Margaret Atwood isn't far off. It was indeed dead beavers, specifically their pelts, that helped make the furry rodent one of the emblems of Canada. Canadians, not always known for their fashion sense, used to love their beaver hats, sure it's mighty cold in the winter, and it went back to the 1600's, but wearing dead rodents on one's head is a unique fashion choice.
Every Canada Day, I try to spotlight one of The Great White North's most well known symbols. I featured hockey players, Mounties, Beaver's (well, this is FH, so more Bieber than beaver) and lost of men in the snow. This year, I tried for Curlers, I thought there had to be images out there. Searching for hot Canadian curlers didn't bring back much, although there are Men of Curling calendar's, I could only find a few images. I did find some adorable curlers, and maybe next year I'll find a way to sweep a few out of their clothes.... I think thought of maple syrup, but tapping season is over. But... to any photographers who want a challenge, the mix of man flesh and maple syrup could make for a fun, but sticky photo shoot.....
So..... until I find a naked curler or two, or a man draped in maple, enjoy this years salute to Canada and Happy Canada Day to all of the Canadian artists, actors and models who've been a part of the site, and the many Canadians who drop in to check them out!
'I am very fortunate to be living in Canada where I can (for the most part as a gay white man) be who I want to be without many/any repercussions.'
The national colours of Canada (Couleurs nationales du Canada) were declared officially as red and white by King George V in 1921. Red is symbolic of England and white of France. Although George V was the King of the United Kingdom, he was also King over the British Dominions which at the time of his reign included Canada. Canada remained officially under British rule until 1867 when Canada became a self-governing dominion, while retaining it's ties to the British crown.
This historical connection to Europe is important in the understanding of how Canadians live and think. Although geographically connected to the United States, Canadians are for the most part, are philosophically more closely tied to their European roots. Canadians are often considered, described and even mocked for their politeness. This perceived politeness most likely stemmed from their British counter parts and their reputation for 'the stiff upper lip'. Many have assumed this phrase refers to a lack of emotion, but for Canadians, it's more about being understated, and showing a bit of self-restraint with the expression of emotions.
Canadians feel emotion, pride, and love country deeply. The expression of pride however, has been historically been more seen than heard. It's felt and known, it doesn't necessarily have to be proved. Canadians are generally quieter about pride, it's usually seen on their faces in their smiles, and in their eyes. Where as some countries feel the need to be The Greatest, Canadians are generally more content with just knowing they're Great. It should be noted that this does not apply to Hockey, (especially during the Olympics) nor as anyone who watched knows, the NBA play-offs if the Raptors make the finals.
So, why the history lesson and commentary on Canadian Pride? Well, it all sort of played a role in the creation of this shoot. The theme of understatement, stemming from national colors, was a part of what photographer Chris Teel wanted to capture in his Canada Day shoot with Peter. Chris Teel was one of the first Canadian photographers of the male form that I featured on FH. Since that first post back in 2009, I always look forward to showcasing Chris' work, especially so on Canada Day.
Although white may be an understated color, it's hard to be understated when the magnificent Peter Kelly is bulging behind it. Peter wears the red and white with pride. Peter shares that he has finally started to grow into his body, and although he feels he still has a way to go, has worked hard the last few months at the gym getting his body in shape. Peter perfectly showcases the red and white, especially the red jock and Canadian Cock T-shirt provided for the shoot by Toronto designer, Raw Studio Designs.
'Working with Chris Teel and it has been such a fun time! Modelling for Chris has allowed me to fully embrace my body and sexuality. I am such a sexual/open person (I think we all are deep down but tend to suppress it) so it's been amazing to just finally let go and let it all hang out. I hope by talking more about my sexuality and doing things such as photoshoots it will allow people to feel confident to open up and truly be the free expressive humans they want to me!'
As for the Canada Day theme, Peter says it added a fun element and brought forth a perspective that was also personal for him. In addition to pride in country, Canadians are also express pride over their history of being ahead of the curb when it comes to gay rights. Although Canadians know they still have a long way to go in many areas, they are a country proud to their commitment to be always pushing forward, while being mindful of the issues and pain of the past. Peter put this beautifully into words in describing his pride in his country below.
'I am very fortunate to be living in Canada where I can (for the most part as a gay white man) be who I want to be without many/any repercussions. Most countries around the world do not have the protections for people on the LGBTQ+ spectrum like we do and for that I am forever grateful. It is crazy to think if I was born on the other side of the border my life could be vastly different.'
'I love Canada and am so proud of how far we have come but we too also have a lot of work to do. Although I am fortunate to be living in such a great country, it's also hard not to recognize the injustices towards indigenous peoples and continuous struggles for others on the queer spectrum that are not treated the same as other LGBTQ+ folks. Some of these that come to mind are trans, two-spirited, POC, woman, non-binary folks etc. The list is much longer than I even know but it's something I continue to learn about everyday. I think Canada Day stands as a good reminder to recognize all the work that needs to be done to create a safe, true north for all.'
