The second largest country in the world, home to 35 million people, is just north of the United States. Most of us know so very little about it. As omnipresent as it may be, Canada is a mystery to most of us. Outside of stereotypes of Mounties riding horseback in red uniforms, hockey players and vast lands of snow and igloos, Americans are often blind when looking north.
I have discovered Canada! I have become fascinated with our neighbor and its cultures. Although dominated by British and French influences, aboriginal people have lived here for thousands and thousands of years. Their heritage is rich and quite varied, composed of many different tribes each holding a legacy all their own. Include everything Canada’s worldwide immigrant population has added and you’ll find a cornucopia just as diverse as America’s but with a personality all its own.
Canadian broadcast media offers so many interesting alternatives to what we regularly watch and listen to in the fifty states. Three English-speaking networks dominate television offerings for Anglos: the publicly-funded CBC, BellGlobemedia’s CTV and Global. All three present a combination of Canadian and American shows. CBC peppers its schedule with British material, as well, such as Coronation Street. The advent of the Internet and streaming video has made access to Canadian TV and radio easier than ever before. Americans would enjoy a refreshing sample of the Canadian point-of-view.
Canadian news broadcasts seriously consider not only events in Canada and America but the entire world. Entertainment programming is just as fresh. Would you ever expect to see a show called ‘Little Mosque on the Prairie’ on AmericanTV? You wouldn’t believe how entertaining and eye opening this one show has become up north. Another Canadian gem is the dramedy ‘Being Erica’ that recently completed its fourth and final season on the CBC. Set in Toronto, the show received critical acclaim,earned huge audiences and became the most popular show on Canadian TV. It’s all about a woman in her thirties, (played by Alberta-native Erin Karpluk,) who finds herself a therapist with the ability to send herback into her past allowing her to change everything she regrets. The writing is fresh and intellectual and does not depend on violence and intrigue to be entertaining. Distributed worldwide by the BBC, a secondi ncarnation of ‘Being Erica’ is now in development as a new show for ABC-TV stateside. If you can’t wait, the first three CBC seasons are available free on demand at hulu.com.
Three Canadian news shows are worthy of your review: CTV presents ‘Canada AM,’ a three hour newsmagazine seen on-line at: http://www.ctv.ca/canadaAMPlayer/index.html in beautiful 16x9 HDTV quality. Be sure to also check ‘Jeff’s Videos’ for some amazing footage found on the Internet. Be aware that the weather reports include temperature readings in centigrade. It’s not that cold up there! The hard news CTV National News with Lisa LaFlamme is also worthy of your attention at: http://www.ctv.ca/ctvnews/.CBC’s ‘The National’ is a daily hour-long gem with thoughtful analysis and discussion anchored by Peter Mansbridge. A truncated 10 minute version is available on iTunes.
CBC Radio offers a nearly endless supply of programming for every taste. Use Internet Explorer and go to: http://www.cbc.ca/radio/#. Click ‘See what is playing on all live streams’ and it will reveal dozens of different program choices being broadcast to distinct regional areas all over Canada. CBC Radio podcasts are easily available via iTunes or at: http://www.cbc.ca/podcasting/. You could spend years sampling the hundreds of different programs they offer. It’s quite a course in all things Canadian! One Canadian radio show has also captured my fancy. CBC Radio’s ‘Q’ with Jian Ghomeshi is a nationwide phenomenon covering the world of entertainment, arts and culture. Jian’s well-produced and fast-paced show attracts the biggest names in show biz. You’ll delight following his ability to create insightful interviews and commentary that surpass most everything I have ever heard. Many memorable live performances season his already delightful show. ‘Q’ is now being distributed in the United States via Public Radio International and can be heard on WNLK-AM 1350 Norwalk, CT at noon and 7pm weekdays. Free audio and video podcasts of his material can be found on iTunes and on the show’s web site: http://www.cbc.ca/q. CBC’s Radio One is available 24/7 on Sirius satelliteradio channel 159.
My favorite of all media from up north is the independent channel known as NTV from St. John’s, Newfoundland. Here you will see what life is like in Newfoundland and Labrador in a homemade style all their own. A low-powered TV station outside of Tampa, Florida rebroadcasts NTV for all the ‘snowbirds’ who vacation down there. In turn, the Tampa station can be seen via the Internet at wpso.com. Three times a day you can see NTV newscasts: 7 to 8:30 am, 10:30 to 11am and 4:30 to 5 pm. There is also much more to be seen on demand at www.ntv.ca. If you are a certified TV DXer, once in a blue moon you can see NTV directly via e-skip on analog channel 4! If you are looking for something fresh and new or just seeking a new perspective, take a gander at all Canada has to offer. There is so much to see and hear and it’s all free and on-demand. Take a look! (see picture above!) You may find some wonderful and entertaining shows that you never knew existed. It’s all waiting for you and just a mouse click away. Pass the Molson, eh?