Red White And Blue

 

 

Red, White And Blue Flags (H/T Phil Toms Perfect Pitch)

HOORAY FOR THE RED, WHITE AND BLUE!

It unites and identifies us as a people – our country’s flag.  We wear it with pride in our lapel pins and jewellery, stickers on our luggage, on our t-shirs, our school bags, our boats, cars and campers, and sometimes painted on our faces.  To me it epitomizes the fierce love and loyalty I have to my beautiful and unique country, Canada, where I was born, my father and mother before me, my daughter.

Red, white and blue in combination are very strong colours, and many countries have chosen strictly red, white and blue for their flags, as you can see from the above picture. The three colours complement each other, blending beautifully. The Stars and Stripes, and the Union Jack are particularly beautiful in my eyes, especially when I can’t help but be reminded of the history of both of them.  Old Glory showing it’s proud independence wrested from Great Britain at a blood cost in history, declaring to the world as a republic comprised of 50 states, each independently proud of its statehood as well.  The Union Jack’s incorporates England’s and Wales’ red cross on a white ground (St. George), Scotland’s diagonal white cross on a blue ground (St. Andrew) and Ireland’s diagonal red cross on a white ground (St. Patrick). As a child, the Union Jack (and the Canadian Red Ensign) were the flags of our country, Canada, and the Stars and Stripes reminded me that both countries came from the same backgrounds.

My two favourite red, white and blues – the The Stars and Stripes of the USA…

american-flag

…and The Union Jack of Britain.

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Some others countries’ flags are basically red, white and blue, but also have symbols with other colours in them, so I have not shown them here.

Did you know that Canada was supposed to have a red-white-and-blue flag too? Canada had previously used both the Union Jack and the Canadian Red Ensign to represent our country, and the Red Ensign had come to be the recognized flag of the Dominion since the 1890’s. Public opinion wanted the Union Jack flying over parliament, which it did, until the Red Ensign in the 1920’s.  In 1945, the Canadian Red Ensign became the official Canadian Flag by Order in Council.Canadian Red Ensign

But Canada kept fretting about having a truly unique flag which symbolized Canada, and in 1946 a Special Joint Committee recommended a flag with a Union Jack in the upper left, with a golden maple leaf at the right, on a red background.

1946 Recommended flag

Still fretting about it, an extensive poll was taken of the preferences of adult Canadians, resulting in 80% wanting a national flag entirely different from that of any other nation, and 60% wanting that flag to bear the symbol of the maple leaf.  Many Canadians, including the Royal Canadian Legion and the Canadian Corps Association wanted to make sure the new flag would incorporate the Union Jack as a sign of Canadian ties to the United Kingdom, and to other Commonwealth countries such as Australia and New Zealand, which use the Union Jack in the quarter of their national flag.  But Quebec province and the Liberal Party did not want the Union Jack in our new flag.

There was a contest where people submitted their entries on what they would like to have as their official new flag, and in the mid-1960’s a new design for the national flag of Canada was “chosen”.  The flag was inaugurated on February 15, 1965, (and that date has been commemorated as “Flag Day” in Canada since 1996.)

The preferred choice for the new flag, and supposedly supported by Prime Minister Pearson, was a simple three maple leaves on white, with two blue bars on either side, reflecting Canada’s motto “From Sea to Sea”.

1200px-Canada_Pearson_Pennant_1964.svgMost Canadians loved that flag design, or another version of it displaying one red maple leaf in the centre. I preferred the one leaf flag myself, shown below, and that was the flag that was at the top of the list that Canada wanted as their flag.

Proposed Canadian Flag

A resolution in parliament was:    “…. to establish officially as the flag of Canada a flag embodying the emblem proclaimed by His Majesty King George V on November 21, 1921 – three maple leaves conjoined on one stem – in the colours red and white then designated for Canada, the red leaves occupying a field of white between vertical sections of blue on the edges of the flag.” The blue edges embodied our national motto of “sea to sea”.

