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21 Cape Breton tips for American Immigrants

Well it seems things aren't all peaches and cream south of the border, and our quaint little island might be seeing an influx of American Trump-dodgers come November. I was thinking it would be rather rude of us not to give our future neighbors a crash course in Cape Breton culture and customs before their mass exodus, so to welcome our new Southern friends, I give you...

1. Never make fun of a man in a kilt. The kilt-wearing type of man is also the face-punching type of man.

2. Never take the last Timbit. The last Timbit is sacred.

3. Don't complain about how much you miss Krispy Kreme. We'll send you back to Trumpsylvania from whence you came.

In Canadian, "Krispy Kreme" translates to "The lesser doughnut."

4. Don't try to impress us with your fancy sports car. Get a good price on a used backhoe, then we'll talk.

5. In Cape Breton, houses are the price of a new Mercedes. Boats are the price of a new Honda. You can live like a retirement ad on a shoestring budget, but our booze prices will put you in the poorhouse.

6. If you're the superficial type, and are leaving America because Donald Trump looks like toad covered in drainage hair, our Prime Minister is now quite attractive.

Is it just me, or would Donald Trump make a great Muppet?

7. When a Cape Bretoner asks you "What do you play?" Scrabble, Xbox, and ultimate frisbee are unacceptable answers. Acceptable answers include every musical instrument ever invented.

8. If you are having a hard time finding things to talk about with Cape Bretoners, ask them how they heat their house. They'll talk for five hours.

9. There are 3 religions on Cape Breton Island. The Church of Bruins, the Church of Canadiens, and the Masochistic Ministry of the Maple Leafs.

Here we see members of the Church of the Maple Leaf participating in the traditional practice of self flagellation.

10. You're not a true Cape Bretoner until you can say "yeah" three times while inhaling.

11. In Cape Breton, you never know if you're talking to the president of a multi-million dollar company or your local garbageman. We all dress the same here. It's kind of like a nudist colony.

12. If you're invited to a potluck and don't know what to bring, the correct answer is egg salad finger sandwiches.

13. Cape Bretoners will ask you where you're from. When you say America, and we don't immediately respond, it's not because we don't trust you. It's because we honestly don't know how to react to the situation.

14. Don't be surprised when the midget hockey 50/50 clears $50,000. All the best fundraisers on the island are thinly veiled forms of gambling.

It's really a win/win for everyone.

15. If you're sober when The Mull River Shuffle starts, you're doing it wrong.

16. We don't drink Bloody Marys here. We drink Caesars, which is a Bloody Mary made with clam juice. Trust me, the clams make it better.

Much like Caesars have a mysterious, secret ingredient that make them tastier than Bloody Marys, Cape Bretoners also have a mysterious, secret ingredient that makes them tastier than Americans. In both cases, it's clams.

17. If you come here and want Mexican food, you're going to have to make it yourself... and invite me over. Margaritas would be nice too.

18. A Cape Breton Standoff is when two people hold the door for each other at Tim Horton's. It's way better than a Mexican standoff, where everyone gets shot.

