Table of Contents
Introduction | Canada Reads | Nature, Masculinity, and the Canadian Identity | | Multiculturalism | Maps | Museums | Current Events | | Heritage moments


Bob and Doug McKenzie are a fictional Canadian pair. The characters were created for the TV show SCTV in the 1980s. Bob and Doug play on the stereotypical Canadian image: the hoser. The segment was created after a request from the executives at the CBC (which aired SCTV) to include two minutes of broadcast that included specific, identifiable Canadian content. Thus Bob (Rick Moranis) and Doug (Dave Thomas) were born. They were a satirical projected image of the typical beer drinking, plaid and toque wearing, great white North residing Canadian citizen. Bob and Doug's image of the Hoser is (for the most part) divorced from the reality of what a Canadian actually looks like, values, and how the act and speak. For any Canadian, the image of the Hoser is so clearly satirical and a joke, yet the stereotypes embodied by these characters still play a roll in the creation of the Canadian identity.

-- Amanda McKenzie

Coming across this picture at first seems like just actors and inventions that have come from Canada. It symbolizes Benedict Anderson's imagined communities.We do not see these actors or actresses, writers, or even monuments in person, or even everyday but when we do see pictures such as this one we get a sense of Canada's nation and how we are united as a country. We are proud of what we have done and how far we have expanded.

Canada Reads

Land of the Silver Birch
"Traditional Canadian Folk Song"

Land of the silver birch home of the beaver
Where still the mighty moose wanders at will
Blue lake and rocky shore,
I will return once more.

Boom-diddy-boom-boom, boom-diddy-boom-boom, Boom-diddy-boom-boom, bo-oo-oom

High on a rocky ledge I'll build my wigwam,
Close by the water's edge, silent and still;
Blue lake and rocky shore,
I will return once more.

Boom-diddy-boom-boom, boom-diddy-boom-boom, Boom-diddy-boom-boom, bo-oo-oom
My heart grows sick for thee here in the lowlands
My heart cries out for thee, hills of the north;
Blue lake and rocky shore,
I will return once more.

Boom-diddy-boom-boom, boom-diddy-boom-boom, Boom-diddy-boom-boom, bo-oo-oom

Land of the silver birch, home of the beaver,
Where still the mighty moose wanders at will;
Blue lake and rocky shore,
I will return once more.

Boom-diddy-boom-boom, boom-diddy-boom-boom, Boom-diddy-boom-boom, bo-oo-oom
Boom-diddy-boom-boom, boom-diddy-boom-boom, Boom-diddy-boom-boom, bo-oo-oom

Land of the Silver Birch, Wikipedia

The video below is a YouTube clip of Bonnie Dobson, a Canadian folk singer from the 1960s, singing "Land of the Silver Birch." As we discussed in class, this song is representative of the importance of nature to the Canadian identity. We talked about how the element of nature and combating the wilderness have played a role in creating the "frontier" aspect of the Canadian identity - think exploration, the fur trade, and courier du bois here. "Land of the Silver Birch" is a traditional song that is often sung while canoeing or exploring the Canadian frontier, and is also often associated with Girl Guides and Scouting. My introduction to the song was in elementary school music class; learning the lyrics to the song and then learning motions to go along with it that mimicked paddling while being told stories about exploration. This lesson reinforces the song's connection with nature, and being taught that in elementary school suggests that we want our children to make this connection and also connect it with stories of exploration in Canada.

Now this is a link to a recording of an elementary school's rehersal for their annual Keelung City, Taiwan. This seems like an unusual choice, since the song is often thought of as the unofficial Canadian national anthem. Is it possible that this song was being used as a tool to teach Taiwanese students about Canadian culture? How would Canada be perceived through this song?
-- Amanda McKenzie

Found this website giving a little bit of information about the poem. It was written by poet E. Pauline Johnson. They are not sure as to when it was written but it can be traced back to the 1930s. It is also commonly used in Girl Guides and Scouts, which is where I first heard it. More information at on the website.

So, I researched the 'meaning' of the song itself and their lyrics. This is what wikipedia came up with.. I found it kind of cliche that it says the song is often sung while 'canoeing', or sang around a campfire. Stereotype or sense of nationalism/culture ? check it out. -Heiddis

Nature, Masculinity, and the Canadian Identity

MASCULINITY - part of Canadian society/culture ?

The first thing I think of when the word 'masculinity' comes up in a conversation, is strength, ruggedness, outdoorsy males.. you know, a 'man's man'. This has become a fairly new topic in history, and I believe it has changed dramatically over time. Like we discussed in class, the role of the male in society has shifted; the man does not always have to be the bread winner today, nor do men have to go out and 'hunt' the food while the woman stays at home and takes care of the household.

