Jasper: Canadian #AtoZChallenge

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Out of all the places in Canada, you would think that Jasper, Alberta would be a rather random place for me to highlight – but not after I show it to you!  When people think of the Canadian Rockies, they often think of British Columbia.  But how many people consider the eastern slope of the range? Banff, Canmore, Lake Louise, Kananaskis, Jasper are all stunning Canadian destinations in the Alberta rockies!

Jasper can refer to Jasper National Park or the Town of Jasper. People often say “Jasper” when they’re referring to that whole area in the Athabasca River Valley. The Town of Jasper was originally an outpost for the Hudson’s Bay Company (hey! My “H” #AtoZ!) and then was formally established as a town as the Grand Trunk Pacific Railway and Canadian Northern Railway developed their lines through the region.

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Jasper was also used as an internment camp for six months in 1916, holding Ukranian men (and some women and children) under the terms of the Canadian War Measures act while Canada was at war with Austria-Hungary. This internment across Canada of about 4,000 people left a scar on the Canadian Ukrainian community – which I’ll likely talk more about when I talk about Ukrainian culture in Canada on the #AtoZ “U” day.

Today, Jasper is a Canadian mountain town known for its recreational tourism.  People come from all over the world to visit Jasper National Park and to experience the nature and wildlife in the region.  It is definitely worth a visit if you’re in Canada.

Enjoy some of my photos from my time in Jasper!

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IMAX: Canadian #AtoZChallenge

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This is a fun one because I didn’t know IMAX was invented in Canada! I learned something new!  IMAX (Image MAXimum) came to be as filmmakers searched for ways to make the visual experience even better for movie-goers.

During Expo ’67 in Montreal, some movies were tested in a multi-camera/projector configuration, but it didn’t quite work the way they had hoped. As a result, four men who worked on the Expo project collaborated to form a company called Multi-Screen Corporation, and three years later, debuted the first ever IMAX film called Tiger Child at Expo ’70 in Osaka, Japan.

The first IMAX theatre was built at Ontario Place in Toronto, called Cinesphere.  I remember the dome when I was a child and used to go to Ontario Place, but I can’t remember if I ever watched a movie there. It was probably too expensive!

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Today, there are 1,061 IMAX theatres around the world that show specialty films.  You can also watch IMAX 3D films in many regular theatres. It’s no longer just a theatre. It is digital video at its finest. It’s advanced film development.  It’s specialty cameras that give the viewer the most outstanding point of view. The Soarin’ ride at Disney’s Epcot integrates IMAX technology with a ride.  I went back twice to experience that one!

Check out this video showing the different IMAX 3D Cameras which are used for capturing various types of video for IMAX films! Which are some of your favourite IMAX movies?

 

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.

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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:

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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):

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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)!

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Eh?: Canadian #AtoZChallenge

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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.

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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!

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