The Liberal party, and Quebec, did not want the Union Jack to be part of the Canadian flag as a reminder of Canada’s heritage and links to the United Kingdom.  The Conservatives wanted that connection.  Neither side would budge from their position, with the Liberals then giving the decision to a Flag Committee, headed by a Liberal member of parliament.  The Committee itself was composed of seven Liberals, five Conservatives, one New Democrat Party member, one Social Crediter, and one Créditiste.  Obviously it would have been far more representative of the people of Canada had the Committee been chosen from the Canadian Public, which could easily have been done. But… you know how the mind of government works…

Of the thousands of design preferences submitted by the public, 2,126 contained maple leaves, 408 the Union Jack, 389 the beaver and 359 the Fleur-de-lys.  I remember we received in the mail a depiction of the final flag shown above, chosen as the most popular new Canadian flag-to-be.  Most people were happy with the choice – and the only decision left being considered was whether there should be a trio of leaves or one leaf, but at the last minute, the new flag choice was snatched away from us.

Here are a couple of other submissions for the proposed new flag:

possible Canadian flag
Canadian finalist flag

As mentioned above though, this is the flag most Canadians wanted, Red, White & Blue with the Maple Leaf emblem:

 

Proposed Canadian Flag

A last-minute flag design was slipped into the mix by historian (and Liberal) George Stanley – not part of the contest, by the way – with a single red maple leaf centred between two red bars on a white background.  Remember – the Pearson Pennant with the blue bars was the Canadian people’s choice – and we were told this would be the winner. Except, when the smoke had cleared, the Flag Committee chose George Stanley’s design of red and red and red on white.

Committee chosen Canadian flag

It was a win-lose decision for Canadians.  We had won a unique and distinctive flag, instantly recognizable and known around the world, but lost the one that was our choice, with the distinctive representation of our motto for blue “Sea To Sea”.  (Canadians had to settle for “Red Sea to Red Sea”, I guess.)  We were told in articles written at that time that it was primarily because the Liberals wanted no “Tory blue” to be incorporated into the flag, but plenty of “Liberal red.”  If so, I find it repugnant politics.  But with government, it is ever so, isn’t it.  Not power of the people, but Power Over The People.

The Canadian Red Ensign can sometimes be seen today, often in connection to veterans’ associations.  The provinces of Manitoba and Ontario adopted their own versions of the Red Ensign as their respective provincial flags in the wake of the national flag debate.  On the other hand, Newfoundland used the Union Jack as its provincial flag from 1952 until 1980, the blue triangles adopted in 1980 being a tribute to the Union Jack.  British Columbia’s flag, featuring the Union Jack in its top portion, was introduced in 1960 and is actually based on the shield of the provincial coat of arms, dating back to 1906.

Wonder what the flag would have looked like if our closest neighbours, and long-time friends south of the border had some input in the flag decision. Perhaps something like this?

Canadian-American flag?

9/11 – ALWAYS REMEMBER…. NEVER FORGET!

I was so moved by my daughter’s recent heartfelt Facebook post of her remembrance of 9/11 that I asked her if she would share it on the blog.  I don’t think we should just set aside one day a year to keep our feelings alive — we don’t ever want this to happen again.  We need to stay alert and aware and watchful as we remember.

My Memories of 9/11
by Deborah Gallant

I remember where I was and what I was doing on September 11th, 2001, but before I tell my story I want to remind you of a few cold, brutally hard facts.

There were 2,977 people killed in the September 11, 2001 terror attacks at the World Trade Center in New York City, The Pentagon in Virginia and a lonely field in Shanksville, Pennsylvania. This figure includes those on the airplanes that were used as bombs and some who died later from diseases and complications caused by injuries and toxins at Ground Zero, but does not include the 19 suicide terrorists. Their lives count less than nothing to me. Many hundreds more are currently gravely ill as a direct consequence of being near Ground Zero of the attacks. Of those who were killed on that date 343 were firefighters, 72 were in law enforcement and 55 were military personnel. Most of them died trying to save others. The rest of the victims were civilians from over 90 countries, including 24 from my home country, Canada.

I was catching up on the TV news before leaving for work that morning when the first plane slammed into World Trade Center, North Tower. I remember hearing the newscasters speculating what kind and size of plane it was and what kind of mechanical or navigational problem could have caused it to crash. I set my recorder to tape the news channel so that I could find out what had happened when I got home. What I knew at that point was horrible enough, but when I got to work my first telephone call was from my Mom telling me a second plane had just hit the World Trade Center, South Tower. We both knew this was no longer some sort of accident or malfunction. This was a terror attack.

