Well you just try to find me one thing that’s not made by them Chinese!

I’m eavesdropping on an awkward conversation between a visiting tourist – American by his accent, and a shopkeeper – whose rolling accent suggests Scottish roots.  He’s reading labels and replacing objects and commenting rather bluntly on the origin of pretty much the whole shop’s inventory.  Her reaction is half offended, half defending… because he’s right, even if he is rude about it.

Which wouldn’t matter if it weren’t for the fact that the shop in question is chalk full of cultural curios for the curious.  Canadiana, of a particular sub-genre… northern frontier town bric-a-brac.  Now I wonder if there’s a whole division of some factory in Asia somewhere that specializes in the category?  The plastic molds, the whimsical bearaphenilia, tuques in faux-fur.  That authentic look.

I felt some small sympathy for the woman but she and the visitor are now exchanging mollifying words, grudging towards a common grounds of disdain for the way things are ‘these days’.

Just earlier I’d been grumbling myself over my artificial and mass-produced breakfast: yellow-brown and round sausage patties with brown-yellow and oblong hash-brown patties (their shapes, in the end, their only distinguishing feature, at least until squared into ubiquitous morsels) and toast-shaped toast, brown with yellowish butter.  Served with white plastic knife and fork all on an off-white extruded polystyrene foam plate (I would say styrofoam but spell check pretentiously insists that this is a trademark name, like kLEENEX… and requires capitalization, and there’s no way I’m going to let those corporate spin doctors colonize my breakfast blog!)

I had only myself to blame.  You see I’d chosen the fORMICA over the hardwood counter top next door because the latter was awash with tourists, just a corner table free, and after 15 minutes of salivating over the baked goods – and those cinnamon buns came from a real oven! – the one staffer hustling about, acknowledging the rapturous compliments of the clientele (‘the sausages were exquisite…!’  ‘oh, yes, she makes those up herself here…’)… well, I says to myself, I’ll leave these tourists to their la-ti-da $13 breakfast fare and I’ll just go hunker down where the locals eat!

So I’m looking down at my patties.  There’s a local fellow, he’s walleyed and I think he might be watching me so I’m a bit self conscious about taking a photo so I don’t.  Another missed opportunity.

You don’t have to look far, though, in this boom-busted frontier town, to find some authentic paraphernalia.  You just have to adjust your time frame a bit, from the boom to the bust.  It’s all relative, really.  It was gold and copper mining that boosted the population to 10,000 plus, in the good years.  So off panning for authenticity you go, and you’ll find it, sure enough, in all its deadpan manufactured irony.

This vein is rich and deep methinks… and so I’ll follow them wINNEBEGOs to see if I strike it rich (more of this nonsense to come).


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