Proud to be Canadian

Canadian T-shirts, hats and paraphernalia are selling like hotcakes across the country in anticipation

Canadian T-shirts, hats and paraphernalia are selling like hotcakes across the country in anticipation of this weekend’s Canada Day festivities, but Captain and Mrs. Canada already have their outfits pressed and ready to go.

The patriotic Vancouver couple, who have been unofficially representing their country nationally and internationally for the last decade, will be appearing at the Westside Daze parade and fair grounds in West Kelowna the weekend leading up to the first of July celebration. The captain will be wearing his white naval officer’s suit with a bright red shirt and the missus will be wearing a regal red gown, a tiara with a maple leaf, and both will be adorned with Canadian pins.

Jack Hetherington, and his life partner Christine Harper, are the lovely people behind these proud fl ag-waving personas, and have thoroughly enjoyed the warm reception they’ve received everywhere they’ve been.

“The reaction has been wonderful,” Christine said. “It’s especially fulfilling for us to see children’s faces light up. We’ve been asked by some of them if we’re the king and the queen.”

Appearing before huge crowds of tourists from around the world during the 2010 Vancouver Olympics, Captain and Mrs. Canada were more than happy to pose for photos and answer questions about their beloved country.

Prior to that and since then they’ve traveled far and wide visiting countless fairs and events across Canada and in the US, and also went to Buckingham Palace, where they were greeted by people seemingly more excited about getting their picture taken with them than with the Coldstream Guards.

The gregarious duo thought up the idea for their alter egos 10 years ago while dressed far more casually in Canadian T-shirts, flip flops and tall red and white top hats on Canada Day.

“The idea began on our sailboat at the marina on Bowen Island in 2004,” Jack said. “We set up speakers and played three songs every 20 minutes all day: Oh Canada, God Save the Queen and Happy Birthday. People kept coming by to talk and sign our guest book. The day was a phenomenal success.”

After that they decided to take things to a whole new level and create distinguished characters to be formal ambassadors of Canada.

“Our goal is to foster Canadian unity and patriotism wherever we go,” Jack added. “To tell the tale of our proud history and to salute all Canadians who wear and have worn our nation’s uniform, particularly the fallen in all past wars and conflict, by proudly representing our country at public gatherings, civic holidays, parades and any celebration where people gather.”

The focus of their volunteer work includes charitable involvement, appearing at events for children with challenges and other worthwhile causes. They spend Christmas Day on Vancouver’s lower east side walking the streets talking with people and offering sandwiches and Canadian toques.

Personally, I’m looking forward to seeing Captain and Mrs. Canada this weekend. Not just because I love the joy they’re spreading and believe them to be national treasures, but because he is my mother’s only sibling and my precious Uncle Jack. He, along with Christine, helped my brother and I out tremendously when our beautiful mom passed away in December.

They’re both loving, compassionate and generous with their energy and have many years of experience being that way.

“We love to make people happy,” Christine said, referring to their public personas. “Our ultimate reward is a smile. You can’t put a price on that.”

“We are Canadian arch-patriots,” Jack added. “We love our country and the people who make it great.”

So do I. And Captain and Mrs. Canada are two people who definitely do that.

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Lori Welbourne is a syndicated columnist. She can be contacted at