Anyone else remember that song? It was written for the World Expo 1967 held in Montreal, Quebec. Everytime I hear that song, I wax nostalgic about my early years in Montreal, Expo (a big part of any Montrealer’s life at that time), and I admit, I get a little lump in my throat, a little lump of pride for my country. Oh wait. Perhaps I should clarify that last statement for those readers who know me and will likely call me on it. Yes, yes, I was born in the US. Yes, I still have American citizenship and no I will never give it up. The Star Spangled Banner fills me with the same pride as O Canada and Canada We Love You (is that even the correct title? We had to learn to sing it at school so that’s the only name I know it by but never fear, faithful readers (all 6 of you, whom I appreciate more than you know), I will find out the details for you. (HA! I found a video of the song’s author Bobby Gimby leading a tour of Expo ’67 while that song plays. Apparently it’s title is simply Canada! I am recalling now that my daughter’s choir had to learn that song when they went to greet Queen Elizabeth and Prince Phillip on their last tour of Canada. If I had remembered that earlier, I suppose I would have been able to ask her the name of it. Oh well. Better late than never. Here’s the link to the song: http://archives.cbc.ca/society/celebrations/topics/100-531/ And if you would like lyrics so you too can sing along as they suggest, here is a link that takes you to both the English and French lyrics: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Canada_(song)) I defy anyone not to smile at that silly, sappy song!
Ok, so where was I? Clarifying. Right. I was born in the Springfield Township area of Cincinnati, Ohio. My that was very specific wasn’t it? Sorry, I am just used to stating it this way when I cross the border. Whatever agent filled out my paperwork when we first entered Canada incorrectly put Springfield as the name of the town I was born in. Springfield, Ohio is a town in its own rights but that is not where I was born. I once stated my city of birth as Cincinnati to a customs agent while he stared at my immigration card which stated Springfield. Oh man what a stressful situation that began with me pulled aside for “special processing” (thank God, this was pre-911 or I may never have made it back into Canada) and ended with me showing them on a map that there is indeed a Springfield Township in Cincinnati. But I digress.
At age 5, my father was offered a phenomenal job opportunity but it meant that we needed to emigrate to Canada and some 6 months later, there I was walking into a new Kindergarten classroom in Preville (now part of St. Lambert) on the south shore of Montreal. A new Kindergarten classroom in which part of the day was spent learning French. I did well with the adjustment, I think. I was always a shy, quiet child and I kept to myself a lot but I did make some close friends and I thrived at school. Looking back on it now, I feel sorry for my older brother and sister, though. It didn’t occur to me until just recently how much more difficult an adjustment that must have been for them, being 13 and 14 at the time. They had to leave behind friendships they had had most of their lives as well as the close relationships with our grandparents. They were thrown not only into a new country, but a place in which at least 50% of the population around them spoke French as their first and perhaps only language. Not only that, but they had some “catch-up” to do in school. French…not taught so much in Cincinnati, Ohio, you know? I was learning French with other English speaking students in Kindergarten where we were all just beginners.
We landed in Canada on Thanksgiving Day of 1966 (which for you Americans out there is roughly Columbus Day) so I was a mere 1 month behind the other students and well, I seemed to have an aptitude for other languages (part of the reason my major in university was a double major of political science and Russian studies). I have a new appreciation of how it must have been though for my siblings having to catch up on years and years of missed French. Oh and Canadian history and geography…all those regional things they simply wouldn’t have learned in Cincinnati, Ohio (or Dayton, Kentucky where they lived prior to that…I wasn’t around for the “Kentucky years”). Barb and Dave, I am even more impressed with all of your accomplishments now that I truly realize what you had to overcome first. You guys rock!
Thinking back, I don’t think we could have moved to Canada at a better time. There was so much Canadian pride and patriotism present what with Trudeau in office and Expo ’67 drawing so much attention and so many visitors to our country. (Yes OUR country…I think I am one of the luckiest girls in the world to be able to consider both Canada and the USA as home and country…they are both very intrinsic parts of me now). I have heard from some fellow Americans that Canadians don’t display enough patriotism. We may not have as many flags hanging around here, as many patriotic parades or other public displays, but I can honestly say that I find Canadians to be very proud and very patriotic people. They just often show it in different ways perhaps but it is still present and palpable. Note the picture I have included with this post. If that’s not pride in Canada, then I don’t know what is. I spied this site and then had to run home to grab my camera so I could back to snap a shot. While out, I was smiling as I saw the many houses showing their pride by displaying the flag and the “wearing of the red” on the majority of the people I encountered. I even had people wishing me a Happy Canada Day – which I will admit, was a first for me! I had heard that because of the economy, many Canada Day events were being cancelled but it is obvious that events or no events, the people of London, Ontario (and I am sure this is true right across the country today) are clearly sending out a message of support and patriotism. Is it too sappy to admit that it choked me up a bit?
And you know what? I may not talk about it a lot but I too am very proud of Canada. Our country has accomplished so much and I think that one of the most important things we have to offer is our reputation as a peace-loving country. To me, there is nothing better to represent us in the world arena than that. To demonstrate my love of Canada and my appreciation of all this country has done for me (I can honestly say I would be terrified of where I would be now if it weren’t for Canada’s socialized medicine program which provides most medical needs free of charge to its residents but my appreciation and love extends far beyond that), I have decided to provide here a list of links I have scouted out across the internet. These links are all Canadian folks and range from recipes for yummy Canadian goodies to playlists of great Canadian moments to stories of Canadian history, pride, and the exceptional Canadians this country has produced. Enjoy and Happy Canada Day!
Please visit the Red Apple Tearoom which resides in the kingdom of Lemuria for some fabulous Canadian recipes, including tourtiere, beaver tails, Nanaimo bars, butter tarts, and cretons (that last one is for you Barb!)
Cretons de Quebec
Links to other Canadian recipes including Beaver Tails
Would you like a cake or cupcakes decorated in true Canada Day style? Try these links:
Looking for a more updated song about Canada..something trendier, more “now”? Here you go. Canada, Please.
Essay: My Love Affair with Canada
100 Reasons to Love Canada
Flying the flag today? Do you know proper Canadian flag etiquette?
The 10 most successful Canadian shows…any of your favourites make the list?
Want an All-Canadian playlist of great music but don’t know what to pick? This blogger, Leigh Anne, has done the work for you and it’s not to be missed! http://randommixedtape.blogspot.com/2009/07/o-canada_01.html
Feeling nostalgic? Well we all know that Canada and beer just go together right? Remember those uniquely Canadian stubby beer bottles?
How well do you know Canada? Want to test yourself?
Rick Mercer on Being Canadian
A lovely poem on being Canadian
Biographies of Exceptional Canadians
Facts About Canada
A little history of Canada and why we celebrate Canada Day (thanks to @quietlaughter on Twitter for pointing me to this one!) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Canada_Day