Happy holidays from Canadian Studies! ☃️

An item from one of our fellow Canadian organizations in the Bay Area.


🌟 Canadian Studies Announcements 🌟

In This Issue:

Holiday Wrap-Up 🎁

  • Season’s greetings from Canadian Studies!
  • Holiday trivia: Rudolph the “Canadian” Reindeer?
  • How to have an Earth-conscious holiday
  • Holiday recipe: Butter tarts, a Canadian classic

Season’s Greetings from Canadian Studies!

Dear friends,

What a year 2022 has been! From hosting our first in-person conference in several years, to seeing our graduate students return to the field, this year has been full of excitement, growth, and movement.

This year has been especially meaningful as we celebrated Canadian Studies’ 40th anniversary on campus. For four decades, we’ve supported research and education on Canada’s peoples, its cultures, and its place in the world. We’ve faced many challenges over the years, but I’m pleased to say the program has never been more vibrant.

Of course, our success is founded on you, our community. Our work is only possible thanks to your support and engagement. We rely on philanthropy to run our program, so as you consider your year-end giving, we ask that you consider making a donation to Canadian Studies if you’re able. But know that we appreciate whatever support you can give. If you attend our events, write in with your thoughts, or even just read this newsletter, you’re giving meaning to the work we do, and we’re grateful for it.

Give a Gift to Canadian Studies! 🎁
Our Spring Colloquium will highlight some of our recent growth, showcasing new affiliated scholars from across California as well as some of the fascinating research our own grad students are doing. For now, though, we hope that you enjoy marking your own holiday traditions with your friends and family. Whether you’re celebrating Hanukkah today, Christmas this weekend, or just waiting to ring in the new year, happy holidays from all of us at Canadian Studies, and we’ll see you in 2023!

In friendship,

Irene Bloemraad

Program Director 🥂

Holiday Trivia: Ruldoph the “Canadian” Reindeer?

For nearly 60 years, the animated films made by Rankin/Bass have been a fixture of holiday television across North America. Between 1960 and 1987, the New York-based company turned out seasonal TV specials like Frosty the Snowman and The Little Drummer Boy that have become staples for generations of children. The first (and arguably best-known) of these films was 1964’s Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, which became a surprise hit that has deeply embedded itself in North America’s cultural consciousness. Rudolph has aired on American television every year since its premiere almost six decades ago, making it the longest-running special in US history.

However, few people know that the film wouldn’t have been possible without Canadian talent. That’s right: with the exception of the film’s snowman narrator, played by American singer Burl Ives, all of the major roles in Rudolph were played by Canadian actors, recorded together at the RCA studies in Toronto. In 2014, the Toronto Star interviewed several surviving cast members in honor of the special’s 50th anniversary. They discussed the process of creating the film and its legacy five decades on. Without their hard work, we wouldn’t have the beloved children’s classic we know today.

The film’s producers at Rankin/Bass chose to source the film’s voice work to Canada for two main reasons. One was a wider pool of available talent in the north. While most American networks had cancelled their remaining radio dramas years earlier due to competition from television, the CBC continued to produce large-scale radio programs. “In Toronto, we had the very best pool of English-speaking radio actors in the world,” said the late actor Paul Soles, who provided the voice of Hermey the elf. The cast was only provided with a script, without even a description of their characters, so their on-screen portrayals and personalities were largely the result of the actors’ own imaginations.

At the same time, financial considerations also played a major role in the decision to use Canadian talent. Canadian actors were significantly cheaper than their American counterparts, a major concern for the cash-strapped production company. Importantly, they weren’t unionized. “We worked cheap,” said Soles. “We had no union protection”. As a result, Burl Ives, a last-minute addition to add some American star power, was the only actor to receive residuals from re-broadcasts. The special has made over $100 million over decades of reruns, yet its Canadian cast received only a few thousand dollars – an issue that remains a sore spot for many of them.

Nevertheless, the actors remain proud of the work itself, and their role in creating a new holiday tradition. While subsequent Rankin/Bass films used American actors, Rudolph’s success was what established the company’s name and reputation. Soles feels that the special still resonates so strongly because it’s “everything that’s right about Christmas.” Moreover, it expresses some of Canada’s most cherished values: as Soles put it, “if there is a problem, it can be overcome by goodwill, good wishes, warmth, cordiality, kindness, helpfulness.” It’s surely a message that will resonate for years to come.

How to Have an Earth-Conscious Holiday

For many, the holiday season is synonymous with “consumption” of all kinds – from food to presents, parties to winter getaways. It’s no wonder that a Canadian non-profit estimates household waste goes up by 25% around the holidays, even in an eco-conscious country like Canada. The CBC published some handy tips to making your holidays more eco-friendly, no matter which one you’re celebrating. There’s sure to be some surprises: how much waste does gift wrapping create? And is an artificial tree better than a live one? Read on to learn how you can help preserve the planet as you celebrate!

Image source: Kelvin Kay, Wikimedia Commons.

Holiday Recipe: Butter Tarts, a Canadian Classic

One of Canada’s most characteristic and best-loved sweets, the butter tart has a strong claim to being Canada’s “national dessert”. Although it has roots in Europe, these bite-sized treats are a genuine Canadian invention. The recipe first appeared in Ontario in the early 1900’s, and quickly spread across the country to become a national staple. A flaky pastry shell, caramelized top, and warm, gooey filling make the butter tart satisfying and comforting on a cold winter evening. Check out the New York Times for a traditional, from-scratch recipe. (And yes, you can add raisins if you like – we won’t tell!)

Image source: Hisakazu Watanabe, Wikimedia Commons.

That’s it for 2022! Our newsletter will return in January 2023.

Canadian Studies Program
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Canadian Studies Program | Univ. of California, Berkeley213 Moses Hall #2308Berkeley, CA 94720

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