Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Podcast: A Cultural History of Maurice Richard

As any hockey fan (and Canadian) knows, Maurice Richard was the highest-scoring NHL player of his era, the first to achieve the feat of fifty goals in fifty games. In his eighteen years with the Montreal Canadiens, Richard’s determination, intensity, and will to win drew fans and admirers. But Richard was revered as much for what he represented off the ice.

“The Rocket” (before Rod Laver and Roger Clemens) inspired poems, novels. short stories, biographies, songs, movies, plays, kids’ books and comic strips. His face adorned clothing, toys, household goods, hockey equipment, and ads from cars to soups. Streets, parks, and public squares bore his name, and boasted his statute. With an influence that extended beyond his playing years, he became a symbol in Quebec and a hero across Canada (and beyond).

We speak with cultural historian Benoit Melancon whose book, The Rocket: A Cultural History of Maurice Richard (Greystone Books, 2009) exhaustively and uniquely chronicles the Maurice Richard – the man and the myth.

Of the book NPR’s “Only A Game” said, “…“open-minded folks will be intrigued by Malencon’s exploration of the ways in which people attribute all sorts of cultural significance to the accomplishments and personalities of champions like Richard”.

You can hear the podcast @

Monday, October 26, 2009

Henry Marks: the tailor's alteration (Montreal Gazette)

From The Montreal Gazette:

October 25, 2009

Famous Montreal tailor to close its doors this week at its Drummond St. location, but the owners hope to be back in business in the new year.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Senator Hartland Molson

My first introduction to Senator Hartland Molson was as a viewer of Montreal Canadiens’ hockey games. There he was sitting behind the Canadiens’ bench in the old Montreal Forum – honored as an elder statesmen of sorts. Little did I know of the totality of this man’s story.

And what a story it is.

Hartland de Monarville Molson (May 29, 1907 – September 28, 2002) was an Anglo-Quebecer statesman, Canadian Senator and a member of the prominent Molson family of brewers. That’s the thumbnail. There is so much more.

We speak with Karen Molson, who has written a candid and enlightening book about Senator Molson – Hartland de Montarville Molson: Man of Honour - Firefly Books

The book is a portrait of the man often called the Canadian establishment’s quintessential figure.

Hartland Molson’s life spanned almost a century that included two world wars, Prohibition, the Depression, major political upheaval, and massive social and industrial change. Born in 1907 to great wealth and privilege, he used his numerous talents wisely and lived his life with integrity.

Kathy English of the Globe and Mail wrote Karen Molson’s work”…As much a tale of Canada through the 20th century as it is of the Molson…” .


Saturday, August 29, 2009

Travelling, without being a tourist (Financial Post)

From The Financial Post via

Canada is full of unexpected places, a point highlighted in a new advertising campaign for the Canadian Tourism Commission, entitled "Locals Know."

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

The Tunnels of Moose Jaw

In the early 1900s, most of the larger buildings in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan were heated by steam. The engineers who maintained the coal-fired boilers in the basements arranged for the creation of an elaborate network of tunnels linking them so that they could move themselves and their equipment from building to building without facing the harsh winter weather.

At about the same time, numerous Chinese immigrants who arrived in Moose Jaw to work for what were, by Canadian standards, very low wages, adopted the tunnel system as living quarters and workplaces which were both inexpensive and sheltered from a sometimes hostile populace.

During Prohibition Moose Jaw became a center for distribution of bootleg liquor, both domestically and to the United States via the Soo Line Railroad to Chicago, earning the town the nickname “Little Chicago”. Illegal enterprises such as speakeasies, casinos, and brothels sprang up within the concealment and shelter of the tunnels. Moose Jaw folklore states that Al Capone himself was resident for some time, to oversee operations and/or to hide out from law enforcement.

Over time, the tunnels fell into disuse and many were filled in or blocked off by new construction. However, an elaborate tourist attraction featuring live actors and animatronics has been created within what remains of the system, featuring tours illustrating the stories of the Chinese immigrants and bootlegging, and attracting over 100,000 visitors per year.

We speak with Kelly Carty from Moose Jaw about the history of the tunnels and how they are njow helping spark a revival in town.


In Search of the Canadian Road

Suprisingly, it seems that little had ever been written about the Canadian road. That is, until Peter Unwin wrote his new book called Hard Surface (Key Porter; 2009).

In what is described as the first full-length examination of the Canadian road, Hard Surface takes the reader on a ride suggesting that the value of the Canadian road is not the transportation of goods and services, but rather the quest for one’s self, and the urge to spread ones stories across a “vast and complex land”.

Peter Unwin joins us for this “Journey into Canada”.

A video reading from Hard Surface by Peter Unwin may be found at:


Don Messer’s Jubilee

Don Messer would have been 100 this year.

To those not from Canada or too young to remember, Don Messer may not mean much. But in his time and place Don Messer was the real deal.

Across the country, tens of thousands sat by their radios three times a week, 1939-58, listening to ‘Don Messer and His Islanders’ broadcast from Charlottetown, PEI on CBC Radio. With the advent of television, Messer moved seamlessly across to the new medium, bringing his audience with him. Thousands more watched ‘Don Messer’s Jubilee’ weekly, 1956-69, produced by CBC Television in Halifax, NS. When the program was cancelled, there was a national uproar; thirty-five years later, some people miss it still.

