lululemon athletica Queen Street partners with the Design Exchange to host a series of ‘playful’ yoga classes suitable for all levels of ability. The classes will compliment Play>Nation, which recognizes the power and influence of Canada’s outdoor culture. Join us for a tour of the exhibit, followed by a one hour yoga class on our historic trading floor.
RSVP with rosa@dx.orgor call 416.216.2127Suggested donation $8

lululemon athletica Queen Street partners with the Design Exchange to host a series of ‘playful’ yoga classes suitable for all levels of ability. The classes will compliment Play>Nation, which recognizes the power and influence of Canada’s outdoor culture. Join us for a tour of the exhibit, followed by a one hour yoga class on our historic trading floor.

RSVP with
or call 416.216.2127

Suggested donation $8

The Man in the Photo

John (Johnny) Hougan (this is the original family name spelling) was born and raised in the Telemark district in southern Norway, and started ski jumping when he was eight years old, winning numerous competitions. After moving to Canada in 1910, Johnny  began to show his talents and, in 1912, was the champion of northern Alberta - having won all the tournaments during that year. In 1913, he established himself as Canada’s premier ski jumper as he set the Canadian ski jump record of 109 feet. He went on to beat his own record in 1915 when he jumped 115 feet at the Edmonton Ski Club Jump on Connors Hill with over 5,000 spectators watching the event. Johnny was the Canadian Ski Jumping Champion in 1913, 1914, and 1915. His final competitive performance came in 1942 in the Northern Alberta Championships off the Connors hill scaffold when he was over 50 years old. As a builder, John Hougan contributed to sports as a founding member of the Edmonton Ski Club was founded in 1911, and served as the club’s first secretary. He was a founding member of the National Ski Association of Western Canada in 1912. In 1956 the Canadian Amateur Ski Association appointed him as a judge and official for ski jumping and cross-country events. Johnny skied well into his 90’s.

Thank you to Glen Hougan for contacting the DX with this behind the scenes look at his grandfather. 

Noa Bronstein - Co-Curator

Want to learn more about how Play > Nation came together? Check out this video by our Innovators in Residence, Motion Storm Pictures!

Play Nation’s Playground

Curious? You should be. To decode the legend visit Play Nation. Now open at the DX.

Happy Canada Day!

The beaver. Hardy. Hard working. Canadian. But did you know that the beaver only became an official symbol of Canada in the 1970s. Below is a piece, exclusively for Play > Nation, by former CBC Producer, Richard Bronstein, explaining how this beloved semi-aquatic rodent was officially named as a Canadian symbol.

-Noa Bronstein - Co-curator 

Everyone is familiar with the War of 1812 when the colony of Canada came under attack by crazed American imperialists. Among the many heroes of that conflict was Laura Secord (Laura Ingersoll), who trekked 50 kilometers with a cow in tow to warn British troops of an impending attack.
Less familiar is the story of another significant geo-political conflict between our two great nations when Canadians beat back a further act of American chauvinism. The reference point for this is the royal assent given in March, 1974 to an act of the Canadian Parliament establishing the beaver as the official symbol of Canada.

‘Incroyable’ you say, but the beaver has always been the symbol of Canada. Indeed, our first postage stamp featured the beaver. The beaver has been in our five-cent piece for years. The University of Toronto and Wilfred Laurier University have the beaver on their coat of arms. Who would dare make a claim on our Castor canadensis?

Americans, that’s who. And this is the story of how a brave group of Canadians fought to restore our treasured national symbol.

The sky was dark that day in the fall of 1973 at the former girls boarding school on Jarvis Street, which had become the home of CBC Radio program As It Happens, when story producer Danny Tobias took out a crumpled piece of newspaper to reveal that a State congressman was planning to introduce legislation to make the beaver the official state animal of New York.

As It Happens immediately dispatched staff to its bank of rotary dial phones to stir a slumbering nation to action.  Day after day, week after week As It Happens interviewed every significant person in Canada – politicians, artists, athletes, performers, authors, housewives, rough necks, and even the Digby fisherman – urging parliament to take action to save our beaver. The radio crew brought experts into the studio to enlighten Canadians about this fascinating large rodent.  One enthusiast even brought in his pet beaver, which, live on air, proceeded to piss all over Barbara Frum’s co-host, the usually unflappable Alan Maitland.

Eventually, As It Happens presented a petition with tens of thousands of names to the House of Commons and a private member introduced the necessary legislation to make the beaver a protected symbol of Canada. Not since Dieppe had the Canadian people and their elected representatives been as unified as in those heady days in 1973-74 when the nation once again responded to an external threat.
In 1812, Laura Secord’s warning resulted in a decisive victory for the British over the Americans at the Battle of Beaver Dams to preserve Canadian identity. One hundred sixty two years later Canadians showed their love of nation by speaking with one voice to preserve the beaver as our national symbol.
Coincidence or destiny?

A fine statue of Laura Secord graces the Valiants Memorial in Ottawa.  Danny Tobias went on to found the original Bamboo Club on Queen Street West. He made a good Mai Tai. Now you know the rest of the story.


The Programming team at the DX was hard at work over the last two weeks installing the exhibit. Moving in canoes, positioning snowmobiles and printing and pealing plenty of vinyl. The new DX Innovators in Residence the Department of Unusual Certanties have contributed to the show with a piece called Play Nation’s Playground.  The installation is an exhibition-sized infographic (hence the vinyl) which maps out the lengths and areas of Canada’s natural and manmade systems. Thank you to Brendan Cormier from the Department for these photos of the DX team.

-Noa Bronstein - Co-curator

Did you know…

The Hudson’s Bay Company (HBC) is the oldest continuously operating merchandising company in the world. The Bay was chartered in 1670 and remains one of the most enduring symbols of Canadian history and identity. The below image is courtesy of The Bay.


Noa Bronstein - Co-Curator

It Goes Pop

The DX is excited to announce a new Play > Nation partnership. The Drake General Store will be putting together a pop-up shop in the DX Shop to coincide with Play > Nation.The pop-up shop will include an eclectic range of Canadiana items; from clothing, antiques, furniture, accessories, goodies and gadgets.The pop-up shop is officially open for business as of July 1, 2011.

-Noa Bronstein - Co-Curator



From left to right: Brendan Cormier, Simon Rabyniuk and Christopher Pandolfi of DoUC

The Department of Unusual Certainities a Toronto-based research and design collective working at the interstices of urban design, planning, public art, spatial research and mapping. DoUC operate under the mandate of expanding the conception of what urban design is and what it can achieve. The Department’s work is informed by one guiding philosophy – that the city is the physical manifestation of a long sequence of unusual certainties, each one simultaneously more unusual and yet more certain than its predecessor. The Department publishes, lectures, and exhibits often, and their work has been featured in Mark Magazine, Canadian Architect, MONU magazine, Conditions, On Site Review and Spacing Magazine.

DoUC are the new Innovators in Residence at the DX and the group will be collaborating with the DX team for the first time for Play > Nation.

-Noa Bronstein - Co-Curator

Did You Know?

Lacrosse was declared Canada’s national game by Parliament in 1859. And that in 1967, Lester B. Pearson declared in the House of Commons that Lacrosse would be Canada’s national summer game and Hockey Canada’s national winter game.

The lacrosse stick featured above is an Iroquois stick, dated to around 1900-1910. This image is courtesy of the McCord Museum. The image at the very top, also from the McCord, is of the St. Regis Lacrosse Club, Montreal, 1867.