Culture & Entertainment

Celebrating Canada Day with comedian Dan Aykroyd

Celebrating Canada Day with comedian Dan Aykroyd

Photo courtesy of The Second City.

Culture & Entertainment

Celebrating Canada Day with comedian Dan Aykroyd

The actor and celebrated Canadian chats about how he celebrates the holiday and what he loves about our country.

You might be familiar with Dan Aykroyd as a Ghostbuster, or as Elwood Blues or maybe even as a Conehead. But one thing is certain, you definitely know Dan Aykroyd as a Canadian. That's because the actor makes no secret of his love for his birthplace, and often spends time north of Kingston, Ontario when he returns. We chatted with him to find out a few more things you might not know about Dr. Raymond Stanz—er—Dan Aykroyd.  

You grew up in Canada’s capital—do you have any memories of celebrating Canada Day there as a kid?
My father, Peter H. Aykroyd, was the director of publicity and promotions for the 1967 Centennial Commission, so that year running up to July 1st was an exciting one in our family. I travelled to a few Canadian cities with my father whose job involved handing out government dollar grants to communities. Everyone was glad to see him. He commissioned the Canada Song by Bobby Gimby and the beautiful multi-coloured stylized maple leaf symbol. It all concluded on July 1 in Ottawa with galas at the National Arts Center, parades and parties all over the capital, culminating with my dad and mom being presented to Her Majesty the Queen.

How do you celebrate Canada Day now?
This year we'll have cocktails and Mott’s Clamato Caesars made with Crystal Head Vodka on the dock at the lake and a harvest table dinner with thirty guests. On Canada Day, I raise a glass to our country with our nation’s official cocktail, the Caesar! It will be followed up by a dangerous firework display.

Do you still consider Canada home?
Canada will always be my home and ultimate domicile—it's where I intend to reside after quitting work. Though I do love the United States, and many of its people. Believe me, being able to live and work in both countries is a distinct and valuable privilege.

What do you miss most about Canada when you’re not here?

When I travel away from Canada I miss the societal tolerance and politesse which is not present in many foreign destinations.

Where is a spot in Canada you’d love to explore more?
The Northwest Territories and Yukon Territories are spectacular. As a college student, I worked for the Federal Department of Public Works as a rodman, chainman and eventually, assistant flex-track tundra crawler mechanic on the Hay River, building the Fort Liard Oil Road to Norman Wells. I never saw the road finished so that's a drive for me to make.

There are a lot of clichés about Canadians—how would you define us?
We are really just like humans everywhere but certain cultural touchstones define us. Our unfailing politeness sure, but also our ability to size people up within a minute and a half of meeting them. Of course, there's hockey, beer worship, donaires, ironic humour, Tim Horton's coffee, Caesars, Indigo Books and the breadth of societal acceptance for all.

How was your experience with Second City Toronto? How did it prepare you for SNL (Saturday Night Live)?
My experience at Second City was in a fertile time for Canadian comedy. You have to know we had fun with that first Toronto cast, which included [John] Candy, [Gilda] Radner, [Valri] Bromfield, [Eugene] Levy, [Joe] Flaherty and Brian Doyle Murray. It was the prep school for the SNL University.

Favourite Canadian SNL hosts?
Martin Short for sure. He is the most talented quintuple-threat performer from our generation.


Rapid-Fire with Dan Aykroyd

Caesar or Maple Whisky Sour?
Caesar at brunch, Maple Whiskey Sour at dusk

Poutine or Hawaiian Pizza?
Hawaiian Pizza

Butter Tart of Nanaimo Bar?
Butter Tart

Beaver Tail or Timbit?

Maple Syrup or Ketchup?

Rush or Blue Rodeo?

Joni Mitchell or Alanis Morissette?

Whistler Mountains or Bay of Fundy?
Bay of Fundy

Sorry or Pardon?

Hockey Night in Canada or Olympic Curling?
Hockey Night

Céline Dion or Shania Twain?


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Culture & Entertainment

Celebrating Canada Day with comedian Dan Aykroyd