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Nostalgic Canadian Videos That Defined Our '80s and '90s Childhoods

Before there was YouTube, there was the National Film Board.
In 1991, “I smell burnt toast” became the most famous line in any Heritage Minute.
National Film Board/Historica Canada/YouTube
In 1991, “I smell burnt toast” became the most famous line in any Heritage Minute.

Sure, you could drag your kids to a bunch of landmarks and museums to teach them about Canadian history.

Or, you could show them these classic Canadiana videos that contain everything they need to know about this great country and— bonus!— are a real nostalgia trip.

WATCH: Snacks from your childhood. Story continues below.

These video clips from the ’80s and ’90s are Canada and your Gen. X/Xennial childhood personified. We may not have ye ol’ YouTube back then, but we daresay these videos were viral before their time.

Enjoy your journey through the “Polka Dot Door,” weep over the pain of wearing the wrong hockey sweater, and repeat after us: “touch ’em all, Joe!”

Here are the best Canadian videos from your childhood:

1. ‘The Log Driver’s Waltz’

This 1979 “Canada Vignette” from the National Film Board animates Wade Hemsworth’s classic song. It was sung by Quebec singer/songwriters Kate and Anna McGarrigle ... and it probably played on your television in between CBC Television programs for the whole of your childhood.

2. The ‘Hockey Night In Canada’ theme

Do do do do do. DO DO DO DO DO! Da da da da da daaaaaah! The ditty for ‘Hockey Night in Canada’ was written in 1968 by Dolores Claman. Please enjoy this compilation of various versions of our national anthem from 1977-2015.

3. ‘Polka Dot Door’ intro

“Polka Dot Door” was a Canadian kid’s show that aired from 1971 to 1993, and its dulcet, lyrical intro will forever calm our nerves and take us to a peaceful place. Who needs yoga?

Younger folks might be more familiar with “Polka Dot Shorts,” which ran from 1997-2005, and is based on the original.

4. ‘A Place to Stand’

OK, so technically “A Place to Stand” was released in 1967 for the Ontario Department of Economics and Development. But if you went to school in the 1980s in Ontario you probably grew up singing this song, so we had to include it. Ontari-ari-ari-oh!

Fun fact: this song was also written by Delores Claman, yes, the same Delores Claman who wrote the “Hockey Night In Canada” theme. Someone put this hero on our money!

5. ‘Skinnamarink’

Oh, Sharon, Lois, and Bram— we love you in the morning and in the afternoon. If you didn’t grow up doing the skinnamarink, were you even a kid in the ’80s and ’90s? The song first appeared on the trio’s 1978 album “One Elephant, Deux Elephants,” and was the concluding song on each episode of their series “The Elephant Show.”

6. The Sweater

Ah, another National Film Board of Canada classic. This 1980 animated short tells the tale of author and former national librarian Roch Carrier’s most mortifying childhood moment— having to wear a Toronto Maple Leafs jersey.

It’s a feeling most Canadians outside of Toronto can empathize with.

7. Heritage Minutes: Wilder Penfield

In 1934, Montreal neurosurgeon Wilder Penfield “made groundbreaking advances in treatments for seizure disorders,” according to Historica Canada. And in 1991, “I smell burnt toast” became the most famous line in any Heritage Minute.

Anyone else grow up wanting to be a neurosurgeon thanks to this?

8. CBC’s national anthem sign-off

Yes, kids, there was a time when TV actually signed-off the air late at night. And one of the ways CBC said buh-bye to its viewers was with this compilation of Canadian visuals set to “O Canada.” Look at that landscape! Yay, the Stampede! Ooh, the Snowbirds!

9. ‘You Can’t Do That On Television’ intro

Remember when popping zits and farts were considered risky viewing? Ah, the good old days. This Ottawa-based sketch comedy show by kids was on the air from 1979 to 1990, and its been credited with paving the way for bathroom humour.

The intro was inspired by “Monty Python’s Flying Circus,” according to Mental Floss. Oh, and it’s where Alanis Morissette get her start!

10. Joe Carter’s home run

Canada isn’t just hockey country! And before it was basketball country, baseball was the sport to watch (in summer). In 1993, Joe Carter hit a walk-off home run that clinched the world series and “helped solidify Toronto as a powerhouse of baseball in the early 1990s,” MLB News reports.

Equally as epic was broadcaster Tom Cheek’s reaction: “Touch ’em all, Joe!”

O Canada!

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