Tim Belford: Short Takes On Life
Tim Belford
Tim Belford
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Tim Belford is host of Quebec A.M. -- CBC Radio's popular English- language morning show (91.7 FM, 6-9, Mon.-Fri). He also is said to know a thing or three about wine.

Posted 08.22.02
Quebec City


Ever lost your ID?

A while back I lost my wallet.

Now, anyone who has ever made this particular mistake has probably given an involuntary shudder just thinking about it.

It's seldom a money thing since most of us don't carry enough cash anymore to really worry about it.

No. It's the plastic.

ATM cards, Visa, Mastercard, Sears, Canadian tire, American Express, Shell, Petro Canada, driver's license, Medicare card, Social Insurance, Blue Cross, birth certificate, hunting license, gun registration, they're all there.

And they all have to be cancelled and then replaced.

Which is what I did, with one exception -- my birth certificate.

Normally this wouldn't be a big thing. The problem is. I lost the card before September 11, 2001 and I want to replace it after September 11.

And in the meantime, the world has changed.

We don't just give out birth certificates willy-nilly anymore. And you can't just walk in with your existing id and expect them to accept who you are.

Belford may be an Anglo-Irish name but in this day and age, I could still be a founding member of somebody's liberation movement.

And it doesn't matter if the card has your photo on it. And it doesn't matter if the Surete du Quebec will take it.

It doesn't even matter that you've got a card that will get you a triple bypass at any hospital in the province.

You can't get proof of your birth without filling in the form.

In my case, I was born in good old grey, gothic Ontario, which means they wanted my full name, date, and place of birth. They also wanted the name of the hospital.

Fair ball. I can give them that.

Then they asked for my mother's complete maiden name, which was easy, except for spelling Priscilla.

When they asked for my mother's age at the time of birth, her date of birth, and the place where she was born I had to stop and think.

By the time they got to any other last names used by my mother, I was stumped.

Did she ever have an alias? How was I to know? She grew up in the dirty thirties after all when the likes of Babyface Nelson and Ma Barker were knocking off banks.

What if I'd spent my entire childhood unwittingly living with Ma Belford?

Then they asked about her marital status at the time of birth, which I reckoned was just rude.

They also wanted to know the same things about my father, with the exception of any aliases.

They then asked the name of the doctor, the number of older siblings, and my weight at the time of birth.

Well, I didn't know the doctor personally and I'd be willing to bet he's shuffled off this mortal coil by now.

As to my weight, I can't be sure since the information would only be available on the birth certificate that I'm applying for.

And the older sibling thing should be easy unless my parents are hiding that along with their aliases.

The funny thing is, by the time you get to the end of the form, they outline the costs of the various certificates you can get.

They also point out they'll take cheques, money orders, or a variety of credit cards.

Which makes you wonder, if you're lying about your birth, what makes them think the credit cards are any good?