Tuesday, 1 July 2008

O Canada

Happy Canada Day everyone!

141 Years. Kinda young for a country ain't it? Lets put in perspective, if (like me) you were born in the early 70's, you've lived through 25% of those years. You've lived one quarter of Canada's existence as a country.

Maybe that relative youth is why we struggle to define what it is to be Canadian. Historically speaking, as a country, we're 23, recently graduated from college, ready to tackle full independent adulthood. Or maybe its the Canadian identity to constantly question our identity.

Which is why every single year we have those damn surveys asking what it means to be Canadian.

Even though this constant soul searching has worn thin, the question was on my mind last night. One of my many projects this year is reassembling and expanding our deck out back. So there I was dutifully screwing down deck boards, mind wandering. I started contemplating the screws I was using to attach the boards.

A memory resurfaced. I was having a conversation with one of our US employees that transferred to Canada. For whatever reason, I mentioned the Robertson screw. He was puzzled, "What is that?". I explained, its the square headed screw we use to assemble practically everything. "That's what they're called!" he exclaimed. "I used to work in a warehouse, and we'd call them crowbar screws. We'd curse every time we'd get crates from Canada, because they'd be assembled with those fucking things, and we needed to use crowbars to break the crates apart!"

The Robertson Screw, simple, square yet eminently practical. Its recognizable as a screw, but it is still unique. So very Canadian, and like Canada it confuses the hell out of our neighbors to the south.

4 comments:

Ken Breadner said...

Hear, hear. The Robertson screw should, like so many things Canadian, be declared the world standard.

Raphael Alexander said...

Good post. Actually I find the robbie is the only screw used on almost all commercial construction projects for fasteners up to #12 in size. The Phillips strip out too easily, particularly the stainless steel variety, and nobody uses the slot. I think, for the Americans, they have created most new stainless screws with the Phillips but have a robbie centre. A nice hybrid.

M@ said...

I dunno, Raph, the hybrid screws do strip a lot more often than clean, pure Robertson screws do.

I never buy Phillips screws for any reason, ever. I agree that P.L.'s invention should be a world standard -- and if only he and Henry Ford could have come to terms, it would be.

Incidentally, I've heard there's been a bit of a surge in usage in recent years thanks to Bob Vila's praise of the "square drive" screw.

There was a very good book on P.L. Robertson and his invention out a few years ago (title escapes me at the moment). If you ever come across it, pick it up -- well worth a read.

Raphael Alexander said...

Oh you're right, they do strip, but I mean when we get American screws at least they have the Robertson option.