Friday, July 01, 2005

But the fools never learn

I know it's not in the interests of the Globe & Mail to be too specific, lest generalized Canada Day (Feh; such an awful name for Dominon Day) FUD on the historical ignorance of Canadians be subjected to scrutiny, but is there a reason why they couldn't include a sidebar with the rest of these pop quiz questions, or reveal that only a few questions were so hard that statistically insignificant numbers of those polled were able to answer? That might tend to undermine the lede, perhaps? Bill Noy was in the middle of making dinner when the telephone rang and his knowledge of Canadian history was suddenly put to the test. Of the 1,000 Canadians who were randomly selected to take the 20-question pop quiz, Mr. Noy, a 51-year-old graphics designer from White Rock, B.C., was the only one to achieve a perfect score. He's modest about his achievement and surprised by his one-in-a-thousand finish: "It's kind of depressing," he said. "The questions weren't that difficult. "I don't understand why people aren't interested in history, actually." Mr. Noy knew which event brought more than a million Canadian women into the work force and what economic agreement with the United States lost the election for Sir Wilfrid Laurier's Liberals in 1911. The survey, which featured questions spanning the country's economic history, took place from June 13 to 17. The entire quiz is available from the Dominion Institute's site here. Even though I can't stand Canadian history - as taught here, anyway, it's far too self-congratulatory and largely (conveniently?) ignorant of the very-much-related geopolitical interplay of Britain and the US, except for when possible to (wrongly) claim victories such as in the War of 1812 - it's not as if these are particularly hard questions. I got 18/20, which I don't think is bad, considering that Grade 10 was the last time I read or studied any Canadian history other than a course entirely on pre-1763 New France last year. Who else is up for that challenge? 1. The Canadian north was transformed in the late 1890s when some 100,000 prospectors poured into the Yukon hoping to “strike it rich”. What name was given to this colourful period? 2. What automobile company attempted to establish a luxury car production plant in New Brunswick in the 1970s only to abandon the project in bankruptcy with less than 3000 cars ever produced? • Ford • DeLorean • Massey Ferguson • Bricklin 3. What Toronto-based financial institution is celebrating its 150th anniversary in 2005? • Citibank • Canadian Tire • TD Bank Financial Group • Manulife Financial [Derisive snicker.] 4. What event happened in Winnipeg in 1919? • General Strike • The Riel Rebellion • A great flood • First NHL game 5. Today, 85% of Canada’s exports go to the United States. What share of Canada’s exports went to the United States in 1900? • 10% • 33% • 57% • 85% 6. The Hudson’s Bay Company is the world’s oldest chartered trading company, having been in business for 335 years. What product gave this company its start? 7. After the 1929 stock market crash Canada experienced record levels of unemployment and a near collapse of exports. What is the name given to this dark chapter in our economic history? 8. What is the name of the trade agreement linking Canada, the United States, and Mexico that went into effect on January 1, 1994? 9. Due to a shortage of coins in New France in the 17th century, settlers used which non-traditional form of currency? • Birch Bark • Playing Cards • Croissants • Muskets 10. Canada has experienced political scandals throughout its history. In 1873, John A. Macdonald’s government was brought down when it was discovered he awarded lucrative railway contracts in exchange for campaign funding. What was this scandal called? 11. When was the last time that $1 Canadian was equal to $1 American? • 1937 • 1957 • 1977 • 1997 12. What famous Canadian company launched a catalogue business based on its founder’s hope that, “This catalogue is destined to go wherever the maple leaf grows”? • Consumer’s Distributing • Eaton’s • Victoria’s Secret • Walmart 13. When did Canada eliminate the one dollar bill and replace it with the Loonie coin? • 1975 • 1987 • 1994 • 2000 14. What major Canadian economic policy of Pierre Trudeau’s government sparked the creation of a bumper sticker proclaiming “Let the Eastern bastards freeze in the dark!”? 15. In 1911, Wilfrid Laurier’s Liberals lost the federal election because of their support for what agreement with the United States? 16. After more than a decade of construction and a string of political scandals, what great Canadian engineering feat was completed in 1885 with the hammering of the Last Spike? 17. Which Canadian inventor created the first practical and commercially successful snowmobile? 18.What major historical event brought over 1,000,000 women into the Canadian workforce? • Prohibition • EXPO 67 • The Second World War • Auto Pact 19. What was the name of the combination of dried meat and berries the Metis people produced to feed the fur traders during their long voyages into and out of the Canadian interior? 20. Name the cooperative financial institution that started with one office in the small town of Levis, Quebec in 1900 and today has more than five million members in four provinces. Answers, of course, available here, along with percentages of those who answered correctly.

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