Saturday, February 13, 2010

Five Canadian Icons Missing from Last Night's Olympics Opening Ceremony

Let's not quibble. Last night's Olympic opening ceremonies were spectacular. Beautiful, heartfelt, entertaining and full of things that made me wonder, "How are they doing that?"

It was also a showcase of Canadian icons that was so comprehensive it verged on self-parody. Almost everything and everyone the world recognizes as Canadian was there: Mounties, maple leaves, beavers, polar bears, totem poles; Donald Sutherland narrating; musical selections that included or paid tribute to Nelly Furtado, Bryan Adams, Joni Mitchell, Leonard Cohen, Sarah Maclachlan, and K.D. Lang; Anne Murray helping to carry the Olympic flag; Wayne Gretzky as the last of four legendary Canadian athletes carrying the Olympic torch.

I'm leaving stuff out, I know. But my point is that the event was so inclusive, it was hard not to notice the handful of icons that got left out. Where were these international symbols of Canada?

1. William Shatner. Born in Montreal in 1931, he has a building named for him at McGill University. A friend observed that Quebec generally got short shrift in last night's ceremony; I didn't notice at the time, but she's right.

2. Rush. Whether or not you're a fan — and I'm not, particularly, though my ex-fiance was — you can't deny their influence on a generation of rock bands. They're from Ontario, they toured as recently as 2008, and Neal Peart just released his own version of "The Hockey Theme," described as Canada's second national anthem.

3. Gordon Lightfoot. He almost died in the early 2000s, and had a small stroke in 2006, but went on a 26-city tour last year. He's from Orillia, a mid-sized city in southern Ontario.

4. Tim Horton. Good coffee, good food, good value. Seriously, here in Maine, the Tim Horton shops are a Canadian import I sincerely appreciate, but they're named after their co-founder, a legendary Canadian hockey player who spent 24 seasons in the major leagues before dying in a car accident at the age of 44. Plus, here's how Canadian he was: he was known for neutralizing opponents who tried to fight him with crushing bear hugs. Bear hugs that broke ribs, but still.

5. Pamela Anderson. Oh, come on. She's not only Canadian, she's from British Columbia. And I bet she'd have made herself available.

What did you like most about last night's opening ceremonies? What did you miss?

7 comments:

Tom Ehrenfeld said...

I missed any references to Neil Young, Molson Beer, Robinson Jeffries, Rick Moranis, and US News and World Report (which is not actually Canadian I know--but might as well be.)

Tom Ehrenfeld said...

And duh for me, the biggest and most important group of Canadians (I avoid the term "Canadian celebrities" since it feels too much like an oxymoron): The Band. All but Levon Helm are from the great country of Canadia.

Anonymous said...

I intentionally skipped watching any of the openning ceremonies. Did Tragically Hip play? This song, "The Lonely End of the Rink" (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7QV5x9y_TRQ) is a great sports/unrequited love metaphor.

AnswerGirl said...

No Neil Young! No Tragically Hip! No Robbie Robertson or any member of The Band! No "Slings and Arrows," no Rick Moranis, no Robertson Davies, no Bill Murray, no John Candy . . . although to mention John Candy at an athletic event might be a bit tactless.

Tom Ehrenfeld said...

What do you mean about John Candy and the sporting event? Do you not remember what is arguably one of his greatest roles? Have you seen Cool Runnings, the film about the Jamaican Bobsled Team? Seriously, it ranks up there with PTA in my favorite films of his. I'm surprised that they didn't have a loop of it running somewhere.....

Claire said...

Elizabeth and I kept expecting Shatner to turn up but he never did. Highly disappointing.

AnswerGirl said...

It has come to my attention that Bill Murray's not actually Canadian. Whoops, sorry! Also, Alex Trebek was not among the Famous Canadians featured in last night's opening ceremony. Shocking!