Vintage Cover Art: The Goblin

Prior to the great stock market crash at the end of the decade and the ensuing economic chaos, the prevalent mood of the 1920s in many places was upbeat and carefree. Magazine covers from the era typify this, including these fabulous illustrations from Canada’s Goblin, a monthly humor magazine.  Launched in 1921, it was in print for about ten years during which time its highly stylized, and at times witty, covers helped it to become Canada’s then most widely circulated magazine.







(Image Source:  University of Toronto Archives)

“Woke Up This Morning” on CBC Radio

Although I’ve not posted much about music on O’Canada, exploring music and its many genres is one of my favorite pastimes.  While I’ve been clued in to some great Canadian music through CBC Radio over the years, the diverse programming of CBC Radio One is such that I’ve also discovered from time to time new (for me) American pieces. Such was the case earlier this week as I listened to “As It Happens” , which is hosted by Carol Off and Jeff Douglas.  On that particular evening, the show payed homage to Claude Sitton, a journalist who passed away this week and who covered many of the key events of the early 1960s civil rights movement, by closing out with “Woke Up This Morning (With My Mind on Freedom)” performed by The SNCC Freedom Singers.  It’s a powerful song. Video below.

More Magazines: Canadian Geographic and Canada’s History

The last time I reviewed a couple of Canadian magazines the subjects were two interesting regional publications focused on the far North.  Now I’d like to mention a couple of other impressive mags to which I subscribe and the geographic scopes of which encompass the entire country.

Cover of April 2011 Canadian Geographic magazine April 2011

Canadian Geographic:  This magazine does an exceptional job of making accessible the country’s many natural wonders.  The writing and photography are superb and the content is varied enough that I believe there’s something for every type of reader in each issue.  The cover story for April’s issue explores the centennial of the establishment of Canada’s national park system, with additional features that include on dark sky preserves for infinite star gazing, the story of Quebec’s Lachine Canal and Labrador’s Mealy Mountains.  The magazine’s website features additional content that complements the print version as well as the mission of the Royal Canadian Geographic Society.

Canada's History Magazine - Latest issue!

Canada’s History:  As its name suggests. this publication explores Canada’s history and is the organ of Canada’s National History Society.  Conceived in 1920 by the Hudson’s Bay Company as a promotional piece called the Beaver until 2010 (when it was given its current name), the magazine evolved to have broad national appeal.  Each issue contains a diverse selection of historical accounts and is well laid out and full of engaging book reviews, pictures, maps and other illustrations of bygone times.  Among the stories in the latest issue (April-May) are a piece on the Jesuits’ role in the country’s early history, a story on Canada’s first car and an exploration of many facets of the history of the far northern portions of the country.  Its website also nicely extends the features of print version.

WireTap’s Wry Perspective on Life


Into the third month now of my trial subscription of Sirius XM radio and I’m gaining a greater appreciation for the varied programming offered on CBC Radio One.  The closest thing we have in the States is National Public Radio.   However, my sense is that a richer variety  of offerings is to be found on CBC Radio.  Not sure if that’s because of the limited funding that NPR receives here or the different traditions out of which these two public radio services developed, but there’s certainly a notable difference. Continue reading

Getting Sirius About Canada

A little more than a month ago, I got a trial subscription to Sirius satellite radio for my car but until the past two weeks I had not paid much attention to it.   Then I downloaded a channel guide and skimmed through the varied options and was intrigued that in addition to channels devoted to music and musicians I like, there are several channels devoted to Canadian music, news and sports.  It seems fitting that my attention would be drawn to these channels given that the first occasion I had to listen to satellite radio was in a rental car on a trip to Nova Scotia a couple of years ago.   During that initial experience with Sirius’s offerings I hopped around from channel to channel appreciating what was for me a sense of novelty, but because I did not have a list of channels I was unaware of satellite radio’s breadth.

So, here are some of the Canada-related channels I’ve been sampling of late (descriptions and Sirius channel number in parentheses):

  • Iceberg Radio (Canadian Alternative Music, Ch. 85)
  • CBC Radio 3 (Canadian Indie Music, Ch. 86)
  • Bandeapart (Radio-Canada New French Music, Ch. 87)
  • L’Oasis Francophone (French Contemporary Music from Canada, Ch. 88)
  • The Score (Uncensored Canadian Sports Talk, Ch. 98)
  • CBC Radio One (Canada News, Ch. 137)
  • Canadian Weather Network (Canada Weather, Ch. 138)

Although I need to explore each of these more, I’m already impressed at the way these channels add another dimension to my understanding and learning about Canada’s diverse culture.   I’m not certain whether I’ll keep the Sirius subscription after the trial period but if I do I’m sure that being able to tune into Canadian radio will be the balance tipper.

Regional Reads: Up Here & Yukon, North of Ordinary


I’m a glutton for magazines and, undoubtedly, have way more subscriptions than warranted for any normal person.   Although online media continue to nip at the heels of print media, magazines continue to hold their own, especially where the publication is able to use online multi-media features to enhance its offline offerings.   Just as with the U.S., Canada has a wealth of solid mainstream publications, but the ones that most attract my attention are the regional and niche publications.  With that in mind, I thought it might be interesting to take a look periodically at some of the country’s noteworthy smaller magazines, and to do that by starting way up north.

