Canadian Heritage Minutes are making a comeback

Jordana Divon
Contributing Writer
Daily Brew

They started appearing 20 years ago in between your regular 30-second shills for luxury cars and easy-to-make side dishes.

It was hard to tell what made the CRB Foundation's Heritage Minutes stand out more: the elaborate sets and period costumes, or the dramatic acting and the very Canadian-ness of the documentary-style historical shorts, totally unlike anything the country had ever produced for mainstream television before.

And if you happened to be at least junior high school-aged back then, chances are there's an episode from which you can quote particular lines, or a familiar face you recognized, from Dan Aykroyd and Colm Feore to ex-Bondsman Pierce Brosnan.

In fact, there's even a webpage dedicated to the "Top 10 Quotes" from the series' most memorable scenes.

As CBC notes, the idea was to "enhance Canadianism" by featuring seminal moments in our history. That meant everything from the role of Chinese workers on the Canadian Pacific Railroad to Jennie Trout breaking down gender boundaries and becoming the first licensed female doctor each got the 60-second spotlight treatment.

Now, after a seven-year break, the Historica-Dominion Institute has revived the Heritage Minutes with an episode to commemorate the bicentennial of the War of 1812.

Though it will never top the basketball episode (OK, that's a completely subjective assertion), it will be interesting to see if the production values will remain faithful to the style that made the Minutes famous, or if the lure of better technology will turn our heritage into something shiny and new.

For the purpose of nostalgia, however, the charitable organization has opened its Facebook page for the public to vote on its favourite past episodes. The new Heritage Minute will be airing on October 15.