Often at this time of year, as pundits muse about the true nature of the country, one reads the familiar saying that a
Canadian is someone who can make love in a canoe. (I read it just this morning in The Vancouver Sun, for example.) Traditionally, the origin of this witticism is traced to Pierre Berton. This is the source given in both the Oxford Dictionary of Quotations and Colombo's Canadian Quotations. But in his new biography of Berton, historian Brian McKillop decides that BC's own Margaret "Ma" Murray probably said it first. Murray, who died in 1982, was a legendarily outspoken newspaperwoman, based for many years in Lillooet where she and her husband George ran the Bridge River-Lillooet News. Her own daughter once described her as "part ham and part crusader". In the Encyclopedia of BC we note that Ma never let the rules of correct syntax stand in the way of good story, nor did it stop her from making her way into the Order of Canada in 1971. Ma Murray was a BC original. And now it seems that she may have authored the most famous definition of a Canuck. Just another reason on our national holiday to be a proud British Columbian Canadian.