Canada’s folk hero Stompin’ Tom Connors has died at age 77. His songs of Canadian life, from Sudbury nickel miners to P.E.I. potato farmers and the joys of a good snowmobile, paint a picture of his great love for Canada. In his last letter to fans, Stompin’ Tom credits Canada’s beauty and inspiration as the source “driving me to keep marching on and devoted to sing about its people and places that make Canada the greatest country in the world.” Rest in Peace, Tom. [StompinTom]
Get ready for a space jam! For the first time ever, music has been made from space. Astronaut Chris Hadfield and Barenaked Ladies frontman Ed Robertson sang live together – Hadfield from the International Space Station and Robertson and a youth choir from Toronto. Their song, I.S.S. (‘Is Somebody Singing)’, written by Hadfield and Robertson, premiered on Friday morning. Watch it above. It’s pretty catchy! [CBC]
On February 4, the Royal Canadian Mint will stop distributing Canadian pennies, ending 155 years of penny production in Canada. The rising cost of producing pennies relative to its value was the main reason for its phaseout. With the penny gone, the country is estimated to save $11 million annually. This week’s Canada Soup bids farewell with a roundup of news and opinion on the diminutive, soon-to-be-extinct one-cent piece.
February 2 is Groundhog Day, a celebration where those driven mad by the long winter pin their hopes for an early spring on the Marmota monax, known as the groundhog, woodchuck and, in certain circles, a whistle-pig. On February 2, the humble rodent is imbued with the powers of meteorological prognostication, divining an early spring or a prolonged winter.
According to legend, the groundhog emerges from its burrow at noon on February 2 to look for its shadow. If the day is sunny, the groundhog will see its shadow, become alarmed, and return to its burrow to sleep, thus prolonging winter for six more weeks. But if the day is cloudy and the groundhog does not see its shadow, it will leave its burrow, ushering in an early spring.
Once again a Québécois film has been nominated for a best foreign-language Oscar. In 2011, it was Denis Villenuve’s Incendies and in 2012 it was Philippe Falardeau’s Monsieur Lazhar. This year, the honour goes to Kim Nguyen’s Rebelle (War Witch is the English title).
In War Witch, a 12-year-old girl named Komona (Rachel Mwanza) is kidnapped by rebels in an un-named African country and forced to become a child soldier. But she soon discovers that she has magical powers – she can see ghosts in the jungle and knows when government forces lie in wait. War Witch covers two years of Komona’s life told in flashback and voiceover, an odyssey that veers into slaughter, witchcraft and magical realism. It’s a harrowing story told with a great deal of humanity and strikingly authentic performances, especially by Mwanza, an untrained street kid who was found on location in Kinshasa, the capital of the Democratic Republic of Congo. In addition to the film’s Oscar nod, Mwanza won the Silver Bear for best actress at the Berlin International Film Festival and best actress at the Tribeca Film Festival. War Witch received 12 newly minted Canadian Screen Awards nominations (formerly the Genies), including best picture, best director, best screenplay and best actress for Mwanza.
The Quebec film Rebelle (War Witch) has been nominated for an Oscar in the best foreign-language film category! Directed by Montreal’s Kim Nguyen, it tells the moving and heartbreaking story of child soldiers in Africa. [Montreal Gazette]
The Grammy Awards will honour legendary Toronto pianist Glenn Gould with a lifetime achievement award this February! With four Grammys to his name, the famously eccentric Gould was one of the 20th century’s most celebrated classical pianists. [Globe & Mail]
En 1863, une mystérieuse jeune Française arriva à Halifax par bateau, de New York. Ne pouvant à peine s’exprimer en anglais, elle eut beaucoup de difficulté à demander au cocher de la conduire à l’hôtel le plus proche. Il l’amena donc à l’hôtel Halifax Hotel, où est érigé maintenant le Ralston Building sur la rue Hollis, car le propriétaire des lieux parlaient français et allemand. La jeune femme s’enregistra sous le nom de Mademoiselle Lewley et dit qu’elle était venue pour retrouver un membre de sa famille installé dans la ville. On lui suggéra d’aller voir un certain Philip Lenoir, avocat francophone. Elle lui raconta qu’elle était à la recherche de son cousin, Albert Pinson, un officier britannique stationné à Halifax.
In 1863 a mysterious young Frenchwoman arrived in Halifax on a packet-boat from New York. She spoke broken English and had difficulty asking the carriage-driver to take her to a hotel. He brought her to the Halifax Hotel, where the Ralston Building now stands on Hollis Street, because the proprietor there spoke French and German. The woman registered as ‘Miss Lewley’ and said she wanted to locate a relative in the city. She was directed to Philip Lenoir, a French-speaking lawyer, and told him she wanted to locate her cousin, Albert Pinson, an officer in a British regiment stationed in Halifax.
The end of the year: a time when people reflect on the most significant developments in their field, and, honestly, on myriad unrelated occurrences and happenings as well. Where are we going and what have we done? This year, I think the conversation about literature in Canada belongs to Canada’s female readers and writers for a few key reasons.
Early last week, the Telegraph newspaper published a playful article, saying that the new Bank of England governor, Mark Carney, is an anomaly for being both cosmopolitan and educated as well as a proud “maple syrup-drinking, poutine-loving, moose-spotting, beer-swilling ice hockey fan” from a country “affectionately known as America’s attic.” It then went on to detail Canadians’ many accomplishments, concluding that Canada is “more than a land of Mounties and maple syrup” and encouraging Canadians to be more out and proud about their country. In response, Michael Babad of the Globe and Mail published his own rebuttal, listing 15 things Britons should know about Canada. Things get interesting. Who’s passive-aggressive swipe was better? [Telegraph]
November is the month of moustaches, thanks to Movember. To celebrate, we take a look at some classic moustaches from Canadian history!
With the Grey Cup coming up on November 25 in Toronto and the NFL still working their way through the season to their various bowls, football fans have a lot to talk about. One topic that is debated regularly is whether football is better in Canada or the US because there are some differences between the game played by the CFL and the NFL. I am not a football fan, but I will try to explain some of the differences and provide a little background on the game here at home. We hope that readers will weigh in the comments below.