On the 1st of July each year, Canadians come together across the country to celebrate Canada’s birthday.
The day marks the joining of the British North American colonies of Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and the Province of Canada into a federation of four provinces in 1867 (the Province of Canada was divided, in the process, into Ontario and Quebec) and the birth of Canada as a nation. Since then, Canada Day has become a day of celebrating all things Canadian and bears witness to an outpouring of national pride and sentiment throughout the land.
It has always been a bone of contention for me that England, and the UK writ large, doesn’t have its own national day of celebration. With the exception of patron saint days such as St. George’s Day, which aren’t public holidays, us Britons have always been unable or perhaps embarrassed to celebrate our heritage and history in a comparably outward way.
The Canadians hold no such reservations.
From Victoria to Vancouver, Calgary to Quebec City, Canadians furiously wave the Maple Leaf flag and adorn themselves in a multitude of red and white stickers. Celebrations include outdoor public events (festivals, parades and barbecues), ceremonies for new citizens, and fireworks displays as night falls.
The hub of these celebrations is in the national capital, where concerts are held on Parliament Hill, as well as in other parks and open spaces around the city. The Governor-General presides over the main event while various other dignitaries, celebrities and ‘Canadians of standing’ will also often attend.
The Snowbirds flight demonstration team will screech across the sky in tight aerial formations, the rock bands and folk dancers perform on the Hill, and the Mounties then ride in on horseback to demonstrate their world-renowned Musical Ride.
I’ve been away from Canada for eight years and I still miss Canada Day. While it’s true that I can celebrate Australia Day here in the land down under, it never feels quite the same.
I’ve never been in a place that so proudly wears its nationality on both arms, but in a typically non-confrontational, “take us as you find us”, Canadian kind of way.
Russell is a British expat living on Sydney’s Northern Beaches where he writes about his search for a life less ordinary at www.insearchofalifelessordinary.com, one of Australia’s leading expat and travel blogs, he can be followed on Twitter and Instagram as @russellvjward.