Happy birthday Canada. For 150 years-old you look good. As I glance around the world today, in 2017, our country is healthy and strong. I am proud to say that I was born in Canada, that I was raised here and am raising my children here. As I write this post I am reminded of a great TV commercial from a number of years ago, called “I Am Canadian:”
It was funny, it went viral and it’s so true. Canadians are unique special people. I have worked with, been friends with and am related to some of the greatest Canadians. There are so many people, places and stories to be celebrated, and here I would like to share some of them with you as I salute Canada on her 150th birthday.
One Canadian I would like to celebrate is my children’s great-great uncle, David Hart. Or shall I say Honorary Colonel David Hart. One of seven sons (my husband’s grandfather was Uncle Davey’s big brother), Colonel Hart was an officer in the Canadian Armed Forces during World War II. Earlier this year, at the age of 99 ¾, he was awarded the Military Medal for bravery on the battlefield for his time as a Sergeant at Dieppe. He served his country on the battlefield 75 years ago and has dedicated much of his life sharing his story. Uncle Davey turns 100 in July and with his sharp mind and kind sensibility has many memories to share as he has lived in Canada for two-thirds of the country’s existence.
I also want to give a shout-out to my great-grandparents, all of whom were immigrants to Canada over 100 years ago. As young children and young adults my eight ancestors made their way to Canada with their families, leaving behind their old lives in Europe. Most of them arrived with nothing, but over time they embraced their new country and became leaders in their family and community. Since Confederation 150 years ago Canada has welcomed immigrants from around the world and given them the opportunity to be everything they can be.
Canada is a huge land mass, with so many incredible places to celebrate that I could write a one-thousand-page book and still not cover it all. I love so many Canadian places, from the boardwalk in Halifax (best ice cream by far is Cows, you have to try it), to the gentle harbour in Victoria.
But my favourite places are my family’s and my husband’s family’s country houses, in the Blue Mountains in Ontario and Saint-Donat in Quebec, respectively. I know that I am lucky to be able to visit these special places, lovingly built and cared for by our families. My parents built my family’s home on a piece of farmland over 25 years ago, near skiing, sprawling apple orchards and views of Beaver Valley and even Georgian Bay beyond. Sixteen people squeezed into this small house this past winter to take advantage of the ski hill nearby and endless supply of tasty homemade food. Sixteen? Yes, and a dog. The renovations to expand the house begin this week!
My husband’s grandparents built their home in Saint-Donat back in 1949, when Canada was a mere 82 years old. The original small cabin has been renovated and enlarged in its own unique way over the years and often houses 20 plus extended members of the family at any given time throughout the summer. The house sits on the edge of one of Canada’s most beautiful lakes, where generations have gone swimming and canoeing. The view from the deck is breathtaking, and when things get loud and crazy in the house I just need to walk outside, stand on the deck and stare at the view.
I have so many anecdotes stored in my memories of events, moments and experiences of what makes Canada special that just thinking about them makes me smile. Could it be my family’s discovery of the best french fry stands on the way to the country house and the nicknames we gave them (such as Fry Guy, Fry Girls and Fry People?). Could it be the first time I had the honour to be associated with the Sears National Kids Cancer Ride back in 2012, when I watched dozens of cyclists dip their wheels in the Pacific Ocean before they cycled across the country to raise funds and awareness for childhood cancer? Is it at a Blue Jays baseball game when over 40,000 people stand together and sing O Canada in unison?
When I string all these stories together I get a clear picture in my head of why I am proud to be Canadian and why I salute my country on her 150th birthday.
Happy birthday Canada. May you celebrate many more.