Ross Murray's Border Report
Ross Murray
is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, Quebec. You can reach him at
Posted 03.07.16
Stanstead, Quebec


My Canada Gross coat

I've long been of the belief that our craving for stuff is what's killing our planet. Consequently, I tend to hang onto things until they're worn beyond use rather than replace them with something new. I'm good for the environment, terrible for the economy.

Oh, and besides being painfully sanctimonious, I'm also really cheap, so it's a win-win. I also have no problem accepting charity. Consequently, when my boss got tired of looking at my ratty, torn winter coat, I was happy to accept his offer of a new one, a coat he'd had hanging in his closet for two years. He had bought it for his son but his son decided he didn't want it. I gratefully accepted his offer and have been toasty warm these past several weeks, not to mention looking quite smart.

Did I mention it's a Canada Goose coat? Apparently that's a big deal. I have no idea. I only know it's a big deal because my kids saw me wearing it and went, "Ooooo, look at you!" Some of you may have also gone "Ooooo...!" You know who you are.

But now I have to back up and tell you that my boss bought the coat in China.

So now, you're no longer going "Ooooo...!" but "Ewwwww...!"

I began to have my suspicions that this made-in-Canada coat might never have seen-the-light-of-day-in-Canada, despite the authentic looking labels and the attestations of authenticity. First there was the fact that within days of wearing, certain threads in the stitching had started poking out like stray hairs. The material at the end of one of the cuffs started wearing away from rubbing against my hand, which, though it's been dry, is really not that sandpapery.

The flaps on the many pockets never quite fold over properly but stick out and easily bend out of shape. And then there are the feathers. The coat has been leaking feathers all over the place, specifically all over my work blazer that I wear underneath. I now know that you can't remove feathers with a lint brush, though they do give me something to do when I'm bored.

In other words, my Canada Goose coat is exactly the kind of coat I would normally wear.

Unfortunately, I made the mistake of searching for "Canada Goose made in China" on the Internet. That's how I learned that my coat could possibly be filled with filthy chicken feathers and maybe even feces, and that the fur collar might not be coyote as advertised but raccoon dog, which raises the question: what the hell is a raccoon dog?

I try not to panic over these things. The Internet, after all, is as reliable as Chinese coat manufacturers. Commenters warned that I could get sick from the chicken feathers, but, really, how often do you see a sick chicken?

But a closer look at my authentic coat labels revealed that my coat contained not goose down but duck down. Somehow "Canada Duck" just doesn't have a ring to it. "China Duck," on the other hand, kind of makes me hungry.

The back of the label also read, "NOTE: THIS COAT CONTAINS AN AMPUNT OF FEATHERS...," and in French, "A'NOTEK: LA CUANTITE DE PLUMES..." Aha! The tell-tale typos. At least they spelled "duck" right; that could have been embarrassing.

So am I going to stop wearing my cozy, non-ripped coat? Of course not. It's no different than most products we buy, never quite knowing what's in them, not really caring. Lately we've been hearing that grated parmesan cheese contains wood pulp. Given how that stuff tastes, is anyone really surprised? My daughter recently told me that the reason there are no lists of ingredients on wine is because the list would be too long. That's a sobering thought, resulting in an even worse pun.

Sometimes you're better off not knowing what's in a product or what goes into its manufacture. If you knew what went into writing this column, for example, you would put down this newspaper immediately and sanitize your entire body.

It's like what they say about making sausage: you want the outcome, but you don't want sausages in the lining of your coat.

So I'm not appalled, I'm not embarrassed, I'm not likely to be a guest speaker at the Canadian Manufacturers Association. Sure, I'm wearing a knock-off, sweat-shop, planet-killing, duck-filled coat. But it was free, and the kids are impressed. And I'm certainly not about to look a gift goose in the mouth -- because that would really be filthy.