Photo Credit Jan Garrison
Culver tradition goes back 21 years
October 10, 2017

Culver Academies students, faculty, and staff with Canadian connections, including Head of Schools Jim and Mary Power, gathered Monday evening to celebrate Thanksgiving.  Thanksgiving in Canada is celebrated on the second Monday of October.

Wellness instructor and hockey coach Dan Davidge has been handling the event since its inception 21 years ago when he invited two Canadian students over to his house to celebrate. For a number of years, the event switched between the Dan and Liney Davidge and Mike and Ann Norton households until the numbers started becoming too large for one home to handle.

That is when Kelsi Carr ’14 suggested moving the dinner to campus and turning it into a cultural exchange event in 2012, he said. Davidge talked with Academic Dean Kevin MacNeil about the concept and a new tradition was born. Now, Canadian students may invite a guest to the dinner, which includes a brief history of the holiday. The Powers came to Culver last year after spending 12 years at the Upper Canada College in Toronto.

Since it is a major holiday and family gathering time in Canada, Davidge told the group, “This is our best attempt to let you guys know we care.”

Jake Stevens ’18 (Guelph, Ontario) has been in charge of inviting the Canadian students and taking reservations for the past two years. This year, there are 20 Canadian students. A total of 25 students, faculty, and staff came to the dinner. The menu included the basic Thanksgiving staples: turkey, mashed potatoes, gravy, dressing, green bean casserole, salad, and pumpkin pie.

Michael Robinson ’19 (Peterborough, Ontario) said the meal was “pretty close” to the meal he would be eating at home, but William Clayton ’18 (Pitt Meadows, British Columbia) quickly added, “It doesn’t come close to Mom’s cooking, though.”

The Canadian holiday can be traced back to 1578 when explorer Martin Frobisher held a celebration thanking God for surviving the long journey from England to Newfoundland. Frobisher was searching for the Northwest Passage and his crossing of the Atlantic Ocean was fraught with peril, from icebergs to severe storms.

When the French settlers and explorers arrived later, Samuel de Champlain copied the harvest festivals celebrated by the First Nations tribes. He called the celebration “The Order of Good Cheer,” which took place on Nov. 14, 1606. Thanksgiving was officially declared a national holiday in 1879, but the October date wasn’t officially set by the Canadian Parliament until 1957.

And, like its American cousin, the Canadian holiday includes watching professional sports. Davidge noted that, along with the other NHL games, the Toronto Maple Leafs were hosting the Chicago Blackhawks later that evening. Both teams were unbeaten at 2-0.

The Leafs won in overtime, 4-3.

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