Alberta – Angry Canadian

Each month, the Sip Advisor will alphabetically travel Canada, discovering the best each province has to offer in a variety of subjects. We will also featuring a drink the area is known for. Today, we begin our journey in Alberta, sometimes called the Texas of Canada. Does this comparison hold true? Let’s find out:

Nicknames: Alberta is known as the Wild Rose Country, based on its provincial flower. The wild rose appears on licence plates in the province. The moniker has also been adopted by Wild Rose Brewing, based out of Calgary.

Motto: “Strong and free” – Typically, when you’re strong, you’re free!

Food: While Alberta is known for its beef industry (used in Canadian McDonald’s burgers, among other products), it should be noted Chinese restaurant staple Ginger Beef was invented in Calgary. Silver Inn chef George Wong is said to have created the dish of deep-fried beef strips in a sweet and spicy sauce in the mid 1970’s. Since then, it has spread to other Asian eateries.

Drink: The Caesar, Canada’s far superior cousin to America’s Bloody Mary, was created in Calgary, in 1969, at the Calgary Inn. Although similar recipes predate this variation, this rendition, made by restaurant manager Walter Chell, was the first time the cocktail was comprised of the unique recipe we know today, with the Caesar name. May 13, 2009 was proclaimed Caesar Day in Calgary.

Caesar

Site to See: For outdoorsy types, the Canadian Rocky Mountain Parks are a must-see destination. The World Heritage Site is comprised of four National Parks (Banff, Jasper, Kootenay and Yoho), offering stunning landscapes. For indoor entertainment, there’s West Edmonton Mall, complete with indoor amusement park, water park, ice rink and more. Finally, for young and old alike, Dinosaur Provincial Park allows people to embrace their love of dinosaurs.

Street: The Icefields Parkway (also known as Highway 93) runs through both Banff National Park and Jasper National Park, connecting the two. The route allows access to glaciers and lakes, including such picturesque sites as Lake Louise, the Athabasca Glacier and Athabasca Falls, Peyto Lake, Bow Lake and Maligne Canyon. Along the way, people can also spot various wildlife.

TV Show: Heartland, based on a series of 26 novels by Lauren Brooke (although the books are set in Virginia), ran for 15 seasons and 234 episodes, becoming the longest running one-hour scripted drama in Canadian TV history. The show centers around Amy Fleming and the activity on her family Ranch in Alberta. Most filming for the series was done in High River.

Movie: The majority of the Disney movie Cool Runnings – loosely based on the real-life story of an unlikely Jamaican bobsled team competing at the 1988 Winter Olympics – is set in Calgary, which hosted those games. Starring John Candy (in one of his final roles) as disgraced bobsled coach Irving Blitzer, the film was a hit and a personal childhood favourite of mine.

Cool Runnings

Book/Author: Todd McFarlane is one of the most well-known comic book artists/writers in the world. His work on Spider-Man in the late 80’s and early 90’s led to great success and McFarlane forming his own publishing company, Image Comics, which released McFarlane’s Spawn property. Outside the comic world, McFarlane has popular businesses in McFarlane Toys and Todd McFarlane Entertainment.

Fictional Character: X-Men wildcard Wolverine was born in Cold Lake in the 1880s, according to the mutant’s backstory. Wolverine is among the most popular super heroes of all-time, having appeared in numerous comic iterations, as well as other media, such as the X-Men movie franchise (portrayed by Hugh Jackman), which led to a trilogy of solo films for the character.

Fictional City: Adult animated cartoon Crash Canyon is about a society of people who have all wound up stuck in an Alberta canyon and are unable to return to their regular lives, due to the canyon’s high walls. The series lasted two seasons and I wish, like the show, that golf tees were currency, as it would justify my brief golf phase as a teenager.

Actor/Actress: Nathan Fillion, star of shows such as Firefly, Castle and The Rookie, was born in Edmonton. Fillion’s role in Firefly, as ship captain Malcolm Reynolds, earned him cult favourite star status. In his hometown, the Edmonton City Hall was renamed the Nathan Fillion Civilian Pavilion on August 7 and August 8, 2021, resulting from a fan petition with over 27,000 signatures.

Nathan Fillion

Song: Alberta Bound, originally performed by Gordon Lightfoot, is about being en route to Alberta, with the singer heaping great praise on the province. Lyrics include: “I’m Alberta-bound, This piece of heaven that I’ve found, Rocky Mountains and black fertile ground, Everything I need beneath that big blue sky”. The song has been covered by other artists such as Bryan Adams and Paul Brandt.

