July 1, 2013, Canada is 410 years young.

From that first explorer’s trip against the current of the St. Lawrence River, Canada began the transition to a country. And our ancestors came to build it. We were the detritus of Europe, the scoundrels of Asia, the displaced of Africa and we created a new north for the Americas. We have created a homeland worthy of standing on its feet and proclaiming: We are Canadian.

The weak and obsequious British North America Act of 1867 opened the gates to a maturing country but bound us to the constricts of a repressive time. It created artificial divides in a land that needs to labour together. It saw a country of vast resources but gave little thought to the people we would become.

There is lots of idealism in how Canadians show their love for this country. There is just little consensus. We only seem to agree on the awesome beauty of our nation, our belief in civility and tolerance and the smooth mellowness of our beer. About that, we can sing and rant enthusiastically.

But what is Canada other than an ideal? Are we living up to what nature has handed us? Are we protecting this heritage for our children and their children? Or are we hedonists, taking, raping and despoiling for today’s gratification and pleasures? What is our expectation of this wonderful land?

Canada is a country of many realities. We should take this one day each year to admire those realities. Canada is the harsh beauty of the Rock. It is the majesty of Labrador. It is the forests of Quebec, the rugged coastlines of Nova Scotia, the rocky soil of New Brunswick and the tranquillity of PEI.

And do not forget the cities. It is St. John’s in Newfoundland and Saint John in New Brunswick. It is the harbour in Halifax, the steep cliffs of Quebec City and the mountain of Montreal. And Ottawa, that always makes you ask “Why?” As for Toronto, you almost have to be born there to understand our love for its cultural cauldron.

But drive from Wawa, west above Lake Superior to the Winnipeg winter. Regina is a bit boring but Saskatoon is fun. Edmontonians stay in at night and Calgary whoops it up in the summer. And everyone wonders what Vancouver has until it stops raining and the sun comes out and you fall in love again. And you remember Victoria for its flowers, a lonely drive to High Prairie from Edmonton, Prince Albert for its people, the lakes of Muskoka, the ski hills of Quebec and the hospitality of the Atlantic Provinces.

There are many views of Canada. It takes a lifetime to learn about them and it takes a second lifetime to visit them again.

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Copyright 2013 © Peter Lowry

Complaints, comments, criticisms and compliments can be sent to  peter@lowry.me

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