Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Canada's 142nd Birthday Celebration

And the flags flew in great profusion....

In a recent survey the biggest sources of national pride in Canada were the Canadian Flag, at 86%, followed by the Canadian Armed Forces, at 84%.

As I write this Charles calls to me to come and see a segment of the program "King and Country" which describes a tank action near Falaise where his brother Tom was killed in the tank he commanded. I watch as they show pictures of the military cemetery at Brettville sur Laize where we visited his grave.

In another survey I read today that the people of Canada value 'Freedom" above all else, and I pause to acknowledge the cost which has been paid by the brave throughout all these 142 years.

On a lighter note, let me tell you of the beginnings of Canada Day celebrations!

Samuel Hume tells this story in today's edition of the Vancouver Sun.

The first celebration of Canada Day began in a camp at Barkerville in 1868. The country was seething with gold seekers, many of them who had come through the mining camps of California - Americans with a deep antipathy to all things British.

'Yet many of the men working prospects in the Cariboo were British, with a heavy contingent of Welsh and Cornish miners who had brought the technology that permitted mining the deep deposits in old river bed'. And many others were loyalists from Upper Canada who had fled the American Revolution....

So in 1868, when rumours that a stirring Fourth of July party was to be held by the Americans on Independence Day, the British and Canadians plotted to pre-empt the party.

At one minute past midnight on July 1st, 1868, there was the deafening sound of a 21 gun salute to the birth of Canada, improvised by detonating charges of black powder sandwiched between anvils.

This was followed by a great party, - "horse races, athletic events and a greasy pole climb took the evening the Theatre Royal gave a special performance, followed by a grand ball at Mrs. Tracey's boarding house. The Grand finale was a fireworks display at 11.30 p.m. which was attended by over a thousand townspeople'. The first Canada Day celebration 'passed into memory, not without a few large heads - no doubt a result of the anvil chorus."

The Americans conceded it had been a 'rip-snorter' but sniffed, and noted the Canadians had no flag. And so they ran the Stars and Stripes up a tall flagpole.

However, on July 1st of 1869 the Canadians commissioned a local artist to make a Canadian flag, on which was a beaver, surrounded by a wreath of maple leaves on a white ground in the middle of the British ensign, and they erected an even taller pole across the street from where Old Glory fluttered.

"To this day Barkerville marks July 1 just as that first Canada Day was celebrated 141 years ago."

Happy Canada Day

1 comment:

Fonnell/Grammie/mom said...

Oh it looks so festive! Hope everyone had a wonderful time. I'll never forget the fun we had in Victoria on Canada day back in the 1980's. Saw my first game of Kricket (did I spell that correctly?) we loved see all the flags and thought a wonderful day!