Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for October, 2012

Canadian Stereotype Comics, Kate Beaton

Well, after writing three or four posts in week, I’ve slogged off. Typical, isn’t it: another idealistic graduate embraces the blogging world to seek an audience with unbridled optimism, learns quickly that he is in the company of tens of thousands of more articulate bloggers, realizes that his friends have jobs and relationships and lives and other inconveniences that prevent them from hanging on to every painfully selected word, and abandons the enterprise, jaded, slightly embarrassed, hoping nobody mentions the whole thing.

If only that were the case. Unfortunately, the blame lies more upon the technological hiccups of a geriatric macbook than upon blows to my idealism. Good news for my emotional well-being; bad news for my wallet. Hence I find myself using a computer on my old university campus, riding that unsettling wave of stress and nostalgia.

Which conveniently – if clumsily – brings me to the topic for the day. My first post made reference to an amusing phenomena that has arisen over the last five years: nostalgia for an older Canada that many of us grew up with, but which somehow differs from the country we seem to have inherited. Call it Canostalgiada, if you will. (more…)

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

Why so serious?

Why so serious?

I have mentioned before that one of my chief motivations for creating this blog was what others before me have seen as a the defining characteristic of current national public discourse – namely, its absence. One could find as many reasons for this as they care to look for – the commercialization of our universities, the current atmosphere of fear towards re-opening old constitutional wounds, the limited scope of debate in electoral politics, etc. Discussion of our big national questions is as passé today as ghetto blasters were vogue at the time of the last major constitutional talks.

In such an atmosphere, those who breach the subject of ‘national character’ are sure to stick out rather awkwardly, and author John Ralston Saul is surely among the sticky few. What I’d like to discuss here is his book A Fair Country (2009), because it is a compelling and tempting attempt to pinpoint the nature of Canada, but one that doesn’t feel quite right, and I’d like to suggest why that might be. (more…)

Read Full Post »

The “two solitudes” refers to a traditional understanding of the division between English and French in this country. The term was popularized by a book of the same name by Hugh MacLennan, in which a child of an English and a French parent struggles to establish their own identity. No points for subtly there, Hugh.

Former Governor General Michaëlle Jean declared the two solitudes finished in her 2005 investiture speech, but certain doubts remain. One example that I have personally experienced is the ignorance of music across the great linguistic divide. Putting the BTO’s and Céline’s aside, there are tons of less well-known bands that some people will never discover simply because of their linguistic limitations. I would assume the ignorance lies heavier on the Anglophone side, given the overwhelming predominance of Anglo culture on the continent, but even so the tragedy of divide is held in common: francophone bands lose audiences, while young anglophones in search of new, exciting sounds miss out on some amazing music.

I was lucky enough to be exposed to some of that music while in Quebec last summer, and I’d like to share some of it here. I felt a little cheated that a musicphile like myself could be so unaware of the incredible art that was being produced in my own country. Most of it comes from the last 5 years or so, though I couldn’t resist sticking one classic – the classic – at the front. I hope there’s something here that excites you, and maybe something that encourages you to seek out le nouveau son. (more…)

Read Full Post »

Mi’kmaq figures view Halifax from across the harbour.

Well, I don’t know about everyone else, but I’m feeling the post-turkey melatonin hangover this week. Three feasts and a few left overs besides have left my poor, would-be vegetarian stomach in recovery mode, after this most North American of holidays. Thanksgiving, we are told, began with the sharing of harvests between settlers and indigenous peoples in early colonial North America, and continues to be associated with the “harmonious” nature of colonial relationships in popular culture today (if not always within family traditions).

That much is contentious – perhaps offensive – but the holiday is at least a reminder of the nature of our settler society. We, the relative newcomers to Canada, have not always been here, and yet we are seldom reminded of this fact (or its implications), because settler society has by and large marginalized the voices of the societies that preceded it. So, allow me take advantage of the holiday to go back to those early colonial days to tell a settler origin story. (more…)

Read Full Post »

Ahoy,

Several weeks ago, after more than several years of living in Halifax, I finally got around to exploring one of our local national historic sites – the Halifax Citadel. Along with some new friends from Boston and busload of history-savvy seniors, I went along for the full deal: the college students with egregious 18th century facial hair, the bagpiping, and, of course, the tour. About half-way into ours, at the bottom of a grassy trench, another couple of students gave our guide a break to give a special presentation about the War of 1812.

Celebrating 200 years of child soldiers – boy scouts play War of 1812.

Funny that. Was Halifax ever militarily engaged during the war? Weren’t the states of New England that shared our border overwhelming against that little imperial adventure? Don’t get me wrong – those students earned their tuition this year – but I left unsure as to why exactly they were showcasing this event here, in the Halifax Citadel, of all places, and to a busload of seniors, of all people. (more…)

Read Full Post »

C’est quoi, là?

This is a blog about what it means to be Canadian in the 21st century. Not that I expect to arrive at any conclusions. 145 years in, that discovery appears to remain as elusive as the northern passage to the Orient.

You see, once upon a time a bunch of Europeans were trying to find China, but instead they ended up in places like Trois-Rivières and Miramichi. With no disrespect to those towns, it seems like the folks that followed Jacques Cartier got mired along the way – perhaps by a particularly nasty winter – and we are still working out where that leaves us today. What does it mean to be in this place? (more…)

Read Full Post »