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.