I know it’s silly to eat Mexican food in Canada, but what’s done is done) cost me $40 Canadian, and $40.82 US.  I kept staring at the statement think I must somehow be reading it wrong, but finally came to the conclusion that the unthinkable had happened, the Canadian dollar was stronger than the US.  I half expected my cat to start talking back to me in full sentences and the sky to turn pink– that’s how impossible this seemed to me.

I immediately called my brother and told him what was going on.  We both agreed that it was bizarre, and reminisced about the good old days before deciding that America was clearly in a lot more trouble than we had previously realized.

On my most recent trip to Canada, we listened to CBC radio quite a bit where the announcers, in their cheerfully distant, but never downtrodden tone announced that Canada is officially in a recession.  None of their banks have failed, and they most likely won’t, but unemployment is up slightly, and holiday spending was down.  The strangest thing, and I’ve forgotten this about Canadian broadcasting because I haven’t listened/watched it in years– there was very little emotion about the whole thing.  There were few scary words, there was little encouragement, it was “just the facts”, and it didn’t make me want to hoard food– maybe because it wasn’t my country they were talking about.

When I got home, I checked my bank account and found that the $100 Canadian I had taken out at the ATM, only cost me $85 US, and my $19 museum entrance, only $16.52.  This makes me feel like the world is making sense again, and gives me a feeling of optimism that I haven’t had in a while.  Yes, I paid 14% Provincial sales tax that I will never get back, but it cost me less than it used to.