Monday, March 27, 2006

Canadian myths

On Friday morning, guest-host Erica Ritter on CBC Radio 2 told a story about seeing the “Canadian Tire guy” on the street and feeling sorry for him, as the actor was recently fired by the company in the wake of intense, nation-wide public hatred of the character.
The Canadian Tire guy
The “Canadian Tire guy” is played by actor Ted Simonette, who for a minor actor is remarkably hard to track down according to a couple of blogs (For example,

Ritter’s point was that seeing the actor in person made her start thinking about some stereotypically Canadian icons and myths. Simonette, she felt, was a victim of a “collective decision” based on a collective myth. Does everyone really hate this guy?

The idea raises other thoughts about Canadian myths. Do we really own winter? Are we all about hockey? “It almost seems unpatriotic to say you don’t love Tim Horton’s coffee,” she mused—even though it’s owned by an American firm, Wendy’s International. And at about the same time that Canadian Tire fired its bearded know-it-all “guy,” Wendy’s announced its initial public offering for Tim Horton’s—which means anyone can own a piece of this supposed Canadian icon.

What about other Canadian myths: are we more polite than anyone else? It seems I get more polite service in restaurants in most places in the U.S. than in Canada. What do you think?

Do we really own winter when the mayor of our biggest city calls out the army because of a snowstorm? Okay, there are those who will say that Toronto isn’t “really” Canada, but still, are we really the best at winter stuff? Most of my neighbours complain about snow and cold winds, and actually prefer spring rains to winter flurries. Our national men’s hockey team did not do so well at the Olympics in Torino (although the overall results were terrific). What does that say about our winter orientation?

Tell me what you think about Canadian myths and symbols. Are you planning to buy a piece of Tim’s, so you’ll be eating your own doughnuts? Will you do it in celebration of the end of that admittedly annoying, phoney, bad actor’s presentation of the superior Canadian Tire shopper? Do you dread the coming of winter, or its end? Do you find that Canadians are more polite than Americans (not counting New Yorkers)?

And does preferring Timothy’s Coffees of the World (a Canadian-based chain) to Tim Horton’s really make you unpatriotic?

Comment early and often.

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