What does Canada mean to you? Talk about an open-ended question! But pollsters do like to take polls, and John Reid—on his Anglo-Celtic Connections blog—relays some interesting results in brief from the Dominion Institute’s survey of the top 10 or top 20 answers. Can’t personally say “beaver” or “hockey” or “Niagara Falls” enter my head immediately. Our perception of Canada may be quite (interestingly) different from other viewpoints on the global compass. And our own perceptions are shaped by our family life and work life in such an amazingly varied country.
I see Canada in the excellent, wonderful humour we nourish and share, even with (or because of?) all those regional and cultural differences. We know we’re good at it because we do it all the time amongst ourselves. Give a Canadian a microphone or a letter to the editor on almost any topic and chances are you get some very good satirical or black humour (the best) comments.
If the Dominion Institute insists on a one-word or one-phrase answer for what Canada means to me? LAKE SUPERIOR.
Since I moved to Toronto quite a few years ago, CANADA DAY has taken on even more significance for me. I live in the old Town of York of 1793 as planned by Upper Canada’s first Governor John Simcoe and his surveyors. A number of my former clients had ancestors living here—carpenters, sailors, builders, administrators and real estate speculators—and it was possible to learn quite a lot about them. Some of those ancient inhabitants still lie beneath the sod of St. James Park over there or under the pavement of the adjacent diocesan parking lot. No, I don’t see ghosts on my walkabouts, but I can often see the imprint of times past.
My street sits under the water of Lake Ontario’s old shoreline, and my home is on the site of a nineteenth century shipping wharf. Where I live is also home to many entertainers and performers who suit the delightful St. Lawrence neighbourhood. Each CANADA DAY we like to serenade our neighbours in all directions with O Canada. Our resident leader is Syd Dolgay, an original member of the Travellers folk music group. The Travellers’ signature song was a Canadian adaptation of Woody Guthrie’s This Land Is Your Land. We always sing that too!
2004: PAL gathers to warm up the vocal chords.