Sunday, July 01, 2007

Aujourd'hui le Canada a 140 ans

Happy birthday to our friends north of the 48th parallel!

Today marks the 140th anniversary of the British North America Act, which joined together the provinces of Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and Canada (divided into Ontario and Quebec) under the single name "Canada."

The British North America Act served as Canada's "constitution" until 1982, when the passage of the Canada Act by the British Parliament resulted in the patriation of the country's basic law, severing all legislative ties to Westminster and vesting full sovereignty in the Canadian Parliament in Ottawa, with Queen Elizabeth II continuing to serve as head of state. (As Queen of Canada, she gave her assent to the Constitution Act in April 1982, which ratified the earlier legislation by the British Parliament and making Canada fully autonomous.)

It is really only since the early 1980s that Canada Day has been celebrated with any vigor. (The holiday was known as "Dominion Day" for 114 years but had been marked only by sporadic observances during that time, starting to take off after the centennial commemoration in 1967.)

Technically, Canada Day this year will be celebrated on Monday, July 2, which is also the anniversary of the day the Continental Congress voted for independence from Great Britain in 1776. This must, however, simply be considered a coincidence.

Courtesy of our friends at YouTube, here is a rendition of the Canadian national anthem (bilingue, naturellement), from a promotional video sponsored by the Canadian Coast Guard Auxiliary. (The video images do not signify; I just like the clear voice of the anonymous singer.)

For those who prefer a more off-beat rendering of "O Canada," here is a video that includes, in addition to street hockey and woodlands, a key role for the iconically Canadian Tim Hortons restaurant. As Homer Simpson would say, "Mmmmm, doughnuts." (In terms of the instrumental music, I think Jimi Hendrix might have done it better.)

Let me make a confession: I am Canadian by ancestry, eh. I have (regrettably), however, never visited the fatherland. Notwithstanding increased hurdles put in place by the U.S. government for cross-border trips, I hope to rectify this lacuna of my life someday soon.

For good measure, here are the official lyrics to "O Canada" in French and English:
Official (English)

O Canada! Our home and native land!
True patriot love in all thy sons command.
With glowing hearts we see thee rise,
The True North strong and free!
From far and wide, O Canada,
We stand on guard for thee.
God keep our land
Glorious and free!
O Canada, we stand on guard for thee;
O Canada, we stand on guard for thee.

Officielle (Français)

Ô Canada! Terre de nos aïeux,
Ton front est ceint de fleurons glorieux!
Car ton bras sait porter l'épée,
Il sait porter la croix!
Ton histoire est une épopée
Des plus brillants exploits.
Et ta valeur, de foi trempée,
Protégera nos foyers et nos droits;
Protégera nos foyers et nos droits.
Sing out this Sunday (and Monday, for good measure) in tribute to the "True North strong and free."

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