YYZ; YOW; YVR: Canadian #AtoZChallenge


Airport Codes.  If you’ve flown to Canada, you may have noticed that all major Canadian airports boast a code that starts with the letter ‘Y’.

‘Y’? You might ask?  American airports look more this the city they are hosted in.  So why do all Canadian airports start with ‘Y’? What’s with that?

Well first of all the International Air Transport Association (IATA) determines and deconflicts three-letter airport codes around the world. Back in the day, airports began receiving names. In the United States, they received three-letter codes that corresponded with their location or airport name: LAX (Los Angeles), MIA (Miami), BOS (Boston), CLT (Charlotte).

So back to Canada.  Airport codes in Canada were apparently named after each region’s radio transmitter codes and vice versa. Canada had secured ‘Y’ for the beginning of its regional transmitter codes, and therefore kept it to refer to its airports as well.


Source: novaweather.net

Here are just a few.  Note that regional airports don’t all follow the ‘Y’ theme, but the majority of the international terminals do.

YOW: Ottawa (McDonald-Cartier International)

YYZ: Toronto (Pearson International)

YVR: Vancouver International

YEG: Edmonton International

YHZ: Halifax International

YXE: Saskatoon (John G. Diefenbaker International)



Camp-X: Canadian #AtoZChallenge



This place had many different names. S25-1-1, Project-J, or STS-103 but was unofficially known as Camp-X

This place was located near Whitby/Oshawa, Ontario and was a joint effort between the Canadian and British governments.

In the 1940’s.


What was this place?  A paramilitary training camp set up just before the attack on Pearl Harbor.  Many insist that Camp-X was key to many of the successes by allied forces during the war.

According to Wikipedia,  more than 500 allied units were trained at Camp-X during the war.  The camp was also responsible for the creation of Hydra, a station responsible for coding and decoding important communications  during the war.

Ian Flemming, James Bond author trained at Camp-X.  It’s often suspected that Bond is based on Sir William Stephenson, Canadian and Winston Churchill confidant responsible for the establishment of the centre in 1941.

Camp-X was only declassified in 1995, allowing us a peek into a secret spy training facility that might have been key to the outcome of the Second World War, right here in Canada.


Whadd’ya At?: Canadian #AtoZChallenge


In the Canadian province of Newfoundland, there is a different culture than the rest of the country. It’s born of British and South East Irish settlers with a dash of Scottish, and because of that – and the fact that Newfoundland is an island – the ‘Newfie’ accent is quite noticeable!

Not only is it noticeable, it can be hard to understand by people not from ‘The Rock’!  I visited Newfoundland once, and have made friends with Newfies over the years and it is a wonderful province plus they are wonderful people!  But we can’t understand them!

Check out this example and see if you can figure out what they’re saying:

Remember the movie ‘Snatch’ and Brad Pitt’s Caravan character?  The Newfie accent is not like Pitt’s.  But I bet many might mistake the two!

So, “Whaddyat” is a Newfoundland greeting.  It means “What are you doing right now!”

And the answer to “Whaddyat”, is always “Dis is it”.  Meaning “This is what I’m doing.”(referring to whatever you’re doing)

It’s only one of many Newfie slang terms, but a great one.  So great that it’s been made into a song!

We never say “hello” or “how’s it going?”, “good day” or any of that
We just look at them and nod our heads and wink say ‘Whadd’ya At?’

Viola Desmond: Canadian #AtoZChallenge


When I asked my friends for ideas for V, W, X and Y, my brother – high school teacher, adult night school teacher, diversity advocate and all-round great guy – suggested Viola Desmond.

The Battle of Vimy Ridge was originally going to be my ‘V’ topic, but I plan to write about it anyway outside of the #AtoZ Challenge.

I didn’t know who Viola Irene Desmond was – so this was also a great learning project for myself.

You might say that Mrs. Desmond was the Rosa Parks of Canada. But she was about a decade ahead.


Viola Desmond grew up in Halifax, Nova Scotia, but the real start of her plight happened in New Glasgow, NS in 1946.  When waiting for car repairs, she decided to treat herself to a movie, buying a ticket at the local theatre and taking a seat in the main auditorium. However, as she soon discovered, that particular theatre had segregated seating.  White folk were allowed to sit in the main auditorium while Black folk were forced to sit up in the balcony sections.  She was ordered to move, refused, and ultimately charged and jailed overnight.

