Governor General: Canadian #AtoZChallenge

GWelcome back!  Yesterday we learned about the Canadian flag, and well, despite Canadians wanting a flag with its own identity, we haven’t yet let go of the Monarchy.

The Commonwealth

Canada is a member of the Commonwealth of Great Britain. This means that even though we have become independent, we wished to retain our British roots.  India was the first country to become part of the Commonwealth, followed by 52 other countries.

Because of this, the Queen of England is also the Queen of Canada.  And the Queen of Australia, and the Queen of New Zealand, and twelve other Commonwealth countries.

So how can one Queen (or King) perform royal duties for multiple countries?  Well, first of all, in the case of many Commonwealth countries such as Canada, our own parliament makes all the decisions and the Queen allows us to do so.  She plays more of a ceremonial role. That said, sometimes, if Canadian parliament cannot agree on something of significance to the nation, they can ask the Queen to intervene.

The Governor General of Canada

And sometimes the Queen can’t be in four places as once.  So these ceremonial and constitutional duties are fulfilled by the Governor General of Canada.

iv460_20040081_flag_GG

The Flag of the Governor General of Canada Source: http://www.gg.ca

He (or she) is the representative of the Queen. He attends events on her behalf.  He reads the Speech from the Throne to Canadians. He brings forward issues to the Queen if we want her input. He is recommended by the Prime Minister and appointed by the Queen, and traditionally, the Governor General alternates between a French-speaking Canadian and an English-speaking Canadian.

The Governor General also acts as a symbol of stable government.  On behalf of the Queen he is granted executive, legislative and judicial power in Canada (when required). He summons parliament and can also dissolve or prorogue parliament. He also serves as the Commander-in-Chief of the Canadian Armed Forces. He acts as Head of State on behalf of the Queen. If you’re American, you might notice this is a bit different from having the elected leader of the country as Head of State and Commander-in-Chief.

His Excellency the Right Honourable David Johnston

Our current Governor General is His Excellency the Right Honourable David Johnston.  He has led a fascinating life: lawyer, professor, University president, accomplished author (25 books!), among other many impressive feats as a citizen’s citizen. Last year, the Governor General granted the Prime Minister’s request to stay on for an additional two years over the five year term – extending his tenure until 2017.

Flag: Canadian #AtoZChallenge

Let’s talk Fabout the Canadian Flag, eh? What a unique design – and it’s perfectly symmetrical – looks the same no matter which way it’s flying!

I’d like to think it’s widely recognized around the world.  So much, in fact that people from (ahem) other countries sew Canadian Flags to their backpacks so people think they’re Canadian!

So can anyone guess how long Canada has had the flag you see today?

The 50-star version of the Star Spangled Banner is 56 years old. The Maple Leaf we use today was adopted 51 years ago.  Before that, well, let’s just say that Canadians aren’t always as agreeable as some might think.

Before 1965, our flag looked like this:

Canadian_Red_Ensign_(1957-1965).svg

It was called the Canadian Red Ensign, and it paid homage to our British roots in the top left corner (where we came from) and the Canadian Coat of Arms in the centre-right (who we became).

Many Canadians wanted a flag that depicted our own identity as a free country, away from our colonial roots, but many others wanted an original flag that still contained the Union Jack. And over the years, Canadians debated what that depiction might look like.  In 1964, Prime Minister Lester B. Pearson presented the plan to change the flag and Canadians argued for over six months on what the final product would look like, causing much tension and conflict within parliament during the process. In fact, according to reports, it got downright nasty between people at Parliament Hill for a while.

To see some of the proposed flags and the controversy, check out this video:


Eventually, today’s design of the Maple Leaf was approved. It contained red and white (already the official colours of Canada, by King’s decree), and a centred maple leaf (a symbol used to represent Canada since the 1700’s). Finally, in 1964, the Canadian government voted to adopt the Maple Leaf as the new national flag.

Ta da! (in case you didn’t know what it looked like):

Flag_of_Canada.svg-1

So I’ll conclude with some interesting national flag facts:

  • The majority of flag suggestions depicted a maple leaf, followed by a union jack, and followed by a beaver.  We could have had a rodent on our flag!
  • February 15th is “National Flag Day” in Canada, the day of the official inauguration ceremony in 1965.
  • People might still see the original Red Ensign around Canada – mostly at Veterans organizations and legions.  Most of the people who rejected the Maple Leaf were veterans, who had fought for Canada under a much different flag.
  • There is no official law saying how you should treat or fly the Canadian Flag, but the Department of Canadian Heritage have published some rules and guidelines that people should follow.
  • The Canadian flag is twice as long as it is wide.
  • It is not illegal to burn the Canadian Flag as it would violate citizens’ freedom of expression under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. In fact, it is suggested that the dignified way to destroy a worn or tattered flag is to burn it privately.

