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Happy Canada Day

July 1, 2014


Happy Canada Day. Formerly Dominion Day.  More accurately Confederation Day.

When Canada Day officially replaced Dominion Day in 1982 (to reflect the most recent constitutional restatement of Canada’s sovereignty) many complained.   “Dominion Day” was not only alliterative but it was unusual.  “Canada Day” is just “Day” with “Canada” stuck in front of it.  The modernists replied that “The Dominion of Canada” was now an outdated and an anachronistic term and could not provide the name of the national holiday.

“Confederation Day” sounds a bit unwieldy but does at least signpost the nature of the anniversary, the anniversary of confederation itself – July 1 1867.  If it appears a little timid next to the French “Bastille Day” this merely highlights the rather more pacific nature of Canadian political development.  Canada, unlike many other nations, was not forged by bloody insurrection, but by a series of negotiations.  1774, 1791, 1840, 1867, 1931 and 1982 all saw important constitutional revisions of Canada’s status.  1867 was the most important of these, the one that pushed Canadian sovereignty past a tipping point of no return.

Despite the relentless and high profile efforts of Stephen Harper, most people around the world remain well disposed towards Canada.   And with the dreamiest world leader on the planet now at the helm, this warm sense of regard looks set to continue.  The somewhat dull name for a national holiday is appropriate given the not discreditable Canadian tradition for calm negotiation.  “Canada Day” in its sheer blandness sums up a national gift for understatement which, in the context of what is still a fairly peaceful, stable and equitable nation, represents a point of authentic pride.

Like many “national days” it’s probably more fun being outside Canada today.  It may be hard to get to the bar at the Maple Leaf Pub just off Covent Garden today.  I’ve heard that a few years ago, the Canada Day jollification spread south and west from the Maple Leaf until there was hockey played in Trafalgar Square.

The one problem with expat Canada Day is that you’ve got you’ve got a job on your hands claiming a day off work.  Trust us.  We know.


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One Comment
  1. Reblogged this on conradbrunstrom and commented:

    I actually have to work today. No fair.

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