A Super Canadian Weekend

by PenRei

Warning: It’s about to get super Canadian in this post, because this is all about the Canadian weekend I had with good company, good food, good music, and nature (which is good in every aspect).

It started off Saturday morning with Nomes, Douggy Fresh and I heading over to the Evergreen Brickworks, as mentioned in Nomes’ previous post. It is such an eco-friendly park that there is not only a garbage and recycling bin, but also a compost bin. What a brilliant idea! I believe that the option of all three separate bins should be everywhere (and I mean across the world). I’ll admit that we Canadians can seem a little self-righteous when it comes to protecting the environment, but I am partly proud of it because our environment is an incredibly important part of everyone’s lives (despite how some may disagree).

We got there a little late to take in all of the festivities, but we were able to partake in a quick look at the various Farmer’s Market stalls (to be repeated in the near future). One stall that especially interested us was a honey stand. A very nice and cheerful young woman ran it. She sold organic honey, which is FAR superior to regular store-bought honey. I can’t remember when it happened, but one day I tried organic honey and I couldn’t go back. To be clear,  I’m not a hardcore organic grocer, but when you can taste the difference, you get my vote. She had wildflower, lavender, cranberry, and cinnamon honey. Of course, I wanted to buy ALL OF THEM, but my wallet wasn’t burning a hole through my bag, so I opted for just one wildflower honey jar. The winning side, IT CAME IN A HONEY BEAR JAR!!! Douggy Fresh pointed out that if you bought various types of honey in honey bear jars, you could make yourself a drinking glass set. She often comes up with brilliant ideas like this out of nowhere. Here is a shot of Nomes and Douggy Fresh with our purchased honey (Nomes got the cinnamon one).

Afterwards, we heard the sweet call of music from The Honeyrunners. As you may know from my previous post, I’m a fan; a fan who is impatiently waiting for them to release their EP (dated to come out in October, in case you’re wondering). We were hoping to hear their original music, but they played a cover set that was still impressive. We also discovered that they have a new drummer with beats as killer as his awesome afro. Since I’ve already gone on and on about them before, I will simply leave you with a few photos I took of their gig and you can imagine the fun time we had.

Starving Artist Jar

Also, here is a photo of them with my jar of honey. After all, I bought a jar of honey than saw The Honeyrunners. How could I not?

The Honeyrunners with my jar of honey

Since it was Douggy Fresh’s first time at the Evergreen Brickworks (and Nomes and I are nature junkies) we had to take a walk around the nature park behind the buildings. It was such a beautiful day. Words can not describe the amazing weather we had, so instead I will leave you with this picture.

On Sunday, it was Canada Day… which to anyone from Ottawa, is a BIG DEAL!!! Even when other people in your city aren’t huge into partying it up, Ottawa people will make their own party.

The three of us started off with a Pride brunch at Johnny Be Good’s apartment. He has a balcony that overlooks Yonge street, hence, the perfect place to both watch the parade and have access to running water, thus keeping at bay dehydration from heat.

Pride Flowers

I’ll start off by saying there was A LOT of bacon. There was so much bacon, that I should show you this photo I took, because you wouldn’t believe me otherwise. There are some sausages in there, but it was about 83% bacon.

Bacon Mountain

Mountain of bacon

It seemed perfect to start Canada Day with a Pride brunch. After all, Canada is awesome with its legal rights, gay marriage and openness to allow same sex couples live full and happy lives out in the open, without shame. I wish I could say that this was everywhere in Canada, but sadly, there are still some small pockets that are evolving in their mentalities. We had an awesome time, eating brunch, meeting new people while catching up with good friends, and dancing to music for 3 hours.

Afterwards, we had to leave the party to continue our Canada Day festivities. Nomes went off to celebrate a friend’s birthday party, so we said our temporary goodbyes.

In the evening, Douggy Fresh and I headed down to the Harbourfront centre. The sunset was GORGEOUS. We had to take a moment to just absorb the pinks, blues, and purples in the sky, the gentle cooling breeze, and the sound of moving water. If you live in Toronto and haven’t experienced the sunset at Harbourfront, I suggest you put it on your list of things to do during your next weekend.

We were primarily there for a free live concert of The Hidden Cameras. They are a 9 piece independent Canadian band that plays an interesting and playful mix of folk, pop, progressive, and rock. I didn’t take pictures of this event since the lighting wasn’t ideal for the type of lens I have on my camera, but I believe that this music video will give you a sufficient idea of how good they are. If you are a fan of Broken Social Scene and other Arts & Crafts bands, I know that you will love The Hidden Cameras. For those of you who are impatient. The song starts around 1:30.

