Monday, December 29, 2008

Of Democracy 250 in Nova Scotia

Democracy 250 is a year long celebration of responsible government in British North America.
On October 2, 1758, the Nova Scotia House of Assembly met for the first time in a modest wooden building at the corner of Argyle and Buckingham streets in Halifax.

It was an assembly of twenty-two men, who came together to deliberate as a parliament on questions affecting the colony.

With voting limited to Protestant, free-land holding males, it was a modest beginning, and while their influence with the British-appointed Governor was questionable, it was an important start nonetheless. It was the first elected assembly of its kind in what would eventually become Canada.

As the birth place of parliamentary democracy in Canada, Nova Scotia’s role in shaping our nation’s democratic institutions has helped secure the rights and freedoms Canadians enjoy today.

We speak with three distinguished gentlemen about these events, their legacy so many years later, and how this milestone event is being observed. Our guests are: The Honourable John Hamm - former Progressive Conservative Premier of Nova Scotia; The Honourable Russell MacLellan - former Liberal Premier of Nova Scotia (The two are co-chairs, long-time friends and one time political adversaries), and Michael Bawtree author and actor known for portraying Joseph Howe - famous Nova Scotian -Canadian (also a Premier), who is credited with introducing Freedom of the Press to Canada.

At: (Access October, 2008)

Celebrating The Mounties

Yes, there’s the popluar image of the Mountie from the Royal Canadian Mounted Police - you know “the one that always gets their ‘man’”.

But there’s more.

The new RCMP Heritage Centre in Regina celebrates all things Mountie.
There’s an interactive forensics display for budding CSIs, an array of transport from dogsleds to planes and tales of life on the frontier, when the RCMP befriended Sitting Bull, tamed Klondike prospectors and organized manhunts.

We speak with Karen Dackiw from Regina about about Mountie heritage and the new centre enshrining it.

For more on theRCMP Heritage Centre, see:

At: (Access September, 2008)

Rappie Pie: A Culinary Gateway to Acadian Nova Scotia

Rappie pie is a traditional Acadian meal. Its name is derived from the French “patates râpées” meaning “grated potatoes”. Potatoes are grated and the water removed, a hot broth made from chicken or pork is then added along with meat and onions and then layered over with more of the grated potatoes to make a casserole-like dish.

It is said to be Acadian “comfort food” to be found these days in an area of Southwest Nova Scotia - in the Clare area - towns such as Yarmouth, Pubnico and Wedgeport.

In this area the food is a staple at home and in restaurants, but travel in any direction 40 miles, it is probably not to be found nor will you find many who even know what it is.

We speak with Nicole Boudreau from Clare, Nova Scotia about Rappie Pie, its role in history & Acadian culture, and just what makes and keeps it so unique to this area.

At: (Access July, 2008)

Quebec at 400

On July 3, 1608, French explorer Samuel de Champlain founded a fur-trading post on the banks of the St. Lawrence River.That fur-trading post is now one of the oldest cities in North America.

And this summer, Quebec City celebrates four centuries of French heritage with a series of exhibits, festivals and performances.

We speak with Luci Tremblay from Quebec400 about this milestone anniversary, what it represents, and how the occasion is being celebrated.

At: (Access June, 2008)

A Place for “Bosom Buddies” and “Kindred Spirits”

To many of us she is known simply as “Anne”.

“Anne” is Anne Shirley (spelled with an ‘e’, of course), a character created by the vivid imagination of Prince Edward Island author L.M. Montgomery. An orphan since her parents died of fever when she was an infant, Anne has long dreamed of finding a real home and a real family. Sent by mistake to Matthew and Marilla Cuthbert - an elderly brother and sister living in Prince Edward Island - Anne is sure that she has found her place in the world once and for all. Known for her braids of fiery red hair, un-ending chatter, limitless imagination and unshakeable optimism, Anne has been a beloved friend for readers of all ages since the first novel in the series, Anne of Green Gables, was published in 1908.

Beyond the basic facts, Anne has come to mean much more than that to many. Her story translated into dozens of languages around the world, Anne has come to symbolize many things to different people. For some, she is representative of the modern woman - competing alongside the boys for scholarships and working hard to earn her way to college. For others, Anne’s determination to succeed and to thrive despite all obstacles has made her a symbol of hope, optimism and the power of faith. She is a familiar and comforting figure from childhood for those who met her as children. For the people of Prince Edward Island, Anne means summers filled with visitors seeking Green Gables House and “Avonlea.” No matter what your relationship to her, Anne is a powerful icon and the book’s success worldwide is proof of the universality of the quest for the things we all wish for in life: friendship, love, acceptance and a home. 2008 marks the centennial of Anne of Green Gables.

