Thoughts on culture, education, and having been a Canadian in the US
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Posts from — March 2007

Farewell to the Rheostatics: Dave Bidini interview on Radio 3

Today’s the day…. Here’s what Dave had to say about the band’s final show tonight on CBC’s Radio3

March 30, 2007   No Comments

Teachers who inspire (and not just the students)

One of the most inspiring teachers I’ve heard speak is Dr. Frank Robinson from the U of Alberta‘s Faculty of Agriculture, Forestry, and Home Economics. He’s just won one of Canada’s prestigious national 3M teaching fellowships (faculty from the U of A, by the way, have won more than any other university). Were I back at the U of Alberta, I think I’d be wanting to sit in on his course on a regular basis just to watch him teach.

This part of the article about the 3M winners in Macleans magazine made me smile…

A compact, wiry man with a police officer’s moustache, Robinson could be called slight were it not for a quiet, off-the-wall kind of charisma—one that finds expression in asking the sorts of questions that, initially at least, appear to come from the absurdist end of agriculture. “Why do cattle eat their placenta? Do they like the taste or is it peer pressure?” Or try: “Can horses fake pregnancy?” Or: “How many cows would it take to power your home theatre system?”

Congrats, Frank!

March 29, 2007   No Comments

Canadians are more likely to read books than attend movies, says Stats Can

From today’s Globe and Mail:

Canadians are more likely to read a book than attend a movie, and they’re visiting art galleries and historic sites more. At least that’s what appears to have been the case two years ago, according to an analysis released yesterday of a “social survey” of 10,000 Canadians completed by Statistics Canada in 2005.

The analysis by Hill Strategies Research Inc. of Hamilton found that, in 2005, 17.4 million Canadians 15 years of age and older — or 66.6 per cent of that total population group — read at least one book in the course of 12 months. In fact, about four in 10 Canadians read at least one book a month in 2005. By contrast, in that same period, 15.9 million Canadians (61 per cent) went out to see at least one movie in a theatre or at the drive-in.

Wow, this impresses me, although I would still like to see more Canadians reading. And, of course, we really don’t know what they are reading. Nevertheless, the fact that we have 40% of Canadians reading at least a book a month is a good start. I think the question now is “What can we do to increase those numbers and encourage more people to read Canadian books?”

Does anyone out there know what the similar stats are for the US?

March 29, 2007   No Comments

Rheos countdown continues…

More articles today about tomorrow night’s final show by the legendary Rheostatics.

March 29, 2007   No Comments


Now, let’s make this clear. I like Canadian stamps as much as the next Canadian, perhaps even a bit more.

Check out these stamps of some of my favourite Canadian musicians, writers, places, and, um, cultural heroes, for instance.



(Joe Shuster, co-creator of Superman, was Canadian, to answer your question)

BUT, I have to say, this would be one of the years where back in Canada you would have heard me say, “How come Americans get to buy all the cool stamps?!”

StarWarsStamps marvel250


Now, if only I can find a way to buy a whole pile of Wolverine stamps to use for all of our outgoing mail from Canadian Studies!

March 28, 2007   No Comments

Certainty, by Madeleine Thien

A nice, albeit brief review on NPR of Madeleine Thien’s first novel Certainty, which was just released in the US this week.

NPR : A First Novel that Pits the Far East with Canada:

March 28, 2007   No Comments

Farewell to the Rheostatics….

I’m very sad about the demise of the Rheostatics, one of the great Canadian bands of all time. Their final concert with band members Michael Phillip Wojewoda and founding member Tim Vesely is this week at Massey Hall in Toronto. Fans from across Canada and around the world are travelling there to attend.

The Rheostatics came to play at the Piazza Bar in Edmonton in the summer of 1987, supporting their first album. I was the house sound man for a month or two that summer and they blew me away. I’ve been a big fan ever since. That was a great summer.

I think the fact that all of these Canadian acts got together to do a secret tribute album to the Rheos says it all. There will be a big hole in the Canadian music scene after this, though it sounds like Dave Bidini and Martin Tielli will continue to work together.

March 27, 2007   No Comments

Busy days, but here are a few links to tide you over…

No time to write much this week, but here are a few things I would comment on in more detail if I had time:

Graham Swift is one of my favourite writers, so it kills me that I’ve still not gotten around to reading the Light of Day. He also has a new book coming out this spring. Here’s a new podcast of an interview with him from The Guardian.

I’m very happy about this news…. Hockey Night in Canada (and Coach’s Corner) is a Canadian tradition and perhaps one of our greatest, most visible exports to border communities like Burlington.

I was just interviewed this morning by Vermont Public Radio about the results from last night’s election in Québec. Wow, talk about a shakeup of the political landscape in Québec. Looks like that other Paul Martin was busy today, too… (nice new website, other Paul!)

Oh yeah, speaking of politics, I almost forgot to link to this….

March 27, 2007   No Comments

Event this week worth attending

Center for Research on Vermont Research-in-Progress Seminar: “The Moccasin Village Project: Reconstructing the History of French-Abenaki Communities on the Winooski Intervale,” Judy Dow, Abenaki basketmaker and educational consultant, and Nancy Gallagher, historian and author, Memorial Lounge, Waterman, 7:30 p.m.

This should be a very interesting talk. Here’s an excerpt from a longer an article on Ms. Dow and this project in the Free Press of March 21:

Dow’s father’s family is from Moccasin Village, a part of Burlington that overlooked the Intervale. (She will reveal its precise location at the UVM talk.)

Dow and Gallagher will discuss how the Abenaki adapted to life in the growing city around them. They will talk about the culture of Moccasin Village, where residents had their own customs and influences and priorities.

“It was night and day,” Dow said, comparing Moccasin Village to Burlington’s Hill section.

Abenaki adapted to changing social and political currents in the city in an effort to keep their culture alive, Dow said. “Sometimes this adaptation didn’t fit into the big picture that white Anglo-Saxons saw for Burlington.”

A number of initiatives were put in place — including limits on fishing and hunting — that served to undermine Abenaki culture, Dow said.

Later, in the 1920s and 30s, Burlington would create a eugenics survey in an effort to identify (and control) certain populations.

March 26, 2007   No Comments

Great news for the Joyce community

Glad to see this settled in favour of Carol Shloss. Many of us have been watching this case for a long time. The complete press release can be found here.

This great article from the New Yorker relates the whole story…..

(Thanks to Alec and Heidi for passing this along to me…)

March 23, 2007   No Comments