The initial infrastructure for the show was quickly humbled by the country’s enthusiastic response to the idea of picking seven favourite Canadian wonders. The 7WC website underwent several hasty renovations and the online voting system strained and choked under the weight of it’s sudden popularity. My job, as a judge, slowly began to seem just a tiny bit more … complicated.
I still have the first email from the CBC producer. It refers to the “feedback that we hope to get from listeners”. Over 20,000 pitches and more than a million votes later, I was shuffling my tour schedule to accommodate the three and a half hour “Judgement Day” television and radio segment at the CBC’s Toronto studios.
Conference calls hammered together a complicated, but hopefully fair, procedure by which we would proceed. The judges painstakingly filled out spreadsheets listing all fifty-two short listed nominations and the criteria that had been determined at the outset. The online voting would be factored in, but not relied upon completely, because many worthy nominations lacked the population base to generate the kind of pride-driven community voting that characterized some of the more seemingly popular wonders. One of my hopeless favourites, for instance, - a seventy kilometer in diameter impact crater - blasted into the Canadian Shield 200 million years ago and still looking like a fresh bullet wound - probably received very few votes beyond that of Canadian astronaut, Marc Garneau, who had photographed it from space and pitched it on one of the first ‘Sound Like Canada’ Seven Wonders shows.
Despite the fact that I’ve visited two thirds of the 52 nominated wonders, I felt obligated to take the time to study them all - confirming and adding to what I knew, and learning about those places I’ve never been. I spent hours discussing potential nominations with family and friends - quickly learning that no two seven wonders lists are the same. It was an enriching, rewarding and, yes, fun experience.
I’m proud of the list of seven that Roberta, Roy and I ultimately settled on. It was borne of compromise and will be seen by many as flawed, but I hope those people who cared about the outcome will understand that we did our very best to represent them. From the looks of things, the Seven Wonders of Canada program was just the beginning of the CBC’s celebration of a country that boasts hundreds of wonders - not just seven. Check out the 7WC website to see the much larger and - much more important - picture that they present there.
Finally, and even though nobody’s asked me, here’s my *personal* seven wonders of Canada:
Now YOU try to get your list down to just seven!
UPDATE - “One thing’s for sure, the Sleeping Giant is awake now” - Roy MacGregor - Globe and Mail UPDATE 2 - “Geographical correctness run amok” - Christie Blatchford - Globe and Mail UPDATE 3 - “More on the Seven Wonders of Canada” Jonathan Whitten & Cathy Simon - The National - Blog