It became impossible for me to work as I listened to radio reports of another deliberate plane crash, this time aimed at the Pentagon. There was also a gigantic television monitor on the outside of an office tower next to my workplace which had switched from local news coverage to the ongoing terror attacks. I saw shocked New Yorkers standing in the streets staring in disbelief, gasping, crying, trying to somehow comprehend what they were seeing. Others, closer to the towers were being urged by police, in no uncertain terms, to run for their lives, and run they did. I watched in horror as the towers burned and belched black smoke and people on the upper floors of the buildings frantically waved clothing from windows they had smashed open, hoping somehow to be rescued. I saw those who decided jumping was a better death than the intense fire that surrounded them. My heart was breaking for them all.

I watched as the south tower tilted and came crashing down, floor by floor, followed shortly after by the north tower, pancaking in on itself. Those people still left alive on the ground were running, screaming, in fear for their lives as huge billows of smoke and dust engulfed everything – the world went black as night and horribly silent. As the debris cloud slowly drifted up I watched dazed survivors, covered in soot and ash and burns, slowly struggling through a desolate landscape littered with thousands of pieces of paper from the downed towers and smashed fire engines and emergency vehicles. The streets were unrecognizable with debris and destruction. I wept for the firefighters I had watched rushing in to save others and the police who were protecting and clearing the area around the towers. I knew they must have perished along with those still trying to escape the buildings.

Then we heard of a fourth hijacked plane crashing in a field in Pennsylvania and I worried that the next target could be Washington. What new horror would I hear of next? I felt like I was watching the end of the world. I have no idea how my coworkers and I made it through that horrible day. Parts of what happened are still crystal clear to me and other moments are lost in a fog of sorrow. My Mom and Husband kept in touch with me all day, which was my lifeline. I recall thinking “I’m grateful my Dad didn’t have to see this horror in his lifetime”.

I think the bank closed early due to fears for our staff’s safety, because we were in the downtown financial and business hub of Toronto. Oddly, I can’t remember that detail clearly. I do remember being grateful to get home to my Husband and I do remember tears that wouldn’t stop. As the evening wore on we watched the relentless efforts of the emergency personnel doing everything in their power to look for survivors. It was a monumental task as Ground Zero was still burning uncontrollably. I remember watching gigantic hoses shooting water over the flames late into the night. The debris and twisted metal and smouldering ruins piled many stories high made it an unbelievably dangerous place to be. I saw doctors and medical staff standing ready with life saving equipment and empty stretchers. They had already helped those injured during the day and were hoping, along with the rest of us, that survivors might still be found.

I remember praying for all those souls that had their beautiful lives stolen from them. All they did was wake up and go to work, just like I had, but they didn’t get to go home to their loved ones. Their friends and family would never get to talk to them or look at their faces or hug them ever again. On that day, and whenever I’ve thought about that day since, I still feel like I lost members of my own family. How much more horrible must it be for the victims left grieving their true losses? It’s unimaginable. Gut-wrenching anger would overwhelm me soon, but on that day a soul-deep sorrow was as much as I could bear. Finally I remember watching President Bush speak to the nation from the Oval Office. I knew the resolution I heard in his voice was the resolution of the entire nation that, no matter how long it took, justice and retribution would prevail.

I fear too many have forgotten how they felt that day and in the terrible weeks and months after. It almost seems like some feel it’s bad etiquette to bring it up or dwell on it. It’s fading in their memories like a disturbing movie they saw and would rather forget. I also fear that those too young or not yet born, will not be taught what really happened when they are old enough to understand. Parents must remember that knowledge is power. Our children will need to feel what we felt and learn what we learned to stay safe. 9/11 cannot become just another date marked on the calendar or be reduced to a monument you might visit on vacation.

If we downplay it or try to ignore the facts of what happened, and more importantly, what many people in this world desperately want, and are constantly attempting to see happen to us again, we do so at our peril.

It wasn’t a horror movie. It happened. I witnessed it.

I WILL NEVER FORGET.

 

The following video portrays what that terrible day was like for me, my family and so many other millions in the United States and around the world. Please watch “Homeward Angels”, a powerful 9/11 tribute. (DEA4912)

This following is a moving video tribute to 9/11 Emergency Services Personnel who worked and searched through the night of 9/11 and many days and nights after. (music by Live – “Overcome”) (CameraPlanetArchive)

Red, White and Blue MusicI’ve chosen a few songs for Mom’s blog that relate to both the “Red, White and Blue” theme and to our determination to never forget what happened on 9/11.