19. Take your shoes off when you come into the house. This isn't a barn.

20. We have parties in the kitchen because it's closer to the fridge.

21. Cape Breton goodbyes last at least an hour. Plan accordingly.

22. We're all cousins here. Please come. We need a bigger gene pool.

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Dannie Brown Follow Me
I resemble #9; being one of those acolytes of the Masochistic Ministry of the Maple Leafs. As to your comment re: the pot luck, I suggest you must bring Oat Cakes. Being from NB, I'd never eaten an oatcake before coming to CB; I am now an oat cake affionado. Especially like the ones that dip one end in chocolate.
Rory Andrews My Post Follow Me
I love that oat cakes sound like something you would feed a horse, but are actually quite delicious. But cake? Aren't they more of a cookie?
Dannie Brown Follow Me
Yep, I've seen them as round cookies and flat bars almost. But cake? you're right! Yes, quite delicious and you can't eat just one; just like pringles. haha
Jennifer Witham Follow Me
Fat Archies! Way better than oatcakes! :-D
Richard Lorway Follow Me
You got me with the Muppet caption. I didn't see it before, but now it's all I can think about when I see The Donald. And frankly, it makes it easier to watch him.
Peter Sheehan Follow Me
When talking to a Cape Bretoner , don't underestimate their level of education.
Mike Henry Follow Me
Not hard to do. Cape Bretoners seem to be outside the 'Dumbing Down' phenomenon we seem to have here.
Lana Gavin Follow Me
I promise I would follow all of your rules. You won't hear a peep out of me. I just could not possibly live in a country that would elect The Donald.
Jim Redman Follow Me
Loved this. 1 I would never make fun of a kiltie. Abercrombie here. Haven’t obtained a kilt because authentic tartans are expensive, and it would be summer only for me, as I would like to keep the non-Scottish parts of me from freezing off the Scottish parts of me. 2 Last Timbit... Will consider that. Who am I having lunch with - a diabetic perhaps? Or is it what’s at the counter? 3 Wouldn’t. I never found Krispy Kremes that great. Tim’s is much tastier, IMHO. 4 Not bragging, but I have a 20-year-old Acura sedan. Working a backhoe sounds like fun. 5 How do the local banks look upon newcomers buying houses there? 6 Trudeau - His attitude and cabinet look good so far as well. 7 I’m out of practice on several instruments. I could possibly sing if that’s permitted. 8 Heating in Nova Scotia... I’m actually interested. 9 Sports=Religion... Much like Oklahoma... 10 “Yeah” while inhaling? Where are we going with that? ;^P 11 Equal opportunity appearance. Excellent. 12 Egg salad sandwiches sound good. I caught the comment about oat cakes and that sounds great too. 13 It’s okay. I know the name of our continent. I’ll try “From the States” or “Oklahoma” or some such. 14 So, “Midget Hockey” is played by children, or actual midgets? 15, 16 Are nondrinkers allowed in then? 17 I’ll be happy to cook the Mexican food, or Chicano anyway. Which is what we actually have at Mexican restaurants in the States, generally. 18 A Mexican standoff is where both parties draw guns but both hesitate. Once bullets fly, it’s no longer a standoff. I’ll gladly take the Canadian standoff though. 19 Shoes off, got it. True in several cultures. 20 Parties in kitchen, all good as long as no one gets mean when drunk and happens to be near knives. 21 Long goodbyes - I’ll pretend I’m back in South Carolina till I get used to that again. 22 Expanding the gene pool - well, if someone insisted I might give it a go. I try to be helpful.
Shauna Winters Follow Me
Now that's funny. Give er Jim.
Jacquelyn Scott Follow Me
This is sooooo helpful, Rory -- wish I had had it when I moved here decades ago! I'm going to immediately send it to some of my despondent US friends and relatives to help them prepare…
Michael Breen Follow Me
A couple more tips A variety of English IS spoken on the Island although it may take a while to become fluent in it. If all else fails you might try speaking Scottish Gaelic. Everyone here can speak that. A novelty for ex-pat Americans is that of the first five thousand people you interact with in Cape Breton , NONE of them will be carrying a sidearm. As a bonus, of the next five thousand people you meet (assuming you can find another five thousand people in Cape Breton ), BONUS !, none of them will be armed either.
Roz Sorrie Follow Me
As someone who hails from 21st century Scotland, Cape Breton is a bit of an anachronism. Interesting, but rather irrelevant to modern day Scots. By the way, the only true oatcake is the one to be found in the UK, traditionally cooked on griddles and savoury. Good with cheese.
Richardson MacPhillips Follow Me