The charge?  Tax evasion.  The balcony seats were 1 cent cheaper.  Viola was accused of sitting in an area to which she hadn’t paid.  Not for defying segregation in the theatre.

She decided to fight the charge in court with the help of her pro bono lawyer, Frederick William Bissett, but they lost the case.  Viola then chose to close her salons in Nova Scotia, study business in Montreal then settle in New York City.  She died at the age of 50 and buried back in Halifax.

Finally, in 2010, forty-five years after she died, the Nova Scotia provincial government issued a formal apology for the incident and the Lieutenant-Governor granted her a posthumous free pardon; acknowledging that Viola was innocent and the charges were made in error and clearing her name.

In 2012, Viola appeared on a Canada Post commemorative stamp:


Ukrainian: Canadian #AtoZChallenge


Did you know that the largest population of Ukrainians in the world outside of Ukraine and Russia is in Canada?

Although it is suspected Ukrainians came to Canada prior to 1891, but the best documented movement of Ukrainians into Canada happened then as Canada was advertised as a great place to settle for those wanting to escape famine and strife from the Austo-Hungarian and Russian rules.   It’s believed approximately 170,000 Ukrainians came to Canada between 1891 and 1914. Canada was also advertised as a great place to settle and farm by Canada’s Minister of the Interior – hoping for expanded agriculture in the prairies.  This is likely why the largest Ukrainian communities are in Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta.

Now, even though Ukrainian immigrants were needed for Canadian agriculture growth, during the First World War, the War Measures Act allowed the government to intern any person who originated from any ‘enemy state’ (sound familiar?).  As a result, about 5,000 Ukrainians were interned in various work camps across Canada.  Some weren’t released until almost 2 years after the war ended. In 2008, the Government of Canada established a $10 million fund called the Canadian First World War Internment Recognition Fund (CFWWIRF) aimed at providing monies to commemorate those who had their liberties taken from them during the war. Some of the projects have included documentaries, monuments and interpretive centres.


Commemorative plaque and statue at the location of the Castle Mountain Internment Camp, Banff National Park. Source: Wikipedia

Another large wave of immigration happened after the First World War when the Canadian government again opened immigration to former citizens of the Austrian Empire.  This saw another 70,000 Ukrainians come to Canada.

Ukrainian Canadians have a very unique culture, distinct from their European heritage and are very proud to protect that culture. The Ukrainian language is still taught in prairie schools, and Ukrainian dance is practiced regularly in these communities. Which I find funny because my Ukrainian husband refuses to dance.  Anywhere! 😉

Tuque: Canadian #AtoZChallenge



A knitted hat with a small or no brim.  Only in Canada.

It comes from the Middle Breton word toque, spoken by the immigrants who founded New France (now known as Québec).  When I write it, I spell it as toque.

I don’t even think about it when I say it.  If I’m referring to a knit hat (winter hat) I call it a ‘toque’.

My American friends call it a ‘beanie’. Calling it a toque also helps me meet random Canadians around the world.

Me in Telluride: “I wish I had worn my toque today”

Random stranger in Telluride: “Excuse me, but are you Canadian?”

Me: “Yes I am, how did you guess?”  (LOL)

So without further ado,  here are some of my favourite toques!!

Stompin’ Tom: Canadian #AtoZChallenge


Stompin’ Tom Connors (1936-2013) was a Canadian folk-singer well known for music solely focused on Canadian culture, Canadian lore and Canadian history.  He was a talented musician and we are lesser without him.  Instead of writing a whole bunch about Stompin’ Tom, I’m just going to share some of his best songs.


Bud the Spud – based on Prince Edward Island’s fame: “the spuds are big on the back of Bud’s rig. They’re from Prince Edward Island!”

The Good Old Hockey Game – Canada’s most famous hockey song! “Someone roars! Bobby scores! At the good old hockey game!”

Sudbury Saturday Night – “Well the girls are out to bingo and the boys are gettin stinko We think no more of INCO on a Sudbury Saturday Night” (INCO was a Canadian mining company and the world’s largest producer of nickel – most mined in the Sudbury region)

Canada Day up Canada Way – “O Canada, standing tall together! We raise our hands and hail our flag, the Maple Leaf forever!”

