Category Archives: Literature

Sctv Great Canadian Comedy

John Candy, Eugene Levy, Martin Short, Rick Moranis, Cathrine O’Hara, and Dave Thomas reads like a who’s who list of the top sketch comics for their generation. It is almost hard to believe that they are all Canadian and at one time they were all in the same show.

SCTV for most Canadians needs no introduction. The innovative and influential comedy television series, Second City Television was started in Toronto in 1976, a year after fellow Canuck Lorne Michaels created a little show called Saturday Night Live. SCTV eventually ended down south and over its eight years created 135 shows. The concept of the show is of a day in the life of a fictitious low-budget television station in the small town of Mellonville. The low production values added to its bizarre satire and its multilayered approach featured behind the scenes aspects. Besides launching the careers of many of the artists, the show has influenced a new generation of comedy writers including The Simpson’s. Although these artists have gone on to feature film projects with larger budgets and a wider audience many would agree that their best work was achieved during these seminal years.

When the show moved to CBC, each episode that aired in Canada was to be two minutes longer than the shows in the States. The show’s producers requested that they add some identifiable Canadian content. Their absurd request was followed by a skit that included every conceivable Canadian cliché and thus The Great White North was born. As they drank real Canadian beer from stubby bottles while wearing toques and parkas and frying back bacon on a Coleman stove, the Canadian content requirements were amply supplied by the iconic Bob and Doug McKenzie brothers.

During the 1990’s SCTV all but disappeared and was not available on DVD. The shows producers never bothered to clear the music rights for the shows numerous use of copy written music. The NBC episodes were finally released on DVD in 2004 to the relief the fans and ensures the legacy of this great Canadian television series.

A Great Canadian Thomas Clement Douglas

It’s the twentieth of October 1904 in Falkirk, Scotland. Annie Clement brings her son Thomas Clement Douglas into the world. This night holds the wonder of birth and new life, but untouched is the notion that this child would become the man who would bring revolutionary ideas to reality in Saskatchewan and eventually most of Canada. Six years later the family would immigrate to Canada, but not before little Tommy has a fall and badly injures his knee. He undergoes a surgery before they leave Scotland. When the family arrives in Winnipeg, Manitoba the injury flares up again and his parents are told they will need to amputate his entire leg. Luckily for Tommy a good-willed doctor hears of the situation and intervenes. This experience opens their eyes to the world of healthcare and its inaccessibility to the majority of the Canadian Citizens.

As a young man Tommy was full of ambition and dreams, he worked hard, even dropping out of school to pursue a job. During this time he attended night school to continue to educate himself and eventually decides to return to full time school to become an ordained minister. In 1924, the 19-year old Douglas started at Brandon College to work towards becoming a minister. During the six years he attended the school he was strongly influenced by the Social Gospel, a term referring to the movement of Christian values combined with social reform. The professors at the College challenged the students to think critically and question their fundamental beliefs, arguing Christianity was just as concerned with social justice as salvation. This is a revolutionary idea in itself, to most Christians.

When Douglas graduated from College he settled in Weyburn, Saskatchewan. At the time was the most impoverished province of the country. Douglas arrived with high hopes, a young wife and the untarnished idealism of youth. He was the minister of the Calvary Baptist Church. With the Depression looming in the near future Douglas became one of the leading activists in the area, joining the CCF (Co-operative Commonwealth Foundation). He endeavored to practice what he preached. In the election of 1935, he was elected to the Canadian House of Commons. The passion and inability to stand by had led him from the pulpit to a life of politics and participation.

With charisma and passion Douglas led the CCF to power in Canada. In the elections of 1944, the party won forty-seven of fifty-three seats in the Saskatchewan Legislative Assembly. They formed the first democratic Socialist government in Canada and the idea spread to all of North America. 1953, Douglas was the premiere of Saskatchewan and as such attended the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II that June. He would go on to win the next five consecutive provincial elections up to the year 1960. During his time in office he kept his promises to the province, he brought about changes such as SGI, the same one we still buy our insurance from, a Power Corporation that extended the reach of electricity, a program to offer free hospital care to all citizens- the very first in Canada, and the Saskatchewan Bill of Rights, which preceded the Universal Human Bill of Rights by eighteen months. It was clear to see this man had grand ideas for the good of people, but not only that, he brought them to life in Saskatchewan, the poorest of poor at the time.

Tommy Douglas’ biggest and most important contribution to the Country was the innovation and creation of Medicare. This was the idea that possessed him most strongly. Douglas put all of his effort into making this vision become reality. In the summer of 1962, Medicare was the forefront issue between the Saskatchewan Government, the North American medical establishment and the healthcare practitioners of the province. The physicians of Saskatchewan went on Strike called the 1962 Doctor’s strike and put the battle on hold. They were convinced their interests were being overlooked, and the change would incur an income decrease and unnecessary government interference in medical decisions, despite Tommy’s promise that this wouldn’t happen. The Medicare Dream had plenty of opposition at the time, mostly the medical establishment that believed they were going to be put out of work by bringing in cheaper foreign workers to make Medicare happen. The opposition used a lot of racist imagery to try to scare the public out of the idea. At this time, however, the issue was brought to federal light and despite Douglas no longer being in office (he had retired in 1961) the bill was passed in 1962 after both John Diefenbaker and Lester Pearson had helped out.

Written by: Tierra Marasse

Great Fictional Canadians Captain Canuck

The younger cousin of Uncle Sam and Britain’s John Bull, Johnny Canuck was a wholesome simple-minded lumberjack that would eventually help Canada fight the Nazis, and almost single handily defeat Adolf Hitler. He was a war Hero. And like many Canadian war heroes he ended up living in Montreal with dreams of grandeur. He soon took to the stage performing in – Johnny Canuck and the Last Burlesque – the “historico-comedico-musical burlesque extravaganza”.

Since then Johnny has been the star of many YouTube videos. Including one that promotes the 2011 Vancouver vs. Boston Stanley Cup Playoffs (Click here to watch “My name is Johnny Canuck”). I’m sure even he would be disappointed at the riots after the game.

Good old Johnny Canuck the war hero/burlesque star paved the way for dozens of fictional Canadians. From Miss Canada to Dudley Do-Right, many extremely creative animators have personified our great nation in cartoon.

Do you have any favourite fictional Canadians? If so let us know by leaving a comment. Don’t forget to like our Facebook page and upload a photo for your chance to win a Canadian wine prize pack!

Watch The Birth of Miss Canada and Johnny Canuck

Johnny Canuck and the Last Burlesque – ”A lot of the inspiration came out of the story of Lily St-Cyr, who was a famous Montreal burlesque stripper of the time, who put one of her own suicide attempts onto the stage as a strip number.

Canada by Anita Stewart

This Canadian cookbook takes you on a journey with Anita Stewart across the country. It’s a collection of recipes from real Canadians. She has been called the Wonder Woman of Canadian cuisine and for good reason. This book’s easy Canadian recipes are flavourful and unique, and you learn lots about the history of the country. From the only truly Canadian method of cooking, to our immigrant population’s traditional meals, this book will keep you interested and full.

I give this book five-maple leaves out of five for doing such a great job telling Canada’s stories. Thank you Anita Stewart.