Every March, the CBC hosts a uniquely Canadian program called Canada Reads, wherein five personalities from various fields (media, music, acting, etc.) choose one book written by a Canadian author to defend in a Battle of the Books style tournament. Dubbed a “literary Survivor” (this competition dates back to 2002, which explains the reference), each participant presents their arguments on why their chosen book is the most important to Canadian readers at a given time. Then, like its reality show model, participants vote a book off the island—I mean, out of the competition—until there is only one standing. The winner is deemed the book all Canadians should read. This year, due to pandemic-related disruptions, Canada Reads will take place from July 20 – 23, and will be broadcast on CBC Radio, CBC television, CBC Gem, CBC Books, YouTube, and Facebook.
The participants this year fit the described profile of “celebrities who [are] avid readers but not the “usual suspects” when it [comes] to talking about books on the CBC.” This isn’t the Giller Prize or the Governor General’s Award; these books are chosen by Canadian citizens outside of the usual literary circle—a democratization of book awards, if you will. Meet the participants and their selections below!
Out of the countless industries to take a TKO hit this year, one particularly close to my heart is the film industry. Chris Nolan might have deluded himself into believing his new film Tenet will reopen the theatre industry this summer (and that, if it does, people will actually show up) but I’m less optimistic. As someone who normally loves the theatre experience—the big screen, the excitement, the popcorn—the last thing I want to do in the midst of a pandemic is sit in an enclosed room full of strangers for two hours. Even if theatres employ social distancing measures and only partially fill the rooms, the best result is still drastically reduced ticket sales. I’m no business major, but for Tenet to make back its $200 million budget in 2020…it’s just not realistic. Even with the push toward drive-in showings this summer, there are only so many drive-in options and not everybody has a car.
But if even a guaranteed blockbuster from the creator of Inception and The Dark Knight struggles to make bank, what does that mean for smaller releases? The Canadian film industry is precarious on a good day; historically dominated by the US, Canadian filmmakers have always struggled to carve out a space for themselves in their own backyard. And when I say always, I mean always: back in 1930, at the beginning of what we understand Hollywood to be, Maclean’s called the American film industry “a movie Mussolini” (a fantastically extra description) in an article on “the ‘screen war’ which has resulted in virtual domination of the Canadian motion picture field by a gigantic United States corporation.” The culture was already set: audiences were drawn to the higher-budget, flashier productions from south of the border.
Cut to today, and this same mindset exists. It’s funny, because plenty of films and TV shows are filmed in Toronto, Montreal, or Vancouver—our little Hollywood Norths. Toronto is well known as a hotbed of filming, always dressed up as Chicago or Baltimore or some equivalent American city. Vancouver is Netflix and CW heaven: Riverdale, The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, The 100, Charmed, The Flash, and Supernatural are all filmed there (and that’s only a sample). But, being American productions, none of these shows or movies take place in Canada. Even our brilliant hometown success story, Schitt’s Creek, is careful not to mention its Ontario locale, despite very obviously being set here (the motel is in Orangeville), lest it scare off American viewers.
July 1 marks Canada’s 153rd birthday (or at least, 153 years since Confederation in 1867). This year’s Canada Day celebrations will look a lot different due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but there are still plenty of things to do at home and online. Here are ten ideas to celebrate Canada Day 2020:
1. Check out the City of Vaughan Virtual Canada Day Celebration
The City of Vaughan will host a free virtual Canada Day celebration from 5:00 – 8:00 pm on July 1 to allow Vaughan residents the opportunity to celebrate safely and comfortably from home. The featured performers will be beloved Canadian band the Barenaked Ladies! Additional entertainment will include musical performances by the pop group Mini Pop Kids and pop/R&B band The Free Label, a cirque-style LED performance with Spin Starlets and electric violinist Dr. Draw, a comedy performance by Susan Stewart, and a dance lesson from Kreative in Dance Styles (K.I.D.S.). There will be an official welcome from Mayor Maurizio Bevilacqua and members of Council, as well as videos from community members sharing what Canada Day means to them. The event will be hosted by Ashley Greco from 104.5 CHUM FM and is presented by Greenpark Group. Check the City of Vaughan’s website for up-to-date information.