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Jian on winter

CBC personality to broadcast live from Whistler Village Square

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What: colder>play — live broadcast

Where: Village Square

When: Friday, Dec. 3, 5 p.m.

Those born and raised on the Prairie, such as myself, learn early on that every winter includes a spell of unearthly cold. We’re talkin’ dry ice levels here. Planet Hoth. Insta-frostbite cold. Tears-freeze-in-your-ducts-so-you-can’t-even-cry-about-it cold.

You never get used to it but you do figure out how to deal with it.

Which is why, while living in Edmonton in my early 20s, I found myself not only driving to work in minus 40-degree blizzard conditions but driving with a coffee in one hand, singing along to the stereo.

I arrived to find one of my co-workers had ridden his bike. He had an ongoing bet with another co-worker on who could ride their bike to work the most days that year. Pride cometh before the iceman cometh.

Even considering leaving the house that day was so Canadian , I recall thinking, like somehow winter’s extreme chill was tied to my identity.

Jian Ghomeshi, host of CBC Newsworld’s hip weekly arts and culture program > play, was not quite so sure when he recently found himself pondering the same subject.

The sharp, Toronto-dwelling urbanite, known to many as a musician, both solo and with activist folk rock band Moxy Früvous, came to the realization that he, though a proud, patriotic Canadian, (listen to his tribute ballad to Pierre Elliot Trudeau if you have any doubt) truly hated winter.

It led to the premise for a special edition of >play, which consequently led Ghomeshi and his production crew away from Toronto in search of somewhere in Canada where winter is welcomed and celebrated. Where snowfall is cause for partying and balmy temperatures are viewed with suspicion.

Which is how he ended up sitting across from me, warm and dry, at the Fire Rock Lounge at the Westin Resort last week.

"I’m on the quest to examine our love/hate relationship with winter," Ghomeshi said.

"Here’s the thing. We have this history, this legacy, this pedigree, this mythology around Canada as a northern nation and the ‘hearty Canadians trudging through the tundra.’ But what does that really have to do with the contemporary reality, when 80 per cent of the population is living as far south as possible?

"We’re not living in igloos," he continued. "It’s a hassle to shovel the driveway. The swimwear shops do their best business in winter because people are trying to get the hell out of here and fly south. Just like Canada geese, they have the right idea. Smart those geese. The things I love that are associated with winter, like hockey, well, you don’t need cold to play hockey. Who won the cup this year?"

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