Yay! We Canucks just celebrated another birthday. Canada’s 146th birthday, which is only about 20-something in dog years, which is pretty young for such a wise and experienced country.
Still, it’s always worth celebrating another Canadian year, especially when we get a long weekend as a birthday present. All of which means it’s time for another installment of the Good, the Bad & the Ugly (cue catchy Clint Eastwood, spaghetti western ocarina music).
Canada — the good
• Where else can you put six local original rock ’n’ roll bands from the 1960s and ’70s in a curling rink on the July long weekend and get over 1,000 people to come out and have an excellent time reconnecting, remembering and rockin’ out? Where the veteran (i.e. old) musicians play their, um, hearts out and the happy crowd dances and parties like it was 1969 and not a single medical or law enforcement emergency personnel had to be called out? And where, get this — it was all in the name of raising money for a museum and art gallery to help preserve the history and legacy of mangy musicians and dance hall debauchery? Only in Canada.
• Who else has the reputation of being “nice” and “friendly” and “frozen solid eight to 10 months of the year”? And when Canadians travel abroad, they are universally welcomed and world-renown for “not being American.” Remember that, militarily, we used to be known as the “peacekeepers.” And in many publications Canada is always at the top of the list of the best places on Earth to live. (These publications are proudly produced by the various Chambers of Commerce in various major Canadian cities, but as Canadians, they feel a little bit bad about that.)
• Who else has a flag with a big red leaf on it? The distinctive red maple leaf between two red bars is immediately recognized and revered worldwide as a red and white rectangle signifying two wide sidewalks on either side of a big tree — a powerful and meaningful symbol of what it means to be Canadian. It brings tears to a Canadian’s eyes just to see that leaf and two sidewalks sewn onto backpacks and flying on car and truck aerials right beside those green and white Saskatchewan Roughrider flags.
Canada — the bad
• The weather. In certain populated areas of Canada (here), there’s a saying that goes: “If you don’t like the weather, wait five minutes.” And it’s true, because lately you won’t like the weather five minutes later either. There is also a saying that Canadians get “10 months of winter and two months of bad sledding.” This is a saying we like to kid each other with as people swap the snowmobiles off their trucks and trailers and replace them with quads. But perhaps the most definitive expression concerning Canadian weather can be summed up by the venerable group of Englishmen known as Monty Python, who said, simply and sincerely: “Bloody weather.”
• Remember, just a few sentences ago, that one of the good things about Canada was that “Militarily, we used to be known as the ‘peacekeepers.’ ”Yeah, well, the bad part is the “used to be” part.
• You know that official red and white maple leaf flag? Those big red maple leaf trees are mostly in Ontario. Maybe a big red snowflake would be more Canadian, eh?
Canada — the ugly
• Other than the perpetually depressing state of the Canadian film industry, or lack of same, there are very few truly ugly things about Canada — at least not ones that would fit snugly into a happy Hay’s Daze column. Which is the whole point of celebrating Canada Day, isn’t it?
OK, so there are the assault mosquitoes that come out to attack us viciously on the only 10 or 12 days of summer we get each year. They’re pretty ugly and certainly can’t be actual Canadian mosquitoes, on account of they aren’t nice enough.
In summary, the Good, Bad & the Ugly of Canada is pretty darn good, especially if you are a Canuck. And also, the one thing you can say about Canada that potentially covers all three categories is that it is a very humongous country. The second largest after Russia, which doesn’t really count.
In fact, you can fit 14 Frances into one Canada, although I don’t think France would let us. And a lot of people outside of Canada have often commented on how “spaced out” Canada is. (They were talking about B.C. of course.)
So that’s one thing we can all be proud of and can celebrate year round. There’s even a song about it. It’s called Canada is Really Big by an excellent Canadian band called, appropriately, The Arrogant Worms, and we should all look it up on YouTube and sing. All together now:
Are very pointy
Our prairies are not
The rest is
But, man, do we have a lot
(we gotta lot of land, we gotta whole lot of land)
So stand up and be proud
And sing out very loud
We stand out from the crowd ‘cause
Canada’s really big!
Happy B-Day really big Canada ! (smiley face emoticon).
Harley Hay is a local freelance writer, award-winning author, filmmaker and musician. His column appears on Saturdays in the Advocate. His books can be found at Chapters, Coles and Sunworks in Red Deer.