Monday, September 28, 2009

The Great Gordon Mystery

Gordie Howe, Gord Kluzak, and Gordie Roberts*. Gord Murphy. Gordie Dwyer. All are Canadian. Although Gordon and its variations seem to have gone out of vogue—the likes of Ethan, Aiden, and Lucas are all the rage—the names are still prevalent north of the 49th parallel.

The name’s popularity in Canada extends outside hockey circles. Media: Gordon Sinclair. Music: Gordon Lightfoot and “Gordie”, the title of the Bare Naked Ladies’ first album.

The only Gords I know of here in the States are a kid from high school; Gordie the Pig in the movie, Gordie; and Gordon Shumway (a.k.a. ALF), who resided in Riverside, CA.

But why is this name more popular in Canada than in the States?

I reckoned this phenomenon has something to do with Canada’s connection to the Crown, but I couldn’t pinpoint a reason. So I put the question to my field agents, some living stateside and others Up North. They filed the following dispatches:

Nova Scotia: No clue.
Thanks for checking in though, always good to hear from you.

PEI: “You should write the Bare Naked Ladies and ask them why they named their debut album Gordon.”
Not an answer to the question, but that’s a good idea. Stay tuned.
Republic of Newfoundlander: “Don’t forget the lead singer of the Tragically Hip, Gordon Downey.”
Right on.

Ontario: “…It dates, I am sure, from the first Canadian International Military Expedition…and involved voyageurs and loggers being sent in canoes to free General Gordon.”
We’re on to something.

In 1884, Charles George Gordon, a.k.a., Gordon of Khartoum (because he was the former governor-general of Sudan’s capital city), helped Egyptians escape from a jihad led by Muhammad Ahmad.

However, the Canadians on this Nile Expedition—also referred to as the Gordon Relief Expedition—did not reach Khartoum until it was two days too late. Gordon had been beheaded.

Nonetheless, as the field agent wrote, “(The account) is one of Britain’s most famous tales and directly involved Canada.”

*Gordie Roberts is American, born and raised in Detroit. His parents were Red Wings fans and named him after that other guy named Gordie. Sorry for the error.
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