Vintage Moments: Canadian Cultural Icons Revisited

We’ve told you about the 7 YouTube Channels to Make You Smarter and the Top 10 Science Videos. Now the BCcampus editorial staff wants to share with you some vintage material about Canada’s cultural icons for this month’s Friday Diversion post. Take a look at what we’ve found. What names would you add to this list?



Marshall Mcluhan’s full lecture: The medium is the message 

When it was first released in 1964, Marshall Mcluhan’s Understanding Media was seen as a radical look at how electronic communication affects life in the 20th century. It was in this book that the media theorist first explained his enigmatic paradox, “the medium is the message.” Mcluhan was a visionary: he anticipated the wide-ranging effects of the Internet and understood how digital technology would transform the world. After you’re watched this video, you’ll definitely want to know more about him. Understanding Me: Lectures and Interviews is a good place to start.

A 23-year-old Elizabeth May calls for a ban on pesticides (1978)

Environmentalist/writer/lawyer/politician Elizabeth May isn’t afraid to fight for what she believes is right. As you see in the video, even before she became part of the Green Party, May was changing the status quo. In 2011, May became the first Canadian Green Party candidate elected to office. In 2012, she was voted Parliamentarian of the Year by her colleagues in the House of Commons.

Tommy Douglas on the future of medicare (1983)

Tommy Douglas was the leader of the New Democratic Party and premier of Saskatchewan. Known as the “Father of Medicare”, Douglas was voted the Greatest Canadian in 2004 for his devotion to social causes, his charm and his powers of persuasion.

A young Glenn Gould plays Bach

Glenn Herbert Gould was an eccentric genius, and also one of the best known and celebrated classical pianists in the 20th century. Arrowroot cookies, Barbra Streisand and animals were some of his favourite things; he hated sunshine, the stage and airplanes.

K.D. Lang sings “Three Cigarettes in an Ashtray” (1985)

By the time mainstream Canada heard about K.D. (short for Katherine Dawn) Lang in the mid 1980s, the Alberta singer had already made a name for herself as an unconventional entertainer (kitschy cowgirl outfits and spiky hair) with a voice that would not be ignored. She released her first record in 1984, and was inducted into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame in 2013. She is scheduled to make her Broadway debut in a new musical in 2014.

Singer Rita MacNeil speaks about her return from Toronto to Big Pond (1979)

Cape Breton folk singer Rita MacNeil moved to Toronto at age 17 to launch her career. However, her big breakthrough came much later, when she was in her 40’s, after appearing on stage at Expo ‘86. Despite being painfully shy, MacNeil recorded 24 albums and sold millions of records over the course of her career. She even had her own CBC-TV variety program, Rita and Friends. She died in 2013 at age 68.

Friendly Giant Bob Homme steps out of costume for the first time (1982)

The Friendly Giant was a children’s television show featuring Bob Homme (Friendly the Giant and the show’s creator), along with puppets Rusty the Rooster and Jerome the Giraffe. The popular show aired from 1958 to 1985.

18-year-old Veronica Tennant talks about her dream of being a prima ballerina

Veronica Tennant started dancing when she was four years old. At 18, she became the youngest principal dancer with the National Ballet of Canada, a position she held for 25 years. She is now an award-winning director/producer and writer in the worlds of television, theatre and film.

Ernie Coombs reflects on his career as Mr. Dressup (1996)

Mr. Dressup was a popular children’s television show that ran from 1967 to 1996. Mr. Dressup (Ernie Coombs) had two main puppet sidekicks on the show: Casey the young boy and his dog Finnegan. The tickle trunk was a favourite feature of the show, especially when Mr. Dressup brought out various costumes that would set the tone for the day.

Author Margaret Atwood shows us how to stop a puck (2005)

Margaret Atwood is the award-winning author of more 50 fifty volumes of poetry, children’s literature, fiction, and non-fiction. Atwood is about to publish MaddAddam, the third novel of a dystopian, futuristic trilogy that began with Oryx and Crake in 2003 and continued in 2009 with The Year of the Flood.



Al Purdy quits his day job (1968)

Al Purdy was one of Canada’s most celebrated poets. However, it was not until his 40s that he began to write poetry full time. He published his first collection, The Enchanted Echo, in 1944.

Poet Leonard Cohen splashes on to world stage at 22 (1958)

Seventy-nine-year-old Leonard Cohen is an award-winning singer-songwriter, musician, poet, and novelist. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2008, and received a Grammy Award for lifetime achievement in 2010.


Photo credit: David Street