Monday, July 1, 2013


"O Canada!
Our home and native land!
True patriot love in all thy sons command.
With glowing hearts we see thee rise,
The True North strong and free!
From far and wide,
O Canada, we stand on guard for thee.
God keep our land glorious and free!
O Canada, we stand on guard for thee.
O Canada, we stand on guard for thee."

I post on this date to honor our tremendous and fascinating neighbor up there to the north.  I did a posting on Australia Day awhile back and in that I quoted an e-mail friend from that country.  I would like to quote a real-life Canadian about their country and how they felt about it, so if any of you Canadian readers out there are so inclined, please do e-mail me a little quote or two and I'll try to work it in here!!  As it is however, I was able to quote your national anthem which I have always thought was a fine and stirring tune and one with uplifting lyrics. Australia,  I have never visited, but I have visited Canada three times in the past. I visited Guelph as a member of the Chautauqua Festival Orchestra and thought it was a fine place.  I visited the Canadian side of Niagara Falls, and I had to admit that it was indeed much nicer than the American side, with a much greater emphasis on the beauty and less on the "tourist trap" side of the site than on my own portion.  And I once had the pleasure of visiting Windsor across from Detroit while visiting a friend in the Detroit Symphony, and found it to be a delightful town with fine restaurants.  And of course there are the Canadian people.  I've known a handful... France Beaudry (Wichmann?) from Quebec; a superbly talented Double Bass player.  Also I've known Christine Crookall, one-time Director of the U.T. Austin String Project Program, and a wonderful person.  And of course my boon-companion from her days at U.T. Austin, Sara Bielish (I'm sorry dear, but I don't remember your married lady name!!).  If you are out there, Sara, I'd love to hear from you!!  And of course, Canada also gave us the superb actor Michael J. Fox who is the same age as I, and like myself suffers from Parkinson's Disease.  But more about MJF and PD in a few days.

Some of the History of Canada Day

But enough of all that personal stuff!! This Blog is about history, and I would like to include a bit about the history of  "Canada Day".   On June 20, 1868, Governor General the Viscount Monck (left) issued a royal proclamation asking that Canadians celebrate the anniversary of the confederation. This Canadians did, but the holiday was not officially established until it was designated as Dominion Day, in 1879 referring to the designation of the country as a "Dominion" in the British North America Act.  According to the people at Wikipedia, Canadians thought of themselves as being primarily British citizens up through the early 20'th century, so this "Dominion Day" didn't really take hold early on. Official celebrations were held in 1917—the 50'th anniversary of Confederation, but then nothing for a further decade.  If any of this is viewed differently by you Canadians, DO let me know.  In 1946, Philéas Côté, a Quebec member of the House of Commons, introduced a private member's bill to rename Dominion Day as Canada Day. His bill was passed quickly by the House of Commons but was stalled by the Senate, which stalled the bill with the recommendation that the holiday be renamed "The National Holiday of Canada", an amendment that effectively killed the bill.

The Gradual Transition to "Canada Day"

Beginning in 1958, the Canadian govern- ment began to arrange Dominion Day celebrations. Canada's centennial in 1967 is viewed as a major milestone in the history of Canadian and national identity. Canada's maturing as a distinct, independent country lead to Dominion Day becoming more popular with average Canadians. BY the 1960s, nationally televised, multi-cultural concerts held in the capital city of Ottawa became popular, and the whole bash became known as "Festival Canada"  and after 1980 the Canadian government began promoting "Dominion Day" beyond the capital, giving grants to cities and communities across Canada to support local celebrations.  Some Canadians were, by the early 1980s, calling the holiday "Canada Day". Some folks really hated the whole idea, continuing to maintain that it was illegitimate and needless break with tradition. Others argued that the name Dominion Day was a holdover from Canadian colonial days. There were those who believed Dominion was widely misunderstood, conservatives seeing the whole bit as part of a much larger attempt by Liberals to "re-brand" or re-define Canadian history. For example, the writer Andrew Cohen called "Canada Day" a "crushing banality.... a renunciation of the past [and] a misreading of history, laden with political correctness and historical ignorance". 

 The holiday was officially renamed as a result of a bit of parliamentary maneuvering: a private member's bill that was introduced in the House of Commons when only twelve Members of Parliament were present. The bill passed the House in five minutes, without debate. It met with stronger resistance in the Senate—some Senators objected to the change of name and some not at all happy with the way in which the bill had been slipped through.  But the bill finally passed. With the granting of Royal Assent (i.e. Her Majesty, the Queen went along with the  idea), the name was officially changed to "Canada Day" on October 27, 1982. There were many dates which fell on July 1, such as the first day of the Battle of the Somme in 1916, shortly after which Newfoundland recognized July 1 as Memorial Day to commemorate the Newfoundland Regiment's heavy losses during the battle hence the choosing of July 1 as the big national day. Canada is a fine and beautiful country with whom we Americans share a common language, and many parts of our culture are also shared.  And of course our fighting men and women have shared their blood with each other dating from W.W. I, through the Normandy beach heads in 1944, and going right through present-day conflicts in the Middle East. May God bless Canada, and a happy Canada Day to all!!


+ 80.

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