Q: Hi! My husband and I are contemplating a move to Texas, maybe just outside of San Antonio. Our plan was to buy some land and start a business there when we retired, but, well, I’ve been hearing some rather disconcerting things about the attitude toward Albertans from native Texans and it really breaks my heart. I’ve heard that Albertans are not being welcomed and are in fact being given the cold shoulder when they decide to visit. Out of all the regions in Canada, northern Alberta is most like Texas in both attitude and friendliness, which is why we chose Texas as our retirement state of choice. Is what I’m hearing true or are these perhaps just nasty rumors?
Chris S., Whitecourt, Alberta, Canada
A: Hi! Thanks for the very troubling letter. The Texanist is confused and perturbed by the state of affairs you describe in your missive and would like to know where you’re getting your information. What, exactly, is the source of this distressing hearsay? This is the first time the Texanist has heard that his fellow Texans have some kind of beef with folks from Alberta—and a portion of his bread is buttered by way of keeping tabs on such things.
Thanks for reading Texas Monthly
Now, if your home province were known as the California of Canada or the Oklahoma of Canada or the Mid-Atlantic Region of Canada, that would be one thing. Texans do, after all, have well-established beefs with each of those territories, although, between you and the Texanist, they are mostly the good-natured and jocular types of beefs. But as you hint at in your letter, Alberta is actually known as the Texas of Canada, a fact that one would think would endear the “Texans” of the Great White North to the Texans of the United States.
The Texanist does, though, feel compelled to note that your home province isn’t the only place known as “The Texas of [FILL IN THE BLANK].” There are many other geographical entities that make similar claims, for a variety of reasons. It is sometimes said that New Hampshire is the Texas of New England, because it has loose gun laws and no income tax. Mongolia is supposedly the Texas of Asia, thanks to its horseback herding traditions and wide-open spaces. Shymkent, Kazakhstan, is reportedly known as the Texas of Central Asia, due to its location in the south-central portion of the country and its plentiful cattle. Bavaria is often referred to as the Texas of Germany, probably owing to its pride in a history of independence and a love of knocking back cold ones. Nigeria is considered by some to be the Texas of Africa—brashness and oil seem to be the salient factors at work there. And Queensland, a state in northeastern Australia, is said to be the Texas of that island continent, thanks to its natural beauty, warm weather, and abundance of agriculture. (The “Texans” who hail from Texas, a small town tucked away in the southeastern corner of Queensland, might, for obvious reasons, have an especially strong claim in this regard. Their town, by the way, is so named in honor of a nineteenth-century land dispute that was regarded as similar to the nineteenth-century “dispute” between the United States and Mexico, a.k.a. the Mexican-American War.)
Alberta’s claim to Texanity, the Texanist has learned, is not all that dissimilar to many of those listed above. It has an abundance of diverse lands with mountains, prairies, deserty badlands, and pine forests; it is home to a prominent ranching culture and a vigorous oil and gas culture; and Albertans are said to be friendly folks, which you seem to prove out well enough.
The Texanist figures there’s enough commonality there to not pose any problems for Albertans thinking of taking up residence in Texas, and he can’t imagine what the source of the supposed friction would be. He’s racked his brain and come up with nothing. But while performing his due diligence on this topic, the Texanist came across an article from last December that appeared on the Canadian website Global News, about Canadians transplanting themselves in Texas. It turns out that you are not the first of your countrymen to be struck with the idea to move here. Some 20,000 of them live in the Houston area alone. It seems that oil and gas jobs are a big draw. Nowhere in this article—and it was a three-parter—did the Texanist come across any mention of shade being thrown at these newly Texanized Canadians. (Though he suspects that too many of his fellow Texans might find too much hilarity in adding the occasional “eh?” to the end of their sentences when conversing with your compatriots.)
But in an effort to perform a little extra due diligence, the Texanist reached out to Dallas Flexhaug, the author of the article, whom you may be familiar with as a longtime anchor on the Global News Morning show, in Calgary. Dallas (so named courtesy of her dad, an Alberta cowboy who thought it had like a nice Western ring to it) explained to the Texanist that her story didn’t say anything about Texans’ negative attitude toward Canadians for the simple reason that she detected nary a whiff of one while on her reporting trip here. Quite the opposite, she told the Texanist. “We got service with a smile everywhere we went!” she says. “Never ran into any eye rolls or bad attitudes when we told people we were Canadian.”
Thus, with all his due diligence done, the Texanist is left to conclude, with a relief-filled wipe of the brow, that your fear of anti-Alberta prejudice residing deep in the hearts of Texans is unfounded. You either received some bad information or were the victim of some serious leg-pulling. Texas’s motto, after all, is “Friendship,” not “Vitriol” or “Maleficence.” The Texanist assures you that if you retire here, the Texas you’ll find will be the Texas of your dreams. Or, at the very least, a much better choice than the Texas of Central Asia. Or the Texas of anywhere else, for that matter.
Have a question for the Texanist? He’s always available here. Be sure to tell him where you’re from.