Friends, Moments, Countryside

by Peter Gzowski

published by McClelland and Stewart

1998, 274 pages

Buy it online






A Clearly Canadian Voice

Reviewed by Linda L. Richards


His is a voice Canadians recognize perhaps more than any other. A voice -- in print or over the airwaves -- that is so distinctly of his country, it's a wonder that one doesn't hear it hawking cars or soda. And love him or hate him -- and there seems to be a fair number in both camps -- when Peter Gzowski talks, you can be sure people will have an opinion. None of this is very surprising. After all, Gzowski hosted CBC's Morningside for 15 years. Longer than other important Canadian voices -- that of the political types -- are allowed to stay in office. Gzowski's voice -- in radio and print -- has been soothing us for longer than that and many of us have come to rely on him as the oasis of calm in a media sea of frantic yammering.

One of the places that Gzowski has added his unique voice for the last 10 years has been to the pages of Canadian Living. The material for his new book from McClelland & Stewart -- Friends, Moments, Countryside -- has been culled his columns from Canadian Living published between 1993 and 1998.

Being a compilation, of course, very little of this material is precisely original. However, if you enjoy Gzowski's writing -- and I do -- it's nice to have it in one volume where you can read it unadulterated by ads or other people's copy. As well, Gzowski has written one new essay, in the form of the book's introduction, called As Canadian as Possible that nutshells things Canadian simply and eloquently in pure Gzowski-style.

Well, sure, we liked Sports Illustrated; we just wanted a chance to publish our own sport stories (though in fairness we had yet to come up with a successful sports magazine of our own). We liked Seinfeld, too, just as we liked everything from Masterpiece Theatre to Beavis and Butthead -- well, maybe from Masterpiece Theatre to The Larry Sanders Show. But we also like The Newsroom, and The Nature of Things and the fifth estate and North of 60 (let alone Hockey Night in Canada, Don Cherry and all), and we wanted a chance to watch them too. Even Walt Disney and his heirs were fine -- as long as they stuck to The Little Mermaid and The Lion King. But when they took over merchandising the Mounties, wangled their version of Winnie-the-Pooh onto our postage stamps and sent Mickey and Minnie Mouse to be parade marshals of the Calgary Stampede, we were troubled. We liked Americans, all right. We just didn't want to be Americans.

It is this breezy, conversational style that has captivated Gzowski's audience no matter what medium he chooses. You might not always agree with what Peter Gzowski says, but when he says it, sometimes it just feels good to listen. | March 1999


Linda L. Richards is the editor of January Magazine.