Ever since I can remember I've heard the comment that there is "no difference" between Canadians and Americans. I respectfully beg to differ as there is a difference on so many levels! We have unique Canadian culture consisting of Canadianisms, a Canadian perspective on world events, Canadian cuisine as well as products and foods only available in Canada. This blog is dedicated to celebrating all things Canadian from "my perspective" as a Canadian. Please enjoy your visit and be sure to visit often.

Garden Gnome
Americans should never underestimate the constant pressure on Canada which the mere presence of the United States has produced. We're different people from you and we're different people because of you. Living next to you is in some ways like sleeping with an elephant. No matter how friendly and even-tempered is the beast, if I can call it that, one is effected by every twitch and grunt. It should not therefore be expected that this kind of nation, this Canada, should project itself as a mirror image of the United States.
- Pierre Trudeau

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Truly Canadian - Butter Tarts

butter tarts
Homemade Butter Tarts
June 24, 2009

Butter tarts are a uniquely Canadian delightful treat! They were a staple in pioneer Canadian cooking and are considered one of the few recipes of genuinely Canadian origin. The sweet sticky filling is tucked into a flaky pastry crust. One of the earliest recipes for butter tarts is from northern Ontario. This recipe dates back to 1915. However, Sir John A McDonald (1815 - 1891), Canada's first Prime Minister was quite fond of butter tarts so this delicious treat dates back much earlier than the 1915 date.

Homemade butter tarts are common at bake sales, farmer's markets, bakeries and smaller family operated restaurants. Commercially made butter tarts are available in most grocery and variety stores. I made a dozen butter tarts (pictured) this week using the recipe in Kate Aitken's Canadian Cookbook, 1965 (recipe here). They did not last long!

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Verified Canadian™ Certification

A couple of days ago I stumbled upon a site called Really Made in Canada while looking for information on the new rules pertaining to food labeling in Canada. Over the past several years there has been a growing concern over labeling with respect to origin. As a Canadian I want to buy Canadian and support Canadian workers. As a foodie, I want to know the origin of the foods I put on the table. I know the importance of supporting our local farmers and I want them to be recognized for their work in a fair manner that ensures they can put food on their tables. As a Canadian consumer I want to be informed as to the origin of the goods I purchase. As I read through their site, I kept thinking this is so in line with many of my ideals as a Canadian. At the same time I couldn't help but think something my readers would be interested in. I contacted them about displaying the logo with a linkback to their website not realizing my site would have to go through an application process and be verified Canadian in order to use the what I thought was another 125 x 125 card. I did not realize this 125 x 125 was a certification similar to the "certified organic" or "Fair Trade" logos on food packaging.

Verified Canadian™is an independently, privately owned brand of Made in Canada. Only projects, businesses or organizations that are solely owned by Canadian citizens or permanent residents of Canada are entitled to be considered for Verified Canadian™ certification. What does this mean? It means 100% Canadian including labour, detailed disclosures for products claiming to be "made in Canada" and grown in Canada produce. It also means the owner/business is practicing Fair Trade with respect to the environment. This certification ensures that you as a consumer are getting a Canadian product. As a Canadian author of a Canadian blog it means a great deal to me just in being recognized for Canadian content and my efforts in promoting Canada.

They sent me the application which I filled out and waited anxiously. I was elated with the reply! My blog is now has now been Verified Canadian™ certified. I am now able to proudly display the trademark in its permanent location in the top sidebar. Please click to visit their website. It is a very, very interesting read written by Canadians, for Canadians and with an overall goal of keeping Canadians informed. If you see this trademark on a product in a store you can be sure is has been Verified Canadian™ meeting all the criteria of a Made in Canada product.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

The Canadian Beaver

Canadian beaver
Canadian Beaver in the Wild
(Castor canadensis)
June 14, 2009

We live on the Great Lakes waterway where we not only enjoy the beautiful Great Lakes and supporting waterways. There are many smaller rivers and tributaries as well as cuts, small lakes, ponds and ditches all draining into the Great Lakes waterway. This makes the area rich in both flora and fauna some of which are found no where else in the world! Last Sunday we arrived home from a fun day of boating. As we were loading the car I spotted a beaver in the cut.