FH readers first met Dan this past Easter, in his his bunny eared them shoot (HERE:) with Jim from Studio1x. For this series of shots, Jim got Dan out of his ears, and wrapped in, and out of, the Red & White to help celebrate the National Day of Canada! Like the country itself, the maple leaf on the Canadian flag is both quietly beautiful and calm, but also striking and strong.
The flag itself is nicknamed, 'The Maple Leaf, (L'Unifolie) for the flag's single leaf. The leaf is seen as an inclusive symbol, representing all Canadians, yet at the same time, like a snowflake, each leaf on a maple tree is unique and distinctly beautiful either clustered, or on it's won. The maple leaf has also become a symbol of Canada's beauty, nationality and independence. The maple leaf is a recognized symbol of Canada and has come to symbolize unity, tolerance, and peace.
As iconic as the Canadian flag is, it's only been around a little over fifty years. In 1964, a flag committee of parliament was established to go through close to 6000 submitted designs. Although the maple leaf was featured a key element on most, there were many other symbols of the country included in the mix. Many who submitted designs included animals, fish or birds on their flags. Hundreds of entries poured in featuring Canada geese, grizzlies, moose, bison, caribou and salmon.
Many included the beaver, one design even had the beaver wearing a Mountie hat. We're fortunate those beaver shots weren't chosen as I don't think Dan, or any male model, would look as hot with a beaver covering his crotch... Thankfully, the maple leaf proved a tough symbol of unity to beat. Many Canadian soldiers in both world wars wore the maple leaf on their regimental badges, and Canadian athletes had long worn the maple leaf as part of their uniforms, going back to the 1904 Olympics in St. Louis.
I have always been on the hunt for great images of the Canadian flag, and it's iconic maple leaf, which also feature the male form. For years, the only one I could seem to find when I searched was the great shot of Canadian actor Shawn Ashmore with the flag. (HERE:) I used that shot over several years when I first began FH. Soon a few more popped up, and by 2017 I was fortunate to be able to share some unseen edits of model Michael Hamm with the flag from photographer Shaun Simpson. (HERE:)
Last year however, I decided FH needed an original shoot to help celebrate the day and the country. Thanks to Jim from Studio1xFH had it's first original shoot, with Taylor draped, and undraped, in the L'Unifolie. (Glorious & Free) Jim had purchased the flag just for the shoot and since he already had it.... I asked if over the next twelve months, he might be able to persuade, another or two that they'd look especially hot in just the red, white and maple leaf.
I checked in with Jim a few months ago, and Jim said that he was struggling to find models comfortable with posing naked with the flag. Could be the tense political climate these days as people world wide seem a little less.... let's say flexible, with playing around with patriotic symbols.
Just as I was starting to worry that I might not have some original flag shots for this July 1st, Jim let me know that he had shot not one, but close to half a dozen different models with the flag. Instead of using them all at once, I decided to tuck a few away for a rainy day and start with the delicious Dan, whose work I've been looking forward to featuring again since his debut on FH this past Easter.
'Under this flag may our youth find new inspiration for loyalty to Canada; for a patriotism based not on any mean or narrow nationalism, but on the deep and equal pride that all Canadians will feel for every part of this good land.'
Lester B. Pearson
For me, holidays on FH start about a year in advance. That's because, many artists and photographers post holiday themed images on, or just before the date of the holiday. It''s then generally too late to feature the artist or model on that specific year, but I make note of the artist with a plan to bug them in about 11 months time....
That's exactly what happened when I spotted the work of Immortal Form last year. I have followed the Ottawa based photographer on Instagram for awhile now and noticed one of his flag shots of Matt that he posted to celebrate Canada Day last year. Sooo... this year, when Canada Day was approaching, I reached out to Dave about featuring his flag shoot with Matt.
I loved the unique look Dave achieved with this shoot, there was a glossy, shimmering look to the flag, creating an almost abstract appearance. I learned from Dave that his technique for achieving that look was to have the flag, and Matt, completely wet. This explains how the flag seems to be so beautifully clinging around Matt's body. Dave shares that Matt was a wonderful subject and handled being completely soaked for the shoot like a trooper.
Matt wasn't originally intended to be the wet naked model draped in the Canadian red and white. Initially, it was another model that Dave had scheduled for the nude shoot. The original model wrote Dave asking if he could bring his buddy Matt along. Dave wasn't sure at first, that he was comfortable having a model's friend hanging around while they were working. It ended up however, being a stroke of good luck when Matt's buddy backed out of doing nudes.
'When they were here, I actually had the impression Matt was more adventurous and might be open to giving nudes a try.... I asked him about posing and he agreed. Shortly after, I was surfing the web and I found Matt's Model Mayhem account. I wasn't surprised when I saw on his MM account that he had posed fully nude before, and for a friend of mine. This was his second time shooting nude, and just his third shoot in total. Mat's a great guy and in crazy good shape. He's got classic good looks, a crazy great profile and nearly no body fat! I'm extremely jealous.😉 '