Lou: Up in the rafters

by LOU MAZE

Goat Humour Columnist

The first Thanksgiving in North America was in Canada. The pilgrims can have their funny hats, roasted turkey and pumpkins pies, but we did it first. The frigid upper part of North America is all ours and we’ve been huddled together trying to keep warm, longer than they’ve been basking in their California sunshine. Couple this with our hotly disputed victory in the War of 1812 and it’s “Ha Ha, We Won” all around.

The celebration occurred around Baffin Island in 1578, on a ship captained by Martin Frobisher, who was so impressed with the continent, has was willing to perish, just to find a quick way around.

He was looking for the North-West Passage, a common obsession with Englishmen of his day, who never seemed to be happy, just to be where they were.

It was the United Empire Loyalists who corrupted the purity of our Thanksgiving with their turkeys and pumpkins. While pumpkins are still plentiful here in Canada, turkeys aren’t. By the 1940s, turkeys were extirpated from Canada.

Extirpated is new to my vocabulary too. It might sounds like an ancient method of corporal punishment but it means a species has become extinct in one region. I had to look it up but now you don’t have to.

Thanks to the Loyalists we learned that something that ugly could still be good eating and may have carried it a little too far. We really didn’t have to include this poor bird in Easter and Christmas but we did. And now, the Americans are helping us reintroduce turkeys into the wild in some parts of Canada. Score one for their team.

Under the title of other useless information, let me inform you that a group of turkeys is called a Rafter. Since they have been extirpated, we probably didn’t need to know this. But should you come across some, it might be nice to impress your friends with the proper term.

In case you were wondering where all this comes from blame the Book of St Albans. First published in 1486, it contains lists of ‘proper terms’ and was the last word on collective nouns.

If you really want to “Wow” your friends, a bunch of crows is a Murder, owls a Parliament and geese, a Gaggle. A group of cats is a clowder or a glaring. Don’t be too impressed—I learned that from Sheldon on The Big Bang Theory.

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