Campbell Webster speaks with us from Prince Edward Island about Anne, what she means to Anne enthusiasts and the region, and finally just what is planned this year as part of Anne2008.

At: (Access May, 2008)

The Story of French in North America

French is spoken officially in 33 countries and is the only language other than English to be taught in every country in the world. There are an estimated 175 million Francophones and 100 million “occasional” speakers of French, plus around 100 million French students. An official language in dozens of international organizations, French remains to this day one of the world’s most important and influential languages.

The Story of French, by Jean-Benoît Nadeau and Julie Barlow, is a definitive analysis of French as it is spoken around the world.

An important part of that story is set in North America (more than you might think -and it’s not just in Quebec).

We speak with Jean-Benoît Nadeau about the story of french - a story set in various parts of the continent. Yes, it’s about language, but it’s also about much more.

The Story of French, Vintage CANADA, 2007 -

At: (Access March, 2008)

North America’s First New Years Celebration

St. Johns, Newfoundland is a place of firsts. It is the first shore seen in North America by travelers on the way over from Eurpoe. It is also the place where the sun first rises on a new day, and the place where New Years is celebrated for the first time (90 minutes before the Eastern time zone).

We speak with Dennis O’Keefe, deputy mayor of St. Johns’, about the first New Years in North America.

At: (Access January, 2008)

Mr. Auld Lang Syne Remembered

For many years his name meant New Years Eve.

Thirty years after his death, Guy Lombardo is still remembered and missed by some come December 31.

We speak with Douglass Flood from Guy Lombardo’s hometown, London, Ontario, about the band leader, the Royal Canadians and his enduring legacy.

At: (Access January, 2008)

Letters to Santa in Canada’s North

As a child, I always wondered how those letters to Santa reached the North Pole.

Many years later, I finally got an answer speaking with Nicole Lemiere of Post Canada.

She tells us what happens to those letters sent to Santa at the North Pole.

Did you know that Santa even has his own postal code ?


At: (Access January, 2008)

The Ice Hotel

Talk about energy efficient accommodations !

In this conversation, we visit with Jaques Desbois of the Ice Hotel just outside Quebec City, the only accommodations of its kind in North America.

He describes how the idea got started, and he shares with us some of the novelties and unique environmental qualities of his hotel.

Truly a cool place !

At: (Access January, 2008)

Gung Haggis Fat Choy - A Unique Scottish-Chinese Cultural Celebration

Gung Haggis Fat Choy is a cultural event originating from Vancouver, BC. The name Gung Haggis Fat Choy is a combination wordplay on Scottish and Chinese words: haggis is a traditional Scottish food and Gung Hay Fat Choy/Kung Hei Fat Choi s a traditional Cantonese greeting (in Mandarin it is pronounced Gong Xi Fa Cai) used during Chinese New Year. The event originated to mark the timely coincidence of the Scottish cultural celebration of Robert Burns Day (January 25) with the Chinese New Year, but has come to represent a celebration of combining cultures in untraditional ways.

In Vancouver, the event is characterized by music, poetry, and other performances around the city, culminating in a large banquet and party. This unique event has also inspired both a television performance special titled Gung Haggis Fat Choy, and the Gung Haggis Fat Choy Canadian Games, organized by the Recreation Department at Simon Fraser University.

In this conversation, we speak with event founder and spearhead Todd Wong. He tells us how it got started, and what it has come to represent around Vancouver and far beyond.

At: (Access January, 2008)

The Life & Legacy of Louis Riel A Century Later

Louis Riel, leader of the Metis (French/Indian mixed ancestry) was elected to Canada’s House of Commons in 1873 and 1874, but never seated.

Seen as a traitor by some, he was also considered a patriot and protector of French, Native and regional cultures.

Riel continues to inspire discussion and analysis more than a century later.

We speak with Vania Gagnon from the Louis Riel Home in Manibota about the legend and continuingly changing legacy of Louis Riel.

At: (Access December, 2007)

Remembering The Edmund Fitzgerald

To folks like me, it started from a Gordon Lightfoot song.

But beyond the song, the story of the Edmund Fitzgerald is a fascinating one. The ore carrier broke into two during a heavy storm in Lake Superior in 1975, resulting in 29 lives lost.

Each year this tragedy and other shipwrecks are recalled throughout the region.

We speak with Lee Radzak of the Split Rock Lighthouse, where a beacon is lit each year to remember the crew of the Edmund Fitzgerald and others who lost their lives on the lakes.

At: (Access November, 2007)

North America's First Thanksgiving

Long before Plymouth and even before Jamestown there was Thanksgiving in what is now called Canada. The year was 1578 when English explorer Martin Frobisher gave thanks for a long journey (which failed in finding a northern passage to the Orient).

