We’re just 153 years young.
July 1st was Canada Day. Normally, we’d be enjoying events, parties, even fireworks. 2020 is an unusual Canada Day. In the year of COVID, we’ll celebrate in small ways, even online. The 1940 edition of the Toronto Star said this day was like no other, coming amid WW2. I think we might have that beat.
Canada’s Long Path to Nationhood
The colonies of Canada, New Brunswick, and Nova Scotia became the Dominion of Canada on July 1, 1867. The new country started with the provinces of Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia.
The British government had to pass a law to make this happen. Later known as the Constitution Act, the British North American Act formed the base of our constitution. The British continued to have some control over this young country. The Statue of Westminster in 1931 recognized us a country, not a colony.
The British Crown is our head of state. It’s written into our constitution. We’re part of the Commonwealth of Nations. In Canada, the Governor General acts on behalf of the Crown. In our early days all the Governor Generals were British. We didn’t have a Canadian as Governor General until 1952 when Vincent Massey served. His brother was the actor Raymond Massey.
Following considerable debate, we adopted the red and white flag so proudly flown today as our official flag in 1965. Our national anthem, O Canada, written in 1880, was adopted as our national anthem on July 1, 1980.
By 1982 Canada wanted to shed any ties but friendship with Britain. The Constitution was brought home. Our Charter of Rights and Freedoms was brought into force.
No longer governed as a Dominion, we’re the Dominion of Canada in only the most formal of uses. Using the term died out by the 1960s with the exception of the July 1st holiday called Dominion Day. In 1982 we changed it to Canada Day.
Built on a Strong Foundation
The growing power of the United States pushed the Canadian provinces to either unit or join the states. Conferences to discuss the issues were held. In time, the participants found more united them than divided them. Meeting the needs of each other is what brought the federation together.
A tug of war took place between those advocating for strong central govermment and those wanting rights and powers for the provinces. A series of resolutions found a balance between the two.
- national Parliament would be an elected House of Commons and an appointed Senate
- members of the House of Commons would be elected based on population
- the seats would be equally divided between Canada West (Ontario), Canada East (Quebec), New Brunswick and Nova Scotia
- each region would have equal voice in the Senate
- resolutions forming the framework for building the country
Wait, Isn’t Canada More Than Four Provinces?
We’ve grown beyond four provinces. Today we’re ten provinces stretching from sea to sea. In the north are three territories. Lots of room for 37.59 million neighbours to spread ourselves out. Only the hardiest of us would live in some Canadian places.
Canada bought a large tract of land in 1870 known as Rupert’s Land. It included:
- southern Alberta
- most of Saskatchewan
- all of Manitoba
- southern Nunavut
- the northern parts of Ontario and Quebec
The provinces and territories took time to join into what they are today:
- 1870 Manitoba & the Northwest Territories
- 1871 British Columbia
- 1873 Prince Edward Island
- 1898 Yukon Territory created
- 1905 Alberta & Saskatchewan
- 1949 Newfoundland & Labrador
- 1999 Northwest Territories divided to create Nunavut
We’re Not Perfect But We Can Evolve
Like most families, Canada isn’t perfect. Our shared values of peace, order and good government provides a solid base. Some disagree on good government. Our structure works. Stewardship is in question.
We are thirteen diverse regions. Two official languages, English and French, are just two of many across the country. People from around the world add to our cultural mosaic. The blending is not always easy but it does make us rich in many ways.
Across the country, our relations with First Nations needs a lot of work. We’ve had to acknowledge and confront our own racism to persons of colour. Frank conversations have taken place. Action is underway. Much work has to be done.
Canada & COVID-19
COVID-19 has upended just about everything we’re familiar with during the first six months of 2020. It has given me another appreciation of the good in the Canadian spirit. Before the pandemic hit I had times I had to shake my head in dismay at the partisan sniping going on across the country.
The response hasn’t been perfect. There’s a lot we could have done better. The federal government led the response to the crisis. Each of the thirteen regions were seen as individual epidemics. Together they worked out a plan to fight the virus together. The plan had flexibility to allow each region to make their own choices.
Numbers are falling. Most of the country is slowly re-opening. Breathing easier aware we’re in a marathon, not a sprint. This crisis is one of those rare times when the power of government and the people working together really matters. We’re having success because of the majority willing to watch out for their neighbour. To follow public health advice.
Proud to Be Canadian
Over 80% of Canadians are proud to be Canadian says a recent national poll. We have a lot to be proud of. Being willing to admit flaws, to work toward fixing them is maturity. It will strengthen us. Doing the hard work will be worth the struggle.
So yes, I am Canadian. Damn proud of it.
Happy Canada Day to my fellow Canucks, no matter where you hang your hat.
Shadowspub is a writer from Ontario, Canada. She writes on a variety of subjects as she pursues her passion for learning. She also writes on other platforms.
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