2006-05-30

Caribou!


While imbibing a pint with associates recently, one lifted his stein and said, Ookpik! Another said, Don't you mean, Chimo!? And so began the debate: what is the great lost Canadian equivalent of Cheers! Or was there ever one? Hazy recollections were traded about a movement in the 1960s to get folks to say something uniquely Canuck-like. Well, this was news to me. But I like the idea. And I think we should have a toast to exclaim when we hoist a cold one other than the name of that good ol' TV show featuring Sam, Diane and Woody. After all, the Chinese have Gan bei, the Germans Prost and the Zulus Oogy wawa. For Canada, I propose .... Caribou! Yes, why not evoke the proud northern reindeer? Caribou conjures images of a strong creature on the frosty tundra, sounds pretty good rolling off the tongue and can easily be pronounced even when one is mildly spifflicated. So I will use this toast from now on (unless someone suggests a better phrase emblematic of our nation). From humble beginnings on Elgin Street, the saying could catch on ... And before long Canadians from sea to sea to sea will be clinking glasses with a resounding Caribou!

7 comments:

Agatha said...

From now on, I will be enthusiastically using "Caribou". Thank you for this, IO. I don't completely dislike "cheers" for toasts, but I cannot tolerate "cheers" as an email salutation. But that is another matter...

4th Dwarf said...

I'll be sticking with chimo.

I'd no idea it was an Inuit greeting, I picked it up as a toast after spending some time in Japan.

coyote said...

Figures, Short Guy, that you'd be unable to resist another damn hair crack...

I like 'Ookpik' myself, owls being more portable and nabbable by us smaller dog-like types. Plus, them wolves and polar bears get really competitive about 'their' caribou...

The Independent Observer said...

The opposition of select ESIs to the proposed Caribou cheer will make an interesting footnote in my best-selling tome, to be published in 2018, Caribou: The Unlikely Origins of Canada's National Toast.

The Chair said...

Maybe I'm stating the obvious, but for those that don't know, there exists a drink called Caribou, made famous as the beverage of choice of the Quebec winter carnival. It is a concoction of vodka, port, maple syrup, motomaster anti-freeze, and whatever else you want to add in the mix to keep your joints moving in the minus 30 weather. I couldn't find a web image, but you'd see people drinking this stuff from a hollowed cane with a stopper sporting the likeness of Bonhomme(the Carnivale mascot)on it. That said, it may be more of a Quebec Nationalist toast.

coyote said...

Chair, I've been researching Caribou recipes, and I hafta say, why should we allow those pur laine types to have all the, um, fun? Expecially for a word that my weighty Canine Edition of the Oxford BWT (Big Word Thingy) suggests to be of First Nations, not French, origin, in the first place. We are at least as entitled to use it as are they.

I am certain the IO's suggestion can only elevate with each glass the status of caribou across Canada -- something that they badly need, especially on the approaches to Alaska's North Slope.

Most of the recipes I've seen, by the way, seem to involve mixing, over ice, truly astounding quantities of Saint-George red wine and 40-to-80-proof grain alcohol, and a small bottle of some kinda fizzy pop like lemon-lime (7-Up or Sprite) or cherry soda topped off with reaally huge slugs of cherry wine, brandy, or Oporto, Some of the more dissolute and effete authorities also suggest adding cream of tartar and cloves for 'texture' and 'flavour', to which I say, 'Huh.'

The hell with wolves' and polar bears' territorial ambitions! I shall toast a raucous and hearty "Caribou!" the next time we become spifflicated...

The Independent Observer said...

That's the spirit, Coyote! Vive le caribou libre!