Time abroad and travel often help us see our home country in a different light but it also makes us aware how little the rest of the world knows about our vast and beautiful nation. Despite our humble nature, we Canadians are fiercely proud of our country and we'll gladly sing its praises.
I have an unhealthy obsession with this classic Canadian dish that has ironically grown since I moved to California. It’s considered a fast food dish that I think originated in Quebec but - lucky for the rest of us in different parts of the country - has made its way elsewhere.
Let me walk you through it: take a heaping pile of french fries, throw a fairly generous handful of cheese curds* on top of said pile and then pour brown gravy all over it all. Watch the steam rise, watch the cheese melt, and before your friends around you get the chance, grab a fork and dig in. You won’t regret it - I promise. This is the traditional way to order it, but there are places like Smoke’s Poutinerie that offer add-ons like chicken, steak and veggies.
Club Monaco: Club Monaco was founded by Canadian designer Joe Mimran and Alfred Sung in Toronto, Canada in 1985.
Alfred Sung: Alfred Sung is a one-man fashion brand, but I bet you didn’t know he is actually Chinese-Canadian!
Jason Wu: Jason Wu is another one-man-brand (one of my favourites, and yes, people can be brands too), but did you know he is actually Taiwanese-Canadian? He is perhaps most famous for designing Michelle Obama’s inauguration dresses.
Cirque du Soleil: Born in Montreal, Quebec, Cirque du Soleil was founded by two street performers in 1984. Today, over 90 million people have seen a Cirque show!
La Senza: This lingerie and intimate apparel brand is based in Dorval, Quebec. First launched in 1990, it includes over 300 stores in 30 countries around the globe (plus another 300 in Canada!) We even have a La Senza here, on the tiny Mediterranean island of Malta.
IMAX: IMAX finds its roots at the Montreal Expo 67, where it was debuted by its four Canadian filmmaker founders.
Flickr: Flickr was launched in 2004 by a Vancouver company, Ludicorp, before being acquired by Yahoo in 2005.
And some honourable mentions of beloved Canadian brands, to throw into conversation the next time you talk to a Canuck:
· Hudson’s Bay Company: Established in 1670 as a fur trading business, HBC lives on today as Canada’s oldest brand. I’m a huge fan of their HBC Collection, which is a throw back to their centuries-old four stripes design.
· Tim Hortons: In Canada we have two religions: Hockey and Tim Hortons, the nation’s favourite coffee shop chain.
· The Big Five Banks: The darlings of the global financial world, Canada’s Big Four banks (RBC, CIBC, TD, BMO, and Scotiabank) have remained pillars of stability during the global economic crisis, thanks in part to a good financial regulatory framework in my home and native land.
Thanks Jay, for letting me spread the word about these proud Canadian brands!
Lauren is a Canadian export who has been studying towards a Masters in PR in Los Angeles, California. If that wasn't cool enough, she packed up and crossed the Atlantic for a summer in London, England. She has travelled fairly extensively, loves taking beautiful photos and trying new restaurants.
Jess, of Mike and Jess in Malta fame, moved from Halifax on the East coast of Canada to Malta in 2010. She just completed a double Masters degree, already having finished a degree in Art History and can often be found revelling in clever branding. If that didn't make her busy enough, she's planning an über-cool wedding to her counterpart, Mike, this year. (She also designed that awesome graphic above!)