Tag Archives: Canada

Hockey Night in Canada

13 Feb

Growing up we watched Hickey Night in Canada. For a while, when we lived in Abitibi Canyon and had on one TV station, that might be the only thing to watch. Stories and images of hockey permeate my childhood memories.

There are a couple of really great hockey related books I’d like to share with you today, to celebrate the Canadian Women’s Hockey team victory over the US last night at the Sochi Olympics.

First, and foremost there is Roch Carrier’s The Hockey Sweater originally published in French as Le Chandail de Hockey.

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This is a great story, but can be hard to find. It was turned into a short film by the National Film Board


As a kid I loved watching the Montreal Canadiens. It was the days before helmets and I loved watching my two  Guy Lafleur’s hair as he skated towards the net on a breakaway. I remember listening to Paul Henderson’s winning goal in the 1972 Canada Russia hockey series.

The NFB has a number of other short films about hockey that you can view HERE.

On a funny note, I remember being in the New Hamburg library in the late 70’s 80’s, looking at the rounders. There was a title that frequently intrigued me: Dinky Hocker Shoots Smack by M.E Kerr.


I assumed it was about hockey and never checked it out. Years later, I realized it was about heroine, not slap shots. I still laugh at my folly. I was a rather naive child. It turns out that Dinky Hocker doesn’t shoot smack, but she sure could tell you a lot about kids who do. Just like I don’t write books, but like to think I can tell you about authors who do.

Happy Canada Day!

1 Jul

Here is a little homage to some of the Canadian people, places and things ( in no particular order) that made me the reader and writer I am today.

1. The New Hamburg Public Library & Mrs. Leu the children’s librarian. She was the first person to really talk with me about books.


2. Anne of Green Gable & Lucy Maude Montgomery.  Predictable but I loved these books and they filmed part of the second series in the Allan Gardens near my apartment in Toronto when I was at U of T. I walked right past the filming one wintry night and saw Anne &  Morgan Harris (Megan Follows & Frank Converse).


3. Pierre Berton. Thank you , Pierre, for introducing me to popular history and making nerdy cool.


4. The world Book Encyclopedia 1968 and the  Canadian Encyclopedia. I spent many hours reading these. My family owned the first and I bought the second when they first came out in 1985. You can get it online for free at


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5. Robertson Davies.  I used to see him walking around Massey College at U of T & longed to talk to him, but didn’t. If  you haven’t read anything by him, you should!


6.Mrs. Enticknap my Grade 13 English teacher at Brantford Collegiate Institute.  She saw me as a reader and writer and gave me the room to experiment with both.


Happy Canada Day, everyone!

Child Soldiers

22 May

I disagree with many of Marshall McLuhan’s ideas. He’s the guy that  coined the term global village. (He’s Canadian, too!) The idea was that all of our interconnectedness through media brings us closer together because we know more about what’s going on. I believe that we know more, but we have no, or very little, real connection to what’s going on globally. It doesn’t get me out there acting on the outrages I see, at home or abroad.

Having said that, I was deeply moved by War Brothers: The Graphic Novel by Sharon E. McKay and Daniel LaFrance.


They are both Canadian, too, but they have managed to bring me to an understanding of the plight of child soldiers in a way CNN and other media outlets have not.

It is a fictionalized account of the abduction of a group of Ugandan schoolboys and their forced induction into the Lord’s Resistance Army. It begins with a letter from the main character, Jacob, who says he understands if, after reading the letter, the reader closes the book because what he has to say isn’t pretty. And it is not. It is based on reality, which, in this circumstance is very ugly. McKay & LaFrance manage to portray the horrific circumstances these children encounter with great sensitivity and convey the idea of the horrors without overtly showing them.  They also effectively convey the impact on the children of what they are forced to endure.

When I was a kid I kept a notebook of quotes and I remember one from E. M. Forster that said,  “If I had to choose between betraying my country and betraying my friend I hope I should have the guts to betray my country”. The children in  War Brothers  are forced to make that decision. This is a worthy read.

Hoop Genius…he’s Canadian!

13 May

One of my favorite This American Life  episodes is entitled Who’s Canadian. It makes me laugh, because I am an expat Canadian and it is true that we love to play the game in which we point put people and things that are Canadian.

At first, I was a bit miffed that the text of Hoop Genius: How a Desperate Teacher and a Rowdy Gym Class Invented Basketball by John Coy, failed to mention James Naismith’s status as a Canadian.Yes, it is hard to believe the iconic American game was, in fact, invented by a Canadian.


As I read, though, it became less important because there are so many reasons to praise the book. The endpapers are photographs of Naismith’s original 13 rules of basketball. The simple text clearly explains the dilemma, and how Naismith used trial and error and personal experience to find a game his rowdy boys could play and enjoy. It also highlights the beginnings of basketball for women in 1892. The illustrations by Joe Morse literally move the story along.  Each page truly captures the style of the period. His portrayals of each team sport Naismith tried are especially effective because the alternate orientation, giving the book the  feel  of a sporting event. Indoor football moves left to right. Indoor soccer moves right to left, and the two sides face each other in lacrosse. I loved this and I don’t even like sports!

The author’s note at the end (finally) gives Canada it’s due as Naismith’s birthplace. It also gives some more details about his background. A good book for sports fans.  And Canadians.

Randy Ribay

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