Unexpected Canadian connections

Regular readers might recall that, a few months ago I mentioned my “Canada Through My Eye” blog for the first time in this column space.

  Somehow, I got it in my head that I should spend the twelve months of Canada’s 150th anniversary year posting five times a week about personal, political and cultural milestones for each of my nearly-45 years of my life.

  Much to my surprise and embarrassment, I haven’t kept up the blistering pace I set for myself in late December – I’d hoped to reach 1996 by now, and I only started 1982 this week. Still, I’ve been amazed by the impact this blog has had on my personal Canadian experience during this 150th anniversary year, and the affection shown for topics that I had previously considered entirely too personal or specific for anybody else to appreciate.

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  For example: In the first six months the blog has been up, it’s received 4,330 individual views. Nearly one-quarter of those have been for a single article I posted back in January – a tribute to Jigg’s Take-Out in St. Peter’s. The readership of that blog post saluting my favourite fast-food spot and the maker of the Maritimes’ best chicken sandwich is equal to that of the combined totals for my next four most-read blog posts.

  Similarly, the Number Two spot among my “Canada Through My Eye” pieces belongs to another very local subject: Grande-Greve Beach. Apparently, a lot of people around the world treasure that part of the Richmond County coastline as much as I do; my comments section was filled with wonderful memories shared by present and former residents, with the readership extending around the world.

  That’s another thing that has amazed me about this blog experiment – the width and breath of areas in which it’s getting views. People from 31 different countries wanted to check out my defense of Dan Hill’s “Sometimes When We Touch,” my tributes to the late  Vinyl Café  mastermind Stuart McLean and  Double Exposure  voice master Bob Robertson, and/or my recollection of that time I interviewed Joe Clark in the Port Hawkesbury Tim Horton’s outlet that was demolished this past fall.

  And even if I factor in my relatives living in Switzerland, Belgium, France and the United Kingdom, that still doesn’t explain the figures from China, Japan, Australia, Argentina, Ecuador and the Philippines. Whether you’re ex-pat Canadians, bored sociology students or McKenzie Brothers groupies, your readership and support means a lot to me and I hope you’ve learned even a little bit about the land I’ve been proud to call home.

  I’ve also been amazed at the support I’ve received from the subjects of these blog posts. Author Gordon Korman, who wowed me as an adolescent with his  Bruno and Boots  series and several other young-adult novels, has re-Tweeted my tribute to his work, as has the producer of YTV’s three recent  Bruno and Boots  movies. The National Film Board picked up my post about their memorable Canada Vignettes series of the late ‘70s and early ‘80s (all together now: let’s sing “The Log Driver’s Waltz” or recite the “Riverdale Lion” poem), and a tribute site for the legendary children’s entertainers Sharon, Lois and Bram now has a link to my blog saluting the trio behind  The Elephant Show. 

  Most heartening of all: A blog post celebrating the Halifax edition of the ‘80s CBC youth series  Switchback  and its host, Stan Johnson, wound up becoming one of the most popular posts on the entire blog and even received a seal of approval from “Stan The Man” himself (shortly after his 69th birthday in late May) and Stan’s adult son Josh.

  Through it all, I’ve been delighted to see the kind of discussion that these blog posts have prompted. For starters, I had no idea that so many people from my native L’Ardoise participated on the Nova Scotia edition of the CBC game show  Reach For The Top  in the ‘70s and early ‘80s.

  A post last month about my stay in the Izaak Walton Killam Children’s Hospital (now the IWK Health Centre) as an eight-year-old in 1980 prompted an outpouring of amazing stories about the impact this Halifax facility has had on families around the region.

  Similarly, I was amazed to learn that a long-time friend of mine arrived in Canada from Ireland in 1976 – the same year as the subject of another blog post, the Montreal Summer Olympics – with a mere $163 in his pocket, landing in Toronto before relocating to Cape Breton.

  Take a moment to check out  www.canadathroughmyeye.com  for yourself, and let’s keep telling our stories – online and in person – throughout 2017 and for years to come. 

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Adam Cooke has been a staff writer and columnist for The Reporter since 1999. A native of L’Ardoise, Adam lives in Port Hawkesbury with his wife Cathy.