Igloos, hockey and maple syrup — we’ve all heard the Canadian stereotypes. This is the image that many outsiders have of our country. And while some of those tropes aren’t entirely untrue, we have a lot more to offer than just ice sports and sweet condiments.
Music, for example, has been a strong export in recent years. Drake, Arcade Fire, Shania Twain — these artists have not only been giving the world a taste of the eclectic sounds we have to offer, they’re also reshaping people’s image of what Canada looks like. One of those ways is through music videos.
From our bustling metropolises to our breathtaking scenery, Canada has become a go-to location for people to shoot movies, TV shows and, yes, music videos in for local and international stars.
For this year’s Canada Day, we want to salute the beauty that is our country through 20 music videos shot throughout Canada. Take a tour through the provinces and cities with us.
Phil Chiu, ‘IV. Ruvido ed ostinato, Sonata op.1 no.22’
One of British Columbia’s defining features is its picturesque mountains. To get up close with the province’s breathtaking peaks, a crew not only brought solo pianist Philip Chiu to the mountain town of Revelstoke — they also flew in a grand piano. The result is one of the most epic music videos ever shot atop a snowy mountain. We may not recommend flying in your own piano, but we do suggest you go there for a nice ski vacation.
K-pop group Twice may not be Canadian but they did take a liking to Vancouver when they shot their 2017 video for “Likey” all around the Canadian city. The video, which has amassed more than 260 million views since it came out less than a year ago, gives fans a look at some of Vancouver’s most popular attractions, from Gastown and the Stanley Park seawall to the fishing village of Steveston and the SkyTrain.
N’we Jinan Artists, ‘Best of Me’
N’we Jinan is a non-profit organization that brings mobile recording studios to small communities across Canada, helping youth connect creatively by writing and recording songs and music videos. A shining example of their work is “Best of Me,” a video put together by a group of young creatives in Selkirk First Nation, Yukon. The video transforms personal narratives into a stunning visual story, shot at various locations around their home. Read more about the N’we Jinan project here.
Reuben and the Dark, ‘Eli’
While Calgary band Reuben and the Dark were touring across North America six years ago, they found and met a lot of Yellowknifers. That naturally led them to visit and perform in the Northwest Territories' capital. Some of their time in Yellowknife was filmed for their “Eli” video, showing members riding snowmobiles and performing an intimate set at a house show.
High Valley, ‘Come On Down’
Country duo High Valley have helped put La Crete, Alta., an agricultural center dubbed “Alberta’s Last Frontier,” on the map and in their music video for “Come On Down,” where they give back to their small community by holding a big concert in their hometown. “Come On Down” is a love letter to La Crete and its sawmills, refineries and its “one stop light and a Dairy Queen.”
Paul Brandt, ‘Alberta Bound’
There’s no better guide through the Prairies than country singer Paul Brandt singing atop a truck adorned with an Alberta flag. Brandt’s 2004 music video for his song, “Alberta Bound,” takes us across the beautiful province of Alberta, showing off its “Rocky Mountains and black fertile ground.” Along the way, he also gives shoutouts to the coal miners, the Sweetgrass sign at the Canada-U.S. border and even the Jerky Shop in Longview, Alta.
The Dead South, ‘In Hell I’ll Be in Good Company’
While parts of this video are shot in Toronto, the Regina band still find space to fit in scenic shots of their hometown in the video for their breakout hit, “In Hell I’ll Be in Good Company.” Included are Saskatchewan’s bright canola fields and a local farmer’s market.
The Jerry Cans, ‘Iqaluit’
Iqaluit band the Jerry Cans are putting the Nunavut music scene on the map in some big ways. In addition to performing at the Juno Awards and CBC Music Festival this year, they’ve also created their own record label, Aakuluk Music, and are promoting their hometown through their work, like in their “Iqaluit’ video. In the clip, members perform on a moving truck as they drive around Iqaluit, showing the beautiful snow-filled sights along the way.
Tami Neilson, ‘Manitoba Sunrise at Motel 6’
To match singer Tami Neilson’s retro folk-soul sound, her music video for “Manitoba Sunrise at Motel 6” features old footage of Manitoba roads, green fields, motels and horse-riding by the water. It’s a nostalgic snapshot that perfectly encapsulates the song’s homesick lyrics. (Neilson is now based in New Zealand and says the song expresses life on tour and how she misses her home and family during that time.)
Kardinal Offishall, ‘The Anthem’
While Drake has given Toronto many anthems over the past few years, Kardinal Offishall’s 2011 song “The Anthem” is still a staple in stadiums and arenas across the city. Its music video pays homage to the diverse neighbourhoods in the 6, from downtown landmarks like the CN Tower, Hockey Hall of Fame and Maple Leaf Garden, to suburban haunts like Scarborough’s Malvern Town Centre. It’s hard to tell which one checks off more locales — the song (which references Rexdale, Big It Up hats, Lick’s Burgers and Vaughan Road) or the video — but both give a sense of Toronto’s best offerings.