The beaver is a Canadian national emblem gaining this prestigious honourary honour bestowed on March 24, 1975 due to it's role in colonizing Canada through the fur trade. Europeans came to North America specifically to trap beavers and trade beaver pelts in the 1600s and early 1700s. The pelts were destined to make fur top hats that were popular in Europe at that time. The two fur trading companies operating in what was to be Canada were the Hudson Bay Company (English) with headquarter in London, England and the North West Company (French) with headquarters in Montréal. Both fur trading companies worked closely with the Native population. Out of that relationship arose a unique people, the Métis one of Canada's recognized Aboriginal peoples under the Canada Constitution Act 1982. [As an aside, many of my ancestors (French, Native) were active in the fur trade not only as trappers but as Coureur des bois and interpreters. I'll write more on that in later posts.]

The beaver appears on:
  1. the first North American Coat of Arms (created by Sir William Alexander)
  2. an 18th Century silver Canadian trading token valued at 10 beaver pelts was in the shape of a beaver
  3. the Hudson Bay Company shield
  4. the Canadian nickel (5¢ coin)
  5. the Three Penny Beaver stamp of 1851
  6. the masthead of Le Canadién, a newspaper published in Lower Canada
  7. the Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR) crest
  8. a special 3¢ coin issued by the Canadian Mint in 2001
  9. the Coat of Arms of: Manitoba, Newfoundland, Saskatchewan
Other Canadian beaver trivia:
  1. National Beaver Day has been celebrated since 1974 by the Nova Scotia Association of Architects
  2. the de Havilland Beaver is a single engine high-wing five seat bush airplane
  3. the youngest level of Scouts Canada is called Beavers
  4. a popular gas station in Canada is called Beaver
  5. several Canadian geographical locations have Beaver in their name
  6. Frank and Gordon (originally Jules et Bertand) were Bell Canada Inc. mascots from 2005 to Aug 1, 2008
  7. the beaver is used as mascot and symbol for Parks Canada
  8. the mascot of the 1976 Olympic Summer Games in Montréal was a beaver names Amik
  9. a wonderful, deep fried, oblong shaped, somewhat flattened doughnut with various toppings is called Beaver Tail
  10. the Canadian beaver is the largest rodent in North America1

Monday, June 8, 2009

This Land is Your Land (Canadian Version)

In 1940 Woodie Gutherie wrote This Land is Your Land which became one of United States most famous folk songs. In the 1960's the song became popular again due to its political message. As with many well known songs there have been variations. In recent times the two additional confirmed verses in the original manuscript included.

This land is your land, this land is my land
From California to the New York Island
From the Redwood Forest to the Gulf Stream waters
This land was made for you and me.

As I went walking that ribbon of highway
I saw above me that endless skyway
I saw below me that golden valley
This land was made for you and me.

I roamed and I rambled and I followed my footsteps
To the sparkling sands of her diamond deserts
While all around me a voice was sounding
Saying this land was made for you and me.

When the sun came shining, and I was strolling
And the wheat fields waving and the dust clouds rolling
A voice was chanting, As the fog was lifting,
This land was made for you and me.

This land is your land, this land is my land
From California to the New York Island
From the Redwood Forest to the Gulf Stream waters
This land was made for you and me.

The additional verses from the original manuscript but omitted in the 1945 pamphlet of the song are:

As I went walking I saw a sign thereAnd on the sign it said "No Trespassing."But on the other side it didn't say nothing,That side was made for you and me.

Nobody living can ever stop me,As I go walking that freedom highway;Nobody living can ever make me turn backThis land was made for you and me.

In Canada, the song the first verse was altered by The Travellers in 1955 to make Canadian geographical references:

This land is your land, This land is my land,From Bonavista, to Vancouver IslandFrom the Arctic Circle to the Great Lakes waters,This land was made for you and me.

The Canadian version of This Land is Your Land is now a well known part of Canadiana. It was likely sung as part of every music period in Canadian elementary schools and performed in many school concerts. It was learned in Brownies, Girl Guides, Explorer's and 4H. The song was quite popular during parades, ceremonies, Centennial celebrations (1967) and political/labour protests.