The ultimate piece of Canadiana, full of contradictions 

Taylor brings guitar crafted from 63 pieces of Canadian history to Whistler


What: Six String Nation presentation

When: Monday, Sept. 28, 7 p.m.

Where: Whistler Public Library

Cost: Free

It should come as little surprise that a guitar made from 63 pieces of Canadian history sounds much like the Nation itself - understated, but powerful.

"Like Canadians, it's got a lot of good things to say, but it doesn't like shouting," said Jowi Taylor, the man behind Canada's guitar, which has been dubbed the Voyageur.

The Voyageur was a true labour of love for this writer, radio host and producer, involving some science, some alchemy, and a whole lot of hard work.

Six String Nation , the book chronicling the Voyageur (and Taylor's) journey from an initial idea to a very tangible reality, was published just over two months ago. It paints a vivid picture of Canada through stunning portraiture and insightful interviews with a wide range of people who contributed to the project, or who had the opportunity to try their hand at playing the Voyageur once it was finally finished. Now, the author is bringing the book and the guitar to Whistler.

The idea for the Voyageur came about a few months before the referendum was held in October 1995, when Taylor first met George Rizsanyi, a luthier (someone who makes stringed instruments).

"I was kind of preoccupied, as most people were at that time, with questions about Canadian identity because, of course, the Nationalists position of pulling Quebec out of Canada sort of really challenged our notion of Canada," he explained. "At the same time as that all unfolded, it became increasingly apparent that however justifiable Quebec's reasons for wanting to secede - and really, they have a pretty robust culture and economy of their own, they could easily do it - the debate around that notion of Canadian identity failed to include anybody else. It all boiled down to French and English."

Taylor was born and raised in Toronto, to a well traveled, internationally minded family that met on a weekly basis over dinner to talk about different world cultures.

Taylor wanted an opportunity to talk about Canadian identity on a deeper level, exploring issues of multiculturalism and regionalism that are so prevalent in our country.

"It struck me that this is where countries rely on their symbols to address those things, and when you look for Canadian iconography, what you find are donuts and hockey and beaver and loons, and it seems to be, they're pretty thin," he said.

When he met Rizsanyi, the issue of Canadian wood came up in conversation.


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