Oh? Canada?

- by Darlene Gardner

The border guard at the entry point into Canada eyed me suspiciously. I’d just told him I was a novelist on my way to Toronto to visit my editor. I have a book out this month called AN HONORABLE MAN.

“What publisher?” he asked.

“Harlequin. It’s a Superromance.”

More eye narrowing. “What’s your editor doing in Canada?”

“She lives here,” I said, not understanding.

“Why doesn’t she live in New York City?”

Ah, now I got it. “Harlequin has an office in New York but it’s based in Toronto. Well, not actually Toronto. Don Mills. About ten miles north of the city.”

He still didn’t look convinced.

Why didn’t he know this? He was a Canadian. Torstar was a prominent media company that also owns the Toronto Star, the country’s largest newspaper.

Finally, he returned my passport and gave me the go-ahead. Later that night, the improv comedians at the Second City asked the audience to name things that were quintessentially Canadian for one of their skits.

Hockey. Maple syrup. Molson beer. Tim Horton’s donuts.

No one mentioned Harlequin.

The next day, standing outside the Harlequin offices in Don Mills, I began to figure out why Canadians might not know the company is within their borders.

The office building is in a nondescript industrial park. The Harlequin name is atop the building in white letters. I’m told it’s visible from the Don Valley Parkway but its difficult to see at street level.

Bring up the Harlequin name in conversation, however, and almost everyone knows the company publishes romance.
Next time, see if they know where the company’s headquarters are.

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