Saturday, January 15, 2011

True Canadian Grit

Postcard of a Royal Canadian Mounted Police of...Image via Wikipedia

I saw True Grit this week.

The main characters in the movie didn't have a lot of patience for other people. In fact most folks who crossed their paths ended up shot deader than doornails for one reason or another.

It wasn't a 'My way or the highway' mentality, it was more like, 'My way or the graveyard'.

Could True Grit have been set in Canada?


We don't have the same history of a wild and lawless west.

Oh we had the same conditions, settlers, outraged Indian tribes, criminal types, rebellions, alcohol, etc., but we also had the North-West Mounted Police, (later renamed the Royal Canadian Mounted Police).

We were still very connected to Britain in the nineteenth century and the Mounties went west and north with a psychological leg up.

The whole British Empire was backing them.

If True Grit had been set in Canada, it would have been a story of one handsome, rugged Mountie, his dog team, a few wolves and a bizzillion miles of snow.

Mattie, (the fourteen year old heroine in the American version) wouldn't have had to hire someone to find her father's killer.

The Mountie would have done it for free, (or at least as part of his job), 'cause that's what Mounties do best.

There wouldn't have been any shooting.

The Mountie would have reasoned with the man who killed Mattie's father and the murderer would have complied with the law.

How exciting is that?

If you think I am exaggerating read the history of the Yukon Gold Rush.

The gold seekers who travelled to the Yukon via the west coast were extremely relieved to leave behind the danger and lawlessness of Alaska and reach the safety of the Canadian border where a few Mounties used "commonsense, tact and fearlessness," (The Last Grand Adventure, William Bronson), rather than brutish behaviour to defend Canada and keep order.

So if you wonder why we are often accused of being nice, peaceful, slightly boring people - blame a cop.

And be thankful.

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