July 1, 2003 at 1 PM
The First of July is Canada Day, a date apparently chosen because the early loyalists wanted to get their national pride and celebration done and out of the way before the Fourth rolled around and those loud firecrackers from the south overshadowed the meek dominion.
That and everyone needs at least one day off in July.
Canada’s national anthem, “O Canada!”, isn’t a terrific song, but most of the fault for that lies with the tepid English lyrics.
Anyone who has been to a hockey game in Montreal, however, knows that there are French lyrics too. And even translated, they are both more fiery and flowery than the English (“True North strong and free?” Yawn.) . In fact the French words are the original ones, and the song was originally written to celebrate French-Canadian heritage (exclusively!). When the song was anglicized, the meaning of the poem was completely changed. Listen to the French words, as translated on the federal government anthem page, and that’s fairly obvious:
O Canada! Land of our forefathers
Thy brow is wreathed with a glorious garland of flowers
As in thy arm ready to wield the sword,
So also is it ready to carry the cross.
Thy history is an epic of the most brilliant exploits.
Thy valour steeped in faith
Will protect our homes and our rights
Will protect our homes and our rights.
Whoa, whoa, whoa. Ready to wield the sword? Valour steeped in faith? Brilliant exploits? Doesn’t sound like the wamsy-pamsy, multicultural, pot-smoking, gay-rights-loving Canada everyone is talking so much about these days.