13 June 2007

The 7 Wonders of Canada

The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) recently aired a series of shows entitled “7 wonders of Canada.” Modelled after the 7 ancient wonders of the world, the idea was to come up with a set of 7 marvels that can be found right here at home.

Like all CBC shows, the competition involved both an audience participation and a critical analysis. The criteria were set out as follows:

1. Essential 'Canadian-ness' - historically significant, character filled, valued
2. Originality/uniqueness of the pitch and place
3. Spectacular physical site or amazing human creation
4. Ability to inspire
5. Range within the final seven - diversity of location, type of wonder
6. Results of the online vote

You will note that factor #5 gives the CBC the ability to diversify the pot. Should the results end with 7 wonders all located in the Atlantic region for instance, undoubtedly, the final tabulation would be skewed to show diversity. Call it the old affirmative action card.

The CBC ran adds on television and radio encouraging people to vote online. With over 1 million votes, I would say the project was fairly successful. Online voters were given a choice of 52 wonders to choose from. The following are the results of the online poll - drum roll please….

1. Bay of Fundy - NB represent!

2. Nahanni National Park - Well worth the 9 day drive from Ottawa!

3. Northern Lights - If the Japanese take planes to the middle of nowhere, it must be special

4. Rockies - Better than Stallone's movie adaptation

5. Cabot Trail - What it must have been like for those early coureurs de bois!

6. Niagara Falls - Avoid the Ripley's believe or not!

7. Sleeping Giant - Thunder Bay's got to have something worthwhile, because it sure ain't the city.

Not surprisingly, all 7 represent areas of outstanding natural beauty (this is very bureaucratic speak for AWESOMELY AMAZING). Canada is a rather large place, with a relatively short history, and relatively low population. As such there are no ancient temples or man made structures on the list, nor are there birthplaces of religious followings. The 7 wonders do however represent spiritual significance, mystery and Mother Nature’s awe-inspiring beauty. With these 7 wonders, you can understand how people skipped over the Vegreville Egg or the Montreal bagel (honestly, these impotent wonders made it to the final 52?)

The judges, for their part, were much more diplomatic, if not creative, in their choices, as you can see:

1. The canoe - gets you where you need to go, unless where you need to go is not near water, in which case you'll have to carry the canoe.

2. Niagara Falls - also avoid the Guiness book of Records Museum

3. Pier 21 Halifax - Dumb immigrants, they missed piers 1 through 20

4. The Rockies - Should have called them the Lakers, then they could boast Kobe Bryant in place of Larry Walker

5. The Igloo - At -50 and no Tim Horton's in site, it better be freaking warm

6. Old Quebec City - Vive le Québec!!!

7. Prairie Skies - there is a reason to look at the beautiful sky in the prairies, the rest of it is just fields!!!

You will note that the judges managed to include a wonder from every province and territory, despite the fact that there are 13 provinces/territories and only 7 wonders. You have to give them diplomatic respect – with the igloo, they chose a wonder that spans all of northern Canada, and with the Prairie skies, they chose another wonder that spans 3 provinces. They also managed to choose one wonder to which all Canadians can relate to – the canoe. With Quebec City, they managed to appease the French heritage of our country and by including Niagara Falls, they avoid the moniker of leaving out a natural world wonder from the Canadian wonder list. Yes, the judges certainly managed to create a list that is distinctly Canadian.