On The Seven Wonders of Canada

Unearthly Wonderpost

So, I was on The Internetz perusing lists of Seven Wonders.   Not just the original, ancient Seven Wonders (what I like to call Seven Wonders Classic), but more recent, aping lists like The Seven Wonders of the Mediaeval World, or The Seven Wonders of the Natural World, etc.  Eventually I came across The Seven Wonders of Canada, a list selected in 2007 by a CBC sponsored panel of judges with advice (largely ignored) from a nationwide poll.  (The runaway winner of the poll, Thunder Bay’s Sleeping Giant, was excluded from the list despite receiving over twice as many votes as the runner-up, Niagara Falls.  Yeah, that Niagara Falls.)

Fig. 1: He's so gonna be pissed when he wakes up.

Anyway the list itself can best be described as “fucking ridiculous”.  This description could be elaborated upon with the remarks that it’s “thoroughly embarrassing” and “represents the worst of Canada’s stereotypical self-enforced mediocrity”.

Here it is in all its lame pandering glory (in no particular, presumably, order):

1. The Canoe

2. The Igloo

3. Niagara Falls

4. Old Quebec

5. Pier 21, Halifax

6. Prairie Skies

7. The Rockies

What a load of dog balls.  For fuck’s sake, smarten up, people.

I mean, okay, so 4 and 5 make sense as bona fide historical sites and Niagara Falls and The Rockies are incredible natural wonders, although I find the inclusion of natural phenomena violates the spirit of the original classical list.  And besides, The Rockies are awesome mountains and all, but the entry’s a little vague, what with them stretching over thousands miles.  Quite literally it’s a bit of a stretch.  Perhaps picking one particular range would work.

Anyway, it’s 1, 2, and 6 that really jump the shark.  I mean, really, The Igloo?  We’re stacking a dome of ice bricks against the Statue of Zeus?

Fig. 2: Made of gold. Solid fucking gold.

Don’t get me wrong, igloos are fantastic structures: most functional in every way, indeed a symbol of the Inuit’s amazing ability to survive in a ridiculously harsh environment.  But “Wonders” aren’t about actual utilitarian awesomeness; they’re about unique places that people are drawn to, both in their imagination (via culture) and literally as tourists.  Y’know, things like the CN Tower, which is inexplicably absent from the list.

Fig. 3: Perhaps they thought it was giving them the finger.

The Canoe is also a similarly inexcusable inclusion, perhaps more so.  I mean, we didn’t even invent the bloody thing, it just played a part in our mythical formation.  Could you imagine if the automobile was included in a list of United States of American Wonders?  Nonsense, not even worthy of deconstruction.

The main problem with both The Igloo and The Canoe is that they’re not singular objects, so to speak, but rather general concepts of which there are many examples Platonically reflected throughout the world.  Basically, there’s no such thing as The Igloo, there’s just a igloo — many of them in fact. What the panel over at the CEEB seems to have failed to realize is that Wonders have to have an aura, a unique essence imprinted (and that imprints) upon our collective conscious.

Fig. 4: Walter Benjamin knows what I'm talking about.

This aura is inextricably bound up with them each being a particular structure — be it artificial or natural — in a specific geographic location.  The term “landmark” covers the concept quite well.  Igloos and canoes, on the other hand, are not particular places or things, but generalized, abstract categories of  serialized objects that may have national or historical significance, but are certainly, almost by definition, not Wonders.

So that leaves Praire Skies, however, as the most egregious offender.  Leaving aside any aura considerations, the indictment is threefold:

1. Even just the name reeks of hippie lameness, or perhaps the world’s most bland aftershave.

2. It’s not even a goddamned thing: they’re including a large expanse of empty space as the one of the country’s greatest wonders.

And 3.  Following from that, it shows, as does the list as a whole, that Canada, and in this instance the prairies in particular, is rather deficient in the whole wonder department  — to the point that our lack of wonder is itself a Wonder.

