100 Canadian Things

Inspired by Canadian authors Jane Urquhart, Douglas Coupland, and Will Ferguson, I am setting out to write snippets, stories, and vignettes that have to do with Canadian stuff.

Douglas Coupland’s Souvenir of Canada and Souvenir of Canada 2 muse on the nature of items, themes, places, and concepts Canadians might have interacted with (and even accumulated) over the years. Will Ferguson’s article with the self-explanatory title “Wawa to Black Diamond: A Cross-Canada Tour of Big-Assed Objects by the Side of the Road” (found in his book Canadian Pie) is just a whole lot of fun. And Jane Urquhart’s A Number of Things examines 50 objects and connects them to Canada.

Urquhart wrote the book in order to celebrate the 50 years since our Centennial. In her introduction, she practically invites me to write my Canada-stuff articles:

“The amount I learned about this country, simply by turning my attention to fifty objects one after another, is immeasurable – so much so that I would advise readers of this book to research their own fifty objects to see where that quest might lead them in terms of a greater understanding of Canada.”

I aim to research one hundred Canadian things. In keeping with intent of The 105-Year-Old Blogger, each object or concept must have something to do with Canada, and it must have come into existence in or after 1967. In other words, my items are unique to Canada’s second century.


BlackBerry: The BlackBerry was my third and fourth cellphone. I liked the fact that I could feel actual keys on the keypad. As technology evolved, I had to give that up. But my BlackBerries did me well for as long as they lasted. Cell phones like the BlackBerry were yet another step in ever-evolving communications.


CEGEPIt’s like this new, Quebec-based educational institution was made for me. In 1978, when I was 16 years old, the CEGEP system was well established and I was more than ready to leave high school and engage with a more interesting set of English and Humanities. 


Katimavik: This federal government funded program deploys volunteer youth to communities across the country. The youth, while serving, have the opportunity to see their country, connect with fellow Canadians, and gain work experience.

The program began in 1977. A 2006 study reported “…a positive economic return for the community partners – each $1 expenditure by Katimavik generates an average return of $2.20.” This is notable, but Katimavik’s value to me was more profound than mere financial return. I was in the 1979-1980 group and gained everything from it that was ever intended.


Man and His World: In the late 60s and early 70s our family enjoyed a few years of a regular activity: a suppertime picnic on Isle Ste Hélène, and then a summer evening among the pavilions of “Man and His World” (Mom and Dad always got us season passes). By the time us kids were older and family picnics weren’t as easy to organize, “Man and His World” was fading. By 1972 it was vastly reduced, and as the years unfolded, it fell into a derelict state. Among the derelicts was the burned-out shell of the American pavilion. Here is a brief account of the day the Biosphere burned.


Morningside: My adult years began at the same time Peter Gzowski took over Morningside, so I associate the show almost entirely with him. I listened to it any chance I got, which wasn’t many because, well, life. 1982 to 1997 were full-on adulting years for me. I liked listening to Gzowski read letters from his listeners, and I even got to participate in that scene

Lulled into an assumption that a disembodied voice on the radio never grows old, I dreamed of my retirement years when I could l listen to Gzowski on Morningside every day. So I was momentarily stunned when he announced his retirement. The last show was broadcast from the Temple Gardens Mineral Spa Resort in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan, on May 30, 1997.


Rimroller: Interesting Canadian contests call for interesting Canadian stuff. Here is a moment in time in such a contest.


Snippit: There’s nothing uniquely Canadian about milk; but the practice of selling it in plastic bags came from Canada and so did the cool invention to go with it

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