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Canada One-Five-Oh – Pick the Most Irrelevant Branded Product!

Whenever something feels culturally strange in North America, I learned to ask myself the following question: is this an actual thing or just a corporate money-grab excuse?

Fake “holidays” like “La Poutine Week,” “World Nutella Day,” “National Cookie Day” or “Ribfest” are made-up celebrations invented by companies looking to drum up interest and sell a specific product. I’m not exactly breaking news here, yet I’m occasionally amazed by the way North Americans enthusiastically embrace “unique events” or “great deals.” I’ve seen Canadians (and Americans) all hyped up about absolutely ridiculous events I don’t even understand. One comes to mind—the giant queue on Harvey’s Free Burger Day for a $5 burger. Remember that a burger is just a bun, a patty and toppings… I wouldn’t fight my way to the door for a free one!

On the other hand, Canada Day is a real holiday—it marks the anniversary of the July 1, 1867, enactment of the Constitution Act, 1867, which united the three separate colonies of Canada, Nova Scotia, and New Brunswick into a single Dominion within the British Empire called Canada.

This year is Canada’s 150th birthday. For some people, this nice, round number is a milestone and a chance to celebrate our history and identity. Unfortunately, in this culture of hyper-materialism, Canada 150 is also turning into a cash grab for retailers.

The recipe is simple: take a product, put the words “Canada,” “150” or “eh” on it and hope for an aisle-end display.

Usually, before Canada Day, the aisles are full of Canadian flags, t-shirts and fireworks.

This year, it’s just … complete nonsense—or in marketing speak, “a wide range of branded products to meet every possible need.”

Over the past week, I took pictures of some of the Canada 150 products in stores around Ottawa. Have fun browsing, and tell me which one you find the most irrelevant in the comments!

“Canada 150” cookies at a bakery in the Byward Market
A store window at the Byward Market
Canada pillow on an Adirondack chair in a store, Ottawa, June 2017
Antlers cap at Loblaws
Moose sock puppet at Loblaws
“Made in China” Canada car flags at Loblaws
Butter cookies at Toys “R” Us
M&M’s special edition Canada 150 at Walmart
Canada 150 t-shirts at Walmart
Canada 150 paper tissues
Decorative pillows at Loblaws
Kid t-shirts at Loblaws (not quite sure the typical Canadian family looks like the one pictured here, though…)
Ice buckets at Loblaws
Tumblers with straw at Loblaws
Luggage tags at Walmart
Plastic sandals at Walmart (only $1.50!)
Cookies kit at Walmart
Canada Day Orea at Walmart
Canada 150 soccer ball
Canada 150 doll
Canada 150 bottled water (??)
Beaver stuffed animal at Walmart
Canada-themed cupcakes at Walmart
Maple caramel corn at Loblaws
Paper plates at Loblaws
Maple bacon (!) chips at Loblaws
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French woman in English Canada.

Exploring the world with my camera since 1999, translating sentences for a living, writing stories that may or may not get attention.

Firm believer that nobody is normal... and it’s better this way.

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