Band/Musician: Alberta has produced a number of female artists who have gone on to great careers domestically and internationally. Singers/songwriters include Joni Mitchell, k.d. Lang, Jann Arden, Tegan and Sara, and Feist. Among them, Mitchell has been described as “one of the greatest songwriters ever” and one of “the most important and influential female recording artist of the late 20th century”.

People: I was surprised to learn that actor and marijuana activist Tommy Chong was born in Edmonton. Chong is best known for his stoner comedy duo, Cheech & Chong, with Cheech Marin. The two released several popular movies and albums together, but my favourite role for Chong was as baked hippie Leo Chingkwake on That 70s Show.

Animal: Charlie was a mule that survived the 1903 Turtle Mountain landslide, which killed 70-90 people who called the mining town of Frank home. The mule managed to endure underground for more than a month by eating bark and drinking available water. Sadly, Charlie was overfed oats and brandy by his joyful rescuers, resulting in the mule perishing.

Leo

Invention: The SMART Board was developed Calgary husband and wife team David Martin and Nancy Knowlton in 1991. No longer would teachers and instructors alike have to struggle with chalkboards, overhead projectors or whiteboards. By 2016, the tandem’s company, SMART Technologies Inc., was purchased by the Foxconn Technology Group for $200 million.

Crime: Known as the Edmonton Shooting, in 2014, 53-year-old Phu Lam killed his wife, stepson, in-laws, a family friend and a neighbour. His victim count totalled eight people, making it the deadliest mass murder in the province’s history. Lam would take his own life following the homicides. In 2021, Lam threatened to do exactly what he later carried out. At the time of the crime, he was in heavy debt due to a gambling addiction.

Sports Team: Calgary, with the Flames (NHL) and Stampeders (CFL), and Edmonton, with the Oilers (NHL) and Elks (CFL), host all of the province’s professional franchises. The rivalry between the two cities is dubbed the Battle of Alberta for games between the NHL teams, while the Labour Day Classic is contested each September between the two CFL squads.

Athlete: Figure skater Jamie Salé was born in Calgary. Salé became internationally recognized when she and partner David Pelletier were awarded Olympic gold medals following the 2002 Salt Lake City figure skating scandal, which saw a brided French judge fix scores leading to a Russian team victory. Other top Alberta athletes include Alphonso Davies, Grant Fuhr, Jarome Iginla and Mark Messier.

Smart Board

Famous Home: A mecca for professional wrestling fans, the Hart Family home in Calgary is where such stars as Bret Hart and Owen Hart were born and raised, while other world famous grapplers were trained in the home’s basement, affectionately known as the Dungeon. The list of legends to graduate from the Dungeon include Chris Benoit, Chris Jericho, the British Bulldog, and Jim and Natalya Niedhart.

Urban Legend: The Banff Springs Hotel, in scenic Banff National Park, is known as one of Canada’s most haunted locations. Opened in 1888, the resort is home to a number of ghosts, including a bride (famous enough to have her own coin and stamp) and bellman, based on former employee Sam McCauley, who passed away in 1975, but is said to still help hotel guests.

Museum: Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame can be found in Calgary. The museum highlights Canada’s role and history in the sporting world, as well as the many athletes that have represented the country. Opened in 1955, close to 700 inductees have been enshrined into the Hall of Fame, split between athlete and builder categories. The building is hard to miss, painted in Canadian flag colours of red and white.

Firsts: In 1916, Alberta’s Emily Murphy, a women’s rights activist, was the first female judge in Canada and the British Commonwealth. Thereafter, in 1917, fellow activists Louise McKinney and Roberta MacAdams were the first and second females elected to a legislature in the British Empire. MacAdams would go on to be the first woman to pass a piece of legislation.

Hart Foundation

Company: A favourite eatery of the Sip Family, Boston Pizza was founded in Edmonton, in 1964. The chain was originally known as Boston Pizza and Spaghetti House, ironically established by four Greek (not Italian) immigrants. One of the first Boston Pizza franchisees and one of its current owners is Jim Treliving, best known for being one of the investors on Dragons’ Den.

Events: The 1988 Winter Olympics were hosted in Calgary, with skiing events taking place in Kananaskis Country and Canmore. Canada failed to win any gold medals as host country, but the facilities built for the event resulted in Calgary becoming a hub for Canadian winter sports training development. These Olympics also produced the aforementioned Jamaican bobsled team and Michael ‘Eddie the Eagle’ Edwards.

Miscellaneous: The Calgary Stampede, one of the world’s largest rodeos, is known as the “Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth”. Numerous free pancake breakfasts and barbecues are served throughout the 10-day long event, hosted every July since 1923. One million visitors are estimated to attend the event each year and it’s on the Sip Advisor’s bucket list to attend one day.