There is a sense masculine outlook on the Canadian society today in my opinion, hockey is a good example of this; the Canadian hockey players are expected to be tough and manly ( as opposed to those 'wimpy' european soccer players). So people identify with this need of being the tough guy in a way. Pierre Trudeau portrayed a sort of masculine role in that era. He had a very 'careless' attitude throughout his political career, drove sports cars and was known to be the 'outdoorsy' type ( the picture of him in a canoe is a great way to show that)

- Heiddis

The Molson commercial for the 'Canadian' beer, it really represents what it is to be 'Canadian'. He mentions our great land, and the frozen lakes, the mountains. It really sums up what Canada really is, it's an outdoor community and we identify with the outdoor aspects of our country. ANALYTICAL approach -- does this commercial really sum up what it is to be 'Canadian'? It is true that everyone in Canada can identify with the great land, mountains etc... but I'm not so sure anymore that this is a good depiction of what it is to be Canadian. There's many more aspect than the outdoors that we've discussed in class -- Canadian literature, RCMP, the donut, hockey etc. - Heiddis

"Land of the Silver Birch" spoke to nature as a key element to the Canadian identity, but this Molson commercial takes this connection to the next level. The imagery in this advertisement consists of wilderness shots of the backwoods, lakes, rivers, mountains, frozen lakes and wheat fields. On their own, these images would not have such a strong connection with the Canadian identity but accompanied with the audio for the commercial you really get the sense that nature plays a vital role in understanding what it's like to be Canadian. The "myth of the North" plays an important role in forging the Canadian identity. Canadians are stereotyped as being a northern people who are fit to survive the cold winter months. This Molson commercial really plays up this concept by using the images of nature mentioned above. This commercial also touches on another big aspect of out national identity: the importance of masculinity, which is often associated in many nation's identities. Molson puts emphasis on masculinity when it shows groups of men hiking, running, and playing in nature. These images are magnified by the background music of the ad - a score which is usually accompanying battle scenes in films. Using such battle-like music in the ad completes the circle and relates nature and masculinity together.
A specific line in this Molson commercial that I really enjoyed was "because it's not just the great outdoors we're chasing, it's freedom." This speaks to the Canadian national narrative of being a "free" country. It also ties this national narrative in with the importance of the outdoors. It creates the idea that as long as we conquer the frontier, we will remain a free country.
-- Amanda McKenzie

The Canadian identity is used throughout Canada to sell.
Ben Gutjahr

It is often a common goal of national leaders to give off a strong, masculine image. The projected masculinity and strength of a nation's leader is representative of the strength of the nation to the rest of the world. Masculinity and leadership go hand in hand. A leader who is perceived as strong is thought to have strong leadership skills and poses valued skills to lead Canada through tough situations in a geopolitical context. Below are three examples of Canadian leaders exemplifying masculinity through dominance over nature.
-- Amanda McKenzie
Pierre Trudeau in a canoe. At the beginning of the semester this was simply a picture of the Prime Minister in a canoe and did not have much more meaning than that. First off, this image shows masculinity. It goes back to the roots of Canada, when a man was responsible for hunting and fishing and took pride in that. It was a "manly" thing to do. Trudeau in this picture and during this context was a man that people idolized and looked up to. He is showing that he is Canadian and still represents all of those traits even though he is simply rowing a canoe, and likely not with the intent to catch fish or hunt for survival. He is out in our lakes and rivers, just as men were centuries ago. Our Canadian identity is surrounded by the fact that we have so much land, and are so intact with nature and that we benefit from that. Our Canadian identity is we use our natural resources and we enjoy them. Even though Trudeau is likely doing is as leisure it stands for much more and identifies our identity.
Ashley Conrad

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Just seen this in the newspaper today, a picture of the Prime Minister on a four-wheeler. This is also another example of a political leader being one with nature. The sense of manliness, out in the country. It is more of a modern masculinity. Instead of being out in a canoe, such as Trudeau, Steven Harper is exploring nature on a four wheeler, something that was not available 50 years ago. Even though time changes, along with leaders, it does not mean that the concepts change completely.

