Canadian celebs survive holidays despite snowed-in roads, culinary disaster

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TORONTO - Christmas memories are made to last forever. Especially the bad ones.
Several Canadian celebrities are looking back on their most memorable holiday moments with a cringe and a shudder, recalling past seasonal gatherings that failed to play out quite as planned.
Snowed-under rural roads, unseasonably warm weather, and a smoked-oyster overdose were among the minor calamities that beset the holiday traditions of homegrown musicians, comics and personalities.
For Barenaked Ladies drummer Tyler Stewart, Christmas 1981 stands out among the others for its stomach-churning culinary wretchedness.
He says he was 14 at the time and seriously over-indulged at a family party on Christmas Eve by downing an inordinate amount of chocolate Turtles, "four or five" glasses of eggnog, and "a lot" of tinned, smoked oysters.
"I don't think that's in the Canada Food Guide - smoked oysters, Turtles and eggnog," Stewart says.
"All that combined to make a Christmas morning spent over the toilet bowl and not able to enjoy all the drum set-related presents my parents got me.... It was a disaster, gastro-intestinally speaking."
Former "Canadian Idol" judge Jake Gold says he and his wife spent a memorable Christmas Day stranded on a snowy Ontario rural road.
The couple and their dog were returning from a friend's cottage when their car got stuck in snow as they tried to make their way along a winding side road about two kilometres from the highway.
"After about three hours of trying to push the car and trying to put stuff underneath the wheels.... I thought, 'I'll walk to the highway,' " said Gold.
As he trudged through the muck, he noticed something a bit disconcerting.
"There were all these bear tracks all over the fresh snow," he said.
By mid-afternoon, Gold made it to a house where a woman and son loaded a pickup truck with hay and set out to rescue Gold's car. But stuffing hay under the tires failed to generate any traction, so they called a tow-truck.
"And (the driver) said he'd be there, right after he finished Christmas dinner," says Gold.
Three hours later, they finally got towed to the highway - just in time for the rain, which was followed by a snowstorm.
"My nerves were fried," says Gold. "I finally got home by 10:30, 11 o'clock at night. What normally is a three-hour drive took us 12 hours."
Eager to trump other tales of holiday woe, comedian Sean Cullen spun his own frightful festive fantasy.
"I was in an oil tanker off the coast of Belize and I was desperately trying to put out a giant petroleum fire with just my saliva," he said when asked to recall a particularly awful Christmas.
"I was horribly burned. Now I wear a sort of polyethylene sleeve over my skin so I don't terrify people. That was my worst Christmas ever. Though I got a Game Boy that year, so that was nice. But I couldn't really play it because my hands were raw. 1997. Not a great year for me."
It was a lack of snow that spoiled a holiday-themed shoot for actress Nancy Robertson and her former cohorts on "Corner Gas."
Their beloved Christmas episode is often repeated this time of year but for the Vancouver resident, revisiting the seasonal tale elicits memories of behind-the-scenes mishap.
Much of that holiday episode was shot well before winter, Robertson notes, and because it wasn't yet cold enough to capture frosty ambience, cast and crew were told to bank on returning to the Saskatchewan set when winter set in.
"We wrapped in September that year and then they scheduled us to come back in November to shoot a couple of the exteriors because (they wanted to get shots) of the snow, for the Christmas episode," says Robertson.
"Well, that was the first year that Saskatchewan didn't have snow in November."
The crew ended up bringing in fake snow to cover the exteriors, something they could have done when they originally filmed the storyline months earlier, she says.
But overall, Roberston says she's lucky to have been spared seriously horrible holidays.
"The only time that I think that I can ever remember being bummed out is when I didn't get my Easy-Bake Oven. And that's not overly tragic," she says. "In the big picture, I did pretty well."
-With files from Nick Patch, Victoria Ahearn

Organizations: Barenaked Ladies, Canada Food Guide

Geographic location: TORONTO, Ontario, Saskatchewan Belize Vancouver

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