Probing the Canadian Invasion, a Journalist’s View
Previously, in Island Wars… Donovan Graham, an ambitious young journalist, is covering the showdown taking place there between the U.S. and Canada on Grand Seal Island. He spends as much time as he can down the The Village, enjoying the parties and the women. But he also spends time in The Town on the north side, talking with the old folks, attending Quaker Meeting, and learning how to contradance. Meanwhile, the international tug-of-war is heating up, with each country upping the ante every step of the way. Click here to read earlier entries, or read on to see Van's latest update.
“The Canadians are coming! The Canadians are coming!”
OK — It doesn’t have the right ring to it, but it does have the undeniable force of truth. I wandered by the little “Canadian Ministry of Outport Management” building earlier today, and I actually ran into a Canadian Outport Management Junior-Deputy-Sub-Minister, tending to the geraniums in a small flower box under one window. He is about thirty-two years old, tall and thin, with short sandy hair and very dark eyes. He was wearing a khaki uniform with a patch on the shoulder that read: “Canadian Ministry of Outport Management: Lower Maritimes.” I was offended that the Canadians would refer to us as the “lower” Maritimes, but then I figured it wasn’t such a bad description after all.
His little name badge identified him as Lawrence Schoendorfen, and he greeted me with a flat stare as I approached.
“So,” I said, “you’re the new arrival from Canada. Welcome to Grand Seal Island. I’m Donovan Graham.”
“Donovan Graham,” he said tautly. He acted like this was new information for me. “Lawrence Schoendorfen.”
“Well, Larry,” I said, trying to make some chipper small talk. “How do you like our little island?” It felt weird calling it “our” island, as though I hadn’t arrived less than six weeks ago and wasn’t living in a moldering former cabin in the middle of a swamp.
“Please call me Deputy Minister Schoendorfen,” he said without a smile. “And actually, this is our island. You just welcomed me to Grand Seal Island, but in fact the island and the town are officially Canadian soil, so the welcome makes little sense. Please step away from the geraniums. I’m trying to groom them, and you’re in my way.”
Wow. I could see why his boss sent him out here. Anything to get him away from the home office.
“Well, Larry,” I persisted, “you might want to relax a little bit. You’ll find the people here pretty friendly if you give them a chance.”
For the record, I did step away from the geraniums. Larry strikes me as the kind of guy who knows judo and is just dying to prove that to somebody.
“Making friends with the people here is not my objective,” Larry continued, snipping at dead bits of geranium with tiny little scissors. “My orders are clear. I am to take a full and complete census of all the people, businesses, fishing boats, and other legal entities on Grand Seal Island. I am to bring about and enforce full compliance with the census effort and deliver to the Canadian government a complete, accurate, and thorough census upon which proper enforcement of taxation laws may be based.”
I blinked at him. “Did you rehearse that, or do you always talk that way?” I asked.
“My orders are clear,” he said again. I nodded vigorously to keep him from reciting the census bit again. As I was nodding, I was wondering, secretly, what Henry Coffin would have to say about this scrawny Canadian twig and his overserious attitude.
“There are two places you should be sure to check thoroughly,” I said with my best friendly smile. “The first is the Coffin residence — I hear they have a bunch of Francophone relatives hiding in the attic and the basement, so you’ll have to search from top to bottom to make sure you get them all.”
Larry straightened from his geranium-wrangling and whipped out a narrow, black-leather-covered notebook from his back pocket. He jotted some things down.
“Got it,” he said tersely. “Coffin residence.” He glanced up at me sharply, as though he were trying to catch me reaching for his flower box. “You said there was a second place?”
“The Village,” I explained helpfully. “On the south end of the island. I’ll let them know you’re coming, so they can be fully ready for you.”
“Understood,” he said crisply, snapping the notebook shut. “I am neither authorized nor budgeted for the giving out of rewards for information that aids in the census-compliance effort, but rest assured my superiors will hear of your forthcoming attitude.”
“My pleasure,” I said with another sweet smile.
— Donovan Graham, “The Shadowless Writer”
Comment — MapleLeaf249: There you have it. We Canadians have made our move. Once that census is complete, we’ll know who is in compliance with Canadian law and who isn’t.
Comment — FreedomFirst: Oh, no! Not a census! The next thing you know, Canada will send over a highly aggressive committee!
Comment — NavyBrat414: While Canada is diddling around with deputy ministers and geraniums, the United States is preparing its counter-offensive. Count on it.
Comment — Amber4295: I just love those little scissors, don’t you?
Read previous blog entries in the Island Wars story by clicking here.