Today we celebrate

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Today we celebrate Canada’s birthday. Happy 147th Canada! I could discuss the wisdom that comes with age, the importance of celebrating milestones or indeed, Canada’s history, but one of the things I’ve always liked about Canada is our appreciation of a good discussion, we like to think.

Canadian Politics

Although Canada became a country in 1867, we did not gain our full political freedom from the British cabinet until 1982 when the Constitution Act patriated the Canadian constitution. Some might have gone to war.  In fact, our American neighbours made no bones about their bid for independence. Freedom was worth bearing arms for and they certainly were not going to wait around for a distant British Empire to give them permission to lead their own lives.

Here in Canada we used pens and patience to achieve our freedom. It’s not that we’re not up for a fight.  We have certainly been in enough conflicts to put that idea to bed.  It’s more that as a nation we’d rather have a debate. Quebec has been contemplating the possibility of separation for years now.  Periodically a referendum comes forward to determine if enough Quebecers are ready for separation, a vote is taken and if the outcome is no (and it has been so far) we go back to business as usual. Think about it, a peaceful referendum. No guns, bombs or violence needed.

To tell the truth, we tried violence for about seven years in the 1960’s as a way of resolving separation issues. Eight deaths and many bombings later we determined that political action would be more appropriate and the Parti Québécois (a separatist party) was cemented into our political landscape and has been a political player in Quebec ever since.

Canadian Writers

We are not a homogenous group. We are not always friendly or even always polite, but we do like to think.  I am proud to say that some of the world’s literary giants are Canadian, folks like Margaret Atwood, Anne Hébert, Alice Munro, Michael Ondaatje, Robertson Davies and Carol Shields to name a few. Did you notice that many of our great writers are also women? It’s something else that makes me proud to be Canadian, not to mention give me some hope.

Canadian Industry

We are not renown for our cooking. Poutine, bacon, beaver tails, Nanaimo bars and maple syrup are chief among our offerings and while popular they are noted far more often for being bad for our health than their culinary delight.

We are known for our natural resources, oil and logging are two of our biggest industries and that may explain why you think of lumberjacks when you think of Canada.  However, despite our history and the importance of the primary sector in Canada, our biggest industrial sector is service. In short, we use our brains because we like to think.

Canadian Communicators

This would not be complete as a post on a communications blog without a nod to some of the pioneering Canadians whose thinking helped to shape communications for all of us. People like  Harold Innis who saw the influence oral and written communications had on culture and warned us of the perils of embracing media that only focussed on the present. He feared the communications monopolies that were a reflection of the increasingly narrow ownership of newspapers, radio and television. I have to wonder what he would make of the internet, Google and the explosive popularity of social media like Facebook and LinkedIn.

Then we have that great Canadian communications thinker, Marshall McLuhan. McLuhan allowed us to to step back from our means of communicating long enough to understand it’s influence over what were communicating. If the medium is the message, then would we write longer if we weren’t writing blog posts? Would we write differently if we were writing for print? Do we tell stories differently for YouTube? He also predicted the invention of the internet a full thirty years before it came into being.

The next medium, whatever it is—it may be the extension of consciousness—will include television as its content, not as its environment, and will transform television into an art form. A computer as a research and communication instrument could enhance retrieval, obsolesce mass library organization, retrieve the individual’s encyclopedic function and flip into a private line to speedily tailored data of a saleable kind. (1962)

 

Yes, we like to think. So on this Canada Day I wish all Canadians around the world happy birthday and hope that all of our friends join us in celebrating our big day. Indulge in something good but bad for you, take a walk in nature and of course, give yourself some time to think.

What comes to mind when you think of Canada and Canadians? 


