Saturday, November 22, 2008

The father of Canada

My sixth grade social studies teacher in Pennsylvania was Mr Border. He was dashing and masculine in a rugged, mountain man way, and he was vocal about his hobbies as an outdoorsman. He was always tromping off to Canada to do something or other active-type thing. I wouldn't be at all surprised if he can shoot a moose. He was the head of the ski club, which I found completely intimidating.

He was not my favorite teacher, and I was not his favorite student. (Pretty sure he smelled my fear and lost all respect.) But he had one mission, and that was to make sure that every student who passed through his classroom learned who the father of Canada was. He pounded it into us. Every day. Samuel de Champlain. Samuel de Champlain. Samuel de Champlain. Who is the father of Canada? Who is the father of Canada? Who is the father of Canada?


Mind you, I don't remember anything ELSE about Samuel de Champlain. I don't even know what it means to be the father of a country (George Washington is the father of the US, right?). Wikipedia tells me that he was a French navigator, geographer, cartographer, draughtsman, soldier, explorer, ethnologist, diplomat, chronicler, and the founder of Quebec City on July 3, 1608, of which he was the administrator for the rest of his life. (1575-1635).


The other thing Mr Border taught us was how to fold maps. Ah-proh-poh for a Champlain junkie, I can see now. That's what cartography is, right? Maps and such. (Allow me to digress for a moment and say how unbelievably terrible I would be as a cartographer. The details! I would be all, that lake is somewhere over there. Roughly. Does that road really need to go on? Okay, I'm bored now. Send it to print.)

I'm sure Mr Border is not reading this, but I imagine he would be proud to know that many years later I still know the father of Canada. I think I may have even dropped it in conversation a few times. And I still think of that man every time I fold a %*&$ map.

These teachers and their power, no?

(And happy 400th anniversary, Quebec City!)

15 comments:

racheld said...

Your Father of Canada post reminded me of this institution, which I read about a couple of months ago. Mind you, it was posted on an eating/cooking/ restaurant site, by someone FROM Canada.

http://forums.egullet.org/index.php?showtopic=118398

At least your teacher was not our own Mr. Mitchell, whose Deep-South renditions of the expeditions of Mar-kett and Jo-le-ett covered about two weeks of seventh grade.

Good times.

Maggie, Dammit said...

I wish some kind teaching soul had taken the time to teach ME how to fold a map.

Teachers: unsung heroes.

Nowheymama said...

Where in PA did you live?

BipolarLawyerCook said...

I'm withh Maggie, Damnit. I rip those fold-out suckers every time I try to read one.

Grounded Girl said...

Woot! I echo this post all the way to the very end. I thought Mr. Border was a tool (before I knew what that was)-- cocky, shallow, and, again, played favorites. Of which I was not one. Geeky awkward 6th graders didn't rank for him. But damn if my map folding skills aren't masterful and I have no trouble remembering the capital of Alaska "JUneau the capital of Alaska?", as well as the founding father of Canada. It makes me wonder what my own past third grade students took away from my teaching...

@ racheld: Nora Bee and I also had a 7th grade literature teacher who was from Tennessee and was nicknamed Mrs. Wodenwaddle because, well, she was rotund. She read "Where the Red Fern Grows" out loud and her drawl of "Little Ann and Old Dan" will forever be imprinted in my brain.

Madge said...

i still can't fold a map. maybe mr. border could offer an on-line course for the rest of us....

Cheri @ Blog This Mom! said...

You can fold a map? Wow.

Teachers do have a lasting effect.

;-)

All Adither said...

It's funny what sticks with you. I had a home ec/Family living teacher. She just passed away a couple weeks ago, but the stuff she taught me will stay with me forever.

JCK said...

Father of Canada! Who knew?? ;)

Yes, George Washington is supposed to be the father of our country, but your Father looks more dashing. Better wig.

togetherforgood said...

I had a prof in college who was supposed to be teaching "American Heritage." That was the name of the class. Do you know what we spent the entire semester on? The WHOLE thing? The renaissance. In Europe. Oh my stars.

Why is it that no matter how many wonderful teachers we have (and I had many), it's always the weird or just plain bad ones that stand out in our memories?

Mac and Cheese said...

Thanks to your post, I now know who the Father of Canada is. I should have known this already seeing as I am Canadian, but my teachers weren't as persistent.

phd in yogurtry said...

I had a history teacher in 8th grade who wove boxing stories into his history lessons. Boxing. Blech. But the man made it interesting. "The Great White Hope" .. boxer by the name of Jack Johnson. And who cares right? But its one of those endearing memories.

momma2731 said...

Really? Samuel de Champlain? I am Canadian and my social studies teacher spent zero time talking about the father of our country.
He prefered to regale us with stories about Sir John A. Macdonald- our alcholholic first prime minister.
We may be polite, but we sure love to drink!
P.S. Sorry you got stuck learning about boring old Sam.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Border had an appropriate name.

There's a lot of dispute as to what Samuel de Champlain REALLY looked like. It's amazing to me how there needs to be a proper and actual likeness for our historical characters. Almost everyone looks good in when carved out of Italian marble. Maybe Napolean was a 5'-5" Hugh Jackman.

I have profound memories of 6th an 7th grade history . . . racheld's link to the foodie institution is my proof. My name is Peter Gamble, which is not nearly as interesting as bipolarlawyercook.

Lovely blog, Nora.

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