The Canada “Issue”

Why Taddle Creek is celebrating Canada, but not Canada 150.

Summer, 2017 / No. 39

Several years ago, Taddle Creek began planning a Canada-themed issue to coincide with the hundred and fiftieth anniversary of Confederation, an event being celebrated across the country in 2017. Canada, of course, did not spring from the ground on July 1, 1867. There are plenty of Canadian anniversaries that predate the joining of Ontario, Quebec, Nova Scotia, and New Brunswick into a dominion: Toronto celebrated its own sesquicentennial (a word slightly harder to say than it is to spell) in 1984; Saint John, New Brunswick, acknowledged the two hundredth anniversary of its incorporation more than thirty years ago; and this year Montreal marks three hundred and seventy-five years since its founding. Initial European colonization began a millennium ago, when Norsemen visited the Confederation-latecomer province of Newfoundland. Even that accomplishment was bested by Canada’s Indigenous population, whose ancestors arrived here from Mongolia and Siberia as much as fifteen thousand years earlier, who populated much the country before being pushed aside and largely wiped out by the spread of European-borne disease, and for whose word kanata the country is named.

Those who lived through and remember the country’s centennial year (and the beloved Expo that came with it) often speak of the pride Canadians felt in 1967. Others consider that anniversary to be a moment of lost innocence—a time when the many stains on the country’s history finally, slowly, began to be acknowledged, both by citizens and by government. Atonement and reconciliation continue fifty years later, and are likely to continue for some time to come. Still, Canada is not the same country it was in 1967, and celebrating its complicated history is not as easy a task today as it was then.

For these reasons, many of the would-be contributors Taddle Creek approached to take part in this issue expressed an uneasiness at it being labelled a Canada 150 celebration. As a result, Taddle Creek decided to change the theme of this issue from Canada 150 to simply Canada. The magazine is happy and proud to report that no further changes were deemed necessary: from the beginning, the magazine’s mandate for this number was to celebrate the country’s diversity. In this issue, you’ll find stories from authors and artists living in each of the country’s thirteen provinces and territories. Among these contributors are English Canadians, French Canadians, Indigenous Canadians, and immigrant Canadians. There’s even a story written in French. And just to show that Taddle Creek’s Canada includes Quebec, this issue’s cover features a scene from the life of Michel Rabagliati’s Paul—a character (unfortunately) not that widely known in English Canada, but beloved in his home province.

(To be honest, Taddle Creek is kind of happy to not have to feature the official Canada sesquicentennial logo. The fact the previous federal government left its design to a student competition, with the winner—who created her entry in two or three days—receiving a mere five thousand dollars, frankly, is just one more thing to be ashamed of. Plus, it’s derivative of Stuart Ash’s wonderful 1967 centennial symbol.)

Taddle Creek does not mean to suggest there’s nothing in Canada worth celebrating. The country frequently is referred to by outsiders as dull, and while that is not entirely inaccurate, Taddle Creek will put Canada’s culture of Hudson’s Bay point blankets, Bonhomme, Stanley Park outdoorsiness, Wilensky’s Specials, Keith Richards drug busts, Grand River Powwows, Alpine lager, Ganong chicken bones and Pal-o-Mine bars, Sussex Golden ginger ale, Mr. Dressup, poutine, Rocky Mountains, and Kiwanis Dairy Bar ice cream up against that of any other country. Taddle Creek dare says it’s even published some decent Canadian culture in its own pages over the years.

For all the bad, there’s a lot of good, and Taddle Creek is pleased to be celebrating Canada, pre- and post-1867, with this issue—at least as much as it’s able to in sixty pages. Hopefully reading it will be a celebration in itself.

Happy Kanata 15,000!

Speaking of anniversaries, 2017 marks another major milestone in Canadian history: the twentieth anniversary of a twenty-one-contributor confederation that formed a journal called Taddle Creek. Today, that same journal has added nearly three hundred more authors and artists to its ranks, and expanded its reach from one small neighbourhood to the entire country and beyond. Taddle Creek usually celebrates its big anniversaries with a larger-than-usual issue in the winter, but this issue was so good, the magazine couldn’t wait. You’re welcome.