By: Miranda Babbitt


Dear Drinking Age of Canada,

Canadians always have had a knack for comedy, eh? Constructing our national flag around the glorious symbol of peace, unity and strength – otherwise known as the majestic maple leaf. Sure to intimidate any rivals from overseas with our alarming abundance of maple syrup. We. Will. Drown. You. With sugary goodness. But what’s even more intimidating than a maple leaf, you ask? Our ancestors will announce in gleeful unison, “But a beaver, of course!” I’m sorry to tell you this, you may want to sit down, but our flag very well may have had the dominating presence of a beaver in its center. It was a seriously considered option. The only reason we went against it was the fact that maple leaves are easier to draw. Our sense of Canadian logic really is remarkable.

But there is one central part to Canadian society that simply defies all logic:  the drinking age that came a year too late to make any sense at all.

With Canadians’ clever sense of humour in mind, I can almost imagine the scene unfolding: Sitting ‘round a table made out of a tree they fetched from their backyard, a polar bear politely sleeping at their feet, their graying heads somberly nodded in mutual agreement over the age that will enable us to vote, to risk our lives in fighting for our country, to whisk our lover away to get married, and deciding on what age will finally let you saunter into that sketchy piercing shop, your chest puffed up with pride, without your anxious mother trailing behind you, stifling your independence, and just not giving you your space, man. But then, amidst all the quiet and reasonable discussion, one voice piped up from the far end of the table, with the familiar, mischievous twinkle in his eye reserved only for your younger brother on April Fool’s Day. “You know what would be really funny guys? If we were to delay the drinking age by just one year. Come on. Just one totally pointless year. Keep ‘em guessing. It’s like if we put it to age twenty seven or thirty three, entirely random, but even more brutal because all the kids will be able to taste it, they’re so close.”

So all the boys crack up and loosen their ties, throw off their wigs donning white ringlets and pound their fists together in a joke well pulled.

Obviously, the Quebecois were more of the partying type, understanding that by the time we have the opportunity to go abroad and educate ourselves, leave the abode of our parents, and do almost everything else, we should have the right to drink.

Perhaps it’s that nonchalant air, the exotic taste for croissants in the morning or snails served with olive oil. It’s that je-ne-sais-quoi of our francophone neighbours that let them take a breather for a minute and come to the sensible realization for themselves. And so it was that my friends in Quebec, where the boys and girls speak French in pretty little accents, twirling around with freedom at their toes, had the Frosh Week of champions.

As they were drunkenly frolicking with the Montreal natives, intoxicated with that irrepressible, youthful desire to live each moment to the fullest, and yet somehow not “throwing their lives away” in the face of this strange, dangerous liquid before them, I attended an ice-cream social in the basement of my residence. Hold on though, I did get pretty crazy with the endless variety of syrups and sprinkles. Maybe I even acted a little irresponsibly. Maybe, Canadian Drinking Age, I went a little overboard on the chocolate sauce and it tampered with my blood sugar levels. Maybe I am tainted as a socially responsible individual now. Better raise the Sundae Consumption Age immediately.

But don’t get me wrong. I will never deny myself the luxury of a sundae on a weekday, and our Frosh Week leaders truly milked whatever they could out of the given circumstances, but the irony is plain to see. We’re a collection of adults being educated as the leaders of tomorrow and they had to face the fact that in some senses, we’re being held back to the status of children.

It’s not as if we’re some foreign species from all other nineteen year olds who are deemed fully matured and capable enough to consume this beverage. As I wait to turn nineteen, I am eagerly awaiting a full body and mind transformation, because apparently that’s what is expected to happen within a single year.

But let’s be honest, the drinking age in Canada really is just an optimistic suggestion, isn’t it?



Canadian First Year Students of Canada


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