Sir John A. Macdonald

The CBC asks regular Canadians, "Who is this man?"

With 2012 comes the bicentennial of the War of 1812, the US presidential election, and a question mark about the Canadian economy. This week’s Canada Soup touches on all of these as well as an intriguing story about John Diefenbaker’s possible paternity, the influence of the King James Bible on the English language, and survey results that are both good news and not-so-good-news about Canadians’ knowledge of their own history. Ready or not, here we come, 2012!

Canada and the U.S. rang in the new year by firing cannons at each other from across the Niagara River. It was one of Canada’s celebratory plans for the 200th anniversary of the War of 1812. One visitor remarked, “I’ve never heard of two countries trying to figure out how to have a party over a war.” [The Economist]

Speaking of the celebrations around the War of 1812, Derrick O’Keefe at has some choice words and concerns about Stephen Harper’s history of the War of 1812. “The whole thing is in fact an exercise in politics, as much about 2012 as 1812,” he writes. It’s a fascinating look at the other side of the war. []

Who says history is dead? According to a new survey on Canadians’ knowledge of their history, immigrants to Canada believe they have a stronger grasp on the country’s history than those born in Canada. A correspondent’s “on the street” interviews are full of embarrassed giggles from Canadians who don’t know or recognize John A. Macdonald. [CBC]

The Globe and Mail offers a fun history lesson on the King James Bible and its influence on the English language. Some common phrases we owe to the King James Bible: “From time to time”, “Putting words in one’s mouth”, “Fell flat on his face” and “Turning the world upside down.” [Globe & Mail]

The former prime minister John Diefenbaker was not known to have any children, but a Toronto man is trying to prove otherwise. John George Dryden believes that his mother had an affair with Diefenbaker in the late 1960s and that he is the result. DNA tests done with artifacts from the Diefenbaker Centre in Saskatoon did not result in a definitive DNA match. Says Dryden, “I will never quit. I will discover the truth about my biological father.”  [The Canadian Press]

A Statistics Canada’s report was released today on the future of employment and unemployment in Canada. Miles Corak from the University of Ottawa, gives an insightful breakdown of what these numbers mean for Canadians in the new year. Hint: it’s not exactly a cakewalk… [Globe & Mail]

In a funny and sarcastic video that’s gone viral, a mild-mannered Canadian urges the American populace to choose Canadian leadership rather than support their presidential candidates. “We’re volunteering our country to lead your country,” he says. The tagline for this “Canadacy” is “The Canada Party: America, but better.” The video uses strong language. [YouTube]

Find a recent news story that’s perfect for Canada Soup? Email it to with the subject line, “Canada Soup Tip.”