CBC Digital Archives

I. AM. CANADIAN! by Molson

Canadians love their beer. And from the time Canada's first brewery opened in the 1600s, the history of our beer industry has been an intoxicating one. Mergers and acquisitions, questions over suitable advertising, debates about the shape of our bottles, and the emergence of microbreweries — these are just a few fascinating topics in Canadian brewing history. So sit back, raise a glass and enjoy as the CBC Archives looks at Canada's beer industry.

media clip
"My name is Joe, and I am Canadian!" In 2000, these passionate words from a new Molson beer commercial were tugging at the patriotic heartstrings of Canadians. The ad, which poked fun at Americans' faulty perceptions of Canada, was an instant hit. In this TV clip, we see just how huge a phenomenon it has become: people in Regina are able to recite all the lines and the previously unknown actor who played Joe Canadian is now constantly swarmed by autograph-seekers. 
• The Joe Canadian ad, titled "The Rant," debuted during the March 2000 Oscar Award telecast. It was shown right after actor Robin Williams' memorable performance of the song Blame Canada from the movie South Park.

• During the commercial, Joe starts out fairly quiet but delivers his lines with increasing vigour as the speech builds. After shouting out the final words of the speech -- "My name is Joe, and I am Canadian!" -- he says a polite "thank you." According to author Paul Brent, this "thank you" was a point of contention at Molson. At least one high-powered executive thought it was a wimpy cop-out. Others, however, maintained that it was a very Canadian ending to the commercial, and they decided to keep it in.

• In the heyday of the Joe Canadian commercial, it frequently aired in movie theatres during the previews. Newspapers across the country reported that crowds would burst into applause after the commercial aired in theatres.

• A few of the more popular lines in the commercial include:
• "I'm not a lumberjack or a fur trader."
• "I speak English and French, not American."
• "I believe in peacekeeping, not policing; diversity, not assimilation; and that the beaver is a truly noble animal."

• A number of politicians, including Joe Clark, began to refer to the ad during speeches and campaigns. Heritage Minister Sheila Copps even showed a video of the commercial to Americans at the International Press Institute's World Congress in 2000 to show them just how passionate Canadians are about their cultural identity.
• The ad was never translated into French, and never aired in Quebec.

• Across Canada, a number of different ethnic groups came up with their own spoofs of the commercial. The "I Am Italian" rant, for instance, included lines like "I pronounce it ESPRESSO, not EX-PRESSO" and "I drink wine, not beer, and I don't use utensils for pizza." And in Ottawa, they wrote a spoof of the rant poking fun at Toronto: "I have a beautiful Peace Tower, not a big 'look-at-me' tower. And I don't expect the Canadian army to shovel my driveway!"

• The actor who played Joe Canadian, Nova Scotia's Jeff Douglas, made waves again when he departed for Hollywood in 2001. Like many Canadian actors, he was off to try to make it big in the United States. This created a huge stir in Canada, as newspaper articles lamented his departure and commented on how very Canadian it was that he had to go to the United States to become a successful actor.

• Douglas has found some success in the United States, including a starring role on the children's show Strange Days at Blake Holsey High. In January 2011, he joined CBC Radio's As It Happens as a co-host.

• While clearly boosting Canadian patriotism, did the ad boost Molson Canadian sales? A 2001 Maclean's article noted that although Molson wouldn't reveal exact figures, a spokesperson did say sales jumped following the Joe Canadian commercial. Author Paul Brent, however, maintains that this wasn't a very big jump, as sales remained relatively flat between 1999 and the end of 2000.
Medium: Television
Program: CBC Television News
Broadcast Date: July 6, 2000
Guest(s): Jeff Douglas
Reporter: Dean Gutheil
Duration: 2:12

Last updated: June 2, 2014

Page consulted on September 10, 2014

All Clips from this Topic

Related Content

Selling Suds: The Beer Industry in Canada

Canadians love their beer. And from the time Canada's first brewery opened in the 1600s, the h...

Selling Suds: The Beer Industry in Canada Ext...

Canadians love their beer. And from the time Canada's first brewery opened in the 1600s, the h...

1991: Fergie Jenkins named first Canadian in ...

Coming to Cooperstown is a great honour, but it comes on the heels of great personal loss.

Last Call: Canadians and Alcohol

It's not just the water that flows freely in Canada. Brewing, distilling and wine-making have ...

The Resilience of Canadian Tire

Since its origins as a family company in 1922, Canadian Tire has become a national icon and a ...

Nine dead in explosion of HMCS Kootenay

(silent footage) HMCS Kootenay explodes in the English Channel, killing nine members of the Ca...