Alexisonfire, ‘Young Cardinals’
There’s playing a show in Niagara Falls and then there’s what St. Catherines punk band Alexisonfire did in their “Young Cardinals” video. Taking a group of fans onto a boat and into the water, the band performed so close to the falls that attendees donned rain ponchos but still ended up drenched by the end. In all fairness, this is what the mosh pit at an Alexisonfire show might look like on a regular basis anyway.
DJ Shub feat. Northern Cree Singers, ‘Indomitable’
Six Nations, the largest First Nations reserve in Canada, is just two hours outside of Toronto. In DJ Shub’s “Indomitable,” he shows off the beauty of his home by telling the story of an office worker in the city (played by electronic artist Classic Roots) who reconnects with his roots when he returns to First Nations for a pow wow. “I want Canadians to see that pow wow culture is beautiful in both imagery and spirit,” DJ Shub told Noisey.
CRi feat. Ouri, ‘Rush’ (Fermont, Que.)
Quebec is home to popular cities like Montreal and Quebec City, but there are less populated towns like the subarctic mining town, Fermont. In this recent Prism Prize-nominated music video by electronic artist CRi, viewers are transported to the town and given a look at its beautiful terrain and isolated community. “I don’t know how long Fermont will last,” one person remarks in the video, noting its “ghost town” status. Even so, there is an energy that courses through Fermont, as teenagers run freely down hollow hallways and others ride bikes and snowmobiles around to pass the time. It’s a loving portrait of a place that many may have ignored, but is still bursting with life. As a man notes at the end: “It’s crazy how small you feel in the middle of all this. I love it.”
When Adele made her big comeback in 2015, she called on Canadian director Xavier Dolan to direct the video for her lead single, "Hello." The UK star even flew to Quebec for the shoot, as Dolan told the Montreal Gazette, "so that I could be in my regular work environment and create with the artists and friends I've been working with in recent years." The resulting video shows Adele belting it out in the wilderness, just outside of Montreal. It's a simple concept but one that has gotten them over two billion YouTube views.
Omnikrom feat. TTC, 'Danse la poutine'
While poutine is a stereotypical thing associated with Canada, and more specifically Quebec, it is a dish that we take immense pride in. Case in point, "Danse la poutine," a full-on anthem created for the gravy and cheese curd-covered fries. The video takes us through the nightlife of Montreal and the ensuing late-night munchies that takes clubgoers to one of Montreal's most popular spots, La Banquise.
NEWFOUNDLAND AND LABRADOR
Hey Rosetta!, ‘Bandages’
One of Newfoundland’s biggest musical exports in recent history has been Hey Rosetta! In their stripped-down acoustic video for “Bandages,” they perform in a number of locations around their home province, from churches and food courts to a gorgeous open field with a children’s choir. It’s a heartwarming ode to the land they come from, and a pretty good tourism ad to boot.
Jon McKiel, ‘Unknown Source’
Rainbows, sunsets and nature all illustrate the natural beauty that surrounds New Brunswick in Jon McKiel’s “Unknown Source.” Shot at the Bay of Fundy near Sackville, which hosts the annual SappyFest music festival, this video evokes the oceanside paradise many of us think of when we think of the East Coast.
Jenn Grant, ‘Getcha Good’
Jenn Grant’s 2011 single “Getcha Good” is a bright, cheerful love song, which was amplified by its colourful music video shot in Halifax’s North End. Parading in front of rows of blue, green, purple and red homes, Grant and a group of dancers take over the streets, transforming the East Coast neighbourhood into a surreal Sesame Street-style wonderland.
Wordburglar, ‘Channel Halifax’
Similar to Kardinal Offishall’s “The Anthem,” “Channel Halifax” is artist Wordburglar’s reference-packed ode to his Nova Scotian hometown. Both the song and the accompanying video take fans on a personal tour of Halifax, from the Harbourfront where he used to wash dishes to comic book store, Strange Adventures, where he’d escape to when he wasn’t in school.
PRINCE EDWARD ISLAND
Kinley, ‘Golden Days’
On “Golden Days,” singer-songwriter Kinley writes about fellow East Coasters who have had to move west for opportunities and jobs. “It’s a (loving or gentle) suggestion that maybe they come home and enjoy the simpler things in life,” the singer and Hey Rosetta! member told Exclaim. Her video for the track is a lovely reminder of the beautiful sights Prince Edward Island folks might miss. Filmed at Blooming Point Beach, “Golden Days” throws a beach party, painting a summer getaway that even non-Islanders will dream of.
More to explore