“Burnt toast, Dr. Penfield I smell burnt toast”

By Desiree D’Lima

Since 1991 Canadians have been educated about significant people and events in the country’s history via Heritage Minutes.

Philanthropist Charles Bronfman was disheartened by the lack of knowledge the general public had of Canadian history, so he created a series of history-focused public service announcements. The PSA’s were broadcast on television and radio in both French and English, were shown in Cineplex Theatres and more recently on VIA Rail’s On-Train Entertainment system.

The latest Heritage Minute was released on June 20, 2017, World Refugee Day,  and tells the story of the “Boat People” from Vietnam in the late 70’s who were welcomed to Canada as they fled their war torn homeland.

From peach baskets to burnt toast, here are a few of my favourite Heritage Minutes:

Basketball AKA Hole in the Peach Basket.
(Editor’s note: bonus points to anyone who can identify the local celebrity featured in this video! Hint: Coal Mine Theatre Co-Chief Engineer)

Halifax Explosion AKA “The Train!”

Winnie AKA “For my home town, Winnipeg.”

Maurice “Rocket” Richard AKA The poor guy was just trying to move.

Wilder Penfield AKA Every time I smell burnt toast I think for a moment that I’m having a seizure but really it just means I’m burning toast.

You can also check out all of the parodies of Heritage minute HERE.


Another great set of PSA’s that started in the 90’s came from Companies Committed to Kids (formerly Concerned Children’s Advertisers). “Don’t You Put it in Your Mouth” and “What’s Your Thing?” were memorable BUT the most memorable one has to be “Jake the House Hippo.”

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