“I like to drink coffee at the Cagibi café, which is on the corner of St. Laurent and St. Viateur. It used to be a pharmacy, and you can still see the old prescription cabinets along the walls, but instead of pill bottles the shelves are now filled with plastic lions and bottles with sprigs of plants in them and 1960s oil paintings of ballerinas. The chairs and tables are all mix-and-match and there is a patterned tin ceiling with chipping paint. I like how Montreal wears its history on its sleeve, and how the ghosts of previous lives have left their fingerprints and poetry all over everything. The mice in the wall are probably reading the scratchings of a mouse named Jean Baptiste who lived in their very hole 80 years before.” – Heather O’Neill, author of Lullabies for Little Criminals and The Girl Who Was Saturday Night.
144. Egg cartons
Invented in 1911 in Smithers, B.C., by Joseph Coyle. Replaced costly, impractical earlier practice of putting tiny hemlets on eggs.
12 eggs = 12 provinces and territories … oh right … NUNAVUT. Well, maybe it was an early indicator of our protective peace-keeping leanings? Our fussiness about unsmashed food? Anyhow, good job Canada!”
– Graham Roumieu
145. Kodiak construction books
“In Grade 8 it was considered the height of fashion to wear Kodiak construction boots, unlaced, with their tongues hanging out like the head-banging rockers my friends and I so admired. The trick was to perfect a laissez-faire walk that allowed you to scuff your way forward without the laces getting tangled. This was not easy, especially in winter when the ground was ice-patched and often treacherous. The boots are steel-toed and sturdily constructed, practical, anti-fashion even. Still, as a footwear trend, I miss them. They made me feel grounded, not to be messed with. Boys and girls wore them with equal ease. They are working-class and outdoorsy. They’re named after a bear. They also make me feel nostalgic for a different Canada, I think – a Canada that values hard work and decency and won’t let someone bigger or richer step on its toes.”
– Heather Birrell, author of Mad Hope
146. Shawville, Que.
For Bryan Murray, general manager of the NHL’s Ottawa Senators, thinking of Canada brings him back to his hometown, the close-knit village of Shawville, Que. “If you’re from there, you’re proud of the fact that you’re from there,” he says.
The small, mostly English-speaking community of 1,664 about an hour’s drive west of Ottawa-Gatineau is where Mr. Murray and his nine brothers and sisters grew up. It is also where he likes to end up at the end of the day each July 1.
For a National Hockey League general manager, Canada Day is one of the busiest days of the year. Millions of dollars change hands as part of the “free-agent frenzy” that sees marquee players sign massive new deals, often with new teams. Trades are made that put GMs under the microscope, scrutinized on sports radio by second-guessing fans.
After a day of working the phones with staff at the Canadian Tire Centre, where the Senators play, Mr. Murray heads to his cottage near Shawville, and then into town.
“There’s always a family member that has a get-together – of the family mainly, and friends – to have a beer and some food,” he says. The evening usually ends at the Shawville fair grounds in the heart of the village. “We go over and they actually do a real nice fireworks display,” he says. “Lots of people from the community gather there.”
147. Waving to the band on July 1
“I love Canada Day itself. I live in Nova Scotia in the summer, and I try to arrive on July 1 so that the bands play for me as I drive from the ferry to my village. I've perfected what I think is a pretty good imitation of Prince Phlip’s wave.” – Calvin Trillin, Nova Scotia resident and New Yorker contributor
This material has been edited and condensed