Here is a poignant 9/11 song by Darryl Worley called “Have You Forgotten?” (DarrylWorleyVEVO)

This song touches the heart and asks you to remember what you were doing on 9/11. Here’s Alan Jackson with “Where Were You When the World Stopped Turning?” (dgocmp6)

Next, this song selection taps into the anger caused by the events of 9/11 and is a salute to the troops. It’s Toby Keith‘s song called “Courtesy of The Red, White and Blue (The Angry American)” (TobyKeithVEVO)

I’m sure at this very sad and reflective time my American friends will especially enjoy this final, uplifting tune. Here’s “You’re A Grand Old Flag” (Highhoyoyo)

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These poems are dedicated to those wives who lost their husbands on 9/11.  Although I didn’t have my husband snatched out of my life in such a brutal, cruel, senseless way as they did, I feel his loss from my life every day.  Perhaps this will touch a chord in their hearts, knowing that someone empathizes with them, and somewhat understands their pain.

Arrows

Arrows of memory
lurking in dark corners
poised and ready
to strike
at my heart.

A voice I’ll never hear again
whispering my name,
laughing with joy,
humming,
nevermore heard.

A touch I’ll never feel again –
big, gentle hands,
holding me softly,
so warm,
nevermore felt.

A sight I’ll never see again
distinctive walk,
my stand-out in the crowd,
handsome, strong,
nevermore seen.

Thoughts I’ll never share again
wisdom to get the job done,
in the right and honest way,
intensity of hope and belief –
nevermore experienced.

© E J Finn/Collie.

Upon Another World

Upon another world
and in a different time
I reach up to the mountain
I must climb.

Beneath a distant sun,
a new galactic space,
I look at everyone
still searching for your face.

The air is soft and warm
the sky is greenish blue,
I stretch forth my arm,
reaching out for you.

You are always there
beside the mountain streams,
This life we still share,
if only in my dreams.

© E J Finn/Collie

 

 

Red White and Blue paws-for-awhile
In keeping with our theme of remembering 9/11, we also remember all those emergency personnel, including man’s four legged friends, who valiantly worked to save lives and recover the lost. This video, which takes place in New York, shows the 16th Birthday celebration for the last known surviving search and rescue dog from 9/11, named “Bretagne”(BarkBox)

Canadian Seasonings

Update in Time: (added July 27)

I intended to create a stand-alone blog on the Toronto 2015 Pan Am Games, which just ended on Sunday, July 26th, but thought instead I would add a tribute note on the games here instead.

Congratulations to all the athletes who made this event a superior one and very memorable.  Here are some quotes from the official website: http://www.toronto2015.org.

– “largest-ever international multi-sport games in Canada’s history”
– “Team Canada….setting a national record for gold medals won at a Pan Am Games (78 Gold 69 Silver 70 Bronze = 217) the best showing for Canada at any Pan Am Games.”
– “highest level of participation ever by female athletes at more than 45 per cent.”
– “debut of women’s baseball (silver) women’s canoe sprint (gold, silver) women’s rugby sevens (gold), canoe/kayak – slalom (bronze), golf, return of men’s softball” (gold) – (gold in women’s softball too).
– “athletes smashed more than 80 Pan Am records.”
– “Canada’s women’s basketball team took home its first ever gold medal.”
– well over a million tickets sold to the games…

AND NOW… on to the 5th Parapan Am Games to be held August 7 to August 15th, the largest ever held, with over 1600 para-athletes participating.

Another Update – posted August 27, 2015

Some results of the Pan Am/Parapan Am Games:  (congats to Brazil’s outstanding medal showing!!!)

It was the largest Parapan Am Games in history.  There were close to a quarter million visits to Games venues from August 7 to 15, and after the first weekend, more than five million Canadians (14% of the population) tuned in to watch the unprecendented coverage on CBC TV/ICI Radio-Canada.

Team Canada had its best showing ever, winning 168 medals, including 50 gold, coming in second in the medal standings behind Brazil, the Host Country of next year’s Paralympic Games. 19-year-old Canadian swimmer Aurelie Rivard was the most decorated female athlete of the Games, winning 7 medals and smashing the world record in the 100 metre freestyle.  There were more than 300 medal events, with full stands and cheering crowds.  Ten world records were set in tack and field, swimming and powerlifting.  Omara Durand from Cuba clocked the fastest 100 metres ever by a female para-athlete, and broke the world record in the 200 metres. Jarryd Wallace of the U.S. defended his 2011 Parapan Am gold medal in the 100 metres in a world record time of 10.71 seconds.  It was the debut of wheelchair rugby, sometimes called “murderball” with rivals Canada and the US showcasing the sport in front of sold-out crowds.  (Canada won the gold….)

