Shawinigan Handshake – had one yet?

A bottle of old "Shawnigan Handshake."

Ah, the off-beat story! All the better with content that is also sensational or humorous. Good fodder for readers and water cooler conversations. That must explain why many papers in Canada carried a recent item about a new beer called “The Shawinigan Handshake”.

The story makes light of an incident in 1996 when Liberal Prime Minister Jean Chrétien put…something, let’s postulate it was a choke hold….on anti-poverty protester Bill Clennett. No one got a very good view of the incident (which took place in a crowd amid noisy demonstration) but you can see most of it for yourself in this news video.

The beer’s maker is quite excited about the marketing potential, and indeed, the limited run quickly sold out. Jean Chrétien seems quite amused.  As one might expect, the man on the receiving end, Bill Clennett, is appalled.

I blogged earlier about a charity boxing match that generated interest across Canada. There were other fights on the card that same night. Journalist turned academic Declan Hill was a participant. He wrote an interesting essay about the experience, sub-headed by the Ottawa Citizen as a “debate about the nature of Canadian identity and our historic reputation as fighters”.

Having brought the topic up, now I’m faced with a couple of choices: follow the high-minded tendency to take violence very seriously, condemn it as barbaric and hope for the day when evolutionary enlightenment leaves that primitive stage far behind.

Or I can lighten up and say life’s messy, often crude, it takes all types to make a world…just roll with it.

I must be becoming more and more Canadian myself. Because (even though I don’t personally like beer!) I find myself wanting to compromise and include both views.

Violence …bad! Beer…good! Humor…essential!

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9 Comments on “Shawinigan Handshake – had one yet?”

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  1. knuckleheadedliberal says:

    You don’t like beer! I’m done with this blog.

  2. Lucy Martin says:

    I know, I know! What a confession! And in Canada, which prides itself on “real beer”, not that watery swill sold in the U.S.

    Call it arrested development. I never moved past sugar to develop an adult taste for alcohol. I’m more than passing fond of chocolate, though. Does that count for anything?

  3. Kent Gregson says:

    Cool! Good to see Canada getting into craft beer. Good to see a national leader getting into craft beer and not being a stuffed shirt. Though I’m not into lagers I can say I’m a beer advocate and brewery worker. I’d certainly try one.

  4. hermit thrush says:

    And in Canada, which prides itself on “real beer”, not that watery swill sold in the U.S.

    i have to say, this is one thing that just drives me crazy about living in ontario. the microbrews here aren’t exactly bad, but beer in the u.s. these days is way way better. in fact the u.s. is the second best country in the world for beer, imho, behind only belgium!

  5. knuckleheadedliberal says:

    Agreed hermit, at least in the last decade or so. I highly recommend a pilgrimage to Cooperstown, NY the home ( as everyone knows ) to Brewery Ommegang. Buy a case of Three Philosophers and age it for 6 months in a cool place — as good as anything in Belgium. They were an independent small brewery but were, unfortunately, bought out. Their older beers are still great but now they’re brewing some flavours for a broader, less educated palate. Sigh.

  6. Lucy Martin says:

    What about mass-market beer?

    Unfortunately, beer pretty much all tastes alike to me (same for wine) so I sure can’t judge. But since moving here a dozen years ago I’ve had to listen over and over to born & bred Canadians “dis” U.S. beer as weak, inferior, etc.

    Hermit Thrush says “beer in the U.S. these days is way way better”. Would you say most US beer has improved, or is this more true for the explosion of micro breweries?

    And isn’t it great that more people all over the place are looking for better tastes and quality in what they eat/drink?

  7. knuckleheadedliberal says:

    Lucy, you should have a doctor check you out. There is something wrong with your taste buds.

    As for the Canadians, they are living in the past. It used to be that Canadian beer was superior to American beer but the proliferation of local beers in the US has radically changed that. Maybe the Canadian dollar was weak for so long that people up there haven’t had a chance to discover our micro-brews yet.

    The trick is that the big beer companies have been buying out micro-breweries and many of the micros aren’t really anymore.

    Also, it is true that Americans in general had a very bland diet for a very long time. Thankfully we have had waves of immigration from places that have interesting cuisines like Viet Nam, Thailand, Tibet, India and Pakistan, Somalia and Ethiopia. And, of course, we have the true American cuisines that come from Mexico and Latin America.

  8. hermit thrush says:

    well, everybody has an opinion, and mine is that 100% of the improvement in u.s. beer is because of the micros (but i say that as someone who never touches the mass market stuff). i would even venture to say that whatever improvements (if any) have occurred in the mass market are because of the influence of the micros. but really, the mass market stuff on both sides of the border is a huge waste of time and calories. that’s part of what i don’t get about the canadian attitude of beer superiority — the canadian macros are every bit as much swill as the american ones!

    i’ve also talked to a lot of people here in toronto who dis american beer or (mistakenly!) really sing the praises of canadian beer, and what i think it comes down to is that basically no one here knows better. and i think the reason for that is four little letters: lcbo. the liquor control board of ontario. the lcbo controls all imports of alcohol into the province, and they’re about as good an advertisement against socialism as you could ask for!

    (of course the lcbo only covers ontario; i don’t know how things go in other provinces. but i do know that it’s easier to get interesting beers from quebec in the u.s. than it is here!)

  9. Lucy Martin says:

    Hermit thrush: well said!

    Knuck: the right (beer-loving) doctor might call it a problem, but I doubt there’s a cure! Couldn’t agree with you more, international cuisine absolutely improves the eating scene. Yum!

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