Canadians have made it big elsewhere. Sometimes, in fact, talented Canadians don’t make it big here at home until they have made it big elsewhere. So on this Canada Day weekend, a tip of the toque and a hoisting of an Okanagan pinot gris (yes, you louts can raise your beer glasses, if you must) to a few of my favourite Canadians who have stayed home and blessed us here:
Reginald Bibby: Reg is Canada’s foremost accountant of religious trends, a sociologist who has told us more about our religious make-up than—not just anyone else, but everyone else. He earned his Ph.D. in the USA and of course could have gone south, but he stayed here, out in lonely Lethbridge, and has served us well for decades.
George Stroumboulopoulos and Nora Young: These CBC broadcasters clearly have the hipness, wit, versatility, and insight to rise to the top anywhere. But having watched George and having worked with Nora, I am so glad they have continued to serve up some of Canada’s best TV and radio journalism. (I see George has recently been summoned southward to help CNN…but until he catches on there, he’s ours!)
Bramwell Tovey: Maestro Tovey impressed us all in Winnipeg when he conducted that city’s Symphony brilliantly while cultivating an audience such that it was the only Canadian orchestra in the black. He has been working similar magic here in Vancouver…and I see that today he is named to the Order of Canada. I continue to hold my breath, thinking that surely he will be snatched up by an American orchestra or finally brought home to his native Britain, but so far, so good.
Charles Taylor and Margaret Somerville: Few universities in the world have a one-two punch when it comes to timely and deeply wrought ethical reflection as has McGill University in these two doughty and dazzling Catholic scholars. It is, indeed, to our national shame that Henry Morgentaler received the Order of Canada and Dr. Somerville has not, but at least our pooh-bahs have had the basic good sense to recognize Charles properly. Thanks to both of you for not heading to brighter lights elsewhere, and remaining to illuminate us so well for so long.
Steve Bell & Carolyn Arends: Steve and Carolyn stand here for the wide array of Canadian musicians who are clearly as talented as anyone anywhere, and have produced a extensive body of excellent work, but have never caught on in the US or the UK such that they have become international stars. A whole new generation of singer-songwriters rises up from coast to coast to call them blessed.
Who are your favourite stay-at-home Canadians who deserve a hearty, if modest, Canadian hurrah on Canada Day?