This picture of Stockwell Day riding into a press conference on a seadoo also reflects the connection with nature and masculinity that is desired by politicians. Like Steven Harper above, this is a more modern masculinity than a canoe - like the canoe 2.0. All of these images of Canadian politicians participating in nature and trying to give of a masculine image relate back to the importance of nature to the Canadian national identity. However, they represent a newer relationship with nature: since we have managed to triumph the frontier, now we must demonstrate our ability to maintain that dominance over nature.
--Amanda McKenzie


-- good or bad ?
It's a hard topic to argue for or against. I've thought about it and came up with a list of a few pros and cons --

- Eliminates discrimination against others
- More tolerance in politics, religion and culture
- It forms an idea that all people are 'equals'
- Different backgrounds means different ideas and knowledge ( Always useful in the business world)

- Community division
- Cultures become almost forgotten --the idea of multiculturalism becomes more 'general' than individual
- Some may argue that it diminishes the idea of 'nationalism'

I think you have to start by comparing the multiculturalism policy in Canada to those in other countries, for ex. France has no tolerance for women wearing burkas in public and they can get fined for this. In Canada, we have 100% tolerance for this, which enables immigrants to embrace their culture and beliefs. Multiculturalism enables different cultures to live as a unison, with little to no discrimination.


~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

It would be incorrect to say that there is a 100 per cent level of tolerance for multiculturalism in Canada, as mentioned above. When you look back through our country's history, there are several instances of discrimination against various groups. The attempted assimilation of Aboriginal peoples in Canada has been ongoing ever since European settlers decided they wanted to stay in the New World, and continued on through the early phases of confederation, and still exists even now in the 21st century. Another example is the internment of Japanese persons in British Columbia during WWII. Also during WWII, in June of 1939, 907 Jewish refugees aboard the S.S. St. Louis with hopes of escaping the Nazi persecution were turned away from the port of Halifax due to the anti-semantic views that were common during the twentieth century - yes, even in Canada!
A more modern example of how Canada doesn't have "100% tolerance" for multiculturalism in Canada, and more specifically pertaining to the post above, is the recent Bill C-623. This bill amends Canada's Election's Act to insert rules that anyone who wishes to vote in Canada must "have an uncovered face when the elector is proving his or her identity." In 2007, similar legislation was introduced - but later abandoned - after Muslim women were allowed to vote in a Quebec by-election without showing their faces when showing identification.The goal of Bill C-623 was described by MP Steven Blaney as being to "strengthen public confidence in our democratic system." Although Blaney might have had good intentions of pumping up Canada's democratic standards, making the removal of head coverings a mandatory voting procedure is a direct showing of non-tolerance of traditional Muslim dress. Even though there are other persons who are effected by this bill, let's face it, it is Muslim women who it will effect the most. Based on Bill C-623 and Canada's conflicts in the past with minority/ethnic groups, it would be incorrect to say that everyone is able to freely practice their culture and beliefs with little discrimination.
--Amanda McKenzie

Current Events

I just watched the video of the British Prime Minister giving his speech on cutting off all funds to multicultural programs. I must somewhat agree with him to an extent, and I mean that in the most non-discriminatory way. I see how one would want a foreign culture to embrace the domestic culture of the country they are in, after all the multiculturalism policy states that everyone should accept and appreciate the others' cultures and beliefs. I believe that if someone, Muslims in this case, has settled in a new country they must not only be allowed to practice their own beliefs but also take into consideration that there is a culture other than their own as well. I realize not everyone is going to see eye to eye on this, but shouldn't it go both ways ?
Now, as far as cutting off all funds to these multicultural programs-- That is pushing it too far. What are 'British mainstream values' ? I was curious as to what people came up with so I did some research online. For example; people say that 'sleeping around with men' is a generally accepted mainstream value in Britain. This value goes purely against the Muslim beliefs, ( and really, most values in general right?) so him saying that the young Muslim community must subscribe to the mainstream values is a bit ''rubbish" as the British may say. I guess what I'm trying to say is that there should simply be a medium, where the foreign culture must learn to appreciate the domestic one and not push their cultural beliefs too far.


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"The present dominion emerged not in spite of geography but because of it" - Harold Innis