0 responses to “Today we celebrate

  • Hi Debra. When thinking of Canadians, I do very much consider the literary giants. All those on your brief sampling are among my personal favourites and while Farley Mowatt would probably have more name recognition and be considered an icon, the first three I would add are Mordechai Richler, Guy Vanderhaeghe and columnist Chantal Hebert. The latter demonstrates as well as anyone the thoughtful aspect of Canadian political discourse which, though now sadly in general retreat, has characterized so much of Canadian history and helped create the image of Canadians that you and I share.

    • Excellent additions, we have a lot to be proud of in that regard. I will admit I had a hard time deciding who to include and who to leave out. My husband put in a strong vote for Northrop Frye and I’m a fan of all those you listed though I’m embarrassed to admit, neither of us thought of Chantal Hebert, a definite oversight.

      Paul I have to hope that the absence of thoughtful political exchange is a temporary, albeit disturbing, anomaly in our history. Our political retreat from science, research and on occasion facts is not a sustainable one.

  • Interesting, Debra, Have to admit I learnt by reading this post. Didn’t for instance know that Alice Munro was Canadian. But I knew that we gave her the Nobel Prize:-) Gave one of her books to my niece since I, rightly or wrongly, can not find the interest to read them.

    Being part of the Commonwealth, I can’t help reminding you about another peaceful referendum taking place in Great Britain, the country that was your colonial master. Scotland may become independent.

    Do you really care about your national day? Honestly the only time I have celebrated Sweden’s national day was when I lived in Riyadh. Didn’t even remember what date it was. But in KSA a lot of socialising takes place in the diplomatic quarter. So I attended. Another admission is that I have not celebrated our national day since but I now get a reminder every year what date it is.

    • Indeed Catarina I do think celebrating Canada Day is important. Although I live in Ottawa, I try NOT to be in the capital for Canada Day, too much chaos for my taste, instead I’d rather be away with my family and have made a tradition of private celebrations, usually somewhere close to the water.

      Perhaps my patriotism stems from the fact that although I grew up in Canada I am an immigrant and grew up the child of immigrants. We were always looking at and examining the differences between the culture we came from and the one we adopted. I have always been aware of what it means to be Canadian and have for the most part liked what I saw. I occasionally despair that we are losing the best of ourselves, but remain optimistic that though we will always change, we will retain what makes us distinct. As I write I’m wearing red and white and my shirt proudly proclaims my country. 🙂

  • Eleanor Bell says:
    July 1, 2014 @ 12:45 pm

    Happy Canada Day 🙂 🙂

  • In terms of ( tele ) communications, RIM comes to mind.  A great Canadian hardware and software company that created the Blackberry that enables people all around the world to communicate with one another.  Really though, the first thing that comes to mind when thinking Canadian is Tim Hortons.

    ? Who doesn’t love a good ol’ fashioned donut :_)

    With that, I write this comment from my Blackberry while indulging in an afternoon Tea and Timbit.

    ! Happy Canada Day

    • Perfect!!! How could I forget RIM? Our Canadian darling has certainly seen better times, but shame on me for being remiss.

      As for Tim’s, I rest my case on our culinary abilities. We specialize in good but bad for you. 🙂

      Happy Canada Day!!

  • I used to have a brother-in law that is head of Psychology at McGill…he’s still around but our familial tie has long been broken, and you know I have been a RIM fan for decades…fending off the jibes from my American Apple aficionados; I have long been aware of the literary giants that Canada has blessed the world with. So I do want to wish you…my very favorite Canadian…the happiest national day ever. You have much to to be proud of:)

  • Happy Canada Day, but ya know, I’m in Michigan. I will always rate Red Wings Hockey over the Maple leafs.

  • I enjoyed reading your historical rendition of interesting facts about Canada. I have never visited but have met some very nice Canadians online!

