As Canada turns 150, we thought it was high time we took our country’s temperature.

Nationally, we pride ourselves on our cold-hardiness, and rightly so. After all, we are a boreal nation, imagined by a great deal of the rest of the world as snowbound year-round. We kick ass at winter sports, and most of us snicker at people who don’t know how to drive in the snow (sorry, Vancouver!).

Yet, even though we love our polar bears and pond hockey, the vast majority of us huddle as far down south as we can—according to the National Geographic Society, about three-quarters of Canadians live within 160 kilometres of the United States border. Hardly a people who unreservedly embrace the full expanse of northern splendour.

So what accounts for the contradiction?

With the title of his 1945 novel, Two Solitudes, Hugh MacLennan coined the famous term that has come to define the way we view the differences in our country’s English and French identities.

However, we’re more complex than that. Our two founding identities—of Upper and Lower Canada—are but one of our dichotomies. Urban, rural. Settler, Indigenous. Young, old. Eastern, Western. Habs, Leafs.

In this issue of Wayward Arts, we’re exploring the many ways that Canada embodies the duality of “cool” (or “cold”) and “hot”: from our cities and towns to our music and movies. It’s born from a different pair of solitudes: the extreme ends of our climate, from the howling blizzards that we collectively embrace as an emblem of our national ruggedness to the sweltering summers that we wholeheartedly cherish because of their fleeting nature.

And what better metaphor for a cultural portrait (albeit a brief, highly subjective snapshot) of Canada on our 150th birthday? After all, we are cool, and we are hot—and we’ve earned the right to boast a little. While overt national pride has never been our specialty, it’s a fact that Canada at 150 is in a great place on the world stage. Our standing as a beacon of progressiveness is as indisputable today as it was when we were the last stop on the Underground Railroad, when we provided safe haven for draft dodgers during the Vietnam War and when we legalized same-sex marriage.

Like any nation, we’re not perfect. We’ve made some grave missteps, and there are shameful moments in our history that we must never forget: Our residential schools and the continued challenges Indigenous people face. The Chinese head tax. The internment of Japanese-Canadians during the Second World War. Our complicated commitment to both natural resource extraction and reducing climate change.

But let’s not forget that, here at 150, it’s also a time of optimism for Canada. As our cultures continue to evolve and adapt, let’s celebrate all that we’ve become, and all that we can hope to be.

Here’s to Canada at 150!

It is wonderful to feel the grandness of Canada in the raw.


What makes a place hot? Well, just follow the people—they’ll lead you to the spots that are so trendy they’re unignorable, that abound in opportunity, whether it be financial, creative, personal, you name it. These are the places to be: They won the popularity contest in high school. They’re topping the charts. And they deserve your attention.

Okanagan Valley

The Okanagan Valley has a decidedly un-Canadian climate—and yes, it’s still patriotic to love it. Sun-dappled and dry for much of the year, the region’s golf courses, sandy beaches and beautiful lake have all the makings of a near-tropical retreat. But what makes the Okanagan Valley truly hot is the Bacchus-like wine scene that’s sprouted from the balmy climate. If you head there, prepare to discover your inner sommelier: there are more wineries than you can (respectably) fit into a weekend of tasting, and a festival for every season to celebrate the region’s award-winning grapes. Not surprisingly, people are starting to wise up to what a catch the Valley is, and Kelowna is one of the fastest-growing cities in Canada.

Skip Napa — the Okanagan Valley is starting to sound like your new favourite wine destination.

Fogo Island

Plunked off the northeast coast of Newfoundland is Canada’s hottest hotel—the Fogo Island Inn, a marvel of design and ambition. Since opening in 2013, the inn, about 400 km north of St. John’s, has hosted all manner of jetsetters looking to gorge on gourmet seafood while watching the icebergs float on by. Visitors can hop on a bike to poke around the island—continuously inhabited for more nearly 300 years—and check out the handful of artists’ studios in the island’s main village, Joe Batt’s Arm.

And because this is still Newfoundland, there’s a good chance you’ll be slinging back rum and singing songs with the locals until the sun comes up.


The city that the rest of Canada loves to hate might have a complex about needing to be the NYC of the north, but people are flocking there, and it’s no wonder why: A concentration of head offices creates a strong base of jobs and investment. Multinational organizations, from PwC to Forbes consistently rank the city among the world’s top 10 most liveable. Institutions like the Toronto International Film Festival bring culture and celebrities to the city’s streets. A month-long Pride party attracts hundreds of thousands of visitors. The city has a celebrated food scene as diverse as its residents, and real estate sales have never been more intense—and there’s no sign that Toronto’s about to cool off.

Stop worrying about whether or not you’re world class, Toronto, and start embracing what makes you hot.


