Monday, February 16, 2009

Governor General gets a geography lesson

I suppose the Governor General should know these things but the Rockies get all the publicity and it seems when you are flying over from Vancouver to the east that there are just continuous successive ranges so perhaps they might all be the Rockies. Myself I know the Coast range and the Rockies and inbetween are just nameless mountains. Anyway it is nice to know that Senators are of some use and Nancy Greene has not had much publicity for a while. Also it is quite harmless to correct the royal representative these days. She is in no danger of going to the Tower.

Governor-General gets a geography lesson
From Friday's Globe and Mail
February 13, 2009 at 4:18 AM EST
When speaking to a group of children yesterday, Governor-General Michaƫlle Jean got schooled herself - for mixing up her mountain ranges.
Ms. Jean was leading about 200 children in a light-hearted Olympics geography lesson at Rideau Hall in Ottawa, one year ahead of the opening of the Games.
"So where is Vancouver?" Ms. Jean asked warmly, before children shouted out answers. "Of course, Canada."
And so forth went her lesson.
"From that city you can see some very, very tall mountains ... and these mountains are called ..." Ms. Jean asked, before proclaiming: "The Rockies."
Cue freshman senator, B.C. resident and Olympic ski legend Nancy Greene, with a geography crash course.
"No, it's the Coast Mountains," Ms. Greene said.
In an exchange captured by CTV, Ms. Jean laughs at her mistake, turning off-camera to an unseen woman said to be Ms. Greene.
"We can also call them the Rockies, no?" she asked.
No, we can't. There are seven different mountain ranges in mainland southern B.C., including the Coast Mountains, where the Games will be held, and the Rockies far to the east. Ms. Jean skipped the Purcell, Selkirk, Cariboo, Monashee and Cascade ranges.
"She was only off by about 600 or 700 kilometres. It's sort of like putting Toronto down in the Carolinas," said Owen Hertzman, a senior lecturer of geography at Simon Fraser University in B.C.'s Lower Mainland.
"Geography 101 says there's more than one mountain range in B.C ... It's a long ways from here to the Rockies."
Confusing the ranges is a common mistake. When International Olympic Committee president Jacques Rogge first visited Whistler in 2005, he looked up and gushed: "I love the Rocky Mountains. I think it's fantastic" - a rare misstep for the smooth-talking Mr. Rogge.
"People from back East can't keep on top of all the ranges we have," said Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson, a fifth-generation B.C. resident. "But I'd love to give [Ms. Jean] a tour, and brief her on the local geography."
Ms. Jean is also not the first public figure to flub Canadian geography. In 2000, Stockwell Day complained that Canadian jobs were flowing south just like the Niagara River. When told the river actually flows north, he blamed a speechwriter.
But Ms. Jean, who as Governor-General has visited B.C. twice, laughed off the geographic gaffe.
"We never stop learning," she said. "I have learned something today and I truly appreciate that Senator Nancy Greene took the time to point this out to me and to the children who were at Rideau Hall."
In an interview yesterday, Ms. Greene apologized for correcting Ms. Jean, who represents the Crown as Canada's head of state.
"I feel very badly that I might have embarrassed her," Ms. Greene said, nevertheless adding: "Hey, I'm from British Columbia, and I've got to correct these things."
With a report from Frances Bula in Vancouver

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