Anne of Green Gables vs GI Joe: Friendly Fire Between Canada and the US


190 pages
Contains Illustrations
ISBN 1-55022-602-9
DDC C818'.5402






Reviewed by Graeme S. Mount

Graeme S. Mount is a professor of history at Laurentian University. He
is the author of Canada’s Enemies: Spies and Spying in the Peaceable
Kingdom, Chile and the Nazis, and The Diplomacy of War: The Case of


This is a fun book. Allan Gould has lived in both Canada and the United
States and has enough familiarity with the mores and history in both
countries that amid the jokes, there is even some educational value. The
reader can start and stop almost anywhere, for none of his texts is more
than a few paragraphs or requires more than minimal concentration.

A Canadian, according to Gould, says “serviette” and would use it
“to mop up any beer that he or she has spilled on a bridge table.”
An American says “napkin” and would use it “to mop up the blood
after an unfortunate accident with the family gun collection.” In
Canada, “French” is one of the official languages. In the United
States, “French” refers to “a wine-guzzling European people of
dubious moral character.” As George W. Bush prepared to invade Iraq,
pundits referred to the “Pax Americana.” As SARS swept Toronto about
the same time, there were references to the “Pox Canadiana.” An
American bumper sticker would say “support our troops!” A Canadian
bumper sticker would say, “support our troops; have a bake sale.”

Some of the jokes include social commentary. In the section “Then and
Now,” Gould reports that before medicare, Canadians “die[d] like
flies in their beds at home.” Now they “die in hospital corridors
waiting for beds.” From time to time, “the Parti Quebecois wins
provincial elections and demands ‘sovereignty-association’ with the
rest of Canada.” Now, “[a]ll of Canada gives up its sovereignty for
a trade association with the United States.” Regarding national
anthems, Gould notes that Francis Scott Key, who composed “The Star
Spangled Banner,” fitted the words into a drinking song; that was
appropriate, he says, for “alcohol makes ‘The Star Spangled
Banner’ almost possible to sing.” Sir Adolphe-Basile Routhier wrote
the French lyrics for “O Canada,” and Calixa Lavallée composed the
music, but both Routhier’s biographer and Lavallée’s obituary
ignored those achievements.


Gould, Allan., “Anne of Green Gables vs GI Joe: Friendly Fire Between Canada and the US,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed July 17, 2024,