7 Surprising references to Canada in classic works

Proof we’ve existed since at least 1790

More than just a poor man’s Mozart

The TV show How I Met Your Mother was littered with Canadian references. Now here some references to Canada from the highbrow world. They prove that we’ve existed since at least 1790.

1. In an aria cut from Mozart’s Così Fan Tutte (1790), a character brags that he and his friends are known for their greatness “Da Vienna al Canadà” (from Vienna to Canada).

2. In Rossini’s first opera, La Cambiale di Matrimonio (1810), one of the main characters is a comical Canadian capitalist named Slook. Hey, how were Italians to know what a real Canadian name sounds like?

3. In Donizetti’s French opera Rita (1840), the title character thought her first husband was dead. In reality, he was in Canada. Same difference.

4. Trollope’s Phineas Finn (1868) goes into the British Parliament and gets the most humiliating work imaginable: a bill covering “seven thousand inhabitants of some hundreds of thousands of square miles at the back of Canada.”

5. Henry Baskerville in the Sherlock Holmes adventure The Hound of the Baskervilles (1901) leaves Canada and travels to London to claim a lot of money. As punishment for leaving Canada, the hound tries to kill him.

6. P.G. Wodehouse’s classic comic novel Leave It To Psmith (1923) has the wily title character imitating the Canadian poet Ralston McTodd, the “Singer of Saskatoon” and author of the incomprehensible poem “Across the pale parabola of joy.”

7. The heroine of Jean Giraudoux’s play Siegfried (1928) must pretend to be a French-Canadian, but finally drops the masquerade: “I am not a Canadian. I have not killed a grizzly bear, and so forth.”

Originally published in Maclean’s Book of Lists, Volume 1 (2012)