Saturday, July 1, 2017
Canada is 150 years old and I've witnessed a lot of its history
I've been here for 44% of the nation's history, though my birth province was not among the original four of Confederation. When I was born, WWII was only 4 years over, and Newfoundland had just joined Canada. Our Prime Minister was Louis St. Laurent. George VI was king, Clement Attlee's Labour Party governed Britain, and Josef Stalin headed the USSR. The US President was Harry Truman, Jawaharlal Nehru presided over India, and Chairman Mao Zedong led China.
When I was born, neither Quebec women nor aboriginals off reservation were allowed to vote. Runner Tom Longboat, a veteran of WWI, died the same year, and though Rocket Richard was playing for the Montreal Canadiens, the Leafs won the Stanley Cup. Canadian surgeon and communist hero Norman Bethune was working in China, where he is still perhaps more famous than he is in Canada, at least outside Montreal.
The first passenger jet, the de Havilland Comet, took its test flight, and Hugh Maclennan had won two of his three Governor General's Literary Awards, including one for Two Solitudes. He would later be dubbed the Father of Canadian Literature. Arguably Canlit's mother, Margaret Laurence, was then living in Somaliland (later Ghana), and still five years away from her first publication.
Today, I feel like a relic of history. Yet I'm pleased that as a country, we've improved a great deal since then. We're far from perfect, but ever so much better than we used to be. Happy Canada Day, everyone. Nations are iffy institutions, but I'm sure glad this one is our home.