Amazing Race Canada: Insults, dancing hippies in the urban jungle

Week 2: There’s something uniquely Canadian about the second-round elimination of two gay cowboys



The lesson for aspiring reality TV show directors is clear: when life hands you Canadians, make ’em go to Chinatown.

In the second episode of the Amazing Race Canada, the eight remaining teams flew from Kelowna to the “urban jungle” of Vancouver. You just know that Body Break stars Hal Johnson and Joanne McLeod could have arrived on rollerblades in half the time, but when Air Canada prominently sponsors your show, you have to play by their rules.

Plane ticket procurement is always a high-stakes moment on the series, with earlier flights meaning a significant head-start. As stressed contestants scrambled to get on that first flight out of Kelowna, Ottawa sisters Vanessa and Celina hurled (well, mumbled, because this is Canada) the worst insult of the season so far. Sensitive viewers should avert their eyes.

“Sneaky, sneaky, sneaky.”

Week 1:  The show gets underway 

Their zinger was directed at Hal after he successfully scored the last two seats on the flight — by politely asking to be put on standby.

(As we get to know the teams, it should be noted how easy CTV makes it for us to identify them in their matching outfits. Track suits for the married fitness icons and tank tops for the actress/model sisters.)

This week, the competition was much fiercer and much more interesting than the introductory episode, both in terms of team dynamics and the challenges they faced. In Chinatown, the contestants were stumped by linguistic barriers and the difficulty of completing the roadblock challenge: either learning a Chinese lion dance or drawing Chinese characters. The former proved to be much harder than the latter, meaning some of the leading teams fell to the back of the pack while trailing teams soared forward, if they had chosen wisely. Things got so heated, the dancing hippies yelled at each other. The dancing hippies!

If you’re about to rush to your PVR to watch Hal and Joanne perform a Chinese lion dance, disappointing news — they took the drawing challenge instead.

The Body Break duo climbed up into second place this week, behind Montreal doctors Brett and Holly. It’s unclear what it says about the Canadian game that the current first-place teammates say they’re unable to skate. Cowboys Jamie and Pierre were eliminated, meaning we’ll never see how Jamie had planned to toss his hat in the air at the finish line.

Like the presence of Hal and Joanne, there’s something uniquely Canadian about the second-round elimination of two gay cowboys. What for-profit American broadcaster would have waved goodbye to this duo? There would have been an intervention! It would suddenly have become a non-elimination night. But beyond sharing uplifting rodeo metaphors (“You don’t jump off a bull halfway through the ride,”) the cowboys just couldn’t compete in this race. And maybe they weren’t really creating that much buzz up here.

This week’s real winner? Air Canada. In addition to a slew of commercials, one of the clues just happened to be hidden in the Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounge at the Vancouver airport. In-flight, the doctors consulted the En Route magazine to learn their way around the terminal.

Sure it gets tiring, being reminded that “Air Canada is the official airline of The Amazing Race Canada,” but let’s not complain. Consider that if Porter takes over sponsorship, the teams will be headed for Sault Ste. Marie next week, connecting to Timmins. Via Sudbury.

Sonya Bell is a frequent contributor to


Amazing Race Canada: Insults, dancing hippies in the urban jungle

  1. Enjoying the show but it’s kind of sad that when teams come in first place on a leg of the race they’re only winning round-trip airfare to someplace from Air Canada. In the US version they usually win a whole vacation including accommodations.

    Thought the funniest moment in last night’s episode was when one of the teams referred to the hippies as “gypsies”.

    • I never understood why the prices were so stingy on some of these reality shows given that the price represents such a tiny proportion of the production budget.

      • The priZes seem generous enough for the audience.
        The show is done for Canada, and it is the summer. Hardly the same audience that the U.S. show draws.
        We do not have the population of the U.S., and Air Canada can only give away so many free trips before their PAYING customers decide that if they can afford to give away all these trips, maybe they could do something about making their planes more comfortable, and their flights more affordable.
        And maybe the Air Canada staff will decide that, since these folks are already getting all of this free publicity, free lodgings, free airfare from place to place, as well as the people who enter and win their contests – maybe they should be getting a raise, since the company might be making a profit – and then going on strike to make their point.

        Between the advertising space on the network, the prizes, accomodations, and other promotional expenses – the prizes are fine.

  2. Kinda sad no chinese people in this race…As for the doctors, they are irritating snots. The model/actress sister team is also really really whiney. Is this a trait of SriLankan/Indian?pakistani people? On the U.S. version, the “twinnies” – were swhiney too. And their sense of self importance was ridiculous. Shame they couldn’t find tops that fit them. But their “girls” are probably big investments….(pardon the pun)

    Also not a fan of the Body Break commercial characters.

    Hopefully the hippies and the bionic man will pull ahead next week. Hopefully the people who don’t really need hte money will be eliminated ASAP.

    Who chose this cast? And what criteria did they use?

    • Not everything has to be a carefully scripted and fulfilled Affirmative Action plan.

      Otherwise you’d have to have a gay First Nations woman with a physical disability on the show.

    • “Hopefully the people who don’t really need the money will be eliminated ASAP.”

      I’m not sure which team you’re referencing, but as far as the doctors go (I assume you mean them), I hope they *do* win – they’re planning on using the money as a donation to the Montreal Childrens’ Hospital. So…actually very good-hearted people. Just saying.

    • The model/actress sister team is half-black/half-caucasian. Not sure why you feel the need to assign them a South-Asian ethnicity to fit your racist and bigoted stereotypes.

    • Is it a trait of your people to be ignorant? The sisters aren’t of Indian descent. If you are going to post comments online, you should educate yourself before you come off looking like a tool.
      Have you seen Big Brother lately? Can I assume that because Aaryn Gries and GinaMarie Zimmerman (on this season of Big Brother) and Jane Goody (Celebrity Big Brother 5) make racist comments that being racist is a trait of white people, just because two people on the same reality show act similarly?

  3. Shockingly this show isn’t that bad.

  4. “There’s something uniquely Canadian about the second-round elimination of two gay cowboys.”

    Why? How were they eliminated? Staked out near a river to be set upon by rabid beavers?