Secret Life of Canada

The most famous Vancouverite you've never heard of

The Secret Life of Canada's first mailbag episode! You asked and we answered your burning history questions which took us to the Cowichan sweater, Cheezies, the legacy of Hawaiian Canadians in B.C and one guy named Portuguese Joe.

Listeners asked. The Secret Life of Canada answered.

Kwatleematt and Joe Silvey. (Submitted by Jean Barman, with permission from Jessica Silvey)

Cheezies, Hawaiian Canadians, Gastown and a guy by the name of Portuguese Joe — these are just some of the subjects that spill out of The Secret Life of Canada's first-ever mailbag episode.

Co-hosts Falen Johnson and Leah Simone-Bowen answer listener questions from across the country, a feat which takes them on a journey from the origin of the term "Canuck," to the legend and progeny of Portuguese Joe, to the most Canadian of crunchy cheese snacks, and more. 

Also, Leah and Falen bring back sound effects by special request. Brace yourselves for the return of bell and buzzer. 

What you'll hear this episode

Coast Salish artist Luke Marston, a descendant of Joe Silvy, is seen working on Shore to Shore — a public sculpture located in Stanley Park, Vancouver. (Gumboot Productions, Victoria BC)
  • How a man named Joe Silvey, nicknamed Portuguese Joe, and his Coast Salish wives Khaltinaht and Kwatleematt, ended up inspiring a statue in Stanley Park (by one of their 500 descendants!) 
  • The history behind the land that is now known as Stanley Park, which might have been Joe's Park if history had gone a bit differently. 
  • A brief history of the Potlatch ceremony and why it was banned for decades. (Hint hint.) 
  • A brief history of early Vancouver, the origins of "Gastown," and a man who was creepy even by historical standards. 
  • The sordid history of how many young Indigenous women were forced into child marriages, and why Canada isn't doing so well on the child marriage file today. 
  • Why many Vancouverites can trace their origins back to Hawaii. 
  • How Hawkins Cheezies became a uniquely Canadian snack, and why they don't advertise! 
  • Leah's case for categorizing the Caesar cocktail (celebrating its 50th anniversary this year!) as a snack. 


Falen balances work and play with a Cheezies-powered research break. (Falen Johnson)