There’s a reason the GTA ends at the Hammer. Low-key, proudly blue-collar and quietly beautiful, Hamilton is everything that its bigger brother to the east is not—although it has plenty of local live music, artery-clogging burgers and cutting-edge galleries, too. Throw in the affordable cost of living, and it’s easy to see why Toronto’s starving artists have been decamping down the QEW for Hamilton over the past decade, reinforcing the city’s already vibrant arts community. There’s some concern that Hamilton’s newfound cachet will price out the locals, but this is a city that’s been kicked down and picked itself up more often than Toronto comes up with a new nickname for itself.

Do yourself a favour: stop by Hamilton for a taste of urban Ontario without all the bullshit.

Nothing’s hotter than an underdog story, and Canadian cinema is one for the ages. Despite Hollywood’s early stronghold on film distribution and production in Canada, we’ve managed to carve out our own place in the industry—and we have the golden statuettes and laurel leaves to prove it. In the past few decades, Canada has seen an explosion of cinematic production and international success and today, Canadian film—and all the disparate styles, themes and languages that term encompasses—is setting the standard for bold stories on the big screen.


The first Canadian public screening of a film takes place in Montréal, where the Lumière brothers tour their revolutionary cinématographe.

No word on whether popcorn was served.

James Freer, a Manitoban farmer and filmmaking pioneer, produces the first Canadian films, including the very literally titled Arrival of CPR Express at Winnipeg and Six Binders at Work in a Hundred Acre Wheatfield.


Toronto’s Horseshoe Tavern opens, with blues and folk artists taking to the stage in its early years before becoming a must-play venue for just about any and every musician you’ve ever heard of.


Léo-Ernest Ouimet opens the first movie theatre in Canada, another film first for Montréal.


Not satisfied with having opened the first movie theatre, Ouimet opens the largest luxury theatre in North America at 1,200 seats.


In an effort to outdo Québec’s early start, Ontario makes a bold move to establish its own reputation: as a killjoy, by creating the first North American Board of Censors to regulate film content, distribution and exhibition—and thus beginning the practice of sneaking into R-rated films.


It doesn’t get much more Canadian than an Acadian love story, and Evangeline, the first Canadian feature-length film, proves a critical and commercial success both here and in the US.


Back to God’s Country, written by and starring Nell Shipman, is released and becomes the most successful silent film in Canadian history.

Full disclosure: Shipman’s much-discussed nude scene might have tipped the scales in the film’s favour.

Mary Pickford, a Canadian sensation in Hollywood through the 20s and 30s, becomes a founding member of the newly established Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.


The National Film Board of Canada is created to “make and distribute films designed to help Canadians in all parts of Canada to understand the ways of living and the problems of Canadians in other parts.”

On a similarly nationalistic note, it also served to create propaganda during WWII.

Amid a slowing film production period, Bush Pilot is the only English Canadian feature film made in the 1940s.

“Soaring into the stratosphere of nationalist melodrama,” says The Globe and Mail, when the film was restored in the late 90s.

The Canadian Film Awards are established. Later renamed the Genie Awards, and now known as the Canadian Screen Awards, it might just be easier to use a term everyone understands: the Canadian Oscars!


A riot breaks out during Teenage Head’s set at the Horseshoe, immortalized as the last true punk concert in Toronto in the documentary The Last Pogo.


The government introduces a 50% capital cost allowance to encourage private investment in Canadian film companies.


A separate French production branch of the National Film Board of Canada is finally established, spurring the development of French cinema that could speak to the Québécois experience.

About time, considering the NFB’s headquarters had been located in Montréal since 1956.

The federal government creates the Canadian Film Development Corporation (now Telefilm Canada), providing it with $10 million of funding to invest in a lasting feature-film industry.

Think of it as a funding program that actually worked, by supporting iconic movies from David Cronenberg, Atom Egoyan, Denys Arcand and François Girard, among others.

Toronto’s Don Shebib directs one of the greatest Canadian films of all time, Goin’ Down the Road.

A critical success at its release, the film is proof that Canadian filmmakers and critics have always loved dispiriting, depressing material.

Another landmark of (depressing) Canadian cinema is released the next year with Claude Jutra’s Mon oncle Antoine.


The government increases the capital cost allowance to an impressive 100%, meaning that investors could deduct 100% of their investments in Canadian films from their taxable income.

This resulted in unprecedented growth in Canadian film production: just three Canadian feature films were produced in 1974 compared to 77 in 1979.

Canada’s highest-grossing film (in more ways than one), Porky’s, is released.


Denys Arcand achieves international attention with Le Déclin de l’empire américain, which was nominated and won awards around the globe.

It turns out sex is a subject that everyone can get on board with.

Patricia Rozema’s I’ve Heard the Mermaids Singing, an early queer cinema classic, is released to widespread acclaim, winning the Prix de la Jeunesse at the Cannes Film Festival.


