Saturday, July 1, 2017

Canada 150

The differences between Canada & other countries -- and most especially our neighbour, the United States -- are often remarked upon and pondered, and most especially at this time of year, as both countries mark their national holidays (Canada Day for us on July 1st;  Independence Day for the Americans on July 4th).

Canadians have gotten more comfortable in recent years about expressing their love for our country, but (one difference) we still don't wave the flag and wear our patriotism on our sleeves in quite the same way as our cousins south of the border do. But make no mistake, we are fiercely proud to be Canadian, and think (no, KNOW) we live in the greatest country in the world. ;)  And I for one am incredibly grateful to be Canadian. I often say that I won the lottery of life when I was born in Canada in the latter half of the 20th century, particularly as a woman!

This year, July 1st marks 150 years since Confederation, when four British North American colonies -- Ontario/Upper Canada, Quebec/Lower Canada, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick (eventually joined by others) -- joined forces as the Dominion of Canada, with the capital city located in Ottawa, as chosen by Her Majesty Queen Victoria (whose birthday we celebrate every year in May in recognition of her role in Canada's creation). Some of my ancestors lived in the Ottawa Valley at the time, and I sometimes wonder what they thought about this new arrangement, and how they marked the occasion of Confederation (if at all).

I am old enough (gulp) that I can remember Canada's centennial year, 1967 -- although it definitely gives me pause to realize that it's now FIFTY (50) YEARS AGO!!! I was 6 years old, living in a small town in northern Saskatchewan, just out of kindergarten that June, and entering Grade 1 in the fall. Most "anniversaries" these days tend to be overhyped, and those were definitely simpler times, but it seems to me there was more hoopla surrounding the 100-year milestone back then. Or maybe it's just that I was 6 years old, and everything is pretty darn exciting and awe-inspiring when you're that age.

I don't remember much about the actual day itself (back then, it was called "Dominion Day" -- it was changed to the much blander "Canada Day" when I was in university), except that we drove the 18 miles from my grandparents' house in the northwestern-most corner of Minnesota, where we spent several weeks every summer of my childhood, to the Manitoba border town where I was born and where my other grandparents farmed nearby, and watched the local fireworks display with some of my cousins.  I also remember my mother taking me (& I assume my sister too) to visit the Centennial Caravan (an offshoot of the Confederation Train project), a travelling display of Canadian history highlights.  And I remember that my best friend's parents travelled to far-off Montreal to attend Expo 67, the world's fair.

I don't remember anyone wearing special T-shirts to mark the occasion (not such a big thing back then), but I did carry away three lasting souvenirs from that year. One is in my jewelry box to this day:  a stickpin with the centennial logo, which was handed out to us in school that fall.

My 1967 centennial pin.
It looks kind of aqua/green here, but it's actually blue. 
(Not everyone got a pin. Some got flags, some got bumper stickers... I guess I lucked out. ;)  ) The other two keepsakes are still at my parents' house, somewhere: a blue flag with the centennial logo on it, which my mother bought me as a reward for good behaviour at the dentist's office. And a 45 record of the ubiquitous theme song for the occasion:  "Ca-na-da"* by Bobby Gimby -- English on the red A side and French on the other (blue label). The record got cracked and my father applied a piece of masking tape on the French side by way of repair (oops -- not especially politically correct of you, Dad ;)  ), so we could only play the English version thereafter (with clicks as the record needle passed over the crack).

We don't really have any plans to mark this historic occasion. As with other holidays, I think that when you have children, you tend to make more of an effort to make these occasions memorable for them -- perhaps especially so when they are once-in-a-lifetime historic events (such as Centennial, or the U.S. Bicentennial, which I remember even better than Centennial, being 15 at the time vs 6...!). I don't think we'll be heading to any of the community gatherings. I'm not especially keen on large crowds at the best of times -- let alone these days when there are more sinister things to worry about than getting separated from your party (and of course that's easily remedied since the advent of cellphones...!), finding parking (and getting out of it at the same time as everyone else later on), and trying to avoid using the port-a-potties. ;) Plus, the weather forecast (unfortunately) is not looking that great.

Whatever we do, I'm planning on wearing the Canada T-shirt that I bought specially for the occasion, and my sterling silver "Maple Leaf Forever" necklace (made by a friend of Msfitzita's -- check out her stuff, it is gorgeous!). We may watch some of the broadcast of the celebrations from Parliament Hill in Ottawa -- especially because (a) it will be the final broadcast by Peter Mansbridge, who is retiring after 50 (!!) years with the CBC, the last 30 as chief correspondent & anchor of "The National" nightly news broadcast;  and (b)  U2 (or at least, Bono & the Edge) will be performing!

Later on, dh & I will probably watch the neighbourhood fireworks from our condo balcony.  There were some pretty spectacular displays going on all around us over the Victoria Day long weekend in May, so I have high hopes for the same on Canada's 150th birthday weekend!

Happy Canada Day 150!

*  I hadn't listened to the song in years before I went looking for a YouTube clip to share here. It seems incredibly schmaltzy from a 2017 perspective -- but damn, if I didn't get a huge lump in my throat while listening/watching... 


  1. Happy Canada Day! Mimi

  2. Happy Canada Day! We feel a lot of solidarity with Canadians down here, knowing what it's like to have a big, brash neighbour. Lol

  3. Happy Canada Day (a day late). It's funny -- even though I knew the subject of the post due to the title, I still thought it was going to be about something Jewish because of that image of the stickpin with the centennial logo. It looks like a magen david!

    1. It seems to be a bit of a variation on the 1967 Centennial logo design. Here's an article about the logo & how it was chosen. It's funny, a lot of people have been complaining about it because they think it's replaced the maple leaf flag & that it's a sinister Liberal government plot, etc. etc., when it was actually a project of (& chosen by) the previous Conservative government.