Now, I would like to think that this is not true, so here’s my list.  Or rather lists, since I will have a separate list for natural wonders to keep true to the spirit of Herotodus’ original.  Natural Wonders first, then.

The Seven Natural Wonders of Canada

1.  Niagara Falls: Even though we share it with the U.S., the pretty bit’s on our side.

Fig. 5: Puny American Falls not pictured.

2.  Bay of Fundy: Highest tides in the world, my man.

Fig. 6: All tide up.

3.  Lake Manicouagan: Big ol’ eye looking out into space.  Could possibly be included below due to human enlargement.

Fig. 7: Impact.

4.  The Badlands of Alberta: Possible location where Stanley Kubrick may have faked the moon landing.  The other possible location, Sudbury, is far too unpleasant to be included.

Fig. 8: Hoodoo Dream.

5.  Banff National Park: Containing the Columbia Ice Fields, Castle Mountain, and Lake Louise, the park could almost generate a list by itself.  Also contains the hydrological centre of North America: where the watersheds of the Atlantic, Arctic, and Pacific Oceans meet.

Fig. 9: Gotta get some mountain shit in there.

6.  Tuktoyaktuk Pingos:  A collection of giant mounds of earth-covered ice up by the Arctic Sea.  Possible location where Christopher Nolan will fake the landing on Europa.

Fig. 10: All these worlds are yours...

7.   The Sleeping Giant: Meh, according to the original poll, 178,000 or so people can’t be argued with, even if most of them are the entire population of Thunder Bay.

Fig. 11: Nope, still not up yet.

The Seven Wonders of Canada

1.  L’Anse Aux Meadows: Viking settlement, earliest known European occupation of The Americas.  That has to count for something.

Fig. 12: Not as interesting without the looting and pillaging.

2.  Canadian Pacific Railway: Yeah, it’s just a railroad track, but it did build a country, or so I’m told, and anyway, it’s a much better symbol than a frickin’ canoe.

Fig. 13: On the other hand, it did inspire a Gordon Lightfoot song.

3.  Confederation Bridge:  At almost 13 kilometres in length, it’s one of the largest bridges in the world.  Classic case of Wonderdom.

Fig. 14: The Fixed Link.

4.  West Edmonton Mall: How do you deal with the metaphysical mind-numbing one gets from contemplating the endless Prairie Skies (goddamnit)?  Why, going shopping of course.  Sure, it’s no longer the biggest mall in the world, but it’s still got a bunch of waterparks.  And more working submarines than the Canadian Navy.

Fig. 15: Almost makes you forget you're in Edmonton.

5.  Old Quebec: Just to show that not of all of our history is appropriated.

Fig. 16: Quaint only by North American standards.

6.  Vegreville Egg: It’s the biggest Easter Egg in the world.  On a concrete stick.  Now, see, that’s what World Wonders are all about, not this useful igloo nonsense.

Fig. 17: Oh, Canada.

7.  The CN Tower: Obvious, really.

Fig. 18: Yeah, fuck you too, Toronto.


~ by Isaac Bickerstaff on April 4, 2010.

7 Responses to “On The Seven Wonders of Canada”

  1. Motherfucker. Probably should’ve included The Burgess Shale here somewhere.

  2. I think most canucks agreed with you that the CBC list was the weakest thing since Joe Clark’s chin appeared on the Canadian political scene. We all had a good laugh and moved on.

  3. Google “sleeping giant’ and who know what you’ll find. That was a precious read and worth coming back to.

  4. Hey, that post leaves me feeling foioslh. Kudos to you!

  5. Vanessa comentou em 3 de fevereiro de 2012 às 10:06. Que susto a hora que vi mudanças radicais pensei: “Pronto! Deu a louca na Julia e ela cortou o cabelo dela”hahahahaA Willow conseguiu ficar mais parecida com o pai dela! rsrs

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