My 2011 Project: One Year, One Canadian

For the year of 2011, I’m living Canadian.

For 12 months, I will only buy Canadian products, eat Canadian food and consume Canadian media. I’m documenting my progress through this website, and hope to publish a book about my project in 2012.

Why am I doing this? From the website’s page of rarely-asked questions:

My reasons are three-fold.

  1. It’s a way to trick myself into being more thoughtful about what I consume. Have you ever tried manually tracking every single expense you incur for a month or two? You become hyper-aware of your spending. This project works the same way. And maybe I can inspire a few others to think about how they consume.
  2. I’m curious, and I like research. I hope that this living Canadian vein is a deep vein to tap.
  3. I’m a bit of a patriot.

Also, I’ve always wanted to try one of those stunt journalism projects, like No Impact Man or The Year of Living Biblically.

It should be fun. As per this post, I’m adding a category of Canadian products and services each month, so the effect is cumulative. Things are pretty easy now–month #1 is ‘household goods’, but they’re going to be weird and uncomfortable in six or eight months.

A side effect of One Year, One Canadian is that I’ll be writing fewer posts for this site. I’ll be writing about a lot of the same sort of random stuff over there, so I hope you’ll find some of that engaging. I won’t be abandoning this site for the year, but I will be dialing down the post frequency.

Here’s the 12-step program for my project. Which do you think will be the most difficult month for me?


  1. I love this idea and will be sharing it with many of my friends so that we can track your experiences. Looking ahead I anticipate that Food and Clothing will be the most difficult areas to control. Good luck.

  2. My husband and I manually track every single expense and have done so for the four years of our marriage. Other people don’t do that?

    Back to you… 😉

    The big three I see you having quirks with are:

    1. TV & movies
    2. Food
    3. Internet

    TV & Movies: I don’t think you’ll have trouble finding Canadian content. I think you have trouble not stumbling onto American content.

    Food: If you eat processed food, you’ll have trouble ensuring that all your food is Canadian-sourced. If you eat nothing processed, it’ll be easier.

    Internet: Who’s hosting your websites?

  3. No, gilliebean, many if us do not. It’s dismayingly easy to spend money without tracking it rigorously. Does everyone count calories in their food? No.

    Darren, what are your criteria for Canadianness? Or will you just go with your gut for most purchases?

    Great idea, by the way. If I were doing it, I’d write on my regular blog. Why the separate site?

  4. I’ve found clothing to be a hard one… like good, thick cotton t-shirts and I think there might only be one designer doing jeans… then you’ve got to ask where is the fabric sourced from, or are you not being that strict?

    Also I agree with gilliebean – entertainment is going to be difficult… are you including video games, apps (etc) esp. online, in that category? Does all the labour (to make the particular entertainment) need to be Canadian as well as made in Canada & created in Canada?

  5. Surely the logo should have a maple leaf on it?

    I think April will be when it gets tough – you could skip buying household goods, you don’t have to invest this year and could maybe go without buying new clothes (assuming you have a well-stocked wardobe) but as an avid devourer of movies how are you going to cope?

    Anyway – good luck and I will follow your endeavours with interest.

  6. Cool idea! I think travel will be the easiest (just don’t leave the country!) and food the most difficult.

    My sister tried the “eat local” thing and found it tough to give up things like coffee, chocolate and avocados, to name a few. You could also go the whole year without buying any clothing at all to make it easier.

    I look forward to reading about your year! Good luck 😀

  7. Congrats on your 2011 pursuit!!!
    Check out this website. He is a chef and developed a cookbook for the 100 Mile Challenge and lives in Vancouver. He has a listing of the grocery stores that carry area and Canadian foods. He also lists some of the clothes made in the area.
    In making the cookbook he wanted to make sure it was completely `Vancouver`content, so being a graphic designer he took all the pics, cooked all the food, and had it printed in the Vancouver area.
    He is a student at the Vancouver Arts School.
    It can be very hard to find canadian made products, as we are inundated with Made in China, Taiwan, USA, but I am trying to stay with the same process just to support the manufacturers in our land…it is not easy at times.
    Good Luck on your challenge!

  8. Good on you man!!!
    My Family has been here since 1777 (Mum’s side) & 1902 (Dad’s) & having seen the devistation the scam of globalization has caused both here and overseas have bought Canadain when ever possible for the last decade or so.
    Another reprocussion has been moving out of the big city to Vancouver Island where we raise Heritage breed pigs, Berkshire’s last year, adding Large Blacks this year. Per design, we range them outside. The differance between ours and Factory Pharmed Phood is, well, ours is actually fit for human consumption. In fact, if it’s not the best pork you’ve ever tasted, we’ll buy it back from you. We’re also well within 100 miles…

    Again, Good on you man! You should be damned proud of your efforts as an outstanding Canadian! We need more like you! Keep up the good work & best of luck in your endevour!

  9. I shop at Canadian-owned stores whenever I can. I think you’d make a bigger impact and statement if you did this instead of one of the weaker items in the list. Take Clothing or Books/Periodicals – I can’t see the average person making much more than a dozen purchases of these items per year.

    Best of luck, and much adventure!

  10. Someone at work sent me this. He says it was verified on Snopes, I haven’t verified it myself yet, but it may be helpful in your Canadian content quest : )

    With all the food and pet products now coming from China , it is best to make sure you read labels at the grocery store and especially Walmart when buying food products.

    Many products no longer show where they were made, only give where the distributor is located. It is important to read the bar code to track it’s origin.

    How to read Bar Codes …..
    This may be useful to know when grocery shopping, if it’s a concern to you. GREAT WAY TO “BUY USA & CANADA ”
    If the first 3 digits of the barcode are 690, 691
    or 692 the product is MADE IN CHINA.
    471 it is Made in Taiwan . This is our right to know, but the government
    and related departments never educate the
    public, therefore we have to RESCUE
    ourselves. Nowadays, Chinese businessmen know that
    consumers do not prefer products “MADE IN
    CHINA”, so they don’t show from which
    country it is made. However, you may now refer to the barcode –
    remember if the first few digits are: 690-692 … then it is MADE IN CHINA 00 – 09 … USA & CANADA 30 – 37 … FRANCE 40 – 44 … GERMANY 471 … TAIWAN 49 … JAPAN 50 … UK
    BUY USA & CANADIAN MADE by watching for “0” at the beginning of the number.
    We need every boost we can get!

  11. Hey Darren, way to go. I try to buy Canadian, takes a lot more work and awareness. With you doing this I will put a bit more effort into it. Too bad you could’nt get a couple politicians in on it too.

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