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O Canada!
Mark Poutenis

O Canada!

With all the Latin immigration to South Florida over the decades, many times we forget our dear neighbors to the north. Canada! Yes, Canada. There's the barren wilderness in the Northwest Territories, the snow-capped peaks of the Yukon, and a massive percentage of its population planted just north of the border, where the climate is a bit more conducive to habitation. Forgetting for a moment that you might score some legal pot there, it's unsurprising that Canadians are chief among Florida's snowbirds. One can't drive through the streets of any town in Broward County for long without running across license plates from Ontario or Québec.

Of course, Canada and the United States were not always on the greatest of terms, as any veteran of the War of 1812 would tell you -- that is, if they were still alive. Canada beat back three American invasions before the United States finally sacked Toronto. That's right. We got our arses handed to us by Canadians and succeeded only through persistence. But those days are over now. Strange to think that here, less than two centuries later, every year brings an invasion from the north. And the endgame of this foray is not pillage but a damn good tan.

Rather than dread the coming Canadian hordes, South Florida welcomes them the only way it knows how -- with a huge party. CanadaFest, the City of Hollywood's honoring of all things from the Land of the Maple Leaf, is now in its 20th year. Despite the lack of ethnic food and drink you would find at, say, an Oktoberfest, the red, white, but not blue event draws more than 150,000 people every year. A lot of folks happen by due to the staggering number of performers the festival boasts on two stages over two days.



Along the Broadwalk in Hollywood Beach

Takes place beginning at 10 a.m. Saturday and Sunday, February 1 and 2. Call 954-924-9705.

However, it should be pointed out that CanadaFest would be more properly named QuébecFest. In other words, nearly all of the dozens of performers fit into the little-known (in America, at any rate) world of French pop. Rock music, remember, is primarily a British and American invention. Sure, other countries got in on the act later, but those two countries paved the way. As a result, the pop music of other lands often does not reflect the same sensibilities as the typical American or British stuff.

French pop is, well, interesting. The style was born around the turn of the century and remains to this day somewhat rooted in the dance hall, cabaret tradition. Overly romantic, even sentimental to the point of being maudlin at times, the French pop sound is a world away from American popular music. Sure, we've got our cheesy pop ballads, but the French did it long before America had figured out which end of the microphone was up. CanadaFest performers such as Claude Valade and Yves Letourneau should provide a useful lesson in the aesthetic differences between French and American popular music. So get oot and aboot, sample all manner of food and drink, dig yourself some French crooners, and party in style -- the Canadian way.


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