I guess that’s it. HAPPY BELATED CANADA DAY!!!!

Up next, the 4th of July in Washington DC. It’s gonna be CRAZY!

Thanksgiving: Canada vs. the US

As I’m sure most of you have guessed/know by now, I am Canadian and pretty proud of it. To reinforce the stereotype non-Canadians have, yes, I wear a tuque in winter, I speak both French and English, hockey is a great sport, our monopoly coloured money rocks, universal health care saves lives, and 6 inches of snow doesn’t phase me.

Despite my pride towards my country, I still look fondly over the border to my friends in the US. We strugggle communicating at times about things like Farenheit vs. Celsius, Miles vs Kilometers, Ounces vs Milliliters, and occasionally holidays. The most recent (and border crossing confusing) of these holidays just happened yesterday on October 10th. For us Canadians, it was Thanksgiving. For our friends the Americans, it was Columbus day. YET, they also celebrate Thanksgiving, only in November. So I was wondering, why is that? What happened in history that our countries decided to celebrate the same holiday, but at a different time? During a lull at work today, I decided to investigate this most confusing thing to try and have one less struggle of communication between neighbours.


Celebrated annually on the 2nd Monday of October, this holiday actually has two origins in Canadian history.

Back in the day, Martin Frobisher was trying to find a northern passage to the Pacific Ocean. Frobisher’s Thanksgiving actually had nothing to do with the harvest, but was instead about homecoming. Having avoided the fates of Henry Hudson (mutiny and cast adrift from the crew) and John Franklin (disappeared), both who previously had the same mission, Frobisher was just happy that he returned safely. Robyn from HIMYM says it’s about his unsuccessful mission, but it’s really about the fact that he SURVIVED when others didn’t. In 1578, he held a formal ceremony in Newfoundload, giving thanks for surviving the long and perilous journey. Years later, the feast continued as a tradition as more settlers arrived in the Canadian colonies.

So, now that we covered the English, we’ll go to the French. In the early 17th century, the settlers who came to New France with explorer Samuel de Champlain took to celebrating their successful harvest (YES! A holiday rooted in food, my French pride is that much stronger now). French settlers typically had feasts at the end of the harvest and shared their food with the indigenous people of the area.

To sum up Thanksgiving North of the border, it is a holiday celebrating both the safe return home and a plentiful harvest. Considering I make a short voyage myself for Thanksgiving (Toronto to Ottawa) and I enjoy food, it is only fitting that I celebrate both. Lastly, apparently the turkey wasn’t part of the original Canadian Thanksgiving feast. The bird was incorporated when United Empire Loyalists fled from the US to settle in Canada during the American Revolution. Thanks US! That bird is delicious!

Now let’s venture South of the border to see what our friendly Americans were up to back in the day.

First off, there appears to be an ongoing debate as to when the first Thanksgiving Feast actually happened in the US. Some say it was celebrated by the Spanish on September 8th 1565 in Saint Augustin, Florida. Others say it was in Virginia as early as 1607, since it became routine in what was to become the Commonwealth of Virginia.

For the sake of this post, we’re going to stick with the more commonly wellknown one that occured in 1621 in Plymouth Massachusetts. This one was also prompted by a good harvest and continued as a tradition by civil leaders like Governor Bradford. Initially, the colony of Plymouth didn’t have enough food to feed even half of the 102 colonists. Enter the Wampanoag Native Americans! They stepped in and helped the pilgrims by providing seeds for crops and teaching them how to fish. Thanksgiving didn’t become a regular annual festival until the late 1660s.

So, American Thanksgiving is about harvest, but it is also to thank the aboriginal people of the area for helping them with one of the most basic of human necessities: food.

Now that it is clear that Thanksgiving in Canada and the US both have the harvest in common, it is now easy to see why we celebrate it on different dates. The reason is geography. We celebrate the closing of the harvest at different times because our harvests literally end at different times. Canada being farther up North will of course close its harvest earlier with the oncoming winter.

In a way, I feel stupid for not having figured this out earlier. It’s so simple! Yet I had a few discussions with American and Canadian friends where we just called each other crazy for celebrating too early/late.

Now I (and maybe you) know!

PenRei out! (and maybe even a little smarter)

A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving, based upon the popular comic strip Peanuts, by Charles M. Schulz, originally aired on the CBS network on November 20, 1973