Oh, by the way — for both events, the weather was superbly summer……

four-seasons-wallpaper copy
I imagine that my “far south south-of-the-border” neighbours (yes, that’s how it’s spelled in Canada) think Canadians like me who love all that is Canada, (particularly her magnificent seasons), makes us kind of weird.  However, I get such a surge of pleasure from each of our four seasons, that to me it’s having the absolute best of all possible worlds right here, in any part of our great nation.  Some think we actually have five seasons, if you count “Indian Summer” (that brief, unseasonably warm period at the end of autumn), and I think that’s true.

Winter:  “It is the life of the crystal, the architect of the flake, the fire of the frost, the soul of the sunbeam.  This crisp winter air is full of it.  John Burroughs, (Winter sunshine)”

Winter Title (s)

I love winter.  It is all blacks and whites and greys.  It is moody, cloudy days, almost ominous in their foreboding, dark looks.  I love it because it brings out the melancholy side of me, allowing me to wallow in self-pity and sadness from time to time, bringing out a part of me I would probably never know if I lived in perpetual sunshine. It’s the time to bring out haunting Russian music, or southern blues.

My daughter, making her usual contribution to my blogs, has found some themed music for your entertainment while you pause in your reading. “This is Enya, an Irish singer, instrumentalist and songwriter performing “And Winter Came…” from her 2008 album of the same name, accompanied by a lovely winter pictorial (bluesensation75)”

Not all of winter’s days are gloomy — so many are crisp and fresh and smelling brand-new.  It is exciting to open the door to see the first snowfall, especially when large fluffy flakes are falling softly or swiftly, drifting or swirling or dropping straight down, with the entire sky brightened.  Or the first snowfall could follow a keening, shrieking wind, straight from the bowels of madness, bringing stinging, biting streaks of white fury along with it to snatch at you, sucking the breath from you, even while making you aware of how alive you are!
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It could last an hour or two and then just dissolve away, or it could come with a huge tribe of flakes following it, flooding down, deciding to stick around for awhile, until inch-by-inch and foot-by-foot, the whole earth is a whiteness, on ground and fence and roof and branch — and car, of course.  It can be mushy and slushy or crisp and pristine, with little diamonds embedded in it, making crunchy or squeaky echoes as you walk on it.

Here’s a great electro-swing version of “Winter Weather” sung in 1941 by Peggy Lee and remixed by Jazzbox in 2013 with great archival vintage and cartoon footage (cartongfilms)”

I love the bright blue sky days of winter when the bark of the leafless trees are black and beautiful with winter white in sharp contrast, but in harmony nevertheless.  I love the stillness or the howling.  I love waking to see animal tracks in the backyard, and try to guess what’s been running or hopping there.  I love watching winter sports – (mostly, I confess, on tv or computer from the comfort of a chair, indoors, warm and cozy).

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But I have curled, people!  I have ice-skated.  I have played street hockey with my brothers.  I have created snowmen, some pretty original, and some pretty big.  I have had snowball fights. I learned which snow makes the best snowballs – which ones dissolve on contact, which ones are icy enough to hurt a bit.  I have watched ice sculptures being created, spectactularly beautiful and yet only temporary works of art, making their creators very special in my books.

Winter 1

I have skiied down hillsides.  I have gone sledding.  I have gone tobogganing.  I have gone ice fishing.  I have dared to test the ice on river or lake when it was either coming at the beginning of winter or going at the end.  I have cracked through that same ice and scrambled to safety, feeling daring, and alive, and wet and cold. I have put my tongue out and captured snowflakes.  I have marvelled at the beauty and originality of each snowflake.

Robert Duncan, A Grand Day

Robert Duncan, A Grand Day

I have smelled the sweat of horses pulling a hay-baled wagon through the snow on a farm outing.  I have come in from the cold to sip hot apple cider or cocoa. I’ve dunked for apples in a barrel of water. I’ve enjoyed hearty winter soups on a frosty day.  I have tapped maple trees, collecting their sap to boil down into delicious maple syrup and maple sugar.  I have dropped hot syrup into the snow and eaten maple snow cones.  I have watched dogsleds mushing on the trails, eager, eager, eager to win.  I have snow glided on the ice.

