“...and all the police wear red uniforms and ride on horses. They’re called ‘Mounties’.”
Sam listened carefully as her older brother told her everything about their neighbours to the north. She soaked in Donny’s sixth grade wisdom like a dry sponge.
“Samantha, get your jacket on.” Her mother called. “We’re going to be late to your Girl Scout meeting.”
Sam hurried to the entry way and wiggled into her denim jacket. She smoothed out her green vest, and checked one more time to make sure all of her badges were properly placed.
“Ready.” Sam proclaimed as her mom came to the door.
“Hey Sammie,” Donny said, “don’t forget to say ‘eh’ after everything. It will help you fit in with the Canadians.”
“Thanks,” Sam said, opening the door and skipping to the car. This was going to be one of the greatest adventures of her life, all nine and a half years of it. She was going to walk across the Blue Water Bridge with her Girl Scout Troop and meet a bunch of girls from another country. Mrs. Reed had already shown the girls what the merit badges for this venture would look like. Sam couldn’t wait for her mom to sew the white circle with the red maple leaf onto her Girl Scout vest.
The school parking lot was a whirlwind of activity. Parents were talking with Mrs. Reed, getting last minute permission slips signed, and handing over student’s birth certificates. Sam kissed her mom goodbye, found her best friend Tiffany, and settled into the second seat of the large van.
“You’re excited to be going to Canada, eh?”
“I couldn’t sleep last night, Sam.” Tiffany admitted. “All I could think about was how high that bridge is.”
“I’ll hold your hand, Tiff, that way you won’t have to be afraid, eh.”
“What are best friends for, eh?”
“Why do you keep saying “eh” after everything?”
“I am practicing. I want the Canadian girls to understand what I am saying.”
Tiffany laughed. “Did Donny tell you that?”
“What else did he tell you?”
Sam didn’t know what to think about the smile that Tiffany had on her face. “Well, he told me how Canada got its name. See, when Canada first became a country, the leaders didn’t know what to call it. So, they put all the letters of the alphabet in a bag and decided to pull out three. As they pulled the letters out, they said them out loud. ‘C-eh-N-eh-D-eh.’ And that is how Canada got its name.”
Tiffany held her sides laughing as tears streamed down her cheeks.
“What did I say?” Sam asked, concern creasing her forehead.
“Oh, Sam,” Tiffany shook her head, “that’s not how Canada got its name! ‘Canada’ comes from an old Indian word meaning ‘village.’”
“How do you know?”
“My sister is in his class, remember. When we are in sixth grade we will have to learn about Canada too. Donny was just pulling your leg.”
“I don’t know.” Sam said, “Donny wouldn’t just lie to me.”
“Think about it, Sam. Didn’t he tell you, just last week, that bananas were just moldy spiders legs?”
“So, there won’t be snow up to my neck, dogsleds and Eskimos as soon as we cross the bridge?”
“There’s no troll under the bridge either, like in the ‘billy goats gruff’?”
“You got to stop believing everything that Donny says.”
“Don’t worry, Tiff. I think I learned my lesson.”
Samantha sat back in the van seat and thought about the great story that she would tell her brother when she got home, about the Eskimos across the Blue Water Bridge.
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