To those who know her, there comes a time when you just stop fighting and resign yourself to laundry at 3 a.m. and writing columns at 4 a.m.

You see a lot you miss while the rest of the world (or at least your time zone) sleeps. Television at 4 a.m. is always an interesting mirror on society. It’s also a great time to write, while the house is still.

Most of early morning (or overnight) TV is a mishmash of get-rich-quick hustles with dubious names like Deals Come to You, showing spaced-out happy couples grabbing the American Dream from the lazy comfort of their living room. They compete with 24-hour perfume sales, Bible-thumping moneymaking, rare coin hustles and dubious exercise equipment. From the wee hours couch, the world seems even more intent on separating the greedy and stupid from their money.

After emptying the dishwasher, I turn over to CNN and behold the Daybreak show talking to some Alaskan tourist official who decided to go for some edge to get people to visit.

Now Alaska has a lot to offer — beautiful scenery, quirky folks (I know this from Northern Exposure), and opportunities for outdoor adventure.

Apparently though, the government of Alaska isn’t happy with waiting for people to do the thing we used to do — save up your pennies for an eventual trip.

They want you now. And they want you to know that Alaska is such a vital part of your life’s experience that if you miss it somehow, you will take that regret to your grave.

The campaign is called Alaska B4UDIE.

It’s really just a catchy splash page designed like an Alaskan license plate whose aim is to get you to click through to the main Travel Alaska page where the “sell” becomes a bit softer.

I have long thought about the limits of advertising on American society and what it says about us. It’s interesting that such pitches based on explicit appeals to mortality are acceptable while those which appeal to explicit sex are not (paging Woody Allen).

Canadians tend to be the other way around from what I’ve seen — more sex, less death in commercial appeals. Having grown up in Cleveland and spending my summers watching Ontario Tourism (and its majestic sweeping music themes) trying to lure my family to exotic sounding lakes, it seems there’s a different propriety about tourist pitches.

And it says something about American arrogance. Is one’s life really unfulfilled without a trip to Alaska? One would be hard pressed to work such an angle with visiting the Yukon, for instance. I have no idea why. I hear Whitehorse is very lovely in a rough-hewn sort of way.

In fact the front page of Tour Yukon shows a breathtaking view of Canada’s “true north” with many helpful links to planning your trip. And no mention of death, which is a nice touch.

One never knows where this will lead. Perhaps one day we’ll see a picture of a cute kitten with the slogan “see Chicago or this cat gets it.” Effective and very apropos for those who know the Windy City. Such slogans would probably not play well in Newfoundland, but a complimentary shot of screech upon arrival might.

You can tell a lot about the provinces by looking at their tourists’ sites. With nothing else to do at 5 a.m., and longing to see more of Canada, I toured all the official provincial travel sites and found out the following.

Ontario — no longer “yours” to discover, but “more to discover” complete with goofy TV ads about ditzy tourists and moose. But the website splash urges urban women to “discover the joys of retail therapy.”

Apparently Eaton Centre is calling you, not Kapuskasing.

Bonjour Quebec is an attractive and fun site with infobits like this: The village of Rougemont, in the Montérégie, is known as the “apple capital.” And for good reason! Over 30 per cent of this region’s territory is covered with orchards.

I’m there!

I found it interesting that both the Travel Alberta and official Alberta sites show maps of the province showing its geographical relationship to the United States.

Hmmm. Not even a jovial greeting from Ralph Klein.

By the time I got to the Travel Manitoba webpage, I was seeing a pattern — websurfing from the U.S. gives you a page specifically targeted to the U.S. tourist complete with reassurances that one doesn’t need a passport (yet) to visit Canada and that your Yankee dollars will go a lot farther in Canada (as long as you don’t need to purchase gas).

Tourism Saskatchewan’s site is beautiful and simple with an alluring message: “Saskatchewan has a quiet stillness that invades your soul.” Okay, I’m not exactly comfortable with having my soul invaded but still, no mention of death or dying here.

Tourism New Brunswick launched a pop-up ad asking me to help them determine how travellers use the Internet. How could I refuse such an entreaty?

When it came to my main purpose for visiting the site, writing a column for wasn’t a choice, so I chose “other.” I completed the survey hoping perhaps to win a day trip. Hey, you never know. How many Iowans surf Tourism New Brunswick at 5 a.m?

Tourism Nova Scotia has “fun stuff” in which I am entreated to take a photo tour of the province ending with: Download some Nova Scotia music and set your screensaver or wallpaper to your favourite seascape. Come back and visit us soon. Love, Nova Scotia.

Well, now I feel all warm and runny inside for Halifax. In addition, Prince Edward Island’s lush tourism site talks of “falling in love with PEI.” Again, I wonder if Alaska is learning anything here — no mention of death.

Finally, we come to Newfoundland and Labrador (“Where else but here?”) which is loaded with all kinds of funky and quirky destinations including the “root cellar” capital of the world (Elliston, Trinity Bay, in case you’re curious).

Still, its says much for Canada that people are not threatened with the prospect of an unfulfilled life if they don’t come and visit. And that’s for the best. Most Americans have a romanticized view of Canada anyway but simply being what you are is more of a selling point than trying to create some kind of edge.

Leave the edge to the Americans. Those Quebecois apples are sounding pretty good to me.

Keith Gottschalk

Keith Gottschalk

U.S. Keith Gottschalk has written for daily newspapers in Iowa, Illinois and Ohio. He also had a recent stint as a radio talk show host in Illinois. As a result of living in the high ground...