The Days of Pride and Glory. Favourite moments in Canadian History

How to get familiar with the language that Canadians really use day-to-day? In this series "Canadian English: Quirky, eh?", we take listeners on a romp across Canada making small talk, recognizing signature foods, and navigating head-scratching grammar rules and colloquial expressions. We’ll have you sounding like a Canadian in no time!

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The Days of Pride and Glory

Hello! Bonjour! Oi! Welcome, and thanks for tuning in to a new episode of our series Canadian English: Quirky, eh? Let´s poke some fun – and hopefully a lit bit of learning along the way – about some of the quirkier aspects of the English language. In particular, Canadian English.

Every country is a product of lives lived and lessons learned by its ancestors. Canada has a rich tapestry of events, achievements, inventions, and heroes that fuel our national pride. We thought that a review of things we most like to talk about: Favourite Moments in Canadian History, would be a great topic to wrap up this podcast series.  

As soon as we began our research on this topic, we realized that we had bitten off more than we could chew! When we started asking “What is your favourite moment in Canadian history?”, we got so many different answers that we knew we would be hard-pressed to do them all justice. 

Where to begin? Would we start with history and the many battles our veterans fought to win the freedoms we enjoy today? Should we focus on technology and the inventions of Alexander Graham Bell? Or, in a pandemic environment, might it be more topical to discuss Banting and Best and their scientific, medical breakthroughs? Maybe the arts would inspire a lighter look at the international achievements of such groups as The National Ballet of Canada, the Group of Seven artists, the Cirque du Soleil troupe, Rush or The Guess Who?

It’s a very personal question, we learned, that depends on where-you-were-when. In other words, the emotional impact of an event is entirely based on how relevant it is to you personally. But one topic seemed to appear on everybody’s lists: athletic endeavours.

So we decided to limit our conversation today to sports: from the pride of Brantford to the glory of Olympic gold. 

  • Brantford, Ontario: Home of The Great One. No Canadian conversation seems to be complete without hockey. And no hockey conversation is complete without the mention of Wayne Gretzky. His influence on the sport and his contributions towards Stanley Cup trophies will never be forgotten.
  • Where were you in 1972 when Paul Henderson scored the winning goal in the first Canada vs. Soviet Union hockey tournament? The Goal of the Century, scored with just 34 seconds remaining in the game, is a frequent conversation-starter. I remember it clearly – it was a big enough deal for schools across Canada to close so that everyone could go home and watch the game.
  • The Crazy Canucks – The term “Canuck” has come to be a general term to describe a Canadian, and it is not at all insulting. The Vancouver Canucks, one of the 7 National Hockey League teams in Canada, are proud to sport the word on their hockey jerseys. But add the word “Crazy” and you’re talking about the fearless Olympic and World Cup downhill skiers of the 70s and 80s. A team of fast, risk-taking, fun athletes who found themselves frequently on the podium at elite international competitions. Today, the term is being revived by our freestylers, snowboarders, jumpers, and downhillers… a team of amazing men and women.
  • The sport of curling has been around for centuries. Some say it was invented in Scotland and brought to Canada by early immigrants. Others claim that it was invented by Canadians. Today, this game of sliding large granite stones into a target painted on an ice rink is played around the world but nowhere is it more mainstream than in the Great White North.  Curling tournaments – called bonspiels – are fun and popular winter events. Since the game became an official medal event at the Olympics in 1998, Canadian men’s and women’s teams have been consistent podium contenders. “Hurry hard!” is a colloquial expression that relates exclusively to curling.
  • Not all Canadian sports involve ice! The country celebrated in 1992 when our Toronto Blue Jays won Major League Baseball’s American League Championship for the first time ever, and then went on to win the World Series. It was a first for any team outside the US – and then they went on to repeat the feat in 1993. No one will forget the legendary WAMCO line-up of White, Alomar, Molitar, Carter and Olerud (among other great athletes). The front-page photo of Joe Carter jumping at home plate is forever etched in our collective memory (I proudly wear it on a tee-shirt!).
  • Of course, football is popular in Canada across high school, university and professional levels. Fans turn out on the crisp fall days at the beginning of the CFL season and hang in through the downright frigid temperatures as the annual championships wrap up with the Grey Cup. I am referring to the Canadian Football League, which is separate from the American Football League – although both are called American-style football. Not to be confused with FIFA, which Canadians call soccer. We have just one soccer team in Canada, the Toronto Football Club. Are you still with me? When world-class teams like Brazil, Barcelona or Man United are playing, Canadian sports bars fill to capacity and the excitement bubbles over into the streets.
  • Moving over to the basketball court, another professional team made the country erupt with joy when they won the 2019 NBA Championship. Even though the Toronto Raptors represent the country as the only Canadian team in the NBA, the two million-plus fans who attended their victory parade was unprecedented and caught the city off guard. This will go down in history as another where-were-you-when moment. We the North!
  • We cannot close this chapter without again discussing the Olympics. There is just so much hype around the summer and winter events and so much at stake for international teams and the individual athletes who train their whole lives. The fight for “Faster, Higher, Stronger” is shared by governments, politicians, corporate sponsors, marketers, economies: the quest for fame and fortune is a big deal. 

