Canadians across the country have poems in their pockets, from a pretty little haiku to historical epics to the latest pop earworm. Every year new poets give us wonderful and engaging works. But we can’t forget the strong Canadian poetic tradition captured by, among others, Bliss Carman’s romantic odes to landscape, Stephen Leacock’s biting satire, [...]
On April 4, 1949, the foreign ministers of Canada, the US, the UK, France and eight other countries signed the North Atlantic Treaty. An armed attack on one member would be an armed attack on them all.
The editor in chief of the Canadian Encyclopedia, James H. Marsh, will retire after 33 years of dedication and leadership. He remembers his journey from bookish kid to what he calls “the best job in the country.”
Young boy with Ralph Jones’ house in background, Africville, Boarded Prior to Demolition, Nova Scotia Archives
February is Black History month. We’ll help celebrate it with two entries dealing with music inspired and produced by two very different Afro-Canadian communities. The first is from Nova Scotia. You can get directly involved in this one by going to your post office where two stamps issued for Black History Month are on sale. The one I bought features the face of Viola Desmond. If you buy a booklet of ten you get her story. Stranded in New Glasgow in 1946 and waiting for her car to be repaired, Viola went to the movies to pass the time but found that the theatre was segregated. Blacks sat in the balcony. She refused to move from her orchestra seat and was jailed and fined. She appealed and finally, after a decade, won and destroyed Nova Scotia’s segregation laws. Buy the stamps and read the story. (more…)
Advertisement from the Halifax Gazette, 30 May, 1752. Slavery was an accepted part of 18-century life in the colonies. Most slaves worked as domestic servants (courtesy Massachusetts Historical Society, Boston).
The Underground Railroad was a network of conspirators working to help slaves escape the United States to find refuge in the British Empire and other places where slavery was illegal. In 1850, the United States Congress passed the Fugitive Slave Act, which helped slave owners recapture their escaped human “property.” The act put escaped or free Blacks living in non-slave states in danger. Freedom was found through the underground railroad.
Google gives a tribute to the passing penny on February 4, the day penny production production ends.
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.
On February 2, the groundhog becomes a weather oracle. (Corel Professional Photos).
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.
In spite of many skeptics who claim it was merely an urban legend, revered gospel and country singing man in black Johnny Cash did actually lend his name and own brand credibility to Canada Trust’s blossoming ATM roll-out in the mid-1980s. As in, I need money, let’s hit a Johnny Cash machine.
Now simply taken for granted, the novel ATM age really kicked off in the early 1980s when Toronto Dominion unveiled their “Green Machines,” which were followed closely by the Scotiabank “Quickstop Cashstops.” Just look at how utterly happy these ATM using people are. (more…)
Iceberg Near Pond Inlet (photo by Mike Boedel/courtesy Govt of NWT).
Winter. The most Canadian of seasons. Like sunshine in Florida and fog in London, winter defines Canada. From November to February, it blankets the country in snow, ice, wind, rain, grey skies and blistering cold, turning the landscape into a winter wonderland or an icy hell. To help with your winter hibernation, we’ve rounded up a handful of Canadian winter songs that reflect the mood of the season: reflective, melancholy and restless, but also joyful and bursting with frenetic energy. So, settle into a warm corner and listen to the many faces of winter, as interpreted by some of the country’s most beloved musicians. Happy hibernating!
Snow palace (1988) at the Québec Winter Carnival (courtesy Carnaval de Québec Inc).
Québec City became my “home” after I left my parents’ house, and even though I don’t live there anymore, I still consider it as such. This French-speaking city of just over half a million people feels like a big village bustling with activity. Among all the events that take place there, one of the most important is no doubt the Québec Winter Carnival. Since 1894, this winter celebration warms and cheers Quebecers during the peak of the cold (and sometimes grey) season. I only recently became aware that the carnival originated from an ancient tradition carried out by the people of New France, who feasted from late January to mid-February (this is when the carnival is held), before the beginning of Lent – you’ve got to have joy in stock for hard times! (more…)
Rebelle met en lumière l’histoire d’une jeune fille de 12 ans, Komona (Rachel Mwanza) qui se retrouve kidnappée par des rebelles dans un pays d’Afrique, jamais nommé. On la forcera à devenir un enfant-soldat. Très vite elle se découvrira des pouvoirs magiques, pouvoir qui lui permettent d’apercevoir des fantômes à travers la jungle, lui permettant ainsi de découvrir les cachettes des forces armées du gouvernement. Le film Rebelle couvre ainsi deux années de la vie de Komona, racontées par des retours en arrière et des récits, une odyssée qui amène le spectateur dans des massacres, des rites sorciers et une réalité poignante.