  • Hi debra; thanks for educating me a bit. I would say that when I think of canada i’m thinking hockey beer and seline dion. I also think of the pipeline they want to build. Or maybe the oil companies want to build it. hard to be sure. I also think of a country that is known for protecting its natural resources better than we do here. you have braille on your postage stamps now. You are supposed to be friendly and polite, and your money i hear comes in different colors. these thoughts are probably as accurate as what many think of people from texas. enjoy the holiday, max

    • Yes Max, hockey is what we do instead of politics and religion, or so it sometimes seems. 🙂

      Our pipeline on the other hand is definitely not a consensus topic in Canada. There are many actively opposed to it and although our governments may have made up their minds our courts and ballot boxes will reveal just how Canadians really feel about it.

      I’m so proud to learn that we have braille on our postage stamps. You’ve given me a tidbit I was unaware of.

      We can be friendly and polite, but I think our American neighbours are equally friendly and polite. I have always been amazed at the level of politeness and service I receive when I shop in the U.S., so I do not think we have cornered any markets in the polite and friendly sector. 🙂

  • Hi Debra – as a fellow Canadian I felt immensely proud while reading your post. It is so true that as a nation we have so much to be proud of – not just in the literary world – but also in other fields, like medicine and art. And I like Paul’s mention of Farley Mowatt – don’t forget Stephen Leacock and the newest humour writer – Terry Fallis.
    Lenie

    • Stephen Leacock is definitely a great and one of my favourites. Good for you for also mentioning Terry Fallis. He independently published his first book, Best Laid Plans and, coincidentally, won the Stephen Leacock award for it. When it became a run away hit, he was approached by a publishing company for reprints. He has subsequently written other books, all traditionally published. He is an inspiration for all aspiring writers, Canadian and otherwise. 🙂

  • Canada offers some amazing talent, such as yourself. I love your comment that we fight our battles with paper and pen. Maybe that is something more countries need to consider. 🙂

  • What’s not to like about Canada and Canadians? Since I grew up in north Idaho not too far from the border, I always used to get asked if I was Canadian because of my accent, eh?

    • Your comment reminded me of a visit to New York I made several years ago. When asked by a friendly New Yorker where I was from, I responded, “Ottawa” at which point he said, “Iowa? Well you’ve come a long ways.”

      I always wondered if he thought I was from Idaho. 🙂

  • Suzanne Fluhr says:
    July 2, 2014 @ 06:44 pm

    I had the chance to visit Toronto, Kingston and Ottawa last June for a travel blogger conference. I really liked the vibe I felt in Canada. Here, in the US, we always consider you our sane neighbors to the north and we are not above putting a maple leaf on our backpacks when we’re feeling that the rest of the world is particularly annoyed with us. After my trip last year, these were my takeaways: http://bit.ly/1rkS0c6

    • I’d heard stories about the borrowed maple leaf on back packs and always wondered if that was true or a myth we told ourselves to feel better. There is definitely something of the younger sibling in our mindset when it comes to the U.S.A. 🙂

  • Meredith says:
    July 2, 2014 @ 07:47 pm

    Happy belated birthday to my neighboring country, and all my friends there. I loved reading this, and learned a lot. I especially like the prediction of the internet, and I appreciate your preference for discussion, rather than violence. But you really had me at maple syrup! 🙂

  • I did not know that two of my favorite authors, Margaret Atwood and Alice Munro are Canadian. And, I must admit, I didn’t know how old – or young- Canada is. Kind of sad really since we are neighbors. When I was little, growing up in Detroit, we used to take the bridge or tunnel to Windsor quite often. That is about the most I’ve seen of Canada. In my mind it’s cold and huge. Oh, Toronto – that was lovely, very cosmopolitan. Enjoyed reading about the history of your country. Happy Canada Day!

    • Thank you! I remember when I was in elementary school visitors coming to Montreal from the U.S. and asking where the polar bears were. Our world has gotten a lot smaller since then, but it’s still a big place and it’s hard to know everything. Kind a nice to know we have stuff to discover.

  • Hi Debra: I hope you had a great day yesterday. I’m coming to you one day late, but still with the enthusiasm for being Canadian. We really ARE lucky to call this country home.

