I started watching the Opening Ceremonies of the Olympics (yes, it’s Friday… and I’m sitting here) and watched in wonderment as one, after another, after another b-list celebrities were revealed to me as native Canadians. We all knew Barenaked Ladies. Maybe a few knew Bryan/Ryan Adams. But Nelly Furtado? Sarah McLaughlin? Some kid from the circus school? That mean old guy Donald Sutherland? Wow. I mean the show was a little out there for me, but nonetheless.
Needless to say, this prompted a bit more research. As a result, I am heretofore willing to admit that many of my perceptions on Canada were wildly incorrect. Sure, I knew that people were only Canadian when it was convenient (e.g. during Winter Olympics, see above). I knew that whole “aboot” thing, I’ve been to Montreal once, I understand the whole joke-on-the-world-stage reputation, these Ceremonies aside. But I had no idea the litany of Canadian accomplishments.
Without further adieu, with further research, my list of Things That I Give Canada Credit For:
- Many, many inventions. Let’s start at the top – Basketball (James Naismith), “the” Telephone (Alexander Graham Bell), “the” Television (Reginald Fessenden), Trivial Pursuit (Chris Haney and Scott Abbott), and various other significant items in your daily or once-yearly-at-Christmas-with-family life.
- Research in Motion. That BlackBerry in your hand? Brought to you by a Canadian company with market cap of about $40B.
- Pamela Anderson Lee, circa 1994. Those under about 20, see: Baywatch. Those above: Remember?
- John Kenneth Galbraith. Keynesian economics, say what. Adviser to four presidents. Recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom. I’d disagree with a lot of his theories, but what the heck do I know.
- Jim Carrey. Sure, it’s been a bit of a downhill slope since The Truman Show. Or maybe The Mask, but who’s counting. He’s Canadian. Aboriginal, in fact.
- Cirque de Soleil. I saw the “O” show when in Vegas a few weeks ago, and was absolutely stunned. This should actually be higher on the list but it’s harder to adjust these lists in our WordPress editor than you would assume. Taking the Circus, though, and making it into a luxury “night out” for the masses is quite an accomplishment, and a Canadian one at that.
- Wayne Gretzky. If I started naming hockey players, I’d waste the whole freaking list. But “The Great One” was truly that, plus a part of one of the more pathetic trades in the history of modern sports, to the degree that even leaders of the Canadian government tried to block it. Mario Lemieux, Gordie Howe, many others could find their way to a list that was expanded beyond just 10.
- Lorne Michaels. Who(m), you ask? Most should know. The creator of Saturday Night Live, a prolific American, even global, entertainment show – nay, conglomerate. Mike Myers, Rick Moranis, many others can count themselves as having stood on the shoulders of a fellow Canadian, so to speak, on his/her way to relative fame across the border.
- Jack Bauer. I mentioned The Other Donald above. But his son also happens to be Canadian. The one and only Kiefer Sutherland, aka the man who could/should have lit the Olympic flame by jumping from a helicopter blindfolded without a parachute with just a single pre-lit match to make it happen beyond a barrier of seven guards and any one of several old arch nemeses.
- Alex Trebek. He almost didn’t make the list, because he pisses me off. The smartest man alive, if Jeopardy answers are concerned (“I’m sorry, the answer is who is Louis XIV”) – but you had the answer card in your hand, buddy – is in fact, Canadian (-American, since 1998). Rough, just like your momma likes it, Trebek.
Anyway, a few thoughts for your Friday night. I guess the irony is that many of these folks are actually Canadian-American, having been naturalized later in life. What can you do. Enjoy the weekend.