Friday, March 14, 2008

O Canada

In his most recent blog post, Aussie Sam de Brito, was espousing his man-love for Canadians. To which I just had to respond:

I grew up on the Canadian border (on the US side). So I got a lot of exposure to Canadian music, TV, and culture. Before the days of cable TV our television offerings included 3 American networks (CBS, ABC, and NBC), 3 Canadian networks (CBC, CTV, and CJOH), and 2 "superstations" out of Manhattan (WWOR and WPIX).

So, from a young age I was heavily exposed to Canadian culture. My grandparents had a summer cottage on the St. Lawrence River in Quebec. I love Canada-- as much as I love my own USA. It's something that few of my friends can understand... In fact only one of my friends truly understands and she's living in Montreal and plans on eventually getting dual citizenship.

Canada has a lot to offer-- polite people, beautiful scenery, fantastic wildlife, and one of the greatest sports known to man-- hockey.

And in Canada hockey is not merely a sport-- it is a religion, it's part of their national identity. When Maurice "The Rocket" Richard died they gave him a full state funeral! How many Cricket, Rugby, or Football players would Australia do that for? When he was suspended for punching a referee back in the 50s it literally incited riots in the city of Montreal... Those folks are hardcore! Oh and their beer is better than American beer. Give me a LaBatt's or Molson over a Budweiser, Coors, or Miller any day of the week!
And just a little addendum. I LOVE the Canadian accent. I know, I know... Canadians don't have an accent, we Americans do. ;-) My wife gets annoyed when I slip into it (which tends to happen whenever I call my parents as they still live right on the border). I also love Canadian currency, wildlife, hockey players, kids sledding, and of course the Queen! Absolutely brilliant!

I think a large part of our national identities comes largely from our origins. The birth of the American nation was born of violence, and as such that violence still exists in our culture today.... Whereas the Canadians, Aussies, and Kiwis are still subjects of the crown. Even if they have split from the British empire, when they did so, they did so peaceably. It wasn't a violent separation.

For further evidence look at the lyrics to our respective national anthems... The Star Spangled Banner is about how after a night of battle the flag was still standing:
O! say can you see by the dawn's early light
What so proudly we hailed at the twilight's last gleaming?
Whose broad stripes and bright stars through the perilous fight,
O'er the ramparts we watched were so gallantly streaming?
And the rockets' red glare, the bombs bursting in air,
Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there.
Oh, say does that star-spangled banner yet wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave?

On the shore, dimly seen through the mists of the deep,
Where the foe's haughty host in dread silence reposes,
What is that which the breeze, o'er the towering steep,
As it fitfully blows, half conceals, half discloses?
Now it catches the gleam of the morning's first beam,
In full glory reflected now shines in the stream:
'Tis the star-spangled banner! Oh long may it wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave!

And where is that band who so vauntingly swore
That the havoc of war and the battle's confusion,
A home and a country should leave us no more!
Their blood has washed out their foul footsteps' pollution.
No refuge could save the hireling and slave
From the terror of flight, or the gloom of the grave:
And the star-spangled banner in triumph doth wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave!

O! thus be it ever, when freemen shall stand
Between their loved home and the war's desolation!
Blest with victory and peace, may the heav'n rescued land
Praise the Power that hath made and preserved us a nation.
Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just,
And this be our motto: 'In God is our trust.'
And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave!
Compared to O Canada:
O Canada!
Our home and native land!
True patriot love in all thy sons command.
With glowing hearts we see thee rise,
The True North strong and free!
From far and wide, O Canada,
We stand on guard for thee.
God keep our land glorious and free!
O Canada, we stand on guard for thee.
O Canada, we stand on guard for thee.

O Canada! Where pines and maples grow,
Great prairies spread and Lordly rivers flow!
How dear to us thy broad domain,
From East to Western sea!
The land of hope for all who toil,
The true North strong and free!
God keep our land, glorious and free.
O Canada, we stand on guard for thee!
O Canada, we stand on guard for thee!

O Canada! Beneath thy shining skies,
May Stalwart sons, and gentle maidens rise.
To keep thee steadfast thro' the years,
From East to Western sea.
Our own beloved native land,
Our true North strong and free!
God keep our land, glorious and free.
O Canada, we stand on guard for thee!
O Canada, we stand on guard for thee!

Ruler supreme, who hearest humble prayer,
Hold our Dominion, in thy loving care
Help us to find, O God, in thee,
A lasting rich reward.
As waiting for the better day,
We ever stand on guard.
God keep our land, glorious and free.
O Canada, we stand on guard for thee!
O Canada, we stand on guard for thee!
Other than "standing on guard for thee" there's no reference to violence and even that reference is one of defense, not offense. There are no bombs or rockets going off... And even in the lyrics to the 3 additional rarely sung verses there's still no mention of violence. The rest of the song is about the beautiful nature and wildlife of the country and protecting that nature and generally just a feel good love of country.

And for good measure let's discuss Advance Australia Fair (click on the link for a unique performance of this anthem):
Australians all let us rejoice,
For we are young and free;
We've golden soil and wealth for toil;
Our home is girt by sea;
Our land abounds in nature's gifts
Of beauty rich and rare;
In history's page, let every stage
Advance Australia Fair.
In joyful strains then let us sing,
Advance Australia Fair.

Beneath our radiant Southern Cross
We'll toil with hearts and hands;
To make this Commonwealth of ours
Renowned of all the lands;
For those who've come across the seas
We've boundless plains to share;
With courage let us all combine
To Advance Australia Fair.
In joyful strains then let us sing,
Advance Australia Fair.
There's an almost invitational quality to it. Inviting outsiders to come and share the country with those who are already there. Much like with The Star Spangled Banner and O Canada there are more verses that rarely get sung. But I feel the first 2 verses illustrate my point and help reinforce the contrast between the 3 anthems.

Don't get me wrong I love my country. This isn't about any country being any better or worse than any other. It's more a point of curiosity seeing how much of our national identities get represented by our national anthems and how telling those anthems are of what we are like as a people.


Lauren said...


Please come pick up your award Mr. Maple Leaf! HAHA

Awareness said...

My husband continues to tell our children that they can choose their own religion, but they must grow up to be Leafs fans. hahaha!

We consider Hockey Night in Canada a very good medicine to maintain positive mental health.

I love that you are not only aware of us up north.......but that you are knowledgeable about us.

Personally, I can't imagine living anywhere else.

btw.....Leafs rule, Habs drool despite the standings.

e.ven said...

Thanks for the shout-out, dude! As much as Montreal drives me crazy sometimes, it always feels like home to me - and after nearly 7 years here, I pretty much consider myself Canadian already.

Jeff said...

I know this has nothing to do with the post but when I was looking to find a copy of the Johnny Got His Gun film I came across a newer production of it which is set to be released some time this year

Snooze said...

Ah, that's lovely to read about Canada through your eyes!!!!

Awareness: That's child abuse making them be Leafs fans (even though I live in Toronto). And the facts do speak... go Habs!

tworabbitshow said...

Accent? I doon't know what you're talking aboot.

Yeah, we kinda rock.

Dantallion said...

I really like hearing your take on things. I think we have a pretty good thing going here, despite some obvious pitfalls (not to mention my own bias).

Strangely, Anglos from Quebec don't have a typically Canadian accent. It's slightly more Americanized, somehow.

And awareness: What snooze said. lol!