We speak with Tony Bull from New Brunswick, where they are remembering Don Messer – the man and his legacy this Summer.


A Running of the Bulls in Alberta

I had seen the video from Spain and Mexico of Bulls running after folks. But a running of bulls in Canada ?

In fact, there is such an event annually in Strathmore, Alberta, which hosts Canada’s third largest rodeo. Strathmore is the first Canadian city to run the bulls.

For $20 (yes, you pay!), you can don a red shirt and run a track with a rampaging bull behind you.

Strathmore’s Heritage Days is also home of the finals for the “World Professional Chuckwagon Association” as well Canada’s third largest rodeo.

Carolyn Charles speaks with us about it all from Strathmore. I’m curious just how many bulls there are. Also does anyone ever get seriously hurt ? And finally, just who would pay to potentially be gorged by a bull ?


Wednesday, July 1, 2009

The St. Lawrence Seaway & the Lost Villages after 50 Years

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the opening of the St. Lawrence Seaway. Queen Elizabeth was there. So was President Eisenhower.

This engineering feat had a profound impact on transportation, teh economy and folks who lived nearby or upstream.

We go to Cornwall, Ontario to speak with Lesly O’Gorman and David Hill about what’s planned to mark this 5o anniversary. We also chat about “The Lost Villages” - ten communities near Cornwall, which were permanently submerged by the creation of the Seaway.


Celebrating Canada Day (CBC)


"On July 1, 1867, Canada took its first steps towards official nationhood. It has grown and developed as a nation, and distinguished itself in times of both peace and war. Canada is widely recognized as a place of harmony, liberty and diversity and is routinely ranked as one of the best countries in which to live. In honour of Canada's birthday, CBC Digital Archives (1954-2002) looks back at some defining moments and great Canadians who have helped shape our history".

Friday, June 12, 2009


Anyone that's been in our neck of the woods knows that we could have used a re-branding a long time ago.

Some good content. Multi-media. But to more than afew folks, it was more than a bit confusing.

With this in mind, we have created a new umbrella place to go. It's called

Once there, you can take a journey into Hidden America, Canada, Beer or Hockey (with others to follow).

The content and the feel, hopfully, remain. And, with any look, less confusion.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

From Doughnuts to Dollars (CBS News)

CBS Sunday Morning
June 7, 2009

Canada has more doughnut shops per capita than any country in the world — and the undisputed doughnut king in the Great White North is Tim Hortons, founded in 1964 by all-star hockey player Tim Horton.

Over the past 45 years, 3,000 Tim Hortons shops have sprung up across the Canadian landscape. There are more Tim Hortons in Canada then there are McDonalds, and sales in 2008 exceeded $2 billion. And now Tim Hortons has begun its push into the United States in earnest.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

BeaverTails - President Obama & Beyond

President Barack Obama created a sensation of sorts recently when, while visiting Ottawa, he made an unscheduled stop at the Byward Market specifically to buy a BeaverTail.

We had heard that variation of the product had been called the “Obama Tail”, in honour of the president, and that BeaverTails were part of the inaugural celebration last January at the Canadian embassy in Washington, DC.

But we wanted to know more.

So we called Grant Hooker, founder of BeaverTails Canada, Inc.
For the record, BeaverTails are fried dough pastries individually hand stretched to resemble a beaver’s tail. The BeaverTail is siad to be similar to several other fried dough pastries and is topped with various condiments.

In this conversation with Grant Hooker, we learn about the origins of the BeaverTail, BeaverTail’s, Inc. and an insider’s look at the Presidential stop in Ottawa to pick-up a BeaverTail.


Sunday, March 1, 2009

World Pond Hockey Championships

This unique event is an annual international competition that takes place outdoors, on bodies of frozen water, playing the pond hockey variant of ice hockey. The event takes place in and around Plaster Rock, New Brunwick.

The first championships were held in 2002. The 2007 event was opened by Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, the first time the Prime Minister attended the event and indeed the first time a prime minister had ever visited Plaster Rock.

We speak with Danny Braun from Plaster Rock about how the event started, what takes place, and just how they manage to pull it off in this community of 1,150.


Black Ice: “The Lost History of the Colored Hockey League of the Maritimes: 1895-1925″.

Comprised of the sons and grandsons of runaway American slaves, the Colored Hockey League of the Maritimes helped pioneer the sport of ice hockey changing this winter game from the primitive “gentleman’s past-time” of the nineteenth century to the modern fast moving game of today. In an era when many believed blacks could not endure cold, possessed ankles too weak to effectively skate, etc. (”and lacked the intelligence for organized sport”), these men defied the defined myths.

We speak with George Fosty, one of the co-authors of “Black Ice”.



Poutine is a dish consisting of French Fries topped with fresh cheese curds, covered with brown gravy and sometimes additional ingredients. It is a quintessential Canadian comfort food, especially in Quebec.

The dish originated in rural Quebec in the late 1950s and is now popular in many parts of the country. Several Quebecois communities claim to be the birthplace of poutine, including Drummondville, St. Jean-sur-Richilieu and Victoriaville.

In this conversation, we get a took on poutine from Drummondville with restauranteur Daniel Leblanc.