Canadians are very proud of their flag. They will wave it at the top of mountains. wear it on their shirts, or wrap a Canadian Flag towel around them on the ski hills (no names)! If you see someone with a Canadian Flag, say “Hello Canada!”  Apparently, the world thinks we’re pretty friendly people (for the most part)!

996115_10152157472392629_1919708789_n

Eh?: Canadian #AtoZChallenge

E

Today’s #AtoZChallenge was a no-brainer, although I had to be told by a friend that it was the perfect Canadian “E” word. Many of Canadians don’t think that we say the word “Eh?” enough for the [mostly] American stereotype to be true.  That is, until your co-workers point it out every time you do.

In fact, “Eh?” is such a Canadian stereotype that it has it’s own Wikipedia page!  In essence, “Eh?” is a tag used at the end of a sentence to indicate a subliminal request for an answer, comprehension or agreement.

“The weather is crazy here in Colorado, eh?”

You could replace “Eh?” with “Right?”  or “Isn’t it?”, but “Eh?” just comes out so naturally.  So naturally, in fact, that your American colleagues make it a past time to make fun of you whenever you say it.  Because “Eh?” is so much weirder than “Ya’ll”.

Now that I think of it, I wonder if Bob and Doug McKenzie might be partially to blame for our excessive use of “Eh?” and for the rampant stereotyping of Canadians:

One of my American friends recently decided to tell me a hi-larious joke about how Canada got its name. The settler decided to put all the letters in a hat and pull them out one by one to spell the name of this new plentiful land across the Atlantic.  They pulled them out read them to the settler writing the name down: “C, eh? N, eh? D, eh?” Sounds legit although I didn’t learn that in school (something about an anglicized version of “kanata”, an Iroquois word meaning “village” or “land” – but who knows…).

It’s easy to see how accent tags can spread and become so popular. The more people use them, the more others subconsciously start to use them as well.  I’ve experienced this first hand here in Colorado. Since I’ve moved here, I’ve noticed that if you say “Sorry” to someone (another Canadian stereotype!) the response isn’t “That’s okay” or “No problem”; it’s “You’re fine”. It was the weirdest response, but now after 3 years in Colorado, I actually find myself saying it to others as well!  I don’t even think about it and I can’t control it!

So, sure, “Eh?” is a Canadianism. We can’t deny it although we try to, but apparently the term is slowly being replaced by urban youth with other tags, such as “Right?” or “You know?”

I guess as an older generation Canadian (can’t believe I’m saying that), “Eh?” will stay in my vocabulary for a while…

 

 

 

Donair: Canadian #AtoZChallenge

DYou’re probably wondering what crazy Canadian thing could a “Donair” be? An animal? A Canadian term for a kite?

Well, picture this:  a gyro or a Turkish Döner kebab but wayyyyy more awesomer!!!!

Donairs came to be in Halifax, Nova Scotia back in the early 1970’s, and have since become a nationwide premier choice for late night, drunk delicacies!  Donairs started off made with beef on a vertical rotisserie, and were then wrapped with diced onion and tomato in a flatbread.

But that’s not all!  There’s no tzatziki sauce on these addictive treats!  Donairs come with a special sweet white sauce.

donair

Source: The National Post

Donairs now have expanded across Canada, but they are truly still an east coast delicacy.  Halifax’s King of Donair claims to be the first restaurant to sell Donairs and is usually the first place Canadians go if they’re visiting the coastal city.

Donairs are so engrained in east coast life, that Halifax city councillor put forward a notion last October to make the Donair the official food of Halifax!

So, if you’re not in eastern Canada, or have never tried a Donair, here’s a recipe on Allrecipes.com that may give you the experience without visiting! I make sure I have one every time I’m back home!

unspecified-5

Celsius: Canadian #AtoZChallenge

CThis is a fun one!  I call it “Canadian Degrees” to my American friends down here.  I also use it to make it seem colder than it is.

For example:  “Wow, it’s really mild today, it’s only -5° out!”

The look on their faces is priceless.  Especially since they actually believe that Canadians think -5° is warm!

Now how is it that two countries so close together, use completely different measures of temperature?

Forty-one years ago, the weather was the first to go in Canada’s efforts to shift to metric measurements and coincidentally, the switch from Fahrenheit to Celsius happened on April 1, 1975.  What an April Fools joke!

The people of the United States on the other hand, wanted nothing to do with this crazy method of measuring temperature.  Congress passed an act allowing the voluntary conversion to the metric system. Voluntary. It seems when faced with change, people are content to stick with what they know.

