Politicizing Poutine

By Ian Alexander Cuthbertson

Poutine, a delicious mess of french fries, cheese curds, and gravy, has recently been described as Canada’s national dish. Given poutine’s origins in rural Québec, these claims shed light on the tensions at play in the ongoing construction of Canadian identity.

Poutine’s status as Canada’s national delicacy remains unofficial despite a recent campaign to give poutine the national recognition it deserves.

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Yet marketing campaigns aside, poutine is already widely recognized as being quintessentially Canadian. Continue reading “Politicizing Poutine”

“I asked God to send me, right away, a hundred million moths that would eat up my Toronto Maple Leafs Sweater”

That’s Roch Carrier, the Quebec author, when he was 10 years old, in 1947.

If you know anything about the history of Canada, or hockey, you’ll know that there’s something wrong with that picture once you hear it was taken in Sainte-Justine-de-Dorchester, Quebec — near Quebec City but also near the Maine border.

Or, to put it another way, it wasn’t taken in Toronto. Continue reading ““I asked God to send me, right away, a hundred million moths that would eat up my Toronto Maple Leafs Sweater””

Us/Not Us

Picture 1Not long after we came to the U.S. from Canada — specifically, moving from Ontario to Knoxville, TN, back in 1993 — we went out to eat to experience some authentic southern food for ourselves. While I’ll defer from talking too much here about the terrible let down that was the side dish that they called “hush puppies” (deep fried dough balls? Really?), what turned out to be even more memorable was the waitress who, likely hearing in our voices that we weren’t local, asked us, “Where y’all from?” to which we answered, “Toronto.” Continue reading “Us/Not Us”

Creative Accounting

canada-pennyI was in Canada over the summer and had forgotten that they’d done away with the penny — until, that is, I was trying to figure out why I got short-changed in a store, which blithely rounded up the cost of my purchase and cheated me out of a few cents.

But then I remembered…

Coz what do you do when it costs more to make a penny than the value that’s ascribed to it? (Phasing them out is estimated to save the Canadian taxpayers $11 million per year!) Continue reading “Creative Accounting”

Buying Nationalism, eh?

fridgeOn this Canada Day, we’d like to take moment and ensure that everyone knows the words to the Canadian national anthem — if only to get a free beer, should you ever come across one of these red refrigerators.

http://youtu.be/t41wNkGvJ9k

 

Who Are You? I’m an Alabamian

Picture 2Who Are You?” is an ongoing series that asks members of Culture on the Edge to reflect on one of their own many identities (whether national, gendered, racial, familial, etc.), theorizing at the same time the self-identification that they each chose to discuss.

When, back in early 2001, I got the job as Chair of the Department of Religious Studies at the University of Alabama I was working at what was then called Southwest Missouri State University, in Springfield, MO, and I recall sending out an email to my friends and colleagues in North America and Europe, to let them know that I’d soon be moving. Many wrote back their congratulations, of course, but I noticed a curious thing: unlike my Canadian and European friends, many of my U.S. colleagues’ congratulations came with what I read as subtle qualifications, equivocations, maybe even an unwritten sigh or two. For, sooner or later, they’d write something like, “Alabama? Really?” or “Wow. Well, good luck.”

It seemed that while others had read the part about becoming a department chair or moving to a major state university, others couldn’t get past the part about moving to Alabama. Continue reading “Who Are You? I’m an Alabamian”

Keep Your Stick on the Ice

Picture 6Each New Year’s day, since 2008, two National Hockey League teams face-off — as they say — in an outdoor game that’s called the Winter Classic. This year, the first to include a Canadian team (another older but more infrequently played series, called The Heritage Classic, has pitted two Canadian teams against each other), was between the Detroit Red Wings and the Toronto Maple Leafs. The Leafs won 3-2 in a shoot-out after the overtime sessions didn’t decide it. (Go Leafs.)

The thing that’s interesting about this game is the way that it quite successfully markets nostalgia, such as the custom-made vintage uniforms they all wear and the “old timers” game between long retired NHL players that’s also part of the weekend’s activities — a point nicely identified by a friend on Facebook during the game, who noted the wonderful contradiction between the old school “leather” look of the goalie pads and gloves but the modern high-tech helmets and visors the players were all still wearing. Continue reading “Keep Your Stick on the Ice”

“We Are Canadian, eh?”

Picture 4Have you seen this Canadian beer commercial, known as “The Rant”? Airing in 2000, it ran with what was then Molson’s slogan, and was pretty popular in Canada, airing during Saturday night hockey games. In fact, a good friend me a “I am Canadian” key chain back then and I still use–the double entendre of the pithy slogan evident to anyone who knows their brands of Canadian beer. Continue reading ““We Are Canadian, eh?””