O, Canada! Whether you’ve lived in this country for a few years, all your life, or for generations, there are a few uniquely Canadian things that are pretty much guaranteed to spark instant nostalgia.
Here’s our list, but we know there’s more—what would you add?
Hostess potato chips
Hostess really only exists as a shadow of its former self now, following a partnership with Frito Lay in 1987 and a rebranding of Hostess products as Lay’s in 1996. Its iconic mascots, the Munchies, can still be found on YouTube, but have long since disappeared from the airwaves. Although Hostess products can still be found at some discount grocery stores, the only current Hostess product is Hickory Sticks—another Canadian original, joining ketchup, dill pickle and all-dressed chips, which are all uniquely Canadian flavours.
Guy Lombardo’s Royal Canadians playing Auld Lang Syne
You might not have made the Canadian connection with this now-traditional New Year’s anthem, but Guy Lombardo was born in London, Ontario in 1902, forming his band, The Royal Canadians, in 1924. Although they recorded, broadcast, and performed primarily in the US (and Lombardo eventually became a US citizen), there’s now an indelible connection between the Royal Canadians and New Year’s revellers around the world.
Part of Our Heritage: Canadian Heritage Minutes
Do you still get worried every time you smell burned toast? Blame Canadian Heritage Minutes—a gripping series of 70 vignettes produced by Historica Canada to highlight moments in Canada’s history. (They’re also the folks responsible for The Canadian Encyclopedia and The Memory Project, among other initiatives.) From topics ranging from the Avro Arrow (starring Dan Aykroyd) to the Halifax explosion of 1917, Heritage Minutes combined history with cinema to foster an interest in our heritage.
Classic CBC radio shows
Gilmour’s Albums, Morningside, Frantic Times, Air Farce—for many, radio at the cottage meant CBC. Whether you listened with rapt attention to Gzowski’s cigarette-raspy voice or chuckled at the antics of the Frantics, hearing the voices of CBC’s shows through the years can turn back time in an instant.
If you weren’t listening to CBC, you were probably watching TVO and its lineup of now-classic kids’ shows. Although the shows—including Doctor Snuggles, Fables from the Green Forest, Today’s Special, Polka Dot Door and Jeremy—weren’t all Canadian, an entire generation of Ontario kids are united in a mutual appreciation for Jeff Hyslop and the ability to finish this sentence: “Polkaroo was here? And I missed him…”
Mr. Dressup and The Friendly Giant
Even if you don’t know that the pretty harp-and-recorder theme song to the Friendly Giant is actually an English folk song called “Early One Morning,” chances are you can hum it beginning to end. If you’re like many kids, you watched in rapt attention at the end of the show for the cow to (finally!) jump over the moon. Men with puppets are an integral part of childhood for many Canadians, whether it was Rusty and Jerome or Casey and Finnegan. (And who didn’t want a Tickle Trunk?)
Ontario—Yours to Discover
With possibly the catchiest tourism jingle ever, the commercial that launched the “Yours to Discover” campaign in 1980 made everyone want to visit Fort Henry and go kayaking. Possibly at the same time.