"Scotland"? Isn't that where the English go to kill birds and get maids?
Greg Kimbell Follow Me
Thanks for the tips! I'd gladly invite you over for Mexican food. Margaritas are Always available, and I look forward to trying them with Timbits and egg salad finger sandwiches. Unless, of course, that would be blasphemous.
D. Glenn Arthur Jr. Follow Me
Re: #7 -- I remarked that on the one hand I should have no trouble finding a band to play in up there, but on the other hand it'd be twice the drive to visit friends & kin on London & Toronto as it is now. And then half my bandmates said they were thinking of moving up there too so maybe I wouldn't even have to join a new band. Do we need to audition, and if so do we need to apply for work permits or something to do so? (Celtic dance repertoire, heavy on the Scottish.) Re: #1 -- We're non-face-punching kilt wearers (those of us who wear kilts) and still don't get picked on, but I currently live within day-trip driving distance of Appalachia, so that might have something to do with it. Re: #21 -- I'm fannish (and half Greek), so I'm used to that. :-) Sounds like as long as I can find places to eat with at least one vegetarian item on the menu, I'll be fine. Except for the long, long drive to London. I've got one more question -- I don't know the C.B. accent ... is it a lot like Scottish (as Michael Breen's comment makes me think)? 'Cause if so, I find that a particularly contagious accent and will probably be sounding like y'all in about a day even if I try really hard not to (versus a week or so to start picking up a Southern Ontario accent without meaning to).
Richard Beaver Follow Me
You'll be OK with one Cape Bretoner , maybe even two but you'll have to live above the Causeway for a good few years before you can follow a whole kitchen full. Think of how you wished people in the States could be, throw in an interesting mix of heritages and a genuine love of fun at all ages, have a bottle open in the kitchen with good friends and a fiddler playing jigs and reels over by the stove and you are on your way to understanding Cape Bretoners. And remember, the worst of times in the rest of the country are considered good times Down East . People have always pulled together on the Cape during hard times and you're hard pressed to find friendlier, more helpful people. Be careful who you crack a bottle with, Cape Bretoners are known for a mighty thirst ( And an even mightier capacity) . So get a copy of "Out Of Old Nova Scotia Kitchens" so you'll know what to eat, download some Natalie Macmaster fiddle tunes to start getting your ears trained and head to The Cape. In a way it will be Monty Python-ish; "And now for something Completely Different!"
Shauna Winters Follow Me
Your friends in London and Toronto will be begging to come visit you. Another one of our traditions is the come from away visit which usually includes the kitchen party with lobster, rum and any musical instrument that can be found including spoons... Your barmaid friends should look into a resorts in Baddeck or Sydney postings are up now. no audition required...best of luck to ya.
Pearlie Acker-Alsept Follow Me
#1 - I would be hard pressed not to openly admire said men in kilts.. nothing sexier... In fact, I hadn't even considered a move to Canada (I don't like snow very much) but now that I know kilts are involved, I may definitely have to vacation there one summer...
Lisa May Follow Me
Sorry. I have to stick w my home-town religion (the Caps and whatever team my son is on). But we did send the Leafs Brooks Laich just in time for the historic Nylander assist, so there's that. My husband looks amazing in a kilt and can tie ghillie brogues as well as he can tie hockey skates. Does that balance out enough for us to join you?
Marian Whitcomb Follow Me
Your best yet, Rory, standing ovation. PS: Our universal philosophical question is to ask (with a slight shrug) "what can you do?" We endure and rise again, is the best I have come up with on that one.
[comment deleted] Posted
Debbie Calabrese Follow Me
Great tips Rory. Love them.
June MacDonald Follow Me
What about Tarbish? When I left C.B., it was a favourite game. Every Caper should know how to play 'Bish. :)
Rory Andrews My Post Follow Me
I write about Tarabish here: https://capebreton.lokol.me/the-top-3-things-cape-breton-is-not-proud-of And feel free to come back anytime. Spring is right around the corner.
Mike Henry Follow Me
Excellent. I enjoyed this article and had a good laugh. Yes, I think Trump would make great Muppet.
Rory Andrews My Post Follow Me
Thanks Mike. I wrote it in my bathrobe!
Rebecca Beaven Follow Me
Love #10 and yes I tried it....lol
christina joe Follow Me
haha awesome
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