The rockets red glare, the bombs bursting in air…. YEAH CANADA!
What? Turns out Independence Day is not the only patriotic fireworks-laden midsummer festival in North America.
Canada Day is on the 1st of July and celebrates Canada’s “birthday” with familiar cookouts, picnics, parades, fireworks and a communal cake.
Cake? Of course, it’s a birthday party!
We found ourselves a beauty of a celebration by the banks of the River Thames in London… Ontario that is.
It seems that Canada hung on with the Brits until 1867, almost one hundred years after the U.S. did. Then, with the enactment of the British North America Act and formation of Parliament, the Canadian Colonies formed a federation that technically became a kingdom in its own right.
With typical Canadian restraint — no shots were fired — it took over a century to become fully independent. That finally happened in 1982 with the Constitution Act, however they still remain loyal to the crown.
While visiting the London on our side of the pond, we were pleased to discover there was birthday revelry going on.
Naturally, we joined in.
Our day began at a town celebration with food, fun, music and a ceremony for the swearing in of new citizens. After sampling some of the fare, we were excited to observe as citizens took the oath.
Canadians, new or old, love their country with fervent patriotism. Polling shows that fully 90% of Canadians say they live in the best place on Earth.
Like the U.S. on the 4th of July, newspapers and TV newscasts were filled with man-on-the-street interviews, flag-waiving and folks wearing maple-leaf inspired paraphernalia.
Looks like those of us in the good old U.S. of A. don’t have the market cornered on love of country, eh?
As U.S. citizens, we found the ceremony riveting as we were fairly ignorant about the politics and policies of our neighbor to the north.
A judge presided, flanked by a Royal Canadian Mounted Policeman (Mountie) in full Dudley Do-right regalia and other officials.
There was much pontificating from His Honor and several Members of Parliament gave calls to service of their nation. Volunteerism is big in Canada.
The oath, administered in both English and French, included a pledge of loyalty to Elizabeth II, Queen of Canada.
Yes, Canadians view the Queen of England as THEIR queen.
As a welcome gift, each new citizen was given a tree to commemorate the occasion and help maintain the beautiful environment of their gorgeous country.
The service ended with a rousing rendition of Oh, Canada and a photo op with the Mountie (we were pretty sure that meeting the cute Mountie was why the two girls from Ireland chose to be on the Canadian team).
People from fifteen different countries, including the U.S., were sworn in that day.
At the close of the ceremony we were lucky enough to spend a few minutes chatting with Member of Parliament, Irene Mathyssen. As a representative of the New Democrats, she is extremely proud of her party’s leadership in bringing healthcare to all Canadians.
With the current debate raging in the States, it was interesting to learn more about their system. In stark contrast what the U.S. health insurance lobbyists say, the Canadian system enjoys huge popularity, with two thirds of the public consistently approving of their public health care.
The Honorable Ms. Mathyssen explained to us that even the most conservative politician in Canada would never, ever call for an end to public healthcare.
Having just witnessed people from all over the world complete the three-year process to become Canadians, we asked Ms. Mathyssen about immigration. She explained that the Canadian birthrate is in decline, so they actively seek new people in order to remain competitive in the global market.
New residents with different skills and backgrounds are needed and Canada strives to add at least 1% of the population in new citizens each year.
After Ms. Mathyssen presented us with Canadian flag lapel pins, it was time to partake in the gigantic Canada cake frosted up like the flag. Ours was a massive twin flavored confection. The red part of the flag was chocolate and the white vanilla, handsome AND tasty.
Speaking of the red and white parts of the flag, if you let your eye see primarily the white and use the red as a background, there are two faces — forehead to forehead — at the top of the maple leaf.
Legend has it is an Englishman and a Frenchman arguing what is best for Canada. We can’t remember who showed this to us, we’re gonna go out on a limb and say a bartender, but he was right when he said that once you see it, you always will.
Even in the little lapel pins.
What patriotic American holiday would be complete without baseball?
Yup, as Canadians are quick to remind us, America is a CONTINENT and Canada is part of it.
We caught the second half of a double header between The London Majors and the baseball version of The Toronto Maple Leafs (NOT Leaves!).
London’s Labatt Park, in the Guinness Book of World Records as “oldest
continually operating baseball grounds in the world,” dates back to 1877. Quite a piece of American baseball history. And for those who say it’s hard to define irony, try this…a ballpark named for a famous brewing company that doesn’t sell beer.
After the game, it was just a short stroll along and across the River Thames to the downtown fireworks display.
It is London, so there must be a Thames, but this one looked more like the Creek Thames or the Stream Thames or the Brook Thames than a river to us.
Still, the riverside at The Forks of The Thames is a pretty jammin’ site for
a big old patriotic fireworks hootenanny.
The display was spectacular and unlike in the U.S. the crowd watches in reverent silence. No Lee Greenwood to turn your stomach while enjoying the show.
Just some oohs and ahhs and the occasional “YEAH CANADA!” shouted from the back of the crowd to remind us we weren’t in Kansas anymore…
David & Veronica, GypsyNester.com