In 1814, during the War of 1812 (yes, the war of 1812 continued after 1812 ended) a group of British soldiers set Washington D.C ablaze. Included in the buildings damaged by the fire was the White House. The fire was in retaliation for the Americans burning down the Parliament Buildings of Upper Canada, which sat in what is now Toronto.
It was the only major war between the United States and what is now Canada.
Many Canadians look back on the War of 1812 favourably, despite the fact that none of them were alive during the time. It’s considered a time when Canada and the United States were equal in terms of military might. (The fact that Britain provided Canada with much of its military power is largely ignored.)
The war is also known for the creation of two great American symbols. The Star Spangled Banner was written during a battle and the White House was repainted white following the fire.
Now, the White House was white before the burning, but the fire drew attention to the fact that it was white. Conversely, the Parliament buildings that were burned in Canada are now a parking lot for a car dealership.
Canadians love that they were the cause of these two great American symbols. They love to point out that the house of the President was once burned by Canadian forces. But it’s not just the history Canadians love. They all secretly want to burn down the White House again.
Most Canadians have a love/hate relationship with the United States. They hate the brash, cocky attitude of the country, but they love the television programming. They despise the way the United States tries to police the world, but they appreciate a good Big Mac. They fear that increasing globalization will cause their larger neighbour to overwhelm them, but they love Obama.
And it’s this begrudging admiration that causes Canadians to want to remain individuals, but still be acknowledged by the US.
The easiest way to achieve this is to burn down the White House.
Sure, the average Canadian will deny such ambitions. They will say that such a dream is terrorism and condemn the very idea. But inside the heart of every hockey-loving Canuck lies the soul of a pyromaniac.
Now Canadians don’t want to hurt anyone, that’s just not their way. They don’t even want to burn now the White House as a political symbol. They don’t want to cause any trouble, they just want to be noticed.
If the President and his family would just leave the White House and the surrounding area for a little while, Canadians would be happy to start a small fire there. It would give them a chance to connect with their history while also making them the top story on CNN. Then the Canadians would happily return to the Great White North, pleased with their latest adventure.
So, if you want to spot a Canadian, simply mention that the White House will be empty for the next few days. If they pull out a gas can and a box of matches, that person is definitely a Canadian.