  • When I think of Canada, Harold Ramis and many other famous actors come to mind. John Candy among others as well. Also, I think of music and the many great bands to come from there. Examples are Rush and Neil Young for me. I just looked up Nanaimo bars and now I have to have one. Look.. so.. delicious!

  • I am a little late to wish you a great Canada day.. hope you enjoied it! Your post is very informative, I like to hear some history from a local 🙂

  • I have family that lives or used to live in Canada. So I think of my family! I love Montreal but not in December. I love Vancouver and its gardens, but I’ve only been there twice. I was in Calgary once (big sky country!). Went to Banff along the way – would love to go back. And the view of the top of Whistler Mountain is beautiful but a bit scary to me (I skied down). Happy Belated Canada day!

    • You’ve named some of my favourite parts of Canada. The gardens in Vancouver are spectacular, but my favourite B.C. gardens are Buchart Gardens in Victoria. The only time I want to be in Montreal in December is if I am shopping underground, fortunately they made it so that I can. 🙂 Banff and Whistler are spectacular (as is Lake Louise), but in the winter I would not want to make the drive to Whistler on my own. 🙂

  • ballnchainz says:
    July 4, 2014 @ 01:12 pm

    Happy belated Canada Day to you and your family. Canada is rich with great writers including yourself. truthfully the only thing that I have know about Canada was Niagara falls (and the only place I have been in Canada). Thanks for sharing your wisdom with us.

    • Happy 4th of July! I hope you enjoyed your day. I’m not all that familiar with the U.S. but I have managed to visit a few places. I loved New York City, San Francisco, Seattle, Key West and Miami, but the places I enjoy the most and have visited the most often are Washington D.C., Vermont and Maine.

  • Arleen says:
    July 4, 2014 @ 04:36 pm

    I love Canada and when I think of Canda I think of Montreal, Baniff Lake Louise and Vancouver. When I lived in California we would go Salmon fishing in Vancouver in the Campbell River. Wonderful memories as this was my Dad’s favorite place. When my son was younger we took him there as well. My husband wants to go to Nova Scotia. It shouldn’t be too bad a drive from the East Coast.
    We are celebrating the Fourth of July in the states today and you know what it is pretty special. I think it is wonderful when you are proud where you live.

    • Happy July 4th! Great choices Arleen, I have been privileged enough to visit every province in Canada and they all have something wonderful to offer. We are lucky, I think that extends to my American neighbours too, we live on an amazing continent.

  • I hope you had a wonderful Canadian Day Debra! Our 4th of July is today of course so we both were really celebrating similar events. Love the history you shared and had the 4th of July landed on a day I post I probably would have done the same thing.

    I’ve never been to Canada although well over 25 years ago I went on a cruise and my roommate was from Canada and we’ve remained in touch every since. I keep threatening to come and visit but then she got married and the children came along and their life just got busier and busier. Maybe one day I’ll make it there, I hear it’s a beautiful country. My sister took my Mom a couple years ago and they just had the best time.

    Hope you’re enjoying your weekend.

    ~Adrienne

    • Happy 4th of July Adrienne! Hope you had a spectacular day. I hope you get the chance to visit here Adrienne. Canada is a pretty spectacular place. Then again, so is the U.S.A., we are fortunate in the places we call home. 🙂

  • Hi Debra, Happy belated Canada Day to you, your family and your near ones. It feels good to see people taking pride in their nations. Learned a lot about some great personalities through this post. Well framed article.

  • Hi Debra, Nice salute to Canada! We have a lot to be proud of – our diversity, culture, scientific achievements, and much more. I think we’re regarded as a peaceful land of plenty around the world, which is why our immigration numbers are so high. I’d like to think that we offer safe harbour for refugees from many corners of the globe, and it’s to our benefit. This enriches our culture, our economy and creates an environment of tolerance. That may sound a little simplistic and utopian, but when I see what goes on in other countries, I feel especially fortunate to live here.

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