Chatterbox #102 – Canadian myths

Many cultures around the world have traditional stories that have been told for many years. We were recently asked whether Canada has any interesting myths, so here’s an episode all about our some of our stories. We talk about Canada’s Bigfoot, a flaming ghost ship, and our lost mines.You’ll have to judge for yourself whether you think these myths are true or not. Thanks to our listeners for suggesting such great topics!



Expressions included in the learning materials

  • To see something through another person’s eyes
  • Word of mouth
  • That’s just a myth
  • Long-standing
  • Do tell
  • Bigfoot/sasquatc
  • That’s the thing
  • A hoax
  • The Ogopogo and other Canadian lake monsters
  • To give someone the benefit of the doubt
  • The Ghost Ship of Northumberland Strait
  • Lost mines
  • Fishy
  • To lose track of something

Sample transcript

Harp:              Today we’re gonna do a Chatterbox episode, and that’s where we chat. We interview people or we pick a topic about Canadian culture and we talk about it.

Maura:            Now, this time, we are taking another fun idea from a Culips listener, Alejandro Castillo. On Facebook, you asked us about Canadian myths and you thought maybe that would be an interesting topic for an episode. So, this episode is for you. Harp and I have put together an episode about Canadian myths.

Harp:              Yeah. We’re gonna start with talking about myths, what they are, are they true. Then we’re gonna talk about Canadian myths.

Maura:            That’s right, Canadian myths. So first of all we’re gonna talk about myths. And what is a myth?

Harp:              What is a myth, Maura?

Maura:            Well, it’s a traditional story that has been told over time, and it usually explains something. It could be a natural phenomenon, it could be something cultural, but a myth tries to explain or create or story, an explanation.

Harp:              Yeah. And they’re often passed orally or they can be written into a story.

Maura:            Yeah. Traditionally myths have been passed on by word of mouth. They are something that has existed for generations.

Harp:              Yeah. And usually you have a storyteller who passes this story on by telling it to each generation.

Maura:            Nowadays with myths, it’s a bit more casual, but you might hear it from a friend or a family member, or you might hear a story about something that happened in your country or in your culture when you were a kid and it’s just something that everyone, kind of, has heard about.

Harp:              Yeah. And we don’t really know if myths are true or not.

Maura:            That’s right. Some myths might be true but often myths don’t seem to be true. They’re not usually based in science or they’re not usually logical. But some people do believe in myths. They’re mysterious.

Harp:              They are mysterious. And I think one reason why they don’t seem believable is because so many people are telling the story that they become more exaggerated and more unreal as more people tell the story.

Maura:            It’s true, you know. You might hear someone say something like “Oh, that’s just a myth.” And that really means that’s not true. So myths have a reputation for not being very reliable.

Harp:              And you know, when Alejandro suggested this topic, I had to really think about because in Canada, we don’t really have that many myths.

Maura:            That’s the first thing I thought: “Canadian myths? I’ve never even heard those words together.” Because we don’t really have myths. Now, one reason for this is that we’re such a new country. We don’t have that many long-standing traditions.

Harp:              Yeah. We’re such a young country. We’re 145 years old. It’s not that old.

Maura:            When I think about how long other countries have existed, 145 years is not even as old as their oldest building.

Harp:              That’s true.

Maura:            Yeah. So a lot of myths—or what we would call Canadian myths—are Native myths, stories that explain the origin of things. This is the closest thing that we might have to a Canadian myth.

Harp:              We have a couple of Canadian myths. Should we move on to that topic?

Maura:            All right, let’s do that. Even when Alejandro suggested the idea of Canadian myths, I really wasn’t sure what we were going to be able to come up with.

Harp:              I had a couple of ideas, and when I started doing research, I was quite excited about this episode.

Maura:            OK. So, I’m originally from Ontario, and to be honest, I can’t think of any myths or stories that I heard about things going on around my part of Canada.

Harp:              OK. Well I grew up in British Columbia and in Alberta, so I thought of a couple of myths that I remember when I was younger.

Maura:            All right. Do tell!

Harp:              The first one is Bigfoot.

Maura:            Oh, really?

Harp:              Yeah. Sasquatch.

Maura:            So, a sasquatch, or a Bigfoot, are the names for a really big, hairy kind of animal that looks and walks like a human—except for the hair all over its body, I guess.

Harp:              Yeah. A Bigfoot, or a sasquatch, is this large, hairy animal that looks kind of like a human.

Maura:            Right. And they live in the wilderness. So they live in, usually, the mountains or a big forest; someplace where a lot of animals live and humans don’t. OK, so I’ve definitely heard that in lots of different parts in the world there have been people who’ve seen, or are said to have seen, Bigfoot.

english PodcastAudio/Learning Materials: Culips