Secret Life of Canada

What surprised the Secret Life of Canada team?

Season four of the history podcast was full of some eye opening facts — here are some stand-outs as chosen by the Secret Life of Canada team.

Season 4 of the history podcast was full of some eye opening facts

Logo for the Secret Life of Canada.
The most recent season of the show launched in February 2022 with a new logo by Patuo'kn Illustration and Design. (CBC Podcasts)

Season four of the Secret Life of Canada has come to a close! We reached out to some of the team behind the show to find out what Canadian history facts surprised them during the making of the series.

Find out what they said below.

1. "The parachuting beavers come to mind first." — Falen Johnson, Host 

Parachuting beavers

8 years ago
Duration 1:11
Long lost footage from 1940s relocation project resurfaces

Episode: Crash Course on Beavers

Falen's pick is the episode on beavers which looked back at the story of the animal who was almost wiped out to build the early Canadian economy. As the beaver was reintroduced back into the ecosystem across North America, there were some interesting reintroduction methods. And yes, parachutes were involved. 

2. "I had no idea a printing press in Vancouver was part of efforts to fight off the British Raj." — Roshini Nair, Digital Producer

A group of Sikh men cross the intersection in front of the H. McDowell & Co. Drugstore at 401 Granville Street. Vancouver, B.C 1908. (City of Vancouver Archives CVA 677-585)

Episode: The Punjabi Market

With the help of guest Naveen Girn from The Nameless Collective Podcast we learned how the neighbourhood of Kitsilano became home to Vancouver's first South Asian community and how many activists continued the fight against British rule in India even after they immigrated.

3. "Puffed wheat squares. I grew up on them, and yet did not know that easterners didn't eat them, or how they were invented…"  — Yvette Nolan, Story Editor

The puffed wheat square originated in Red Deer, Alberta. (Roshini Nair/CBC)

Episode: Crash Course on Puffed Wheat Squares

Our episode in May raised a lot of eyebrows as many westerners found out that their beloved puffed wheat squares did not seem to be well known in the east side of the country. We looked into why that was with a deep dive into the history of cereal and the big surprise subject — sexual abstinence. 

4. " The realization that the 'before' picture of Thomas Moore Keesick was set up." — Leah-Simone Bowen, Host

Taken years apart at the Regina Indian Industrial School the photographs of Thomas Moore Keesick, from Muscowpetung Saulteaux First Nation, were published in 1897 for the Department of Indian Affairs annual report for the year 1896. (Library and Archives Canada/Annual report of the Department of Indian Affairs 1896/OCLC 1771148)

Episode: The Boy in the Picture

When the Secret Life of Canada investigated the history behind one of the most referenced images connected to the Canadian Residential School system, the goal was to get more details about the child in the photo. Records revealed that his name was Thomas Moore Keesick and he was from Muscowpetung Saulteaux First Nation but also that the images of him may not be exactly as they appear. 

5. "Edmonton loves donairs as much as Halifax."  — Braden Alexander, Editor and Sound Designer

Greek immigrant Peter Gamoulakos is credited as bringing the Donair to Halifax. His restaurant, King of Donair opened on Quinpool Rd. in Halifax in the mid 70s. (King of Donair)

Episode: The Halifax Donair

When we started off researching the history behind the Halifax donair, we had no idea it would lead to Alberta. Guest Omar Mouallem told us that Alberta produces the most donair meat in the country and that he may be the person responsible for spurring Halifax to declare the donair its official dish.

6.  "Jimi Hendrix's familial bond to Canada. I had no idea his grandmother, Nora, was such a fixture in Vancouver's Black community in the early 1900s." — Tina Verma, Senior Producer

A mural of Jimi Hendrix in Vancouver, B.C., marking the site of Hogan's Alley, a once-bustling Black neighbourhood. The Hendrix family, especially matriarch Nora Hendrix, were a key part of the community. (Roshini Nair/CBC)

Episode: Crash Course on Nora's Place in Hogan's Alley

When people think of Vancouver, legendary electric guitar player Jimi Hendrix may not be the first person that comes to mind but the Hendrix family were part of the once bustling Hogan's Alley neighborhood. Nora Hendrix, the matriarch, was a fixture in Black Strathcona until her death in 1984 at age 100. We learned how her legacy still impacts Vancouver's Black community to this day.

Thanks for listening. Check out all of our other episodes and seasons here!

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