10 things we learned from our Canadian Moments contest

Jean Chretien gets praise, Toronto gets none, and what happened to the outdoors?

In the spring of 2012, Maclean’s ran an editorial contest in which Canadians were invited to submit their Defining Canadian Moments for publication online and for possible inclusion in the magazine.

Here are ten things we learned from the stories submitted by our readers:

1. O Canada looms large. Many people wrote about hearing, or singing O Canada under all kinds of circumstances. (A much smaller number of people knew the song’s title, and few knew how it’s properly spelled).

2. Canadians hold their military tradition dear. Remembrance Day, monument, WWI, WWII, sacrifice, service and memorial came up time and time again in Defining Moments.

3. Vimy Ridge is sacred and deeply symbolic. Readers agree with the notion that the battle of Vimy Ridge defined a nation; visits to the memorial at Vimy Ridge were one of the dominant trends among stories submitted.

4. The Olympics are a very big deal. Torch runs and gold medals inspired many Canadians—during the Vancouver Winter Games, that is. Calgary (1988) was barely a blip, and Montreal’s 1976 summer games got nary a mention in the stories we received.

5. The Expos are pretty much forgotten. Montreal at least was remembered (if very faintly) for  hosting Expo 67.  Vancouver’s Expo 86, by contrast, was no one’s Defining Canadian Moment. And no one mentioned Canada’s dearly departed first-ever big league baseball team.

6. Immigration stories are cherished. Experiencing Canada as a new Canadian accounted for many important contributions, and many of the most moving stories.

7. Toronto is not the centre of the universe. Based on stories submitted, top cities are Vancouver (Olympics), Ottawa (Canada Day, Parliament, monuments), and Montreal—where the ’95 referendum Unity Rally had special meaning for several writers.

8. So much for the outdoors. Contrary to the myth, the wilderness and rural settings were seldom the setting of ‘defining’ moments.

9. Jean Chretien’s legacy. While Trudeau was flashier, and Pearson won the Nobel Prize, Jean Chretien was the most-mentioned Prime Minister, largely because of his refusal to enter the war in Iraq. (Joe Clark got a nod for marshalling Calgary’s gay pride parade.)

10. Family matters. Family is one of the recurring themes, but not always in traditional terms. Overseas adoptions and same-sex marriage are both important threads among the stories we received.

See all Defining Canadian Moments.

Have you ever wondered which cities have the most bars, smokers, absentee workers and people searching for love? What about how Canada compares to the world in terms of the size of its military, the size of our houses and the number of cars we own? The nswers to all those questions, and many more, can be found in the first ever Maclean’s Book of Lists.

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