What’s Cool about Canada, politely

The idea of Canadian national pride is a little hard to find most days. Maybe we are just too polite to talk about such things.

But in the absence of real examples Canada gets represented as a stereotype. Not unlike some of the cliches trotted out at the opening and closing ceremonies of the Vancouver Olympics.

I like to think I’m a pretty proud Canadian but I’m not much of a fan of some of the stereotypes. When Canadian Tire advertises the tools for that “tough Canadian winter ” they aren’t really talking to me in Victoria. I can’t say I’ve ever been a fan of Tim Hortons coffee.

On the other hand I was a loyal shopper at Woodwards and Eaton’s when they were around. I’m a diehard CFL fan. And I still can brought to tears with a passionate rendition of our anthem.

For the most part many Canadians can live large chunks of their lives without encountering real symbols, monuments, our ceremonies that honor Canada. There are remarkably few Canadian National Monuments. The largest is probably the Vimy Ridge Memorial and you need to travel to France to see it first hand.

And outside of the odd sporting event, we really don’t celebrate too many symbols of what is means to be Canadian.

As a sports fan I remember my heros past and present from my beloved Eskimos. The fact that Tom Wilkinson wasn’t born a Canadian was a fluke of Geography. That subdued “awe shucks” attitude I think it typically Canadian. Small acts, like when Warren Moon and Ferguson Jenkins thanked Canada during their induction into the Hall of Fame in the United States for their respective sports say a lot about what makes this a great place.

Beyond that as a pilot, I identify with the bush pilots that are real Herod of mine. If you don’t know Wop May, Punch Dickins, and Max Ward (among others) really should. These folks flew all over the remote areas of Canada. They are the 20th Century’s version of Thompson and Fraser.

You don’t have to be an athlete or an aviator to make the list. Arthur Currie the great WWI Canadian General started out as a real estate agent in Victoria.

And for understated courage, the Image of Terry Fox says more than anything:

Terry Fox, Ottawa

And I think the idea that Canadians are too polite to talk about the things that make this a great place – is one stereotype that we can afford to stretch a little.


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