Those in Kitimat may pride themselves on speaking a language all their own.
That’s the basis for one of the cartoons in a new book called You Might Be From British Columbia If…, a collection of cartoons by Dan Murphy.
Murphy, who moved to B.C. from the United States in the 70s, has made a living as a political cartoonist satirizing life, and although he took the task hesitantly — it was going to be a lot of work, he said — he’s created quite the compendium of a slice of life in the province.
The subject of Kitimat landed on the cartoonist’s radar for this book, but Murphy found a challenge in that he’d never been here before.
So he called in reinforcements.
“One thing about a book like this, once you commit to it you’ve got a short time to do it,” he said. “I would have loved to have wandered about…but for example Kitimat, I couldn’t make it, so I had to call Gerry and I said ‘Gerry, help me out here.’”
Gerry is Gerry Hummel, an experienced political cartoonist from this area, who has worked published through the website the Commonsense Canadian. Gerry, said Murphy, provided a detailed list about life in Kitimat.
“That cartoon for Kitimat is one of my favourites and it’s thanks to Gerry Hummel.”
The cartoon is this; two men fishing in a river. A caption says “You might be from B.C. if you can speak Kitimat without a translator.”
One of the anglers says to the other, “Made my debut at the pink elephant, after MESS worked for Uncle Al, and these days if I’m not fishing the chuck I’ll be at the zoo with my confrere Gerry.”
The footnotes explain the lingo, and for those who aren’t as in the know, the references in order are this: the old Kitimat General Hospital, Mount Elizabeth Secondary School, Alcan, the chuck is the Douglas Channel and the zoo is the bar at the Kitimat Hotel.
Murphy said he’s a big fan of the entire province in general too.
“We’ve got a wonderful mishmash of cultures here,” he said. “You’ve got a world within this province.”
He said he has a working theory that being an outsider to B.C. gives a unique perspective.
“I have a theory…it’s about how it helps to be kind of an outsider for political cartoonists.”
He said he was impressed with B.C. on his arrival.
“When I came here I was just astounded. I’m not sure you could be born here and not be amazed by this place and the diversity of it.”
As much as there is diversity, he says there are many ways that B.C. residents are linked.
“The thing we have in common is none of us trust weather forecasters. That’s because we’ve got, like, 30 different weather systems sometimes within a square mile.”
The book was pitched to him by publisher MacintyrePurcell who has done similar books on other provinces. He ultimately decided doing the book could be a way to say thanks to the province.
“Somebody else could do another 120 cartoons about the province. Totally different places. It’s so darn big.”