3dd17462409eda1740fecc5f512440a2a980fbfa82fa8e1c58e2f599f9d1a757

Here in the states, I have difficulty knowing what the temperature will “feel like” when I hear it announced in Fahrenheit.  I often have to switch my weather apps back and forth when checking the weather and when talking with friends about the weather.

In Canada, we usually discuss weather in Celsius, however for some strange reason, we mix between the two when cooking and baking. Many Canadian ovens either either display Fahrenheit only, or both.  This is a side effect from the metrification of Canada and varies among generations.

My weird metrification quirk is referring to the temperature in Fahrenheit when it’s above 80°F and Celsius when it’s 26°C or lower!  I do appreciate having 0°C represent the freezing point and 100°C representing the boiling point. That makes  a lot of sense to me.

Oh, and when it gets to be -40°C, it’s also -40°F.  Which, essentially means it’s so ridiculously cold that you shouldn’t bother even going outside unless you want instant frostbite.

Blue Rodeo: Canadian #AtoZChallenge

The Canadiana that starts with the letter B for me is the Canadian band, Blue Rodeo.

You may already know that I’m a big fan of Canadian music. From Rush to April Wine to Great Big Sea to Shania Twain, we have such a wide variety of great musicians that we should be proud of.  There’s nothing I love more than being in the U.S. and hearing a Canadian song on the local radio – and then experiencing disbelief when I tell them the song/band/singer is Canadian.  Prime example:  Life is a Highway by Canadian Tom Cochrane.  The song hit #1 in Canada and #6 on the Billboard Charts in the United States. But no one knew it was a Canadian song!

So back to Blue Rodeo.  One of my favourite Canadian bands. Mostly led by Jim Cuddy and Greg Keeler, two, incredibly talented singers and songwriters,the country rock band came to be in 1984 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

I love pretty much all of Blue Rodeo’s music – I never get sick of listening and singing along to their most popular songs, my favourite being “5 Days in May” from the 1993 album “Five Days in July”, also the band’s most successful album.

Lead singer Jim Cuddy has also pursued a solo career on the side while continuing to be a part of Blue Rodeo.  You can hear his Blue Rodeo influence in his own solo pursuits, such as “Pull Me Through” a great hit from 2006.

Enjoy!

Avro Arrow: Canadian #AtoZChallenge

Good morning!  I didn’t have a theme reveal, but I decided – since I’m a Canadian living in Colorado – that I am going to focus my #AtoZChallenge on Canadiana.  Words, phrases, things, foods, places.  This should be interesting.  Believe it or not, I’ve had a hard time coming up with topics for every letter of the alphabet: I think mostly because I take those things for granted.

So, today I’d like to talk about the CF-105 Avro Arrow! This is a little different than my usual kayaking and adventure posts, but I hope you’ll find it interesting…

The CF-105 Avro Arrow made its first test flight almost exactly 58 years ago (March 25, 1958). It was supposed to be a state-of-the art Canadian designed (and made) delta-wing, hypersonic interceptor, intended to fly at Mach 2 speeds over 50,000 feet.  This aircraft was going to put Canada on the aviation map.

aircraft_avroarrow_3

Source: The Canadian Aviation and Space Museum

 

But it didn’t quite happen that way and has gone down in history as a legend, a conspiracy story, a failure.

In February of 1959, the entire project was cancelled and within two months, there was very little evidence that the aircraft ever existed.

2014-02-20-02-full

Source: canadianhistoryforkids.com

 

This is where things started getting interesting. There were so many theories abound: one that a Russian spy had infiltrated the production line; many political theories; and rumours that one Avro Arrow was hidden from destruction, to name a few.

Only five years ago, information surfaced suggesting that an ejection seat from a CF-105 was found in the United Kingdom, owned by a private collector, refuelling speculation about the possibility that a complete jet was saved from destruction and possibly flown across the Atlantic. The owner of the seat told CTV News that he was “100% positive” he saw an Arrow land at RAF Manston Air Base when he was a teen, living near the base.

The Avro Arrow will go down in history as a Canadian legend, and unsolved mystery and to many a missed opportunity to make aviation history.

The Hunt for Bloody Mary

First off, disclaimer:  I’m Canadian.  And being Canadian, it means that a Caesar (pretty much a Bloody Mary but made with Clamato juice) is the only red, stuffed-to-the-brim-with-vegetables-and-other-drink-additions I should ever be drinking. Because I’m patriotic that way.

