My weekly column which is timed for the 1st of July, Canada Day. Happy 4th to our neighbours, the U.S.:
“With or without the Royals, we are not Americans.
Nor are we British. Or French. Or Void. We are
something else.” ~ Will Ferguson
It is official. It is now summer. Not meteorological summer which apparently started on June 1st. Or unofficial summer which generally in Canada, is thought to be the Victoria Day weekend. It is now real and true summer. Sunday past was the longest daylight day of the year, and fast its heels is our celebration next week of Canada Day.
There have been many a rant on what it is to be Canadian—we went from not being sure who we were, to being a hockey playing, beer swilling, maple syrup pouring people. But we are much more than that. Personally I cannot imagine being anything but a Canadian. I love my country as much as one can love something which at first glance seems to be inanimate.
After all our country is made up of the usual things—trees, water, terra firma, mountains, hills, valleys, prairies etc. But Canada is its people, and as such we are not inanimate at all.
Anyone who has been backpacking in Europe knows the power of having our flag proudly displayed on their backpack. The tiny symbol sewn onto a piece of canvas is powerful. People generally like Canadians. And why? Because on the whole, we are pretty darn nice people. Okay, admittedly we all know some pretty rotten people, who just happen to be Canadian, but for purposes of this column they are nonentities or persona(s) non grata.
Lots of famous people have commented on Canada. One of my favourites comes from Jane Fonda, and no matter what your feelings are about the actress—she did get this right. She said that, “When I’m in Canada, I feel this is what the world should be like.” Yes, we have our problems, but observed by someone outside our boundaries, we look pretty darn good.
Winston Churchill once declared our future as having “no limits”. He predicted that Canada had a “majestic future” and that our people are “virile, aspiring, cultured and generous-hearted ”. He may have been tippling at the time of this statement, but obviously it did not affect his judgment.
In the quote that opens this column Will Ferguson defines who we are not and says: “We are something else.” I agree with him, but not with how he completes his thought. He says that “the sooner we define (ourselves) the better.” This is old thinking. We have defined ourselves. I think each individual Canadian knows in her/his heart just what kind of person they are, and at heart that person is a Canadian.
Will’s book with his brother Ian, “How to be Canadian” written in 2001 is already a bit long in the tooth, but some of the questions in their quiz at the back of the book are still relevant. This is my rendition of the quiz using my own scoring system with a bit of help from the Brothers Ferguson. Also, it will help you if you are of a “certain age”:
1. If you hear the name Elvis and immediately think of figure skating ~ 1 point
2. If you still don’t know the capital of New Brunswick ~ 1 point
3. If you have ever posed for a picture beside a Big Object next to a highway ~ 1 point
4. If you have ever curled ~ 1 point
5. If you were the skip ~ 1 point
6. If you have ever been to Niagara Falls ~ 1 point
7. …..in a barrel ~ 50 points
8. If you still know all the words to the Molson “I am Canadian” rant ~ minus 50 points
9. If you are proud to be Canadian, even if you don’t watch hockey, swill beer, or smother stuff with maple syrup ~ 50 points ~ because Canadian are (mostly) tolerant.
Happy Canada Day to all, and to all a good summer!
So what do you do to celebrate Canada’s birthday? And those of you who are not Canadian–besides Americans, who I know celebrate on the 4th–when and how do you celebrate? Answers from you 4th of Julyers are more than welcome.