January 08, 2010

It's confusing, I know...

After we finished university, Fawn and I spent a couple of months hosteling and riding the rails around Europe. At a hostel in Lucerne, Switzerland, we met some American girls who were trying to pass themselves off as Canadians. Their Kansas accents and their "Let's Go" travel guide were dead giveaways, but they had sewn the Canadian flag onto their backpacks and even had cover stories. They said they were from Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. When quizzed, they could spell "Saskatoon", but not "Saskatchewan". They also thought that Saskatoon was the capital of Saskatchewan (it's Regina).

We played the "Canadian Geography Quiz" game a little more. I gave them the names of capital cities and let them try to guess which province or territory they belonged to. They believed that Yellowknife was the capital of the NWT, but refused to believe that the Yukon could possibly have a capital with a name like "Whitehorse".

They kept saying it over and over. "Yellow Knife. White Horse. There's no way. No way.  You're making that up." They thought I was trying to trick them but, of course, I wasn't. Why would I try to trick them when the truth is so much funnier?

It is confusing for people (including Canadians) who don't live in the NWT or Yukon, though. Yellowknife and Whitehorse are often attributed to the wrong territory (as was the case with tonight's google searcher who ended up on my blog after doing a search for "Whitehorse, NWT").

So, for the benefit of anyone who can't keep them straight, I'd like to share a handy-dandy technique for remembering which capital goes with which territory.  All you have to remember is this simple phrase:

"Yukon (you can) ride a white horse."

I can't think of a clever one for Yellowknife, NWT, but if you can remember that "Yukon ride a white horse", the other sorts itself out.  Good luck keeping our territorial capitals straight, and may you never spell Iqaluit as "I-Q-U-A-L-U-I-T".


Jennybell said...

Isaiah was quizzing me on the capitals of all 50 states! Some I had to ask for the beginning letter. Some I had just forgot about or like Tennessee, it has lots of popular cities, and I had forgotten that Nashville was actually the capital. Since I've only been to Ontario I wouldn't even try to pass myself off as Canadian. I can't name the territories let alone the capitals

Clare said...

That's what I was doing wrong, I had the saying as "NeWTs ride on a Whitehorse".

Anonymous said...

Your killing me!Who got Round #2 correct for your villanous vittles????????

CAptain Momma

Jennybell said...

So stupid question, but I was just thinking, are the territories then divided into anything, like an equivalent to our states?
Our states are divided into counties, the counties into townships. Except for Louisianna, they have parrishes and I don't know how that works

Meandering Michael said...

Not a stupid question at all!

The Yukon has several "informal" regions: North Yukon, Klondike, Silver Trail, Campbell, Kluane, Whitehorse, Southern Lakes, and Watson Lake (or South-east Yukon) and various electoral ridings where each Member of the Legislative Assembly comes from.

Like the Yukon, the NWT has various electoral ridings, but it also has administrative regions: Inuvik, Sahtu, Dehcho, North Slave, and South Slave Regions.

In the Yukon and NWT, there are various First Nations groups who have their own traditional territories, some of which overlap with neighbouring First Nations groups.

Nunavut has electoral ridings, too, and even though it comprises nearly a fifth of Canada's surface area, it has only three administrative regions: the Kitikmeot, Kivalliq, and Qikiqtaaluk Regions.

Honestly, though, you'll be hard-pressed to find many Canadians who know the answer to that question!