Cadbury, Canadians get failing grades in geography

Every year, tens of thousands of Canadian schoolchildren have two marks deducted for confusing “Whitehorse” with…

Every year, tens of thousands of Canadian schoolchildren have two marks deducted for confusing “Whitehorse” with “Yellowknife” when trying to name capitals on geography tests.

It’s an honest mistake.

They’re two cities in the North, both names start with names of colours, both names end in nouns, both are capitals of territories, and most Canadians have visited neither of them.

And while we might expect more from grown adults, especially the makers of Canada Dry, Yukoners know there will be times we just have to shake our heads.

On June 14th, after months of e-mails, phone calls and “please” from concerned northerners and other Canadians, the “Refreshing Roadtrips” portion of the Canada Dry website (canadadry.ca) finally fixed an interactive map so that clicking on Yukon’s outline actually brought you information about the Yukon — and not the Northwest Territories.

“When you click on Yukon, you get the Northwest Territories’ road trip, and when you click on Northwest Territories, you get the Yukon Roadtrip,” complained Yukon MP Larry Bagnell earlier.

What irked Bagnell most about the mix-up was that at least one citizen had e-mailed the company’s customer relations department several times since April to no avail.

Even Bagnell was unable to get any action out of the firm, at least until Patricia Best of the Globe and Mail wrote about the goofy map in her column.

“Anyone can make an honest mistake the first time, but when you’re told about it and you don’t make an effort to change until you get an article in the Globe and Mail?” he said.

“It wouldn’t be so bad if it wasn’t Canada Dry, but it is a famous Canadian drink.”

It’s not surprising that the makers of Canada Dry have a poor grasp of Canadian Geography.

The owners of the brand, CadburySchweppes, are British.

Meanwhile, the producers are based in Plano, Texas, along with the customer relations call centre.

“If they’d done the same switch with California and New York, Americans would be understandably upset, especially if it wasn’t changed once they were made aware of the mistake,” said Bagnell.

When first produced in Toronto in 1904, pharmacist John J. McLaughlin’s Canada Dry Pale Ginger Ale featured a logo of a beaver atop a map of Canada.

The Governor General was a fan of the beverage and, in 1907, asked the label be changed to the present crown and shield design with a map of Canada included to boot.

“On behalf of Cadbury Schweppes Americas Beverages, I want to personally apologize to you and the citizens of the Yukon and Northwest Territories for the error on the map of Canada on our Canada Dry website,” wrote VP Marketing Libier Gomez in a letter dated June 14.

Despite the long-awaited action and public apology, Bagnell still isn’t satisfied.

It’s not that he’s a stickler for geography, it’s just that over the course of his 20 years in government and politics he’s seen more than one letter addressed to himself or a colleague in “Whitehorse, Northwest Territories.”

He still has to police fellow MPs, making sure that “territories” are included when “provinces” are written into legislation.

It’s an uphill battle.

And at the end of the Cadbury Schweppes escapade, Bagnell said they still had not completely corrected their map.

“They also put a road trip to Nunavut,” he sighed.

“You can’t get to Nunavut by road.”

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