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Reason to love Canada No. 123: Reader Peter Taylor holds a book and a beer beside his campfire at Monck Provincial Park in British Columbia. (Peter Taylor)
Reason to love Canada No. 123: Reader Peter Taylor holds a book and a beer beside his campfire at Monck Provincial Park in British Columbia. (Peter Taylor)

147 reasons to love Canada Add to ...

Deceptively dull, he had a life of derring-do in sports, the military and diplomacy that would give James Bond a run for his money. He gave Canada many of the things it’s proudest of: universal health care, bilingualism, the abolition of capital punishment, non-involvement in the Vietnam War, and a national identity, symbolized by a new flag, that was distinct from the Mother Country.

Most important, he won a Nobel Peace Prize which (unlike a certain other North American leader) he actually deserved, for conceiving and implementing one of humanity’s greatest inventions: the armed peacekeeping force.

– Canadian scientist, linguist and author Steven Pinker

“As a UN staff member who worked in peacekeeping missions for many years in the Balkans, Africa and the Middle East, I have a deep admiration for our late prime minister, Lester B. Pearson, a Noble laureate considered the father of modern peacekeeping for his important role in creating a UN force to resolve the 1956 Suez Canal crisis. In doing so, he put Canada at the forefront of peaceful resolutions of international tensions and conflicts that threatened world peace.

– Carl Campeau, a legal adviser for the United Nations who recently escaped after eight months of captivity in Syria

13. Toopie and Binou

You can disparage the CRTC as an outmoded policy-maker in the digital age, but here’s one thing they got right: almost commercial-free kids programming. Just cross the border and watch American TV to see an endless barrage of advertising that bullies kids and their parents to buy-buy-BUY! It’s not much better in Britain.

As the parent of a 3-year-old, I put the Canadian alternative just behind fire, the wheel and gun control in its importance and uniqueness. Toopie and Binou, an animated series from Quebec, is a favourite: Toddlers dig it.

– Mark Breslin, founder of comedy club Yuk Yuks

14. Our new $5 bill

What do I love about Canada? Everything, but, especially … all that water, salt and fresh; loons; the smell of the air on Signal Hill; poutine, followed by beaver tails for dessert; our humility, our bilingualism and our multiculturalism – our new $5 bills. There are so many cool places to go and people to meet in this country, I will never do it all, but I will never lose interest in trying.

– Stephen S. Poloz, governor of the Bank of Canada

15. Montreal

‏I’m in love with a city. I leave her, often for long periods of time, even going so far as to give another city the title of home. But my heart knows the truth.

‏I left Montreal as a fresh graduate more than 30 years ago. The plan was to see the world, get some experience, then return home to start life as an adult and get a real job. ‏One thing led to another and the return home is still on hold.

‏But I still need to slip back to my first and deepest love at least once a year. My time with Montreal gives me enormous pleasure – and pain. The more time I spend with her, the more time I need with her. When it’s time to say goodbye, after an annual two- or three- or even six-week fling, I can’t stop crying as I make my way to the departure gate at Dorval. It gets worse every year.

‏Montreal has other lovers, lots of them, and many at the same time. She has this sometimes annoying threesome going with Quebec and Ottawa, and has, while I watched sometimes from a distance and sometimes up close, considered dumping one of them – usually Ottawa. My feelings on this fickleness have changed quite a bit over the years, settling into an acceptance of any decision Montreal decides to make, as long as I can still have her.

‏Why do I love her? She smells so good. And I can almost taste her – sometimes a sandwhich from the Main, sometimes the aroma of coffee from St-Viateur Street – from as far away as the southern tip of Africa. But most of all she pulls me back because of her other children, whom I also call my family.

A little-known street called Avenue Clermont in Mile End is where the heart of my Montreal beats. Arriving at a certain door, as I do once a year, is the highlight. I look forward with great anticipation to this event shortly after Canada Day – when it is warm and probably sunny in Montreal, and Johannesburg is in the grips of a southern hemisphere winter.

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