Harold Innis was responsible for the staple theory. The staple theory was basically that our region/country expanded and grew because of our natural resources that we had, which were staples. I think that this is how most regions start. When America was first discovered by Europeans they needed a reason, or a way of survival, to live in a country like Canada. Of course everyone automatically thinks of the fur trade and what it has done for Canada and the economic. It was huge, only because we had the resources to do so. With every successful growing region they find the most common or available staple and take off with it. I agree with Innis' quote completely, without these resources the land, and country would not be what it is today .This is part of Canada being "invented", the natural resources that were here and founders exposing them to create the country.
I enjoyed viewing the maps in class today. I had no idea of what type of work went into some of these maps. Some maps, such as the British map that was seen as a logo was much more than a plain map. Today a map is strictly highways and roads, pit stops and historical places. In a period such as the 17th century there were pictures and symbols on the map and boarding the map. It was more a visual sense of what the region actually was and what was in this region. It is amusing that in places that were unknown there were monsters and creatures drew because they had no idea of what was there, likely because it had not been exploded yet. When I see pictures of first nations, animals such as deer and snow covering the land on the sides of the map I get a sense of Canada and what Canada is.
-- -- -- I have to comment on the last sentence of this, and somewhat disagree with the fact that 'first nations,deer and snow' represents Canada. Sure, maybe back when it was first being discovered these things were directly linked with the idea of 'Canada' ... but that's not the first thing I think of today's Canada-- that's more of the idea that outsiders depict Canada to be. - Heiddis

It is still apart of our history, all of those things make and contribute to Canada. Yes we are of course more than "first nations, deer and snow" as other regions and countries are more than what "outsiders" depict them to be. There is always a larger picture and there are also roots. These maps that I was looking at are from the 17th century and at that time those things played a huge part of what Canada was.


Our trip to the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic really complimented what we learned in class in our lectures about the heritage v. history debate. Dan Conlin guided us on a tour of the exhibits: the two main exhibits being "Halifax Wrecked: the Halifax Explosion" and "Titanic: the unsinkable ship." Mr. Conlin repeatedly mentioned how those were the museum's two most popular exhibits and how the popularity of the Titanic exhibit skyrocketed after the Hollywood film came out in 1999. I can only imagine that the Halifax Explosion exhibit also sees an increase of popularity each year around the anniversary of the explosion in December. Overall I feel the curators at this museum do a good job at balancing history with heritage, although the seafaring aspect of Maritime regionalism is undoubtedly prominent. The museum focuses on sea events associated with the Martimes like the sinking of the SS Titanic, the Halifax Explosion, shipwrecks along the coast of Nova Scotia, and some very impressive models of Cunard Line vessels to play up the important impact the sea and seafaring culture has had on the Maritimes. The Maritime Museum of the Atlantic is a popular toursit stop for the tens of thousands of cruise ship passengers that stop into Halifax each year, thus the museum puts more of a focus on the imagined vision of the Maritimes these tourists have in their head -- seafaring, fishing, etc. For that purpose, the museum focuses more on heritage than it does on history.
That being said, the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic had an excellent exhibit that emphasized history more than heritage when we were there. Their exhibit on the SS St. Louis closed on March 31, 2011, but it was a great exhibit that illustrated an historical event that does not exactly fit in with the traditional Canadian narrative. The SS St. Louis was a ship carrying Jewish refugees attempting to flee the Nazi regime in Europe during WWII. They were denied access into Canada. This exhibit was a great example of history over heritage.

-- Amanda McKenzie

Current Events

My post does not have to do with the "topic" in our next class or the previous one but I was so moved by this article that I had to post it. Outdoor Adventure Whistler has slaughtered 100 sled dogs after business slowed down in April 2010 after the Olympics. The article goes on to say who was held responsible for this crime and act of cruelty. We talked about rights in Thursday's class and of multiculturalism and the disadvantages of migrating to Canada for a minority group. This article touches on so many levels, and although I'm not comparing minority groups to animals, it plays in to the fact that their are rights that are not being looked at and met up to standard. The Olympics is a HUGE whole wide event that takes place and has for many years and to see this abuse and cruelty makes me sick to my stomach. The Olympics are part of our identity and using a dog such as these sled dogs, who are symbols of Canadian identity. I read a post from a person on the article that said he was ashamed to be from that province because of what had taken place. This is a Canadian citizen they are ashamed of another. There are twisted people everywhere you go in the world, but it really hits home when it is in your own country, people from the same culture from you. Events like this, shape our country, and it reflects on Canada as a whole. Maybe it touches some people more than others if you have pets or not. The husky is a symbol of Canada, the great white and Grey arctic symbol of our country is not even shown enough respect to be taking to a vet to be put to down. We are Canada, we have RESOURCES for issues like this.

Heritage is about culture, one can define culture by where they are from, I am from Sudbury Ontario, which if anyone who knows about it knows it that the city is known for mining nickel, mining is a part of the culture in the city. one way to celebrate culture it through song which Stompin Tom Connors did in his song named Sudbury Saturday Night.

