Ten Moments in Canadian Popular Culture


Canada has a long and interesting history. Here’s a look at ten moments in popular culture that has helped Canada become the country we know today:

1880  – O’ Canada Performed for the first time

The Canadian National anthem was first commissioned at the request of the Lieutenant Governor of Quebec for the Saint-Jean-Baptiste Day ceremonies taking place on June 24th, 1880. Originally called “Chant National,” the lyrics, which were written in French (as the holiday is annually observed in Quebec), were later translated into English in 1906. The official version that is used to this date, however, is not a literal translation of the French lyrics and was written in 1908. Before it’s creation, “God Save the King” and “The Maple Leaf Forever” were popular patriotic songs.

1893  – First Stanley Cup presented

The Stanley Cup is the oldest professional sports trophy in North America. The Cup was first presented in 1893 to the Montreal Hockey Club, starting the Challenge Cup era for the Amature Hockey Association of Canada — made up of only five teams. Since then, the cup continues to be a high-status symbol and is awarded to the best team in the National Hockey League. At the end of the 2017 playoff season, the Stanley Cup will be awarded for the 124th time.

1906  – First film theatre opens in Quebec

On January 1, 1906, Léo-Ernest Ouimet opened the doors of the Ouimentoscope in Montreal, Quebec — the first-ever theatre in Canada dedicated screening movies. With his life-savings — seventy-five dollars — Ouimet purchased an old cabaret theater with 500 seats and a small screen which he later transformed it into a luxurious 1,200 seat amphitheatre with plush seats and air conditioning because of its success. It became a full fledged movie palace and was one of the first of its kind. The theatre showed local productions (including Ouimet’s own movies) as well as French and translated American movies. Twenty years after its establishment, the Ouimentoscope closed its doors. Come 1957, The Elgin Theatre in Ottawa became the first theatre in the world with two screens capable of screening two programs at once.

1915  – “In Flanders Field” was written

The iconic war poem of remembrance, “In Flanders Field,” was written by Canadian Lieutenant-Colonel John McCrae on May 3, 1915 and published in a British magazine on December 8. McCrae fought in the second battle of Ypres, in Flanders, Belgium, and felt inspired to write after attending the funeral of his friend and fellow soldier, Lieutenant Alexis Helmer. By the end of World War I in 1918, red poppies, made popular by the poem, were used as a mark of remembrance for those who served their country.

1920  – Group of Seven Exhibition

The Group of Seven was an iconic group of Canadian painters who came together in 1920 and continued to work together to produce art into the 1930s. During this time, they started the first major national art movement in Canada. The group, best known for their breathtaking landscape paintings and the great influence they had on Canadian artists to come, were some of the most important artists in the country. Today, pieces of their artwork collections can be found at the Art Gallery of Ontario, the National Gallery of Canada, the Ottawa Art Gallery and the McMichael Canadian Art Collection.

1976  – Toronto International Film Festival begins

The Toronto International Film Festival, founded in 1976, is one of the most worldrenound and influential film festivals in the world to date. The event, originally — and strangely — named the Toronto Festival of Festivals, was a movie extravaganza of the best films from other global film festivals and has since featured and even premiered many Oscar winning pictures. Until the opening of the TIFF Bell Lightbox in 2010, the festival had no “permanent” location, but had moved from its original location in Yorkville to the Toronto Entertainment District where it remains today. As one of the most publicly-attended film festivals, TIFF receives an estimated half-million viewers, visitors and fans every year.

1980  – Terry Fox starts his run across Canada

Manitoba-born Terry Fox started his iconic Marathon of Hope on April 12, 1980. The run, which was intended to span the entire length of Canada, was Terry’s way of raising awareness for cancer — the reason behind the loss of his leg. Along his route, crowds would wait to greet the “hometown hero” as he passed by, cheering him on. Terry was forced to stop his run outside of Thunder Bay, Ontario in the fall of 1980 and come the summer of 1981, he passed away after the cancer returned and spread to his lungs. To this day, schools and organizations across Canada take part in an annual Terry Fox run, in hope that one day cancer will be cured.

1984  – Cirque du Soleil is founded

Founded and based in Montreal, Quebec, 1984, by two street performers, Cirque du Soleil is the largest theatrical company in the world. After securing funding from the Canadian Government, Cirque du Soleil was able to become a proper circus instead of the small performing troupe that solely toured Quebec. Each of their shows strives to incorporate performance styles from around the world and centre around a specific storyline, ultimately tied together by live music, with the help of other performers rather than stagehands. Over the years, the company expanded from the two original founders to more than 5,000 employees, one show to over 30 and having toured only one Canadian province to hundreds of cities across the globe.

Canada hosts the World’s Fair twice

Canada has been the host to The World’s Fair twice; The 1967 International and Universal Exposition in Montreal and the 1986 World Exposition on Transportation and Communication in Vancouver. The World’s Fair, more commonly known as Expo [whichever year it is happening in], is a large-scale international exhibition designed to showcase the big achievements of the nations, and stemmed from the creations and innovations of the era of industrialization. Montreal’s Expo 67 is regarded as one of the most successful world’s fair of the 20th century, bringing in over 50 million visitors and included 62 nations, and was also held the same year as the Canadian Centennial — marking Canada’s 100th birthday. Vancouver’s Expo 86 was the last fair to be held in North America.

Canada hosts the Olympics and Paralympics

Since the modern conception in 1896, Olympic Games have been hosted in Canada three times; Montreal Summer Games 1976, Calgary Winter Games 1988 and Vancouver Winter Games 2010. In the 21 year history of the Paralympic games, Canada has been host twice; the 1976 Summer Paralympic Games in Toronto and 2010 Winter Paralympic Games in Vancouver. The 1976 Paralympic games was the first time amputees and visually impaired athletes could compete in the games.


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