The upcoming documentary, A Desert Between Us and Them: Raiders, Traitors and Refugees in the War of 1812, tells the story of the American raids on an undefended Upper Canadian peninsula (now Southwestern Ontario) during the War of 1812. Rather than give a straight military account, A Desert Between Us and Them focuses on the civilians caught in the war – people who were faced with food shortages, constant pressure to change allegiance, thousands of refugees, and the eventual abandonment of Southwestern Ontario by the British army. War was not remote. It came up to their doorsteps, into their homes and changed their lives forever.
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 Witchcovers 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.
Peter Verigin’s powerful personality enabled the Doukhobors to weather their difficult first decades in Canada (courtesy NAC/C-8882, photo 1902).
For over a day they trudged through the city in pairs, 700 men, women and children, carrying boards on their shoulders. Bewildered spectators watched. It was the port city of Batum, Russia, in December 1898. The 700 were volunteers from a large group of Doukhobors, Russian dissenters, preparing for the largest single migration across the Atlantic to North America.
Four groups crossed the ocean in ships intended for freight and livestock. The first group sailed on the Beaver Line’s steamer Lake Huron. Before sailing, the immigrants prepared the ship, building bunks in the hold from the lumber they had carried across the city and loading it with enough supplies to feed 2,140 people during the month-long journey. Nearly 200 stowed away, hiding in the bedding and among the coals of the boiler room. On January 20, 1899, when they reached Halifax, 2,300 Doukhobors disembarked.
It’s January and the depths of winter most places in the country. I was thinking about winter songs. I was going to mention a few contenders but then I figured I’d cut to the chase as they say. My hands down favourite winter song is a kind of extended groaner of a joke by one of Canada’s iconic poets, Robert W. Service.
Gérard Poirier incarne Henry dans le court métrage de Yan England. PHOTO FOURNIE PAR LA PRODUCTION
Toutes nos félicitations à Ian England, ce jeune acteur et réalisateur québécois des plus talentueux, qui s’est mérité une place de finaliste aux Oscars (parmi 5), catégorie courts métrages de fiction, pour son merveilleux film ”Henry”.
En hommage à son grand-père, Yan England a voulu recréer un moment privilégié qu’il a vécu avec ce dernier, et qui un jour, âgé de 92 ans, se demandait s’il avait été ”un homme bon”. Le film relate ainsi le parcours difficile d’un homme âgé, atteint de la maladie d’Alzheimer. Campé avec tendresse par Gérard Poirier accompagné de Marie Tifo.
Hearty congratulations to Yan England! This young and promising Québec actor/producer earned a place among the five Oscar finalists in the fictional shorts category for his wonderful film Henry.
As a tribute to his grandfather, England wanted to recreate a special moment they had spent together: one day when he was 92, the fellow asked his grandson if he had been a “good man.” The film follows the difficult journey of an elderly man stricken with Alzheimer’s. The role is tenderly portrayed by Gérard Poirier supported by Marie Tifo.
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]
sir John A. Macdonald: Une «fripouille» indispensable est à peu près la perception qu’avaient de nombreux Canadiens de John A. Macdonald
Lorsqu’une délégation de Canadiens se rend à Washington en 1887 pour négocier un traité avec les États-Unis, leurs hôtes les invitent à faire une promenade en bateau sur le Potomac. Arrivé plus tôt, un des délégués canadiens entame une conversation avec une dame en attendant ses collègues. C’est la femme d’un sénateur américain.