The Canadian Film Centre is founded by legendary Canadian director Norman Jewison.


Continuing the run of influential, tragic Canadian films, Atom Egoyan’s The Sweet Hereafter is released to critical acclaim and wins the Grand Prix at Cannes and Academy Award nominations.


Zacharias Kunuk directs Atanarjuat (The Fast Runner), the first feature-length fiction film made by an Inuit in the Inuktitut language.

It won worldwide acclaim, including the Camera d’Or at Cannes and six Genie awards.

David Cronenberg, after creeping everyone out with his movies for decades, is made an Officer of the Order of Canada.

Twelve years later he would be promoted to Companion of the Order of Canada (the order’s highest honour).

After finding success with Maelström and Polytechnique, Québec director Denis Villeneuve releases Incendies, which would win eight Genie Awards and a Best Foreign Language Film nomination at the Academy Awards.


Sarah Polley’s documentary about her family’s secrets, Stories We Tell, receives the $100,000 prize for best Canadian film at the Toronto Film Critics Association Awards.

Though popular with critics, there’s no word yet on how favourably it went over with her family.

National Canadian Film Day is established to unite and connect Canadians under our cinematic achievements.

Couch potatoes, rejoice: you’re now doing your patriotic duty!

Despite a divided reception to his film, Juste la fin du monde, Xavier Dolan, Québec’s wunderkind filmmaker, takes home the Grand Prix at Cannes.

That’s how a true Canadian handles the haters.

Pity the poor creatures in warmer countries where the seasons never change. Where summer is eternal and they never know the pain of waiting and the joy at last when summer comes.

— Ray Guy

Parliament, the morning after the devastating fire of 1916. Smoke can still be seen pouring out of the roof of Centre Block.

A group of Kanien'kehá:ka (Mohawk) men in Kahnawake Mohawk Territory, near Montréal, who were the 1869 Canadian lacrosse champions.

A postcard-perfect way to beat the summer heat at Chateau Lake Louise, Alberta.

The fire house at Camp Borden, the birthplace of the Royal Canadian Air Force.

Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau and Alberta Premier Peter Lougheed hold a news conference in 1977 as tempers flare over oil prices.

In the early days of Canada, summer provided a welcome return of flavour and colour.

From the promise of spring encased in maple syrup to the tonic effects of the earliest dandelion greens, summer was counted out by the series of its “sub-seasons” within: rhubarb season, strawberry season, blueberry season, snap pea season, field tomato season, apple season — each a cause for a mini-celebration.

Thanks to our pre-Confederation French settlers, we also had ready access to additional ingredients for these celebrations, with Canadian-grown hops—a vital part of our beer-making history. And thanks to the prevalence of corn, wheat and rye, Canadians were never far from whisky, with more than 200 distillers pumping out booze in the years before Confederation.

Today, as most of us (at least those of us in the south) enjoy year-round access to nearly any and every food item we could ask for, the annual timeline of our summer produce becomes less of an event. When you can get pretty good hothouse tomatoes anytime, are the first ripe field tomatoes the event they would have been 150 years ago? Perhaps absence really does make the heart (or the palate) grow fonder.

A tale of two footballs

For more than a century, Canadian summers have been heralded by the return of football. The schools have been let out, cottages have been re-opened, and 300-pound men have found reason yet again to run into each other.

Football in Canada dates back to pre-Confederation, at least 1861, when the University of Toronto held its first recorded game of rugby football, from which Canadian football emerged. The first codified rules for Canadian football as we would recognize it today were adopted in 1903. The Governor General at the time, the Earl Grey, soon thereafter sought to reward the country’s top team with a silver trophy, much like one of his predecessors, Lord Stanley of Preston, had done for hockey. By the time the Grey Cup was first awarded in 1909, Canadians had already been tackling each other with aplomb for nearly a half-century.

While the Canadian Football League now pales in size and importance compared to its American cousin, the National Football League, games from Montréal to Vancouver routinely draw tens of thousands of spectators, and the Grey Cup is still among the most-watched televised events in Canada each year. It’s particularly popular in Western Canada: in Regina, Mosaic Stadium becomes Saskatchewan’s fifth-largest population centre when the Roughriders are playing; in Winnipeg, the Blue Bombers turn Investors Group Field into Manitoba’s third-largest city.

But another football, with roots that stretch back as far as or farther than Canadian football’s, has recently become just as definitive of Canadian summers.

Soccer, footy, association football, football … whatever you want to call it, by participation rates, it’s now the most popular sport in Canada. While the first games were being played in Victoria and Toronto at least as far back as the 1860s, the country took a lot longer to warm up to soccer than it did with football, hockey or baseball.

Considering that nearly every other country except for the United States treats soccer like religion, it’s a little baffling as to why it’s taken so long for the sport to finally latch on in the Canadian public imagination.