Amazingly, the far north is graced with at least two truly terrific general circulation regional magazines, Up Here and Yukon, North of  of Ordinary.   The more broad ranging in scope and literary of the two appears to be the monthly Up Here, which principally focuses on life in the Yukon, the Northwest Territories and Nunavut, although it occasionally touches upon the far northern regions of Canada’s other mainland provinces.   The magazine’s layout conveys a playful, slightly hip aesthetic and its editorial content provides enough variety to satisfy even picky readers.  The latest issue I have (September 2010) features stories on Inuit who have moved south to Ottawa and Toronto, the failed effort in the 1960s and 1970s to develop a modern-day Shangri-La in the far north, a desperate Nunavut survival tale from almost a century ago, and, on a lighter note, the winners of the annual “Write Like Robert Service Poetry Contest.”  From an online perspective, Up Here‘s website makes available selected content from past issues, including entertaining multi-media features.  Not surprisingly, others have also taken note of this nifty little publication with lots of personality — so much so that Up Here received the prestigious 2010 Magazine of the Year Award from the National Magazine Awards Foundation.

Link to website of Up Here


Yukon, North of Ordinary stakes out a narrower geographic niche, emphasizing happenings in the Yukon.  The magazine devotes more attention to business matters in its editorial voice.  However, the quality of its feature writing is quite good.   The Fall 2010 issue profiles spooky haunts in Dawson City, reports on a cultural festival of the local Tr’ondek Hwech’in people, and explores how far flung Yukon families use technology to stay connected across wide distances.  The publication also serves as the official inflight magazine of Whitehorse-based Air North, so several pages cover matters of interest with that airline.  While Yukon‘s website is not as robust as that of Up HereYukon‘s site  archive provides better overall access to past issues.  Both these magazines  have a great deal that is useful and entertaining to offer their respective readerships and they each demonstrate why print media continues to retain our interest notwithstanding the pull of the web.

Link to Yukon, North of Ordinary

Captivate’s Toronto Sweepstakes

Captivate is the clever company that operates those small display screens in office building elevators.  The screens provide info-bytes that help to pass the time as the compartments ascend and descend throughout the day.  Last week while in the elevators I noticed the tell-tale maple leaf adorning various screen shots and that piqued my interest.   Captivate, in partnership with several Ontario tourism agencies, is running a sweepstakes for which the prize is a trip for two to Toronto.  Cool!  I had not made the effort before to visit the Captivate website but this caused me to track it down.  Here’s the link to the sweepstakes:

Whether or not you enter this sweepstakes, you should check out Toronto, which is indeed a great place to visit and explore.

Canada Takes Over The New Yorker


At the beginning of June, I noticed two full back-to-back pages of travel-related ads in The New York Times.  It stood out both because of the dense ad compilation and the fact that each of the ads was laid out as a sort of website screenshot including various social media links and references to comments, uploads, albums and the like.   I thought how cool that these Canadian organizations, including Tourism Toronto, Rail Canada, and Air Canada, among others, obviously banded together to make a more impactful impression.   I intended to comment on that before now but this past month has been unusually busy personally and professionally so I clipped the ads and set them aside for later comment (which is now!).

So, how much cooler is it that something similar but even more ambitious has been done with the June 28, 2010 issue of The New Yorker.  When I saw the ad on the inside cover (above) I was happy to see such a nicely laid out and to the point ad on Canada.  As I thumbed through the issue one after another distinctive maple leafs made it unmistakable that something was up with this issue.  Other than customary adverts for The New Yorker itself, every single ad was from a Canadian agency, province, business or institution.   In the online interactive edition there are also embedded videos that add to the message.

I’ve been a subscriber to this publication for over 20 years and the only other time I recall a similar campaign was when Target, the department store, took over every ad page and scattered its target logo throughout the magazine.  I’m sure the reason it’s not done more often is that it takes a good deal of expense and coordination, but that also makes it stand out all the more.  Bravo, Canada!

My fave is the fun “Bring Your Boots” ad by Alberta.

Link: (may require a subscription to access) Canada’s Connection to Debunking Internet Nonsense

As we all know, for all the wonders that the Internet has to offer, it also makes available its fair share of misinformation.  This is most often seen in the ridiculous stories and urban legends that periodically make their way across the Web and into our e-mail inboxes.  As a measure of the craftiness with which many such tales are constructed, occasionally even major media outlets are fooled by false stories circulating across the Internet.   I expect that many readers when confronted with a dubious story that just doesn’t quite make sense do what I do, which is to go to ( and see if the matter has been debunked or validated,

The Snopes site, which has been doing its thing for about the past 15 or so years, is entertaining to peruse even if you are not then trying to sort fact from fiction.  So, it’s fitting, that Snopes — like much of  the entertainment industry below the 49th parallel, which, unbeknownst to many Americans, is actually stealthily populated by an inordinate number of Canadians — is run by a husband and wife team, one of whom, Barbara Mikkelson, is a Canadian citizen.  I like the idea that one of the best Web sites devoted to setting the record straight on Internet nonsense is animated, at least in good measure, by the down to earth Canadian sensibility.

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