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It’s Canada Day! Twenty Reasons To Love My Native Land

In cities, culture, History, Medicine, music, nature on July 1, 2011 at 11:38 am
3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment holds the American ...

Our flag and a Mountie...score! Image via Wikipedia

Yes, I live in NY, but I can still celebrate Canada Day.

Born in Vancouver and raised in Toronto and Montreal, I still travel on a Canadian passport and people can still hear “aboot” when I say “about.”

Here are twenty great things about Canada, in hono(u)r of our day, July 1:

Tunes. Including Neil Young, Joni Mitchell, Feist, Arcade Fire, Barenaked Ladies, Drake, Cowboy Junkies, Leonard Cohen, Bruce Cockburn, Diana Krall, Michael Buble, Jane Siberry, Holly Cole, Gordon Lightfoot, Rush, Great Big Sea, fiddlers Ashley McIsaac and Natalie McMaster.

Hockey. It’s actually not our official sport, (believe it or not); lacrosse is.

Butter tarts. Nothing to do with butter, they are tarts filled with a gooey raisin-y center. Sooooo good!

Nanaimo bars. Sort of an iced brownie with thick creamy layers inside. Here’s a recipe.

Poutine. Cheese curds covered in gravy. I can’t stand it personally, but it’s now trendy as hell for some reason.

The Group of Seven. This beloved group of landscape painters from the early 20th century are our equivalent of the Impressionists. Their brilliant and powerful landscapes — from Tom Thomson’s Tangled Garden (my favorite) to the enormous ice-scapes of Lawren Harris, are a love song to the land. If you visit Toronto, get out to the McMichael Collection, which is the largest permanent exhibit of their work.

Awesome women writers. Margaret Atwood, Alice Munro, Miriam Toews, Margaret McMillan, Anne Marie McDonald, Margaret Laurence.

Nellie McClung. She won Canadian women the vote and is memorialized on the $50 bill — and a life-sized statue on Parliament Hill in Ottawa.

Insulin. Discovered at my alma mater, the University of Toronto, by Banting and Best.

Karim Rashid. You’ve probably sat in one of this designer’s chairs or own one of his popular and stylish Garbo garbage cans, shaped like a bucket.

The Rockies. I spent a week in Banff, Alberta this past winter and was gobsmacked by their beauty. I can’t wait to return.

The Blackberry. Invented by RIM, a firm in Waterloo, Ontario.

Fantastic food markets — from Toronto’s St. Lawrence Market to Montreal’s Atwater Market to Vancouver’s Granville Island. Gotta try a peameal bacon sandwich.

The Royal Tyrrell Museum in Alberta. The best dinosaur museum!

Mounties. We love them in their scarlet tunics and brown felt hats. We have Mountie dolls and T-shirts. Just seeing a Mountie makes me homesick.

Loonies and toonies. Those are coins of $1 and $2.

Canadian candy bars. Aero, Big Turk, KitKat, Crunchie, Crispy Crunch. Yum!

Inuit art and sculpture. Gorgeous stuff. I grew up with it in my home, so people like Pitseolak were as familiar to me as Picasso.

Terry Fox. Every Canadian of a certain age knows who he was – a brave, crazy 22-year-old with cancer who decided in 1980 to run across Canada to raise funds. He did not make it, but others honoring his memory have raised $550 million since then.

Bilingualism. On parle deux langues! Canada was founded by two European nations, the French and the English, and the country has two official languages, as every resident knows and every visitor soon learns — so words like “de rabais” (on sale) become familiar even if Anglos and Franco’s don’t know each other’s culture as well as we should. The English beat the French on the Plains of Abraham (in Quebec City) which is why every Quebec license plate says, darkly, Je Me Souviens — I Remember.

