July 1, 2000

Canada Day!

It's Canada's birthday. We're 133 today.

Canada was born on July 1, 1867 by virtue of the British North America Act. We started out with four provinces, Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia. The rest trickled in, with Newfoundland the last, in 1949.

Canada Day is a national holiday but somehow doesn't rival the USA's July 4 in hoopla. (We NEVER rival the US in hoopla!) Participation in festivities is encouraged but by no means mandatory. In Ottawa, the capital, all-day activities (shows, street performances, concerts, family activities, fireworks) are planned in a variety of sites. Quebec celebrates a little more quietly but an excuse for a party is still a party! In the Montreal area, July 1 is also moving day, the day when, by convention, most leases begin. A different way to celebrate but not nearly as much fun as fireworks and barbecues.

Digression: Rant #2-C

This is how history should be taught:

Timeline: Britain, Canada and the Civil War, 1861-65

While surfing around for Canada Day stuff, I had one of those "light bulb" moments. Canada was officially created only two years after the end of the American Civil War - perhaps the two events were related!

I'm stopping short of saying that history ISN'T taught this way.. it may well be, and may well even have been when I was in school, but the implications flew right over my head. I was probably too zoned out by boredom to grasp the nuances. They have GOT to find a way to make history less painful for students. It took me over thirty years to begin to develop an interest in it, after the torture that was high school.

Anyway.. I found it fascinating that, for instance, the Charlottetown Conference, one of the major milestones towards Canadian Confederation (as the process of forming Canada was called) occurred only one day before Sherman's occupation of Atlanta. I also never knew that Canada, although officially neutral, was perceived as a haven for Confederates, one group of which robbed a bank in St. Albans, Vermont (right up near the border) and escaped to Montreal.

All that turmoil and instability must have hastened the process by which a few British colonies became a country. To drag my point even further, the United States achieved independence a scant thirteen years after the British ran the French out of North America (1763) and subsequently (1774) declared areas right into the Ohio Valley as part of Quebec.

How come nobody told me about this sooner?

Random Facts about Canada:

Quebec was the last province to grant women the right to vote, in 1940. That means my mother was at least 23 before she was able to vote. Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba were the first, in 1916.. even before the United States (1920).

The first Prime Minister of Canada: Sir John A. Macdonald.

The first Prime Minister of Canada to resign in disgrace: Sir John A. Macdonald;
over a scandal having to do with the awarding of railway contracts in return for political contributions. Not to worry, though, he was back in power five years later.

For many years two Canadian Football League teams had the same name (with different spellings): Ottawa Rough Riders, Saskatchewan Roughriders. Nobody knows why.

Canada shares its national day with:

  • Botswana, Sir Seretse Khama Day
  • British Virgin Islands, Territory Day
  • Burundi, Independence Day
  • China, Anniversary of the Founding of the Communist Party
  • Ghana, Republic Day
  • Hong Kong, Special Administrative Region Establishment Day
  • Netherlands Antillies, Emancipation Day
  • Rwanda, Independence Day
  • Somalia, Independence Day (Ex-Italian Somaliland)
  • Taiwan, Bank Holiday
  • Thailand, Mid-Year Day
  • Northern Territory of Australia, Territory Day
Finally, for the seventh consecutive year, the United Nations has ranked Canada number one* overall in "best places to live". We aren't perfect but we're the best there is!

* Norway was second; United States, third.

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