Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Canada Day

Christine and I speak English so we were easily mistaken for Americans by people in Europe. “Americans?” they would query, and we would say, “No, Canadian.” “Canadien!” they would respond affirmingly. We learned many years ago that Canadians are regarded with respect throughout the world so we travelled in France with Canadian flags sewn conspicuously on backpacks and pasted on luggage.

I am proud to be a Canadian. I am proud of Canada. Yes I know Molson’s made a compelling and humorous video a few years ago in which a young man articulates Canada’s identifying features and loudly proclaims his loyalty.

July 1st
Did you know that July 1st was established as the Dominion Day holiday in 1879? A few things have changed since then, and while we still have our British connection, we are more resolutely Canadian. So, this day is our national day, Canada Day.

Out of interest, do you know where our country’s name originated?
Here is the nutshell version. In 1535 two Huron-Iroquois youth told Jacques Cartier about a route and used the term “Kanata” to refer to the village of “Stadacona” (later Quebec City) since the word "kanata" means ‘village” or “settlement.” Cartier employed the word to refer to Stadacona as well as the entire surrounding area. As time passed and explorers and fur traders the name applied to increasingly larger tracts of land. As an official name it was used for the first time in 1791 when Quebec divided into Upper and Lower Canada colonies. It was at Confederation in 1867 that the new country took the name Canada.

In 1996 February 15th was declared National Flag of Canada Day. That marked the day when in 1965 the new red and white maple leaf flag was raised over Parliament Hill in Ottawa and in hundreds of communities across the country.

Celebrated composer Calixa Lavallée composed the musical score and French lyrics were written by Sir Adolphe-Basile Routhier and the piece was first sung on June 24 1880. It was 100 years later on July 1, 1980 that “O Canada” was proclaimed Canada’s national anthem. The official English version includes changes recommended in 1968 by a Special Joint Committee of the Senate and House of Commons. The French lyrics remain unaltered. You can hear an instrumental rendition here.

Happy Canada Day!

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