Robertson Screws: Canadian #AtoZChallenge


Did you know that Canada has a screw that’s mostly unique to our country?  It’s called the Robertson screw] or “square-head” screw.

First manufactured in Milton, Ontario (where my aunt and uncle lived when I was a child) in 1908 and patented in 1909, the fastener remains named after its inventor, P.L. Robertson.

Robertson screws look like this:


And they look like that because Mr. Robertson cut his hand using a spring-loaded screwdriver and decided to design a safer screw.

Of course, there’s also a screwdriver.

Image (2)

You can find Robertson screws and screwdrivers in the United States, but sparingly.  Apparently Mr. Robertson did try to pitch his great new invention to a company in Buffalo, NY, but gave up after they couldn’t come to an agreement.  His screws were then used in the manufacturing of Canadian Ford cars and the savings incurred were noticed by Ford Motor Company in Detroit.  However, Henry Ford wanted ownership on decisions about how the screws were used and Mr. Robertson didn’t want to let that power go.  So – today, Robertson screws and screwdrivers are mostly a Canadian ‘thing’.


Quinte: Canadian #AtoZChallenge


There were some good Canadian Q words/things.  Quebec and Queen came to mind.  Then someone suggested Quinte and I had to write about it.


Do you have that place that you always remember as a place that represents youth and adulthood at the same time?  The Bay of Quinte Region is that place for me.

Sandbanks - Beached


Growing up in Kingston, Ontario, The Bay of Quinte was about 45 minutes away from our hometown.  The bay itself is a zig-zaggy bay and the region hosts great Walleye fishing, wineries, golfing and sand beaches.  In Canada, having sand beaches nearby is something not to be taken advantage of.  Basically it was our version of living by the sea!  So where would we go on weekends, or on Fridays during the last couple of weeks of high-school (Shhhhh)?  Specifically – Picton Beach! And the best way to go was along the lake, taking the ferry over.  What an experience!



Picton Beach is actually Sandbanks Provincial Park, but we call it Picton Beach.  The park hosts the world’s largest baymouth barrier dune formation – 10,000 years in the making – created when the massive Lake Iroquois receded, at the end of the last ice age leaving the puddle called Lake Ontario. The sand from the larger lake blew up, creating the dunes that rise almost 200 feet from the lake and stretch for 12 kilometres!

Sandbanks - Shoreline


Poutine: Canadian #AtoZChallenge

WPhat!?!?  What is this crazy word you speak of?

Poutine is definitely a Canadian food.  I know what you’re thinking.  There’s no such thing as Canadian food.  Even U.S. National Security Advisor Stu Smiley (played by Kevin Pollock) in the movie Canadian Bacon said “First of all, there is no Canadian culture. I’ve never read any Canadian literature. And when have you ever heard anyone say, “Honey, lets stay in and order Canadian food”?”

Poutine is so Canadian, I’ve seen attempts at recreating it here in the U.S. and they have all failed.

Poutine is a French Canadian dish consisting of french fries, cheese curds (squeaky cheese) and gravy. Few dispute the fact that poutine came from Quebec, however many communities in Quebec believe that theirs is the birthplace of the dish.


Source: Papa Mario’s, Halifax NS

Here in the states, I’ve seen poutine made with shredded mozzarella, and every Canadian I know would tell you that is simply blasphemous.  It has to be curds.  And it has to be brown gravy.

Personally, the best poutine can be found in Kingston, Ontario at a place called Bubba’s Poutine and Pizzeria. Kingston is a college town, with St. Lawrence College, Queen’s University and the Royal Military College giving the downtown core constant attendance. Day and night.  Bubba’s is known as a late night drunk snack stop.  People travel past Bubba’s on their way home from the Ontario Street clubs.  And they pick up what – at three o’clock in the morning – seems like the most amazing food in the world!


Here’s a recipe if you want to make it yourself:  http://allrecipes.com/recipe/79300/real-poutine/.

In Newfoundland, there is another dish that is equally as delicious, but has its own twist:  Fries, dressing and gravy.  Instead of cheese curds, they use savoury turkey stuffing!  So delicious!

2015-01-26 11.48.16

Source: Stuffed at the Gill’s Food Blog: http://stuffedatthegills.blogspot.com