What is your favourite image of Canada?

by | Sep 14, 2017 | Canada, Ottawa, Toronto | 2 comments

I love the CNE

The Canadian National Exhibition is Canada’s largest fall fair. It is the perfect atmosphere for saying Goodbye Summer/Hello Fall. The CNE has the same things that every fall fair has in every community across the country: a ferris wheel and lots of rides, candy apples and cotton candy, carnies touting games with a prize every time, cows and pigs and horses, bright lights and loud music. I love it all.

This year, I spent lots of time at the sand sculpture competition. The theme was Canada 150.


If you had a truckload of sand, what would you create that best captures the spirit of Canada?

Who is this person and why is he part of the Canada 150 exhibit?

The Vinyl Cafe was my favourite CBC radio show

When I looked closer at the sculpture, I spotted The Vinyl Cafe books. I felt a way of sadness when I realized that this was a sculpture of Stuart McLean. I didn’t recognize his face but I would have instantly recognized his voice. His hour-long variety show on CBC radio on Sunday mornings brought us the best Canadian stories and music from across the country, from small towns and big cities. There was an outpouring of sadness when Stuart McLean died in February. The best comment that I heard from a listener was that Stuart McLean made every long car trip short and every short car trip long. There were lots of Sundays when I was stuck in traffic and didn’t mind because I would hear all of The Vinyl Cafe. If the trip was too short to hear the full show, I pulled into a parking lot to hear it all. Sometimes, I looked like one of those crazy drivers on the road, all alone and laughing out loud.


Stuart McLean, I miss you.

I like this sand sculpture of our loonie

There are some great touches in this sculpture. Notice that the Y in Birthday is a martini. To the right, there is a canoe and a beer sign. Although drinking in canoes is not recommended, it is a very Canadian image.

This sculpture is Everything Canada

This artist couldn’t decide what image best captured the Canadian spirit and decided to include everything.

For non-Canadian readers, the image on the far left is Wayne Gretzky when he played with the Edmonton Oilers. Next is a toque worn by Bob and Doug McKenzie and every other Canadian. In the centre is Prime Minister Trudeau with Parliament Hill in the background and the RCMP musical ride in the foreground. To the right is Anne of Green Gables. To the far right is Drake.

This is the back of the Everything Canada sculpture

Sand sculptures are 3D. Every surface is carved. The Everything Canada theme was too ambitious for this artist. He is sorry that he ran out of time and could not complete the sculpture.

This is Chris Hadfield singing David Bowie’s Space Oddity

Lucky for us, Norman spent a lot of time at the Canada Aviation and Space Museum in Ottawa in the spring. He took great pictures and did lots of research on Chris Hadfield.

Here is what Norman wrote for this blog:

Chris Hadfield was the first Canadian to serve as Commander of the ISS. His music from the International Space Station went viral on YouTube and he made frequent transmissions from the ISS gaining world-wide attention, and thereby humanized for us life on-board the ISS and the role that space will play in our futures. I found this great YouTube video by Hadfield on the difficulty of playing a guitar in a zero-gravity environment:


Chris Hadfield is one of 11 Canadian astronauts who have gone into outer space. Our first astronaut, Marc Garneau, is currently our Minister of Transportation. Canadians are very fortunate to have such a brilliant (he holds a PhD in Electrical Engineering) and brave politician to set and manage our transportation policy.


Another former astronaut, Julie Payette, will become our next Governor General, the Queen’s official representative in Canada.

This is Chris Hadfield’s Larrivée guitar in the Canada Aviation and Space Museum

Here is what Norman wrote for us on Hadfield’s guitar:

This is a reproduction of the parlor-sized Larrivée guitar that Chris Hadfield played on the International Space Station, singing David Bowie’s classic: Space Oddity.


Chris Hadfield singing Space Oddity has had more than 35 million views on YouTube:


The Larrivée guitar that Hadfield played became so famous that Larrivée has re-issued replicas for sale.


Jean Larrivée is one of Canada’s best luthiers. Originally a mechanic from Montreal, who loved guitars, he apprenticed in Toronto under a master luthier, Edgar Moench, and then opened his own shop in Toronto and then later moved his manufacturing site to Vancouver and more recently to Oxnard, California.


Chris Hadfield visited Larrivée’s facility in Vancouver when he heard that a Larrivée guitar had been chosen by NASA for the ISS: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gWTndmDHZQc


For those interested in guitars, Jean Larrivée has his own amazing story to tell:


Chris Hadfield produced an album of his music from the ISS called: Space Sessions: Songs from a Tin Can. Those of you who are interested in those songs or want to learn more about life in space and other topics of interest can visit Hadfield’s YouTube channel for lots of great videos:


I found this interview particularly interesting on how Hadfield recorded the songs for his album:


As a Canadian, I am proud of our accomplishments in space and what our fine astronauts have achieved as well as how Chris Hadfield has given space a human face.


This is the view of Canada that Chris Hadfield saw from space

This is the back of the Chris Hadfield sand sculpture.

All the sand sculptures at the CNE were excellent. They were fun; they were serious; they were sad; they were whimsical; they were interesting; they were informative.They inspired me to think about images that reflect our Canadian spirit.


If you could build more than a sand castle on the beach, what would you sculpt that celebrates CANADA 150?

Rose Ann MacGillivray

Rose Ann MacGillivray

World Heritage Traveller at BoomerVoice.ca
I love visiting World Heritage Sites, celebrating the world’s most fascinating places and cultures, and most of all, having fun on a trip. Join me on the road to fun and fascinating places. Thanks for reading – and remember to add your e-mail below for updates!
Rose Ann MacGillivray