Since I moved back to Vankleek Hill my Canada Day celebrations have mostly taken place on my second-floor balcony, from which I can see the fireworks burst over the tops of my neighbours trees.
We’ve had the occasional BBQ at my parents’ home, but mostly it’s been me, a friend or two, and whatever group of strangers makes their way up my stairs thinking my place is abandoned.
I know they have fireworks in Hawkesbury, because from my balcony I can watch those too, as well as the ones in L’Orignal. The ones in Vankleek Hill get fired from the driving range just down the road — this year they’ve moved the celebrations and beer tent from the Fair Grounds to the soccer field behind the high school to accommodate the “VCI Celebration”, which is kind of a reunion and celebration of the old VCI before they tear that old building down.
Personally I think it’s the wrong thing to do. But the fireworks, despite what the ads are intimating about everything being moved to the school, remain at the driving range*.
My little brother is in town for the family BBQ lunch this year, which is good, but he’s back to Toronto in the afternoon. But this will be Victor’s first firework display, so there’s something to look forward to. I’m really curious to see if he even notices the sounds and lights.
Canada Day is a strange celebration. In America the Fourth of July, or “Independence Day”, is about celebrating independence from the corrupt dictatorship that was the British Monarchy. Quick, easy and simple. The Americans won the war, and they celebrate it on July 4th with baseball, hot dogs, fireworks and the Boston Pops playing “Stars and Stripes Forever”.
Canada Day, aka “Dominion Day”, is about the signing of an agreement called the British North America Act (BNA) between the remaining British colonies in North America and the corrupt British Monarchy, creating “a federal dominion and much of the operation of the Government of Canada, including its federal structure, the House of Commons, the Senate, the justice system, and the taxation system.”
Mostly, however, “Dominion Day”, and the BNA, was about bringing the established British provinces into a federation because individually they were targets for annexation by the United States.
So the Americans had their revolution for democracy, and afterwards wrote a Declaration of Independence insisting on “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” for every citizen. Canada, meanwhile, became a democratic nation through negotiation and compromise, and ended up with an Act guaranteeing “peace, order, and good government” and (eventually) free health care.
I like both motto’s, but if I had a vote I’d go with the one we got.
I wrote a piece three years ago called “the first ten things you need to know aboot Canada”, this is number seven:
Our Origins Are Cloaked In
Mystery Confusion: The Dominion Of Canada was created in 1867, Newfoundland joined up in 1949. We got our own flag in 1967, and our own Constitution and Charter Of Rights And Freedoms in 1982. The Canadian Province of Quebec, with a population of 7 million, has yet to sign the constitution. It’s all very weird.
But not as weird as this… follow along if you can:
Canada was founded 350 years ago by the French and their Native allies; who were then defeated 200 years later by the British and their Native allies; who were then joined by British-American refugees who had just lost the American Revolution to a bunch of… well, Americans and their French allies; the British-American refugees then allied with the British-Canadians and their Native allies who in turn joined up with the French-Canadians and their Native allies and together they beat the shit out of the Newly Armed & Famous Americans during the War Of 1812. Or, as we sometimes refer to it, “That Week We Burned The White House To The Ground” or “TWWBTWHTTG Day”.
After that was done all of the territories in Canada thought it’d be a good idea to permanently team up, and so Canada was borne. See? Easy.
Happy Canada Day, congratulations to us all.
Update: I think the fireworks were still shot from the driving range, but were aimed towards the “VCI Celebration” thing. We could still see them from my balcony, though. We could also see the Hawkesbury and L’Orignal fireworks. I do like my balcony.
Happy Belated Canada Day! Thanks for the history–I was curious.
Gabe, great site. Victor is gorgeous and seems a wise soul. I hope to meet him someday.
That large thing south of us is the USA, or the US. It is not America. No such place exists. Not on any map anywhere. The Americas exist, jointly and separately. But not America. It’s taken me about seven years to persuade the BBC that it was channelling its former colonial self in referring to the US as America. Nowadays, you hardly ever see the word on the BBC website. I take full credit for that growth. I’m now working on CBC. Don’t make me start on you.
Hi Ruthanne, I was beginning to wonder if you had received the email invitation… technical difficulties meant some people got it twice, some people didn’t get it at all.
I know what you mean about “America” vs. US / USA / North America, and I had a similar discussion to the one you’re threatening to have with me about (aboot) three years ago when a Scottish friend of mine took offence to my referring to the “British movie industry” when I meant the UK… or the British Isles, or Limey Country, or whatever they call themselves (I had already mentioned the “Scottish movie industry”, which made her happy). There are two ways I can go about (aboot) writing for this site… I can either use the language others want me to use, or I can use the language I want to use.
I know the Welsh hate the English, and hate being called Brits, but fuck them, it’s their own damn fault for being conquered. “America” is shorthand, so I don’t have to fill up a piece with acronyms, capital letters and periods. Until they come up with something shorter than United States of America, and not as annoying as US or USofA, I’m afraid I’ll have to stick with “America”.
It’s great to see you here, Ruthanne. I’m glad you made it. You should take a look at my piece on abortion… heh heh.
Hi Bromac, and a slightly early Happy Birthday to you and your country. I had a history teacher from the U.S.A. leave a comment recently thanking me for my post “the first ten things you need to know aboot Canada”. He used the post to give his class an introduction to Canada, and none of them had any idea “we” burned “your” White House to the ground… which sounds like a song lyric. I told him most Canadian kids have no idea either.