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Surprises abound on this Canadian road trip

Published November 26, 2012
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A road trip this past weekend re-confirmed for me that Americans and Canadians are different.

First off, unlike the U.S.A., there were no rampaging “Black Friday” crowds at local stores.

Second, whatever your views on the safety factor, the average cruising speed on Hwy 401 is 120 km/h in-town, and 130 km/h outside of major cities. And, frankly, there didn’t seem to be a problem when slower traffic kept right, passing traffic used the left lane, and drivers refrained from weaving back and forth.

When the main body of traffic did hit a “rolling road block,” thus leading to anxious lane-jumping to bypass it, the problem was typically a U.S.-plated vehicle clogging the passing lane while driving adjacent to other vehicles.

Now, regardless of nationality, if you want to drive slower than the masses, then please keep right. It’s inconsiderate and dangerous when “left lane bandits” force speed compliance on others.

The other big surprise hit me at The Museum in Kitchener where AJ Bridel and Cassandra Hodgins, finalists in CBC’s talent show “Over the Rainbow,” were meeting fans.

My sister wanted to see them and I, expecting “Americanized show-biz phoniness,” was just along for the ride.

And boy was I wrong, because these young ladies (both age 18) are Canadian and exceptionally talented. Hodgins is from London and placed 5th in the competition, Bridel is from Kitchener and placed 3rd.

No auto-tune needed as these two wowed the crowd with their true vocal artistry, Hodgins also plays guitar. “People seem surprised that we look and sound the same in person,” she notes, “they seem to forget that we are real people.”

There was also none of that American TV “reality-show” animosity between contestants. “We knew going in that there would only be one winner, and I didn’t really see it as a competition, just a show, so we all supported each other,” says Hodgins with wisdom beyond her years.

And, if you followed the show, Bridel teared up each time a fellow contender was voted off.

Despite hanging off the CN Tower Skywalk during a show segment, I asked if the goodbye gag, where the departing contestant is hoisted high up and across the stage on a moon-shaped swing while singing “Over the Rainbow” was a terrifying ride. Hodgins, a roller coaster aficionado, says she loved it, and Bridel (who, as a top 3 finalist, never had to ride it officially) says she thought it was “awesome” during a trial run.

Now, if it seems I was impressed by these two endearing Canadian girls, it’s true. Because I’d come to stereotype the “social media generation” as decidedly anti-social by burying their heads in “I-gadgets” or backseat DVD players, rather than choosing to interact with those around them.

These two stars of tomorrow instead opt to interact with people in the most social way imaginable by singing, performing and answering questions with a youthful charm and frankness that would put the White House to shame.

But, then again, they probably can’t help it, since they are Canadian.

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