Since I’ve been in the U.S. and discovered that I can’t order Caesars at bars or restaurants, I usually make my own (and I’m pretty proud of them!):

IMG_0993

So, when I’m out and aboot, what’s a girl to do?  I’ve slowly given in and begun ordering Bloody Marys. So this is my evergreen blog on where some of the best Bloody Marys can be found!

  • Gondola Pub and Grill
  • Sidewinder Saloon
  • Belle’s Diner
  • Atchafalaya Restaurant

 

GONDOLA PUB AND GRILL, Steamboat Springs

Their claim to fame is their bacon Bloody Mary. Made with bacon-infused vodka (where can I get this?) and garnished with a strip of delicious crispy bacon. They have a ‘plain’ Bloody Mary they claim to be “the best in town”, but I’ve had both and the Bacon Bloody Mary can’t be beat!

11133789_10153222886062629_4633621821632586070_n

THE SIDEWINDER SALOON, Monarch Mountain

They have a full Bloody Mary menu. They are all great!  My favourite so far is the Carnivore Bloody Mary.  After a morning on the slopes, all you need is this drink and a side salad to fill you up!  This spicy drink comes with a big chunk of medium-rare steak, pepperoni, a pickled pearl onion and a strip of crispy bacon. There is also a Bloody Mary that comes with a shot of beer, which is very good, but nothing like the Carnivore!

IMG_0651

BELLE’S DINER, New Orleans

The great thing about Belle’s (and New Orleans in general) is that you can get a delicious, spicy Bloody Mary TO GO!!! We stopped here twice during our trip to New Orleans for ‘walking Bloody Marys’.

Image-2

ATCHAFALAYA RESTAURANT, New Orleans

Three words:  BLOODY. MARY. BAR.  Yes, that’s right.  Do-it-yourself, make your own Bloody Marys!  What do you want in it? Extra spicy? Green tomato juice? garnishes galore?  You decide!! You start off by ordering the type of vodka you want and they bring it to you in a glass.  The rest is up to you!

Image

Image-1

 

Jenny’s Travel Essentials!

I’ve talked before about the ‘art of packing’ and how I really enjoy trying to fit all my luggage in a carry-on!  This doesn’t always work however – sometimes I have to choice but to check a larger bag, and when I do, everything goes in there so I have very little to take with me on the plane.  Basically, I only take anything that I would need or that would cost me $$ if it was lost, stolen or damaged.  All electronics (including my DSLR camera) end up traveling with me.

Despite all the packing, there are a few things that I never leave home without!

Lately, I’ve been discovering gems around Colorado using www.vrbo.com, a member of the HomeAway, Inc family.  So far I have stayed at condos in Keystone, CO, a wonderful cabin in Garfield, CO, and a four-bedroom house in Rico, CO.  I’m looking forward to my next HomeAway adventure in Pagosa Springs, CO!

The folks at HomeAway were kind enough to send me a graphic of my top 5 essentials when packing for any trip – into the mountains, south, or around the world! I’ve added a few more below.

Jenny Edited Checklist

  1. Water bottle – Always carry a water bottle with me. I’m doing my part to prevent unnecessary waste because I can refill it at water fountains along the way. When we’re camping the water bottle is accompanied by a MSR water filter. We take the water from the streams along the way!
  2. Tea travel mug – Too easy.  I drink loose leaf tea (most of it from DAVIDsTEA, based out of Montreal, Canada) and the mug I have has a built in tea infuser! Wherever I go, I can add hot water for a great drink. Most coffee shops will fill your mug with hot water for free.
  3. Sunglasses – never leave home without them. Even in the winter when the sun glare reflects off the snow, polarized sunglasses are absolutely essential!
  4. iPod – For me, music is a must-have when I travel. While hiking, or on the plane, I bring my iPod or put music on my phone for listening to.
  5. Sunscreen – In the past I have forgotten to bring sunscreen and either find myself burned beyond recognition, or frantically searching for sunscreen in second and third world countries. Now, I always bring it with me.  When I’m kayaking, I keep a stick of waterproof sunscreen in my lifejacket.
  6. GORE-Tex® jacket – I love my Patagonia Super Alpine jacket or my Outdoor Research Revelation jacket. Takes up very little space in my luggage and provides a windbreaker, rain jacket, fall jacket – all in one!  Couple that with a light down jacket, you can be prepared for any weather!
  7. Waterproof camera – This can be your smartphone with a waterproof case, or a waterproof point-and-shoot like my Olympus TG-4. The TG-4 is shockproof, freezeproof and waterproof. When doing any outdoor activity, I don’t leave home without it!

Here’s a picture of what I took with me on our hike up to Kroenke Lake, Colorado for a week. You can see a few of my essentials – things that I absolutely must take with me either on a backcountry camping trip or on a touristy hotel trip!

IMG_3549