Dan Aykroyd calls Canada ‘beacon in the world today’

TORONTO — Dan Aykroyd is uber Canadian.

The Oscar-nominated comedy star was born on Canada Day — July 1, 1952 — in Ottawa, no less. He was bilingual growing up, thanks to his French-Canadian mom. And before he hit the big time on “Saturday Night Live,” the criminology and sociology major worked for the federal government: at the Department of Public Works, with the Canadian Penitentiary Service, and Royal Mail Canada.

His father, an engineer from London, Ont., also worked for the federal government and was a Privy Council officer for then-prime minister Pierre Trudeau. And his grandfather was a Royal Canadian Mounted Police staff sergeant.

“I am thoroughly, through and through, a Canadian,” the Emmy Award-winning actor, comedian, writer, producer and businessman said in a recent phone interview.

Fitting, then, that Aykroyd is the narrator behind a new three-part History documentary series about Canada’s great contributions to this world.

Airing this Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, “The World Without Canada” explores an alternate reality in which the country and its inventions and innovations ceased to exist.

Experts highlight the benefits of Canada’s natural resources, technological and medical breakthroughs, and humanitarian efforts as dramatized scenes depict the global ripple effect if such contributions suddenly disappeared.

Aykroyd seems to have an encyclopedic knowledge of Canada’s accomplishments and is able to rhyme off a long list of them.

“But to me, really the most striking and meaningful and positive message about what Canada has accomplished falls in the human rights and peacekeeping aspect of our culture and our pursuits,” he said from California.

“Our country is made up of immigrants who have been welcomed…. That’s deeply ingrained in us — tolerance, understanding, compassion, acceptance of those who are different, and a welcoming spirit. And that really comes through in the documentary…. Canada is a beacon where hopefully some of the oppressed can flee to in time of distress.”

When he’s south of the border, Aykroyd — the co-writer and star of the first two “Ghostbusters” films — has been known to champion this country in various way. In 1995, for instance, he pushed for the Tragically Hip to get a coveted performance slot on “SNL” and introduced them onstage wearing a Canada-themed T-shirt.

“I’ve known them since the early ’80s and I’ve been great friends with the guys for a long, long time and supported them in everything they’ve done,” he said, adding he’s closest with drummer Johnny Fay.

“I’ve had the pleasure of actually playing with them onstage a couple of times and it just seemed logical.”

Asked which Canadian invention has had a major impact on his life, Aykroyd said: “The snowmobile. There’s nothing like a good old snowmobile race and especially ice and open-water snowmobile racing and grass drags. This is a big part of Canadian culture and I’ve had some fun on snowmobiles.”

Aykroyd said he’s developing several projects, including an animated ”Blues Brothers” TV series, for which he’s looking for a distributor.

“It’s a half-hour animated show where music is the star,” he said. ”We’re talking to a few people about that. We’re working with Bento Box (Entertainment). They do a show called ‘Bob’s Burgers.’”

Just Posted

911 operator helps Red Deer couple during birth

Meet for the first time Thursday

Canada’s 150 year ends on ice, but no hockey pucks, triple jumps allowed

OTTAWA — No figure skating. No hockey. No racing. No cell phones.… Continue reading

Banner signing at Collicutt Centre

International Day of Persons with Disabilities

Regulator investigating Sears Canada liquidation sale prices: monitor

TORONTO — The Competition Bureau is investigating allegations that prices on some… Continue reading

Video: Joshua Frank explains shooting Gordon, Sandra and Monica Klaus

Frank and Jason Klaus are facing triple murder charges in the deaths Klaus’ parents and sister

Updated: Missing Sylvan Lake women found

Women were reported missing earlier this week

Liberals propose billions for affordable housing, including individual benefits

A Liberal government fond of promising help for those working hard to… Continue reading

Alberta Party sees growth in Central Alberta

Greg Clark addressed health care needs addressed in Red Deer

Ponoka council freezes Ponoka Fire Department spending

All discretionary spending frozen until full budget numbers are presented

WATCH: Ponoka’s Festival of Trees sees continued support

Three days of celebration and fundraising held at the Calnash Ag Event Centre

Creationist will speak at home-schooling convention in Red Deer

Ken Ham has debated Bill Nye on the Earth’s origins

CP Holiday train makes stops in Central Alberta

The popular train will feature entertainment from Colin James and Emma-Lee

Cost to fix Phoenix pay system to surpass $540 million, auditor general says

The federal government’s chronic salary struggles will take more time and more… Continue reading

Most Read

Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $185 for 260 issues (must live in delivery area to qualify) Unlimited Digital Access 99 cents for the first four weeks and then only $15 per month Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $15 a month