The 2012 Genie Awards are upon us once again with high hopes and low grumbling.
There are high hopes for a film industry perennially long on promise but short on delivery, and grumbling from critics who have watched the Academy of Canadian Cinema and Television, the organization responsible for the Genie and the Gemini Awards, struggle to live up to its claim that its awards are the “ultimate accolade” for Canadian films.
“To choose a good book, look in an inquisitor’s prohibited list.” – John Aiken
To Canadians, censorship may seem like a thing of the past, associated with book burnings and fascist regimes, but the truth is that freedom of expression is an ongoing battle. Books as recent as The Golden Compass, The Handmaid’s Tale, The Catcher in the Rye, To Kill a Mocking Bird, and Of Mice and Men have appeared on Canada’s list of challenged books and magazines. Considering that these titles have become celebrated classics in the modern canon, John Aiken’s pithy epigram appears more true than ever.
SUNSHINE SKETCHES OF A LITTLE TOWN
Airs this Sunday, February 12th at 8 pm on CBC
Based on the life and writings of Stephen Leacock, Canada’s first and foremost humorist, this two-hour signature television event celebrates the book’s 100th anniversary. The reinterpretation of the popular work combines two key stories from Leacock’s time-honoured Canadian classic of the same name, first published in 1912: the sinking of The Mariposa Belle steamer with its holiday crowd in the perilously shallow waters of Lake Wissanotti; together with the frantic campaign to save Mariposa’s hotel and public bar from the Liquor Commission’s shutdown. Leacock’s sly, humorous portrait of small-town Canada—a portrait that mirrors the whole nation—remains intact in the adaptation.
The Queen begins a year of celebrations marking her diamond jubilee. On February 6, 1952, King George VI died in his sleep at Sandringham. His daughter Princess Elizabeth was declared Queen Elizabeth II. Since then, Queen Elizabeth has been England’s oldest monarch and the second-longest reigning sovereign in British history. Celebrations marking the event will centre around the extended weekend of June 2 (the anniversary of the Queens’ coronation) through to June 5.
“According to legend, the groundhog emerges from its burrow at noon on February 2 to look for its shadow. If it is a sunny day and the groundhog sees its shadow, according to folklore it becomes frightened and returns to its hole to sleep, and winter continues for 6 more weeks. If it does not see its shadow, it remains outside because the worst of winter is over and warmer weather is on its way.”
-The Canadian Encyclopedia, “Groundhog Day”
Tragedy struck this week when one of Canada’s top skiers Sarah Burke died from injuries while training. The four-time Winter X Games champion crashed at the bottom of a half pipe and went into cardiac arrest from her injuries. In a generous gesture of humanity, sympathizers have been donating funds to help Burke’s family pay off her medical bills, which were not covered by the Canadian Freestyle Skiing Association. [Globe & Mail, CBC]
This week, Canadian history buffs across the nation celebrated Sir John A. Macdonald‘s 197th birthday, remembering the contributions of our country’s first prime minister and great uniter. We celebrated our early history even as one of our most storied publishing houses, McClelland and Stewart, was taken over by the German-owned Random House, leaving a big question mark as to the future of Canadian publishing and, in many ways, the question of Canadian identity.
A: Apparently to Germany. Today it was announced that the German-based publishing conglomerate Bertelsmann AG, which owns Random House, took full control of McClelland and Stewart, venerable independent Canadian publishing house and champion of Canadian literature through its flowering in the 20th century under the leadership of Jack McClelland, when it published such stars in our firmament as Margaret Atwood, Michael Ondaatje, and Farley Mowat (the triumvirate one can generally rely upon new CanLit students to name). Douglas Gibson, longtime Editor at McClelland and Stewart, became a household name himself as he steered the work of writers and the reading tastes of Canadians. The New Canadian Library, brainchild of Sinclair Ross and Jack McClelland and published by M&S starting in 1958, introduced countless Canadians to their literary history.