Being Canadian: True Patriot Love
Striped wool touque hanging on the wall, who is the most Canadian of them all?
Some of Canada’s most famous celebs are featured in Being Canadian, but who comes out on top when it comes to being a Canuck?
Tired of the stereotypes of Canada as a nation of igloo-living, beer-loving, sorry-saying people, Calgary-born, Hollywood-based comedy writer Rob Cohen drove a van from coast to coast while shooting a documentary to define what makes us, us. Along the way, he spoke to some of Canada’s top entertainment exports about the greatest (and often overlooked) country in the world. How do six of the featured stars rank on a totally unscientific scale of Canadian-ness?
Read on, eh.
"...no description of me would be complete without saying I’m also a Canadian.”
Hometown: Toronto (the suburb of Scarborough, to be precise).
How does Myers feel about Canada? Wayne’s World (1992) is practically a love letter to the Toronto suburb where he grew up, from eating doughnuts at Stan Mikita’s Donuts (a nod to Tim Hortons) to playing road hockey with Garth. (Car!) A devoted fan of the Toronto Maple Leafs, Myers often includes mentions of the team in his films. He has a street in Scarborough named in his honour and was inducted into Canada’s Walk of Fame in 2003. In 2014, Myers was one of five Canadian comedians (along with Jim Carrey, Olivier Guimond, Catherine O’Hara, and Martin Short) celebrated on a set of commemorative postage stamps.
On being Canadian: “I’m an actor. I’m a writer. I’m a producer. I’m a comedian. But no description of me would be complete without saying I’m also a Canadian.”
Rank: Five touques.
You like Loverboy?
Hometown: Toronto (grew up in nearby Brampton, Ont.).
Think Peters is just a big name in Canada? Not quite. The comedian has sold out such venues as Toronto’s Air Canada Centre, New York City’s Radio City Music Hall, and the Sydney Opera House, starred in comedy specials, and even written a book. Peters’ stand-up routine often focuses on his Indo-Canadian upbringing — with bits about his dad finally feeling like a Canadian after a barbecue purchase and the uniqueness of the Canadian accent. Peters has been honoured with two Canadian Comedy Awards and was inducted into Canada’s Walk of Fame in 2011.
On being Canadian: “The more you find out who is Canadian, it’s like ‘Yes! Score! You like Loverboy? That’s us!’ ”
Rank: Four touques.
“When I bump into the couch, I say sorry to the couch.”
A member of the famed cast of the sketch comedy show SCTV, O’Hara had been a household name in Canada for years before making it big with roles in hits like Beetlejuice, Home Alone, and Best in Show. O’Hara currently stars with SCTV alum Eugene Levy and his son, Dan, in CBC’s Schitt’s Creek. She was inducted into Canada’s Walk of Fame in 2007. An added bit of trivia: O’Hara, Levy and John Candy were the only actors in the chorus of Northern Lights, the 1984 supergroup that performed “Tears Are Not Enough,” for Ethiopian famine relief.
On being Canadian: “When I bump into the couch, I say sorry to the couch.”
Rank: Four touques.
"...we get everything that they have, but they don’t get anything that we have.”
A Canadian playing a Canadian character? Perfect. For nine seasons Smulders, also known for her role as Maria Hill in The Avengers films, played Robin Scherbatsky, a New York City journalist originally from, you guessed it, Vancouver, on TV’s How I Met Your Mother. Her Canuck quotient went sky-high when her alter ego was revealed in Season 2 — that of Canadian teen pop star Robin Sparkles (shades of early-career Alanis Morissette). In the final season of the series, it’s revealed that Sparkles also starred on Space Teens — a series featuring two average Canadian girls who, with the help of Alan Thicke, solve crimes in space using math.
On being Canadian: “[The U.S] is so close that we get everything that they have, but they don’t get anything that we have.”
Rank: Three touques.
...most people don’t understand what a Canadian is, but they know we’re different somehow...
Hometown: Formed in Toronto in 1968. Current lineup of Geddy Lee, Alex Lifeson, and Neil Peart has been together since 1974.
The iconic Canadian rock trio has sold more than 40 million records worldwide. Fans know Canada has been the inspiration for a number of their songs, including “YYZ” (the airport identification code of Toronto’s Pearson International Airport) and “Lakeside Park” (note the Victoria Day shout-out in the lyrics: “Everyone would gather. On the twenty-fourth of May. Sitting in the sand. To watch the fireworks display.”) The band has been inducted into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame (1994), Canada’s Walk of Fame (1999), and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (2013). Oh, and Lee, Lifeson and Peart are also officers of the Order of Canada (1997).
On being Canadian: “Being Canadian is definitely something I enjoy just because most people don’t understand what a Canadian is, but they know we’re different somehow.” – Geddy Lee
Rank: Five touques
"A Canadian will always come say, ‘We’re Canadian!’ ”
Michael J. Fox
Hometown: Edmonton (he grew up in Burnaby, B.C.)
Fox’s first big break was a role on the CBC series Leo and Me. It ran only 12 episodes, but no matter. Fox moved to Hollywood and landed the role of the very American, very Republican Alex P. Keaton in the hit TV series Family Ties. He went on to star in a few films you may have heard of such as the Back to the Future trilogy and Teen Wolf, as well as TV’s Spin City and, most recently, a guest stint on The Good Wife. In addition to five Emmy Awards, and four Golden Globes, Fox was inducted in to the Canada’s Walk of Fame in 2000 and invested as an officer of the Order of Canada in 2011 for his philanthropic work with his foundation for research into Parkinson’s disease.
On being Canadian: “An American will come up to me and say: ‘I love Family Ties,’ or ‘I love Back to the Future,’ or whatever. A Canadian will always come say, ‘We’re Canadian!’ ”
Rank: Four touques
Robin Stevenson is a Toronto-based entertainment and lifestyle writer.