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10 Things the Queen of England Still Does for Canada

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You may have read about a recent ruling in Canada which stated it is constitutional to require would-be Canadians to take an oath to the Queen. You may also have been surprised to learn Canada does, in fact, still have a queen, and she is the same Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Ceylon, and Pakistan, among others. Here is a list of roles still served by Elizabeth the Second, by the Grace of God, of the United Kingdom, Canada and Her other Realms and Territories, Queen, Head of the Commonwealth, Defender of the Faith.

1. Technically speaking, Queen Elizabeth is the Sovereign of the parliamentary democracy and constitutional monarchy of Canada. Unless you frequently use Canadian money or are particularly savvy with regard to Canadian politics, you may not have known they had any kind of monarchy.

2. All ministers, legislators, members of the armed forces, public servants, and police officers swear allegiance to the Queen. Though the aforementioned court ruling is likely to be appealed, for the time being all new citizens swear allegiance to the Queen as well. All passports are likewise issued in the name of the Queen.

3. Queen Elizabeth appoints a governor general who acts at the federal level and subsequently appoints one lieutenant governor in each of Canada’s ten provinces. The Queen and the governor general make their appointments on the recommendation of Canada’s prime minister. The governor general and lieutenant governor serve as daily representatives of the Queen, and they also give honors and tributes to deserving recipients in her name.

4. In the political world, the Queen really doesn’t do much—she’s not supposed to. Because she is considered to be the personification of the state of Canada, she is meant to remain neutral on all matters of politics.

5. The Queen is a patron of a number of Canadian organizations, including the Canadian Cancer Society, the Canadian Red Cross Society, and the Royal Canadian Humane Association. Her official website also states that Canada is the country she has visited most in her 60-plus year reign.

6. Along with her representatives, Queen Elizabeth partakes in various ceremonies and traditions in Canada, including frequent Royal Tours. Most important anniversaries or celebrations are attended by the monarch herself, while other members of the royal family may attend lesser events in her place.

7. The Queen acts as Colonel-in-Chief of numerous Armed Forces regiments, such as the King’s Own Calgary Regiment and The Canadian Grenadier Guards. Like her other roles in Canada, this one is primarily symbolic and accompanying duties are normally carried out by the governor general.

8. The prime minister and the ministers in his cabinet are all appointed by the governor general on behalf of Queen Elizabeth. (Usually, the governor general will appoint the leader of the party with the majority or large plurality.) The Queen makes an effort to keep up-to-date on parliamentary matters with regular communications with ministers and meets with them when possible.

9. The Queen must apply her royal sign-manual, or signature, as well as the Great Seal of Canada to patent letters, specific appointment papers of the governor general, the creation of additional Senate seats, and any change in her Canadian style and title.

10. Along with the governor general, the monarch can grant immunity from prosecution and pardon any offenses against the Crown before, during, or after a trial.

Additional Sources: Parliamentary Institutions [PDF]; Canada, A Constitutional Monarchy; Monarchy in Canada

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Food
A Brief History of Poutine
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Walk down a street after a hard night of drinking in Montréal and you’d be hard-pressed not seeing someone gorging themselves on poutine, a high-calorie classic staple of Québécois casse-croûtes—or “greasy spoon”—cuisine.

Just what is poutine, you ask? The delicious Canadian dish is comprised of a holy-hoser trinity of ingredients: French fries, cheese curds, and gravy. Try some yourself and you’ll be hooked. It’s become so popular that it’s readily available at certain restaurants in the U.S. (Lucky New Yorkers can get their hands on some traditional poutine at Brooklyn restaurant Mile End.) Otherwise, the dish has become so ubiquitous in its home province that even McDonald’s and Burger King sell it as a side.

Much like the debate in the U.S. about the origins of the hamburger, poutine has similarly unclear beginnings. The most widespread claim for inventing poutine comes from the small dairy-farming town of Warwick, Québec, where, in 1957, a customer asked restaurateur Fernand Lachance to throw cheese curds and French fries—items the owner sold separately at his restaurant L’Idéal (later renamed Le lutin qui rit, or “The Laughing Elf”)—together in one bag because the customer was in a rush. Legend has it when Lachance peered into the bag after the two ingredients were mixed together, he remarked, “This is a ‘poutine,’” using the joual—or Québécois slang—for a "mess.”

Noticeably absent from Lachance’s cobbled-together recipe is the gravy ingredient, which was added to the mix in 1964 when a restaurant-owner in nearby Drummondville, Quebec named Jean-Paul Roy noticed a few of his diners ordering a side of cheese curds to add to the patented gravy sauce and fries dish at his restaurant, Le Roy Jucep. Roy soon added the three-ingredient item on his menu and the rest is delicious, gravy-soaked history.

Eventually, poutine spread across the province and throughout Canada—with different combinations added to the fries, curds, and gravy recipe—but the original remains the most recognized and honored. It even initially made its way to the United States by way of New Jersey, where an altered recipe known as “Disco Fries” substitutes shredded cheddar or mozzarella cheese for the Canadian curds.

But if you ever find yourself in Montréal and have a hankering for greasy food, be sure to order it correctly. Anglophones usually pronounce the word as “poo-teen,” but if you want to pass for a real Québécois, it’s pronounced “poo-tin.”  

This story originally ran in 2013.

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language
15 Colorful Canadian Slang Terms
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Americans looking to take a trip across their country's northern border might find themselves bewildered by some Canadian turns of phrase. It is, after all, a place where people go out for a rip to the beer store and plunk down their loonies to pick up a two-four. Pretty confusing, eh? But fear not. For all you keeners who want to learn how to speak like a Canuck, here’s a handy chart to help you master Canadian slang, courtesy of Expedia.ca.

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