  1. My Mom and 2nd oldest sister graduated from Mount Allison in Sackville, NB. Summer friends of ours (who gather at Amherst Shore, NS every summer), are Mounties in Saskatchewan – father and two sons. I will most certainly enjoy a Jos. Louis snack cake today. And, I’m a bit sad you did not include Anne Murray in your list of Tunes. Come to think of it – you didn’t include Glass Tiger, either. But well – that is understandable.

    My Mom has a charcoal drawing of herself, which was drawn by Bill Langstroff, Anne Murray’s ex-husband.

    This Georgia girl has her heart and mind on Canada today.

  2. “So spread your tiny wings and fly away…” :-)

    I also left out BTO. Jos. Louis…talk about sugar!!!!

    Glad to know one American is celebrating with us today.

  3. I’m reading Cat’s Eye by Margaret Atwood today! Picked it up on the trip.

    Canada is very high on my list of places to go!

  4. It’s a GREAT book. It made me (very unusual) so homesick for Toronto I cried. She really captures it.

    Atwood was my first celebrity interview – I was editor of my high school newspaper and she had attended our school so she agreed to an interview, face to face. This was in 1975, as she was still not Famous.

  5. Love this list! We just returned from the fireworks display in honour of today and had a great time on the waterfront. So much fun to celebrate – thanks for helping!

  6. I love Canada and Canadians. We were in Victoria in 2004 and in Montreal, St. Hippolyte, Mont Tremblant and Quebec in 2006. On both trips, in both languages, we had such wonderful experiences that we keep wanting to go back. We’d love to take my son there, especially to Mont Tremblant in winter to experience the sweet delicacy of maple syrup spread on snow and twisted on a stick. We’ve also wanted to go to Banff, and I see that, too, on the itinerary for a future trip. There’s a special place in our hearts for all that’s Canadian.

    • Cool! I think Canada has many great places to visit, yet many Americans have never been…and it’s so close.

      Banff is spectacular. I spent a week there this past winter — at -34 temps! — and loved it.

  7. I remember travelling across Canada in the February of 1994 and completely loving the place, even though it was a little bit on the chilly side, particularly for two Australians. One of the things that cheered us up no end – in fact it became an addiction – was Tim Horton’s. Is that chain still going? I remember that Boston Cremes were particularly impressive.

    Lovely list of why you love the country of your birth.

    Must make a list of what I love about Australia, even though I’m concluding that we’re not the magic country I once thought we were, especially when I was a child. Back then I thought my country was heaven; these days I see us as the South Africa of the Antipodes.

    But that’s another story.

    Thank God for Canada. I can say that with warmth and feeling. Love even.

    • ooooh, Tim’s! Not only are they going strong, they’re even here in NY! I wrote about it for the Toronto Star when it opened here and it was the best-read piece that day…I have to physically restrain myself from eating doughnuts.

      I’d be very curious to read your list about Oz. I also suspect it’s much easier to wax romantically when one is an ex-pat; I might be harder-pressed to find 20 things right now to rave about about the U.S. — where the rich get richer, the poor are screwed and morons like Sarah Palin dominate the national conversation. I do appreciate living here, but am appalled by the political and economic toxicity.

  8. Hooray for Canada! We had a wonderful Canada Day down at the waterfront in Victoria. Didn’t stick around for the fireworks, but saw enough red and white (clothing, flags, face paint, trinkets) to last us until next July 1st! :)

  9. [...] I enjoy reading is by a Canadian writer who lives and works in New York. On Canada Day, July 1, she posted 20 things she loves about [...]

  10. Yippee for Canada! I did a really slapdash post for Canada Day in images on my blog (http://bombaypink.wordpress.com/), and man did it make my heart swell and ache. Living in London now, and oh, so wishing that had a ON after the comma rather than a UK. Nice to find another ex-pat in the blogosphere.

  11. I think it is really weird that I have been living in Canada for over 2 and a half years and never heard of butter tarts before. I’m going to have to ask my friends now. Luckily I have the best poutine on the island around the corner :) And I had my first nanaimo-bar just a few kilometres from Nanaimo! :D

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