Category: Canada

Canada Day

Today is the 143rd birthday of my very young country. Big and beautiful, for sure, but young.

The more I travel, the more proud I am to be Canadian. I love Canada. I love what it means to be Canadian. I love that most people love Canadians.

And I know that Canada is home.

Other countries may be older, more historically interesting and even more beautiful.

But Canada is a country that I am proud to call home, even from across an ocean.


Forgive us, we’re Canadian

We always say we’re sorry, we like to stand in line.
When you ask us how we’re doing, we always say “Just fine!”
Forgive us we’re Canadian, we try hard to be nice.
You too can be Canadian if you follow this advice.

We disagree on everything but we try to be polite
and we don’t believe in violence, except on hockey night.
We’ve adopted European ways, replacing yards with meters,
but we still must ask the question, how many miles in a litre?

Forgive us we’re Canadian, we try hard to be nice.
You too can be Canadian if you follow this advice.

We could talk for hours on end about the constitution,
which is dry as toast but sure as heck beats war or revolution!
We don’t much like to wave the flag, we find patriotism shocking.
So we celebrate on Canada day by going cross border shopping.

Forgive us we’re Canadian, we try hard to be nice.
You too can be Canadian if you follow this advice.

We know how to dress for winter, we’re not afraid of snow
and we love our country quietly, and hope Quebec won’t go…

Forgive us we’re Canadian, and some might think us bland
But there’s no where that we’d rather live….
Than this vast and frozen land!

-Arrogant Worms

Today, Canada Day will be celebrated across the country with a modest display of fireworks, a maple leaf face paint and lots of beer. It is nothing like Independence Day, which I’ve seen for myself to a couple of a times. We celebrate our peaceful beginning in 1867 with the quiet pride.

I am proud to be Canadian. But what does it mean to be Canadian? We can’t ever seem to decide. Some terms get thrown around when you ask this question: peaceful, multicultural, polite, American, British, French, socialist, liberal, oil sands, trees… the list goes on. But we can’t settle on a definition.

Our neighbours to the south seem to know exactly what American is. The British have a fixed idea of what British is.

But the only thing any group of Canadians will actually agree on is that we’re not American.

The struggle for Canadian identity is created by the array of influences in both our past and present. The first colonies in Canada were French. The British took over shortly after, but not before France had left it’s mark on the province of Quebec and the Maritimes. We’re a bilingual country, officially.

For years, our main influence was Britain. We were a British colony through and through, the wealthy and powerful were almost all WASPs. We emulated the British, we traded almost exclusively with the British and we were British subjects. After the American Revolution, thousands moved North out of loyalty to Britain.

But the United States of America began to grow after the Revolution. Faster and more fervently than any country before it. And all that separated us from them was an imaginary border and a Union Jack.

In 1867, the Dominion of Canada was formed and we were able to govern ourselves under the British North America Act. But it wouldn’t be until 1982 that we had a Constitution of our own.

During this time, the fledgling nation of Canada struggled against a various outside influence. To our south we had the US, soon enough flooding our markets, radio stations, televisions and magazines, our very culture, with American content. Because of their population, they will always be able to produce a better product than we can, in our sparsely populated huge country. And so began our struggle as America’s little sister. Across the ocean, still holding a lot of the reins of power in our country, was England, our parental figure. And so was the battle between English and American influence, like a teenager trying to grow up in the shadow of a phenomenal older sibling and an old, wise mother.

Add to this the fact that the French speaking population of Canada has it’s own idea of what Canadian is. With the threat of separation from the province of Quebec, there are many who don’t believe they’re Canadian at all.

Throw in waves of immigration from all over the world, and you have the most confused teenager around, desperately trying not to give into peer pressure and smoke, drink and have teenage sex and always trying to live up to it’s relatives. Desperately trying to carve a niche for ourselves on the world stage. Hardly politically influential, we have a small population and a whole lot of land. Sure, on a map we could roll over and squish the US but we’ll never be able to come close to their political and cultural power.

So what does it mean to be a Canadian? It means something different to each and every one of us, and that’s what we celebrate today.

To me, it means being polite, being cold and pronouncing it “aboot”. It means universal health care and public education. It doesn’t mean military power. Sure, our entire military is less than the National Guard of most of the individual States in the US. But that’s not who we are. The maple leaf means something different in the world than the stars and stripes. We are not American, and I think that you’ll find that most of us are okay with that.

Being Canadian, to me, is spelling things “-our,” driving in kilometers, reading signs in both French and English. It’s not a melting pot but a bag of popcorn, each of the kernels existing side by side. It’s wearing a maple leaf proudly in the rest of the world and getting smiles in return.

I am proud to be Canadian. Happy Canada Day!


When we were in Galway for Canada Day we did a Pub Crawl, all 22 of us. Someone actually said "But isn't Canada just a mini-America?" and we almost jumped him. Another guy decided to sing Oh Canada, but didn't know it and so sang it like Oh Christmas Tree.