The Secret Life of Canada


The country you know and the stories you don't. Join hosts Leah-Simone Bowen and Falen Johnson as they reveal the beautiful, terrible and weird histories of this land. New episodes every second Thursday.Visit us at for show links, transcripts and more!Follow us on Instagram, Facebook, and TikTok.Subscribe to Sounds Good: CBC's Podcast newsletter for the finest podcast recommendations and behind-the-scenes exclusives. 

  • 25 minutes 47 seconds
    S6: Was the plot to assassinate Lincoln hatched in Canada?

    Why did John Wilkes Booth, the man who assassinated President Abraham Lincoln, spend so much time in Montreal? We learn about how Canada was both the last stop on the Underground Railroad and the destination for Southern Confederate leaders and supporters to strategize, stash money and come up with plots against Abraham Lincoln. With special guests Dr. Afua Cooper and Julian Sher.

    For transcripts of this series, please visit:

    18 July 2024, 11:10 am
  • 14 minutes 18 seconds
    S6: Welcome to Canada’s island of wild horses

    Sable Island is the stuff of legends. A desolate tiny island in the Atlantic Ocean, where no one is permitted to live, except for wild horses. We figure out how they got there, how they’ve lived without humans since the 1700s and why many scientists think it's time to remove the horses out of their unique habitat.

    For more links and more about this episode visit us at:

    For transcripts of this series, please visit:

    4 July 2024, 11:10 am
  • 56 minutes 13 seconds
    S6: Treaty 6

    Deception, backdoor dealings, unfulfilled promises and Canada’s largest mass hanging. 

    Treaty 6 is one of the most well documented treaty signings in Canadian history. But what did it take to get there and why does it matter today? In this special episode Falen and Leah chat with guest Kyle Muzyka. They learn about all the mistranslations, misunderstandings and misinterpretations that were involved in the creation of Treaty 6. 

    For more links and more about this episode visit us at

    21 June 2024, 7:10 am
  • 52 minutes
    Bonus: How to celebrate National Indigenous People’s Day all summer long

    Today we have a special bonus episode for you from our sibling show Unreserved, a fearless space for Indigenous voices. Host Rosanna Deerchild is ready to Indigenize your summer with a tastemaker’s guide to the best books, movies, podcasts (with Falen!) and more. 

    More episodes of Unreserved are available at:

    20 June 2024, 1:10 pm
  • 29 minutes 26 seconds
    S6: The Royal Proclamation

    It’s been called the Indigenous Magna Carta and the Indigenous Bill of Rights. But what exactly does that mean? In this episode Falen and Leah dive into the history of the Royal Proclamation, a document that is often spoken about when discussing the history of Canada and Indigenous land rights. But what do we really know about it?

    Listen to our Crash Course on Beavers (as mentioned in the episode) here, and listen to our episode on Water here.

    For more links and more about this episode visit us at

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    6 June 2024, 8:10 am
  • 10 minutes 25 seconds
    S6: Crash Course on Private Mary Greyeyes

    A curious World War II-era photograph shows an unnamed woman in military uniform kneeling next to a man in a headdress who holds a pipe above her. We dig into the true story behind this photograph and the identity of this mystery woman.

    For more links and more about this episode visit us at:

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    23 May 2024, 8:10 am
  • 44 minutes 46 seconds
    S6: Canadian Comedy

    Comedy has been called one of Canada’s biggest exports. But why exactly is that, and why can’t the country seem to keep our funny people at home? In this episode Leah and Falen look at the roots of comedy in Canada and look into why Canadians are so funny wherever they are in the world. And RIP Just For Laughs?

    For more links and more about this episode visit us at:

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    9 May 2024, 11:10 am
  • 10 minutes 30 seconds
    S6: Crash Course on The Persian

    It’s another baking episode! This time Leah and Falen look at why Thunder Bay, Ontario has their own sweet roll that you can't find anywhere else. We find out how these sweet buns with pink frosting came to be and who Persians are named after (spoiler — it strangely has nothing to do with Persian people).

    For more links and more about this episode visit us at:

    25 April 2024, 8:10 am
  • 36 minutes 15 seconds
    S6: General Idea

    When three young queer men formed an art collective in the late 60s in Toronto named "General Idea", no one expected that they would end up becoming one of the most iconic art collectives of the 20th century. For 25 years Felix, Jorge and AA became internationally known for their edgy, subversive, funny and boundary pushing work. Leah and Falen learn about the early days of the collective [2:11], the time Life magazine tried to sue them [13:17], why they started a ”Miss General Idea” beauty pageant [16:51], and how they ended up creating one of the most indelible images of the AIDS epidemic [25:26]. And then, they’ll hear about the group’s final push to produce a catalog of work before AIDS took the lives of Felix & Jorge in 1994 [30:30]. With special guest AA Bronson.

    Here are some of the pieces referenced in the episode:

    Mail Art

    FILE magazine

    The Miss General Idea Pageant

    P is for Poodle


    Fin De Siècle

    For more links on General Idea’s work and more about this episode visit us at:

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    11 April 2024, 8:10 am
  • 13 minutes 6 seconds
    S6: Crash Course on Icelandic Canada

    Gimli is more than a dwarf in J.R.R. Tolkien’s fantasy series Lord of the Rings, in fact the community in Manitoba is home to the world’s largest Icelandic population outside of Iceland. So how did Canada become home to all these Icelanders, why did they end up living on a reserve and what exactly happens during Islendingadagurinn?

    Listen to Part 1 of our episode The Mounties Always Get Their Land (referenced in the episode) here.

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    28 March 2024, 8:10 am
  • 21 minutes 21 seconds
    The Secret Life of Canada Introduces: Canadian Time Machine | ‘Humiliation Day’, A Look Back at the Impact of the Chinese Exclusion Act

    Explore an important part of the rich history of Chinese-Canadians in this episode of Canadian Time Machine from The Walrus Lab. In the 1880s, Chinese men played a pivotal role in building the Canadian Pacific Railway, enduring challenges for a fraction of the wages. Discover the impact of the head tax and the infamous Chinese Immigration Act of 1923, known as "Humiliation Day." The episode delves into the intergenerational effects and gains insights from Dr. Melissa Lee, CEO of the Chinese Canadian Museum, on the compelling exhibit, "The Paper Trail to the 1923 Chinese Exclusion Act." More episodes are available at: To read the episode transcripts in French and English, and to learn more about historic Canadian milestones, please visit There is also a French counterpart of this show called Voyages Dans L’Histoire Canadienne so if you’re bilingual and want to listen to more, visit

    21 March 2024, 2:10 pm
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