That, we are now told, was the first Thanksgiving coming out of a European tradition (Of course, there were Native celebrations on this continent long before that).

That “First Thanksgiving” provides the foundation for Thanksgiving in Canada today. Unlike its counterpart south of the border, Thanksgiving in Canada is a time of thanks celebrated to correpsond to the successful completion of the harvest.

We speak with Larry Blondell from Kitchener, Ontario about Thanksgiving generally in Canada, and locally where there is a big Thanksgiving Day Parade - part of a larger Oktoberfest in Kitchener and Waterloo.

At: (Access October, 2007)

The Stubby Beer Bottle: A Canadian Icon Resurfaces

Back in the 1960’s, one of the symbols of Canada was beer - be it Molson, Labbatt, O’Keefe, or Carling. And the beer back then was always to be found in brown stubby beer bottles.

Thenthey were gone.

Now they are back.

Ontario brewer Jim Brickman shares with us the history of the Stubby Beer Bottle, and what he has done to bring it back.

These days Molson and Labbatt are foreign-owned, so it is brewers like his Brick Brewing Company of Waterloo, Ontario that carry the torch for indigenous Canadian brewing and the very Canadian stubby beer bottle.

At: (Access August, 2007)

Taking Stock of Canada at 140

It’s holiday time in Canada.

This week in French speaking Quebec, it’s a time of celebration with the Fete Nationale du Quebec (formerly known as Fete St. Jean Baptiste.

Then a week later on July 1 Canada observes its 140 th birthday with Canada Day (formerly known as Dominion Day).

Historian and musicologist Bruno Paul Stenson joins us from Montreal to share some insight about the pulse of Canada on this national birthday.

Bruno also owns what probably is the largest collection of memorabilia from Expo ‘67. On this 40th anniversary of the Expo and of Canada’s centennial, we also talk to Bruno about his collection, and just what that magical year was all about.

By the way, one of the items in his collection is a can of Expo 67 air.

At: (Access July, 2007)

The Legacy of Expo '67 Forty Years Later

It was quite a year in Montreal and Canada - that year of 1967.
The 100th anniversary of Confederation. An all-Canada Stanley Cup Final marked the end of the 6 team era in hockey.

And thenthere was Expo.

Expo 67 was a World’s Fair in Montreal. But it represented so much more.
Bill Bantey, a freelance journalist based in Montreal, worked for the CBC back then. In our first Canadian content podcast we talk with him about�just what Expo meant then and what it means 40 years later.

At: (Access May, 2007)

Introducing Journeys into Canada

Introduction: Canada, the Unknown Country
No one knows my country, neither the stranger nor its own sons.--Bruce Hutchison, 1942.

“…For academics, journalists and fiction writers alike, Canada is a subject of constant fascination and study. Bruce Hutchison, a prominent newspaper editor and author, once described Canada as "The Unknown Country." To a large extent, Canada, with its complex weave of languages, cultures and regions, is a geopolitical conundrum.

Mythologies and stereotypes abound concerning the Canadian landscape people. To outsiders, Canada is a land of snow, hockey, Mounties, wildlife, untamed spaces, maple trees, peacekeepers, Tim Horton doughnut shops, universal health care, Quebec separatism, and congenial, reserved people (except, perhaps, for that redheaded rebel, Anne of Green Gables). Canadians themselves seem perplexed about their cultural identity.

The quest for some elusive definition of Canadianness is a national pastime for many Canadians. They may not know who they are, but they do know who they are not. They will readily tell you that they are not American, British or French. Canadians do not think, talk or act like their American, British or French cousins, but will admit, often begrudgingly, that they have been very much influenced by them. And at a quick glance, it is sometimes difficult to discern these subtle differences.

In reality, Canada is an improbable country -- a land of immense geography, extreme climate vast resources, and a small but ethnically diverse population, overshadowed by the most powerful nation on earth. No list of clichés can presume to define this collage of multilayered identities. The country is too varied, too vast, too hybrid. And yet, Canada is one of the great national success stories of modern history, a country where people from all over the world have found opportunity for individuality and community.

For seven consecutive years (1994-2000), the United Nations' Human Development Report ranked Canada as having the best quality of life on the globe. Canada's subsequent Human Development Index rankings have been: 2001 and 2002 (third place), 2003 (eighth), 2004 (fourth), and 2005 (fifth)…”.

From: Canadian Studies: A Guide to the Sources - by John D. Blackwell, Director, Research Grants Office, St. Francis Xavier University, & Laurie C.C. Stanley-Blackwell, Professor, Department of History, St. Francis Xavier University