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:


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.


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 that may give you the experience without visiting! I make sure I have one every time I’m back home!