Ben Gutjahr

Heritage moments

One of the most memorable times in recent Canadian history is the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Games, now when a country hosts the Olympic Games that alone is very memorable and considered to be an important part of the country’s history. The 2010 games were not the first Olympic Games hosted in Canada; in 1988 the games were hosted in Calgary. The difference being, the success of Canadian athletes at the 1988 games was quite different from the Vancouver games. With Canada winning only a total of 5 medals none of them gold. Now when we look at the 2010 games in Vancouver there is no comparison between the two in terms of medal count and success of the athletes. A total of 26 medals were won by Canadian athletes with 14 of them being gold. Not only was this the most gold medals won by Canada at any Olympics, but it was the most gold medals won ever at any winter Olympic Games. Although Canada fell short when it came to winning the most total metals, losing that race to the United States and Germany, it is still an enormous feat to have won a record amount of gold medals. We as Canadians can take a lot from the enormity of Canadian success at the Olympics, the success can be memorialized for a number of reasons. The first and most obvious reason as previously stated is the amount of gold medals won; this boosted the image of Canadian sports in that we proved that we in Canada are more than just hockey and curling. As far as sports accomplishments go winning gold at the Olympics is something that any athlete at any level strives for, this is because winning gold at the Olympics means that you are the best in the entire world at a certain sport. Although the Olympic Games are considered to be part of Canadian history, we can also need to look at the aspects of heritage we can take from the Olympic Games in Canada. When we take heritage from this historical moment we have to think culturally, there are many cultural aspects that we can take from the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Games. The sports in which Canada had great success, the fact that the Olympics were held in Canada and the uniting of a country all contribute to the cultural aspects. This is because these aspects alone are not history but mere portions of history. This is where we can see the separation between heritage and history because heritage is culture, and culture does not necessarily fall under the total confines of history it is merely part of history which is a broader perspective. Through looking at the 2010 Olympics we can make comparisons in regards to the celebration of Canada’s past. The main comparison that can be looked at would be the unity within the country which was brought out through the Canadian success at the Olympic Games and looking into the past when Canada became a sovereign nation. It is true to say that the two events cannot be compared in terms of importance; however they do hold some similarities. The two are similar because at each time the country was united in hopes for good things to come for the nation. Unity is the similarity, regardless of the importance. Now when we take a look at the after effects of the games on Canada there are many different things to be brought up. The success of Canada at the games boosted Canada’s reputation when it comes to sports. We succeeded in sports like skeleton and bobsled which were primarily dominated by European countries making Canada a force to reckoned with in the winter games for years to come. As Canadians we should feel this on an emotional level because it secures a sense of pride that we have for our country. That is not to say that we never had anything to be proud of before, but enormous success at the Olympic Games is a big deal. The feeling when Crosby scored the gold medal game winning goal was a feeling shared by the entire nation, we were brought together through sports and that memory will last forever.Ben Gutjahr.Essay Topic:Since we just had the Hockey and Canadian Nationalism lecture it would be a good time to talk about my essay topic. since the artifact that i used for the first paper was the hockey sweater by Roch Carrier, seeing as how that story is based on hockey and the importance of hockey to topic for my essay will be why hockey is important to the Canadian image. there are many different aspects of hockey that make it so Canadian, and it is important to look at those aspects when writing about how hockey is part of the invention of Canada. although hockey is such an important part of the Canadian image we cannot forget that hockey is not always a good thing. we can see examples of this through the increase in violence that has become more apparent in recent years. hockey is a crucial part of the invention of modern Canada, which is why i feel it is a perfect final paper topic.Ben Gutjahr.
Ben Gutjahr.

Heritage and History

Heritage takes place in every part of history, the reasoning for heritage commercials. These commercials do not actually show what has taken place in history, because no one exactly knows what took place in regards to how the people living at in this time period felt. Heritage is the warm and soft side of history. It shows the good sides of history and it is formed into a a structure that benefits us. Heritage is more of a legacy and a celebration of the past and not actually history. David Lowenthal argues that "heritage is accused of undermining historical truth with twisted myth." Heritage does spark interest not only within the community but with tourist, attracting them to see what our past holds.
-- It is true that heritage shows the 'soft and warm' side history, but I wouldn't go as far as saying it shows only the good side. As we saw on our museum field trip with the class, a huge part of the museum was.. well.. tragedy. I think that 'heritage' itself is focused on the good things that come out of tragedies perhaps. For example, the halifax explosion; a tragedy, yet part of our heritage. From that tragedy, they drew out the hero that managed to communicate to stop all trains coming into Halifax (I'm sorry, I don't remember/know his name). - Heiddis