Thoughts on culture, education, and having been a Canadian in the US
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Posts from — March 2008

Ah yes, good ol’ Stan Weir

Lowetide is quickly becoming one of my favourite blogs:

This is Stan Weir. Stan Weir was born in a log cabin that he built with his bare hands. Stan Weir can lick his elbow. Stan Weir puts the fun in funeral. Big Foot takes pictures of Stan Weir.

Stan Weir once played 18 holes of golf using a 12 inch strip of rebar and a sun dried tomato. He shot a 54.

March 26, 2008   No Comments

Is America Ready for a Canadian President?

I found this cartoon in my mailbox this morning after pitching the importance of Canadian Studies to the University administration.

March 26, 2008   No Comments

I’m counting on Stan Weir

Like many Oilers fans, I’m feeling the Stan Weir magic. Stan is going to lead us into the playoffs, I just know it. As I learned today on Lowetide, one of the best Oilers blogs there is,

Stan Weir wrote the words to “O Canada.”

Many English words have come from the legend of Stan Weir. These include substantial, standoff, standard and it is no coincidence that all hockey players dream of winning the Stanley Cup.

Stan Weir can touch MC Hammer.

Some people wear Superman pajamas. Superman wears Stan Weir pajamas

Stan Weir eats beef jerky and craps gunpowder.

Stan Weir was what Willis was talkin’ about.

Paper beats rock, rock beats scissors, and scissors beats paper. Stan Weir beats them all.

Now that’s what this English professor calls poetry…

March 24, 2008   No Comments

It is not every day that I wish that I could vote in the US

I still have no plans to become a dual citizen of the US and Canada, but if I could vote in the upcoming election this great speech would have made up my mind once and for all. Wow.

March 18, 2008   9 Comments

Champlain was here (second)

(The first part of my new series on why Canadian Studies is an important part of the University of Vermont)

2009 marks the quadracentennial of the arrival of Samuel de Champlain in our area. A new exhibit at the Boston Public Library entitled “Champlain’s America: New England and New France” will be traveling to Vermont next year as part of these celebrations. As this article from the Boston Globe points out, the legacy of the French exploration of this part of North America is often overlooked and overwritten by the dominant mythology of the Pilgrims’ “founding” of New England.

Our own André Senécal is an expert in the life of Samuel de Champlain and will be one of our faculty in high demand throughout 2009.

Here’s an interesting excerpt from the Globe article:

NEW ENGLANDERS GROW up imbibing certain creation myths, most of which relate to how unbelievably historic we are. It all started here, and entire businesses — the vending of tricorne hats, for example — depend on the tight control of information relating to the beginnings of America — the Revolution, and the Salem witch trials before that, and at the dawn of time, the Pilgrims, hacking their way into the forest primeval. Everything trails in their wake; or so we like to believe.

But is it possible that New England trails in someone else’s wake? As in, the dreaded French? These disorienting thoughts will become harder to push away in 2008, as Quebec celebrates the 400th anniversary of its founding by Samuel de Champlain — the explorer who found not only New France, but much of New England as well. Indeed, if a few things had turned out differently, we might all be bundled up in scarves and hats bearing the fleur-de-lys insignia of the New France Patriots.

By 1620, when the Pilgrims arrived on the Mayflower, Champlain had accomplished nearly everything for which he is famous. He had crisscrossed the Atlantic dozens of times (29 times before his death in 1635), he had penetrated deeply into the hinterland, and he had glimpsed — and named — most of the harbors, rivers, and capes that we rediscover every weekend of the summer. It is startling to return to his maps, and see the familiar contours of Cape Cod, Cape Ann, and Boston Harbor, all included as part of an American region that was anything but “New England.” Given his natural inclination to roam, there is every reason to believe that Champlain might have started French settlements hundreds of miles to the south if he had been given more support from the French crown. As it was, he did a great deal more than most Americans realize to delineate the coastlines of Maine and Massachusetts, along with huge swaths of Vermont and New York.
[. . .] One of the great myths of American history is that the earliest settlers of New England came here by accident, not knowing where they were, and built a new society, far from anyone else. Champlain’s map gives the lie to that legend. We cannot know exactly what they knew, but it does not seem implausible that copies would have reached the Pilgrims in their sanctuary in Leiden, not too far from Paris. William Bradford, the great Pilgrim chronicler, nearly gives away the secret when he first describes Cape Cod, and admits that “ye French & Dutch to this day call it Malabarr.”

March 13, 2008   No Comments

Things I love about Alberta

I was roused from my depression about the latest election results in Alberta this week by my friends Richard and Richard who sent me a link to this hot news story from the homeland:

OTTAWA (AFP) – The town of Vulcan, hidden among oil wells, wheat fields and cow pastures of western Canada, is aiming to host the world premiere of the latest Star Trek movie, a spokeswoman said Friday.

[. . .] To capitalize on Star Trek tourism, since 1993 town councilors have donned Starfleet uniforms while conducting municipal business, couples have been married here in themed weddings and one man, who never lived in Vulcan, even chose to be buried in the town cemetery with a planetary “Federation” logo for a tombstone.

To prepare its proposal to host the Star Trek movie premiere, Dickens said she inquired with fellow small town Springfield, Vermont about their experience hosting “The Simpsons” movie premiere last summer.

Riverside, Iowa and Linlithgow, Scotland, the future birthplaces of series characters Captain Kirk and Mr. Scott, were invited to participate in the film launch festivities too.

“There are some logistical issues,” Dickens noted. The town has no cinema. “But we can definitely work around them,” she said, indicating that the local school hosts movie nights for townsfolk in its gymnasium bi-monthly.

Ah yes, “logistical issues”… Still, logistical issues never stopped St. Paul, Alberta from building their own UFO landing pad did they? Or what about the giant Easter egg in Vegreville? Now that’s the true “Alberta advantage,” if you ask me.

See, I feel better already. Don’t you? Thanks, guys.

March 10, 2008   1 Comment