A large group of people gathers outside Coles bookstore waiting for a book signing.
Workers set up a table near the entrance, and I glance over the stack of books, copies of the recently released Canadianity: Tales from the True North Strong and Freezing. There’s a picture of the two authors, TV actor and Trailer Park Boys and Mr. D regular Jonathan Torrens and former Our Lady Peace drummer Jeremy Taggart.
From the cover – a sketch of the artists sitting by a fire in the woods, playing guitar – there’s nothing to indicate what Canadianity is. Fortunately, there happened to be a nearby group of Canadians to offer their opinions.
“It is what it means to be Canadian,” said Melanie Gerrior, who was picking up the book for her brother.
“It’s the things that make us … well … us. Canadianity is what makes us stand out from everyone else and makes us unique.”
“It means a lot of things to many people, but to me it means diversity and opportunity,” said Trevor MacDonald, who was waiting to have a book signed.
“I think you need Canadianity in you if you’re living here.”
Still a bit confused, I turned to the men behind the book. And the table.
“Canadianity is a vaguely religious sounding word we made up as a joke about what it means to live in this country,” said Torrens.
He and Taggart had asked fans of their podcast, Taggart and Torrens, to define the term, and realized it had moved beyond the joke. It had evolved into something much more real and pure.
“The term is so vague because it is the act of being good and kind, which is, in itself, distinctly Canadian,” said Torrens.
“The best example of Canadianity I can think of is someone had posted online they couldn’t make it to our Calgary show, and wanted to give their tickets to someone who couldn’t afford them. Within seconds, there were tons of people offering to take her book to get it signed for her. That is the happy accident of Canadianity.”
The hallway of the Truro Mall quickly filled. There were selfies with fans and good-natured ribbing of a little girl, asking when her shift at Pizza Delight began. She doesn’t work at Pizza Delight.
Similar to their podcast, the book, released in October, is almost a guidebook to Canada. It features tales from Taggart and Torrens about growing up in Canada that they feel relate to others across the country.
“What I love about Canada, and what makes it stick out from the rest of the world, is no matter if you are from St. John’s or Victoria, there is a similar vibe,” said Taggart.
“It’s just one of those places where it is similar across the board. In America, if you are in Florida or Texas, the people are very different, very separated. Here though, it is pretty much the same everywhere, and there is this gentleness and unity to us.
“That is Canadianity.”