Even immigration patterns don’t fully explain it—while the post-1960s policies that opened Canada’s borders to every corner of the planet certainly helped spur some of the recent growth of the game, soccer was just as popular among the British, Italian and German immigrants who made up the bulk of new Canadians in the first half of the 20th century.

Given that 95 percent of Canada’s population is non-Indigenous, it’s possible that “homeland” team affiliations have been a stumbling block for the sport’s domestic growth—nearly every soccer fan here seems to root for another country in men’s international play, a thought that would be absurd to the typical denizen of São Paolo, London or Seoul.

With women’s play, however, it’s a different story—led by Christine Sinclair, our national team draws eyeballs and fills the conversation, making us likely the only country in the world where we care more about the women’s national soccer team than the men’s.

On that topic, soccer is by far the most popular team sport among women and girls in Canada, with participation rates almost equal to those of their male counterparts (12 percent/14 percent). Contrast that with hockey: of all sports participants in Canada, about 17 percent of male participants play hockey; about 4 percent of female ones play it. Football’s female participation rates are about zero.

Add to that football’s prohibitive costs for equipment, complex rules and strategy that require a life-long commitment to understand, and, certainly not least of all, the sport’s innate aggression and physical brutality, and it’s easy to see why kids aren’t lining up to play football.

It’s not just trends in recreational participation that are changing. Major League Soccer, now with teams in Toronto, Montréal and Vancouver, as well as all over the US, has finally demonstrated that professional soccer is viable in North America (even if the quality of play lags well behind its European or South American counterparts). It’s easier than ever for fans in Canada to tune into games from England’s Premier League, Germany’s Bundesliga or Spain’s La Liga—or even just to follow along on Twitter, where the sport suffocates feeds on Saturday mornings.

TV ratings for soccer are nothing near what they are for football just yet, but the 2015 Women’s World Cup, held across Canada, generated record numbers for the tournament. As many as one in 10 Canadians (3.2 million) tuned in to see Canada’s grudge match against the US; about one in seven (5 million) tuned into the 2014 Men’s World Cup final—a bit more than the 4.3 million who tuned in to the 2015 Grey Cup but still well less than the 8.3 million Canadians who watched the 2016 Super Bowl.

The old debate over what to call the two sports with the same name but vastly different cultures is sure to continue for some time yet. Football (of the Canadian/American variety) still dominates on television, but, like network television itself, its foundations are looking ever shakier. Football (of the soccer variety) has been heating up at the youth level in Canada for decades; any year now, it feels like it could boil over.


We Canadians are a naturally curious and inventive bunch, driven to exploration (blame it, perhaps, on the endless expanse of our country). That’s led to pioneering achievements in many fields (insulin! the zipper! poutine!), but it’s also led to some disappointment. Maybe we let our excitement get the best of us. Or maybe even well-intended plans are sometimes too headstrong to realize when something just doesn’t add up. Whatever the reason for our blunders, we know one thing for sure: we do it with passion.

Bricklin SV-1

Manufactured and assembled in New Brunswick by American millionaire and Subaru founder Malcolm Bricklin, the Bricklin SV-1 was meant to set the standard for safe sports cars of the future (the SV-1 stands for “Safety Vehicle 1”). But with all the additional safety design features, the car was too weighted down to do what, you know, sports cars do: move quickly. Only 2,584 were built before production halted in 1975, and the ill-fated car has gone down in history as one of the worst automobiles of all time.

Vancouver’s First Ambulance

Investing in public health care seems like a no brainer, at least to Canadians. And it was a monumental day on October 6, 1909, when the city took its first mechanized ambulance out for a test drive. But lady irony was on the roads that day, and the ambulance struck an American tourist, providing it with its first victim … ahem, patient.

Ross Rifle

After a diplomatic tiff between Canada the UK, who wouldn’t license the Lee-Enfield rifle for Canadian production, Sir Charles Ross stepped up and offered to finance a factory that would produce his own rifle design. Though a fine rifle for hunting, it proved disastrous in the field during WWI, prone to jamming (what with all the mud), overheating (what with all the repetitive shooting) or having the bayonet just plain fall off. By the Somme battles of 1916, everyone had had enough, and all Ross rifles were ordered to be replaced.

1976 Summer Olympics

Most Olympic hosts dream of leaving a legacy when they invite the world’s athletes to their door, but usually that means some presence on the podium and a smoothly run games. The legacy left by the Montréal 1976 Olympics was anything but inspirational, and problems included a defective retractable roof on the Olympic Stadium, an observation tower that was only completed after the games had finished and precisely zero gold medals for the host country. After all was said and done, the games racked up over 1 billion dollars of debt that took Montréal 30 years to pay off. Some legacy.