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
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.