By Ray Hudson
For breakfast, Captain Canuck (Canadian comic book superhero) goes into the Byward Market in Ottawa and buys a Beaver Tail (a deep-fried wad of dough rated at about 800 thousand calories). He smothers it with butter, cinnamon and sugar, chocolate and because it’s July 1, pours on the maple syrup. For lunch our patriot will go with Poutine, which is a monster helping of French fries buried in cheese curds and slathered with beef gravy. It’s a heart attack on a plate, but a tasty mess in an epicurean sort of way, and an absolute requirement for anyone aspiring to be a Canadian, eh? Of course he will wash it down with a pint of Moosehead beer. Finally, dessert: a Nanaimo Bar and a Double-Double from Tim Horton’s. Now that’s being a Canuck (a slang but complimentary term for Canadian, Trevor Lynden of the Vancouver Canucks was also called Captain Canuck)!
This weekend is the great birthday weekend in North America. In the true north strong and free, July 1, 1867 was the day that Nova Scotia and New Brunswick were married to what was then known as Upper Canada (primarily English) and Lower Canada (primarily French). No one paid much attention to the rest of northern North America known as Rupert’s Land and the North Western Territories. Our Father’s of Confederation (young Canada’s G4 you might say) met in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island and created a constitution which was sent to Westminster (the British Parliament) because only they got to say whether we got to be a country or not. They passed our document as a statute of British Law known as the British North America Act, and Shazam, we became Canada.
Across the Saint Lawrence River and the Great Lakes, the Americans were expanding their country by leaps and bounds and cannon fire, cavalry and general conquest. It was 91 years earlier that they created and signed a constitution as well, but unlike the polite Canucks, our cousins to the south told Britain to stick it, when the Brits wouldn’t let go, and went on their own. That was July 4th, 1759.
The rest of the continent was up for grabs as the two countries began to form. Resources, animal and mineral, were the prize along with all that real estate right out to the Pacific coast. The Americans made a dash for what they could get, pushed the British north from the Columbia River to a latitude closer to the south end of Vancouver Island, a long established British Colony, and with the swipe of a ruler from the Pacific to the Great Lakes, the 49th parallel became the border, and thus mighty Point Roberts was created, along with a few other states. And we’ve been working together (more or less) ever since. And although we are about one-tenth the population of the US, we more than pull our weight. Here are a few things the Canadians contributed to the world:
- James Naismith invented basketball in 1891, so be thankful Cleveland or you still wouldn’t have a championship team!
• Drs’ Banting and Best discovered and developed insulin to treat diabetes, in 1922.
• Canadian-born artist Joe Shuster created the image of Superman, working with American writer Jerry Siegel in 1932
• Railroad man, Sir Sanford Flemming invented standard time in 1878, and we’ve been late ever since
• Reginald Fessenden invented AM Radio in 1906. Without him, what would have Red Robinson have done?
• The snow blower was invented in 1925 by Arthur Sicard, and the snowmobile, by Joseph Armand Bombardier in 1937.
Those are just a few of the many Canadians who contributed to the world, but hold the phone Alexander Graham Bell, the new generations are doing exceptional things in technology including electronics, medicine and so much more.
But here’s the deal. I think the fact that we come together from so many different countries, creeds, cultures and colours, and make it work, is the magic that is Canada, that is being Canadian. Whether or not we learn to say “eh” at the end of our sentences, and be polite like good Canadians, we apologize to no one for the brilliance this land will continue to produce.
I’ve lived here all my life, some of you arrived last month. But wherever you are on that timeline, you are in the right place, on the right team, at the right time. I believe you are in the right family among the nations of the world, and we need every perspective and every talent to make it work even better! So far we’re not doing too badly for 149 years of age. Happy Canada Day!