Angry Canadian

Angry Canadian

  • 2 oz Canadian Rye Whiskey
  • Dash of Maple Syrup
  • Dashes of Angostura Bitters
  • Garnish with a Maraschino Cherry

This Old Fashioned variant was invented by Calgarian Steve Johnston in 2013. I liked the hint of maple syrup you could smell with each sip of the cocktail. I could have used the drink being a little more complex, but it’s a good start to this journey across Canada.

July 12 – Three Strikes

Anything Can Happen

Oddly enough, summer is the time when I like to get into sports movies. Perhaps that makes sense, given it’s the off-season for most of the leagues out there. There were so many films I wanted to include on this list, that I’ve decided to split them over two articles, with one being family-friendly movies and the other to do with adult-themed releases. This week, we’ll check out the family options, while next week we’ll get a little raunchier and surpass the PG rating:

#5: Cool Runnings

How could you not get behind this ragtag group of Jamaicans as they try to compete in a sport they really have no business participating in and go on to earn the respect and admiration of their fellow athletes. While the film depicts the team being scoffed at in the beginning, in actuality, they were welcomed by their adversaries and were even lent a sled that helped them qualify. Creative liberties are okay, though. The casting of Doug E. Doug was a particularly brilliant choice, as the comedian-actor was popular at the time and broke up all the sports seriousness. Anything with John Candy is also worth a view.

Watched Cool Runnings

#4: Bad News Bears

This was your prototypical group of misfits coming together in the name of sports premise, before the genre ever existed. Some of the kids that make up the Bad News Bears are reason enough to never have children and the film should be used as a planned parenting advert. Walter Matthau as Morris Buttermaker was a great casting choice. He’s perfect for roles as a grouchy slob, who would rather drink a beer and catch a nap in a comfy recliner than do anything else in the world. That’s probably why he’s one of my favourite actors of all-time! Surprisingly, I’ve never seen either of the sequels to this classic and not the remake either.

#3: A League of Their Own

The story of women’s baseball and how it helped fill the sporting void left by men being shipped off to battle during World War II is so much better than it sounds on paper. Just kidding all you feminist sippers out there. Seriously, this is a fantastic movie, following a pair of sisters as the league tries to gain credibility during one of the roughest times in human history. With Tom Hanks playing the team’s oft-drunk manager and having to handle the issues of a girls’ team for the first time in his coaching career (there’s no crying in baseball… unless a modern male pitcher has a hangnail!), I can even forgive the casting of Madonna and Rosie O’Donnell.

league of their own

#2: The Sandlot

This is such a great movie, pushing folks to look back fondly on their days of neighbourhood sports. Every kid who ever played street hockey, or met at the nearest baseball diamond for a game of ball can relate to this film, which goes back in time to follow the adventures of the new kid in town as he gains friends and experiences the joys of childhood freedom. Roger Ebert compared the movie to a summertime version of A Christmas Story, which is high praise, as far as the Sip Advisor is concerned. The film has become a cult favourite and that’s exactly what it should be.

#1: Mighty Ducks

While the third installment might as well have been direct-to-video, the first two movies are childhood classics. As a young hockey player, it was inspiring to see a group of bad players be transformed into a skilled team… the downside was the mounting number of times we tried to execute the Flying-V play to little success. As if Emilio Estevez wasn’t a legend already, this series made his aura grow exponentially and no player out there didn’t want to have Gordon Bombay behind their bench. Disney even turned the success of the movie into its own NHL franchise, the Anaheim Mighty Ducks (now just the Ducks), although they sold the team in 2005.

Super Saturday Shot Day: Three Strikes

Three Strikes Shot

  • 0.5 oz Cinnamon Schnapps
  • 0.5 oz Jagermeister
  • 0.5 oz Yukon Jack Perma Frost
  • Garnish with Big League Chew

I have to say that for some reason, I love baseball movies. I’m a steadfast non-supporter of the actual sport, but I love me a good baseball flick. Stay tuned next week for our look at the best adult sports movies and even more ball and bat goodness!

Sip Advisor Bar Notes (3 Sips out of 5):
I’ve wanted to garnish a drink with Big League Chew for some time now and this was the perfect opportunity to finally do so, melding baseball and childhood all in one. Did I mention that the Big League Chew flavour was Ground Ball Grape! The actual name for this recipe is “Three Strikes, You’re Out,” but I chose to cut the title in half. The shot is quite strong with competing flavours of cinnamon, peppermint and other spices. It’s not bad, but it’s one that will sit in your gut for some time.