From the quirky to the revolutionary, Canadians take pride in distinctly Canadian things, people and places. Poutine, peameal bacon and peanut butter; the Canadarm and the pacemaker; Gordon Lightfoot and Banting and Best; Superman and Winnie the Pooh. Not to mention the diversity and vast expanse of this beautiful country.
There was something about being Canadian that was different from being American, something that had to be known, told and cherished—and it wasn’t just some shameless patriotic plea. It was the undeniable, undefinable something of the Canadian experience that kept my parents so emotionally close to Canada and their daughter so physically close to its capital.
Neil Young and the Group of Seven. Red Green and the Canadian tuxedo. Anne of Green Gables and Chief Dan George. There’s the Maple Leaf Flag and the Constitution Act of 1982. The people and things that make up Canadian culture form the fabric of the nation.
Confronted by a rugged, sprawling land and a notoriously diverse climate, Canadians have faced unique challenges growing and developing the country they love. Whether it’s a firefighting aircraft that can scoop up more than 5,000 litres of water in 10 seconds, a machine to clear snow from driveways, sidewalks and roads, or a breakthrough treatment for a fatal disease, Canadians have always found a way.
From an ancient tribal ritual to “American” football, Canada’s contributions to sport have surprised and entertained audiences the world over. There have been icons too—the innovator Jacques Plante, the donut king Tim Horton and the mental health advocate George Chuvalo; the speed king Donovan Bailey and the master of endurance and inspiration, Terry Fox.
Who hasn’t heard of Schwartz’s Deli in Montreal and its smoked meat sandwiches? Or poutine, that French-Canadian “mess” of fries, cheese curds and gravy? Then there’s that blasphemy of not-so Italian-Canadian culture, Hawaiian pizza. How about ketchup-flavoured potato chips, BeaverTails and bagged milk? On the upside, there’s Canada Dry, Nova Scotia lobster, Nanaimo bars and Caesar cocktails. Canada’s culinary delights span the gamut.
The Trans-Canada Highway was built west-to-east, spanning 7,821 kilometres to link Canadians of vastly different backgrounds, interests and cultures. Along the way, you might want to stop and visit what is considered by some to be the world’s smallest desert, or take a stroll along Ontario’s Yonge Street in all its vibrancy, or pause to gaze across one of the country’s 879,800 lakes. It’s a grand vista, this country—a land to be cherished.