I just finished reading Canada by Mike Myers. I’ve been dipping into it since my son gave it to me for Christmas. I’m very easy to buy for; you can’t go wrong if the gift is related to reading or Canada, so this choice hit it out of the park. And it just happens to have been written by a Canadian that I think is very funny and a terrific ambassador for our country.
The book is somewhat of an autobiography of comedian/actor Mike Myers. I say somewhat, because like a miner panning for gold, he sifts the sand from his riverbed of memories through the Canadian flag; looking for anything with a whiff of maple. Some readers may find that a bit heavy-handed, even a touch contrived at times. I ate it up like a bag of ketchup chips, licking my fingers clean of every speck of savoury red dust.
I am only two years older than Mike Myers and so the Canadian childhood he remembers from Scarborough, Ontario, has much in common with mine in Pierrefonds, Quebec. His Maple Leaf Gardens is my Montreal Forum, his sad Maple Leafs hockey team is my mighty Montreal Canadiens –sorry Mike. But we share Cherry Blossoms, Expo 67, the Eaton’s catalogue, Lonesome Charlie, Mr. Dressup (when Mr Dressup died shortly after 9/11, it felt like all goodness was draining from the world), The Friendly Giant, Stompin’ Tom, Canadian Tire and pretty much every other Canadian memory from growing up in the 60’s and 70’s.
The book is also a snapshot of Canada, but like any snapshot, it’s taken from a specific perspective. This is not a scholarly look at Canadian history or politics. It is one man’s memory, and often very funny, interpretation of what it means to be a Canadian. There is a definite viewpoint. This is not a book for anyone who misses Prime Minister Stephen Harper, or thinks Kellie Leitch is swell, (I do not).
Perhaps even more than a snapshot, it’s a love letter, and like all love letters, there is an element of giddy drunkenness, seeing mostly what is beautiful, quick to forgive the beloved’s flaws. (I actually found it hard to write that last sentence, because I am punch drunk in love with Canada too– I take it as a personal accomplishment whenever we make a list of best places to live).
But what’s wrong with a love letter in a world so full of cynicism?
If you are one of the millions of Canadians suffering from U.S. presidential flu, I suggest you vaccinate yourself by reading Canada by Mike Myers. It’s like enjoying Hickory Sticks and a Molson on a sunny May two-four weekend.
It’s also a reminder that we have so much to celebrate and be proud of, on our 150th birthday.
Canada by Mike Myers is published by Penguin Random House Canada.