    Canada has been chosen to host the event 3 times, Montreal in 1976, Calgary in 1988, and Vancouver in 2010. The at-home wins were especially sweet – who can forget Jon Montgomery’s romp through Vancouver streets after winning the skeleton event? The Battle of the Brians in Calgary? Or 14-year-old Nancy Garapick winning 2 bronze medals for swimming? On the ski hills, the speed skating oval, the pool, or the figure skating rinks… Canadian athletes too numerous to mention have shown their mettle (pun intended!)

    The national outrage and outpouring of love for pair figure skaters Salé and Pelletier accepting a silver medal on the Salt Lake City podium, and only afterward being award the gold medal they should have won were it not for the French judge cheating with the Russians?

    Finally, and by far not least, the entire highlight reel of Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir. Game-changing ice dancers who delighted all Canadians with their gold medal win in Vancouver 2010, they again thrilled the nation by capturing gold a second time eight years later in Pyeongchang, South Korea.

I know we will have missed many people and events that deserve mention here. In this full series, time has allowed us to just skim the surface of everything that makes Canada great, and ever quirky.

We hope you enjoyed today´s episode. Please take a moment to give us your feedback and like us with the big fans up. Fill free to play it again and share it with friends and family. 

You have been listening to Canadian English, Quirky, eh? The podcast series produced by Brazilian Wave Canada. This project was made possible through the generous support of the Canadian Periodical Fund. If you want to subscribe to the series and have access to the exclusive episodes, please sign in at waveplus.ca.

Until then,

Catch you later!

Adieu!

Tchau!

Stay healthy!

Glossary

Ancestor: Any person from whom one is descended. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ancestor)

Breakthrough:
An important discovery or event that helps to improve a situation or provide an answer  to a problem. (https://dictionary.cambridge.org/us/dictionary/english/breakthrough)

Canuck:
A slang term for a Canadian. The origins of the word are uncertain. The term “Kanuck” is first recorded in 1835 as an Americanism, originally referring to Dutch Canadians (which included German Canadians) or French Canadians. By the 1850s, the spelling with a “C” became predominant. Today, many Canadians and others use “Canuck” as a mostly affectionate term for any Canadian. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Canuck)

Outrage:
A feeling of anger and shock.(https://dictionary.cambridge.org/us/dictionary/english/outrage?q=Outrage)

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Podcast – Canadian English: Quirky, eh?

Produced by BRZ Group Inc., Canada, 2021

  • Director: Christian Pedersen
  • Production Coordinator: Ana Carolina Botelho
  • Scriptwriter: Lauri Richardson
  • Voices: Eric Major and Lauri Richardson
  • Vignettes: Robson DJ Estudio 
  • Website Production & Marketing: Creative Team
  • Project Management: Teresa Botelho