Accidental Activist

Requiem for Ted and Gloria

Over the years, Canadian Tire's Ted has been the epitome of the Canadian Dream, writes Ben Bull.

By Ben Bull
Published November 10, 2005

Its official: Ted and Gloria have left the building!

Last month, Canadian Tire announced they are awarding their next advertising contract to the Toronto based Taxi Advertising and Design. A Taxi spokesperson would not confirm or deny their decision to drop the ultra-annoying commercial-couple, except to say, "Our job is to take Canadian Tire's advertising to the next level."

Let's hope so. In a recent newspaper poll Canadian Tire's gadget-happy Dad, "Ted," was voted the Number One most annoying Canadian. Who could argue with that?

Ted, for those of you who don't know, is the bearded ad-man with a gadget for everything. He's like a super-hero for middle class white guys (like me).

When Ted is working under the hood of his Minivan and he needs a wrench to get to one of those hard-to-reach places, does he fumble around for a broken screwdriver or a kitchen knife, cutting himself in the process, like the rest of us?

No! Not Ted! Ted shops at Canadian Tire, which means he's equipped with the "multi-angle-super-slim-bendy-headed-monkey-wrench" - perfect for those hard-to-reach places.

Another ad has Ted loading up his minivan for a trip to the cottage, when - disaster! The tire is flat! What will our super-hero do? Bang on the hood, swear at his wife and then call CAA?

Not a chance. Ted calmly assesses the situation, spins around and emerges with the "Plug 'n' Go" Tire Inflator!1 As he patiently pumps up his tire, we can only marvel at his super-hero stash of toys, and wonder why his wife and kids always seem to be smiling like escaped lunatics in the background.

OK, so what exactly is my beef with Ted and Gloria? Why should I begrudge the bearded Boy-Wonder his happy handy-gadget ridden existence?

Well, the truth is that Ted - and Gloria by association - has been my nemesis since the day I first arrived in Canada, ten years ago this month.

When I first landed here I was flat broke. My first year as a new immigrant was spent working in hospital morgues or as a male attendant for about eight bucks an hour. Many evenings I would be shaken out of bed at 11pm by my wife, telling me, "the agency is on the phone."

I would shuffle down the stairs to receive my instructions for my next shift which started "as soon as you can get there."

So, what do all these happy memories have to do with Canadian Tire Ted, you may ask? Well, everything. You see, over the years, Ted has been, well, to me anyway, the epitome of the Canadian Dream.

With his stupid little gadgets and white picket fence way of life, Ted had become my Captain Canada. He was everything I thought I wanted to be. The trouble was, while Ted was flying high, I could never seem to get off the ground.

Every time I saved up enough money to buy a new ratchet or screwdriver, or hosepipe to water the back lawn, there was Ted with his Simoniz S2000 Power washer. Damn!

Another time, after struggling for years to scrape together a down payment on a 1.3 cylinder Dodge Minivan, Ted turned up with a 15 foot fishing boat nicely laden with family picnic basket and solar powered battery charger. Damn again!

And later, when I got my first ever work bonus and splurged on a 20 year old pop-up trailer, there was Ted with his fandy dandy little ATV complete with winter blanket and MasterCraft Maximum Crank Ratchet. Curses! Captain Canada wins again!

But today, with our alphabet ending hurricanes, peak oil phenomenon, and highly anticipated economic depression, it seems only fitting that Captain Canada should be brought back to earth. After all, who the hell wants to spend money with all this going on?

As we hurtle headlong into 2006, I can't help feeling we are facing a very different world somewhere round the corner. Perhaps it will be a world filled with sensible choices, reassembled priorities and worldly compassion. Perhaps we will be a country full of thriving, caring communities, pesticide free produce, clean air, and green spaces?

Perhaps that is my new Canadian dream.


1 - I made all the product names up (although I do think "Plug 'n' Go" is a great name for a Tire Inflator).

Ben Bull lives in downtown Toronto. He's been working on a book of short stories for about 10 years now and hopes to be finished tomorrow. He also has a movie blog.


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