Heritage Minutes: Ones you’d actually want to see

It has recently been announced that the Historica Dominion will be bringing back the Heritage Minutes (funding partner-finding permitting). While the Minutes are generally beloved by all English-Canadians, there have been some criticisms that they present a patriarchal (none about women after 1918) and colonial vision of Canada. Try watching this one without noticing that it ends with an Aboriginal person kneeling, actually kneeling on the floor, before a white woman

So I’ve taken the liberty of imagining a few scenarios for future Minutes that highlight the really important (and slightly less problematic) aspects of our heritage:

1-    Cabin in the woods, circa 1900. Boy inside sits next to the fire with some toast but is dismayed to find that the butter dish is empty. He asks his mom for some margarine. “I’m sorry little Tommy, margarine is illegal in this country. Only Newfie bootleggers can get ya some of that stuff.” Tommy looks off forlornly into to frozen abyss while a voiceover reads: “And so margarine remained illegal in this country until a shocking decision of the Supreme Court in 1948, which boldly pointed out to the government that they cannot make something illegal for absolutely no justifiable reason.”

2-    Scene: Palace of Westminster, London, 1868.  A frustrated little Nova Scotian, weary after a long boat ride, is pleading with the officials: “Sirs, I complain that the Parliament of this country, by an Act passed in the last Session, overthrew the constitution of the colony of Nova Scotia, and destroyed a description – nay, in fact, a reality – of independence which had existed in that colony for nearly 100 years. You handed over our Government and destiny to another colony and parliament which is to sit at Ottawa, distant not less than 800 miles from Nova Scotia. I therefore petition this government to release Nova Scotia from the Canadian confederation.

And so the British Prime Minister answers, “There is not, in my opinion, in any colony a stronger feeling of loyalty than there is in Nova Scotia, nor do any of our colonies possess a population with more business-like and active intelligence. In short, Ottawa needs you! Motion dismissed. Now be on your merry little Canadian way.”

The Nova Scotian boards a ship home, starring across the Atlantic toward Canada, his new home. A slightly arrogant voiceover points out: “Canada: easy to get into, impossible to get out of,” and then giggles.

3- Then there is this one:

4-    Winnipeg, June 14, 1985. Two young kids on the street.

“What should we do today Skeeter?”

“How’s about we kill, rob and maim some old ladies?”

“Good idea, Chip. The best part is that all laws in Manitoba were declared unconstitutional yesterday, so Manitoba is totally like one big legal vacuum.”

“Sweet, we can totally get away with anything. Let’s go steal some maple syrup and force an Indian to stoke a fire for us.”

“Dude. Sweet!”

Voiceover: In 1985 the Supreme Court found all Manitoba laws invalid, as they were not translated into French as the constitution mandated. Unfortunately for Skeeter and Chip, the Court used a process of delayed invalidity. Skeeter and Chip are now serving life sentences in prison where they eat nothing but margarine and burnt toast.

It actually happened:

Supreme Court Margarine Reference:


Nova Scotia was Québec before Québec was Québec


We do not pay nearly enough attention to Manitoba:



3 Responses

  1. There actually was a reason that margarine was illegal: to protect the Canadian dairy industry from cheap imports of pseudo butter. Even when I was a child, margarine couldn’t be sold in a yellow colour looking like butter; it had to be white. We, of course, never used margarine, but one of our neighbours did and I remember being fascinated by the little capsule of colouring that accompanied the white margarine so the purchaser could legally put the colour in himself.

    • I think the problem (and here I’m just quoting the Supreme Court), was that you can’t make something illegal for an arbitrary reason like providing a market advantage to Canadian dairy farmers. The ban was found unconstitutional since there was no public purpose to banning margarine, since it’s not dangerous or anything.

  2. I. Love. This. Post.

    I remember reading about margarine in “Matilda” by Roald Dahl and being so confused that it was white. Much like I was confused when I found out that the Protestants in “Anne of Green Gables” weren’t the same thing as “hobbits.”

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