“This is a favourite song of mine from Simon & Garfunkel recorded live on TV in 1967. Here they are harmonizing on “A Hazy Shade of Winter” (pupovac zlatko)”

I have also endured sleet and ice storms which knocked out power lines, leaving us without heat or electricity, sometimes (but rarely) for many days. I have read by candlelight at those times, and used a hand-cranked radio to get the news.

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I shivered a lot when that happened, bundling myself up in much that is woollen.  I have held a little bunny close to my chest to keep him warm and felt him snuggle close.  I have driven a car on black ice (exciting! terrifying!) and through ruts on roads covered with a foot of snow (but that’s rare, I admit – we have the best winter road snow plowers in the world.)

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And three inches of snow NEVER panics Canadians!  (Ashamed to admit, but for a friendly, caring Northern Neighbour, I admit I find it kind of funny to see panic-stricken drivers in the deep south experiencing their first inch-and-a-half snowfall on sidewalks and roads, but I do sympathize, yes I do… I would never snicker…). Oh yes, we have adventures on icy roads, and white-outs, and black-outs sometimes, but that’s what they are – adventures!  Things that make us stronger. Situations that encourage us to be good neighbours to each other. I’ve been overwhelmed with the kindness and generosity of family, friends and strangers at those times. Yes, it is sometimes a nuisance to have to clear our cars, driveways and sidewalks of snow. But we also get to see the magic fingers of Jack Frost etching designs on our windows that are amazing, and we get to see icicles hanging and catching the light with diamond clarity, and see the arms of the trees covered in snow or ice, dressed up in formal attire for winter dancing. We get to breathe that wonderful fresh winter air.

Spring:  “The day the Lord created hope was probably the same day he created Spring. – Bern Williams”
Spring Title (s)

Then there is Spring.  The time of the lifting of the heart.  Renewal of life.  Not just Easter, which is always a wonderful time for me, but in the boldness of the first snowdrops or crocuses shoving their way through the snow, shouting “We’re coming through!  We’re bringing Spring!”  We recently visited family in Peterborough, and although there was snow on the ground, they had boxes and boxes of pansies sitting on tall stands outside so that passers-by would see Spring was coming. What a heart-warming, friendly sight!

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So what if they had to bring them indoors at night!  They were being hardened.  They will become Very Tough Canadian Pansies, and nothing will destroy them!  In fact, I think that Canadians harden themselves every winter, to just become more and more worthy natives of this absolutely magnificent, wonder-filled country of ours. It makes us more appreciative of the joys of all the seasons.

“I’ve picked the light-hearted “It Happens Every Spring”, with music by Josef Myrow and lyrics by Mack Gordon, and sung in 1956 by Gogi Grant.  If you’re a baseball fan, there’s a 1949 movie with the same title. (MarkGallagher)”

But, Spring! ah, Spring!  The trees sprout out with buds in what seems like just one day. The blackness of the twigs and branches fuzzes out a little, looking more brownish, almost hazy. A few days later, the first little bright yellow-green leaves appear, and like the crocuses they urge themselves to grow.  They are not afraid to unfurl themselves, something beautiful to see in its own right.

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The colours are light and bright greens, the first of their magnificent displays to be shown throughout the year. Spring flowers are gentler than summer’s, but lovely in their crisp yellows, purples, mauves, whites, blues and pinks  The robins come hopping along, cheerful and happy, feeding on berries until the ground is suitable for listening for and then pulling out worms.  They are forced to listen to the haughty cardinals and sparrows who have soldiered through the winter, and who probably call them “sun birds” because they don’t have the stamina to stay….

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Spring is also daffodils, bicycles, motorcycles, nest building, yard cleanup, painting, preparation of deck and barbecue.  It’s a time of walking deliriously happy dogs, so pleased they no longer have to wear those woolly coats and hats and boots their owners forced on them all winter (the pampered ones, of course).

Spring 1

Spring brings forth lilacs, forsythia blooms, hydrangeas, dogwood, magnolias and, of course cherry and crabapple blossoms… and their scents drift through my doorway, as I breathe in very deeply, absorbing spring into my very being.

“From the 1967 TV special “Movin’ With Nancy” here’s Frank Sinatra making a recording of “Younger Than Springtime” while daughter Nancy listens in (fabtv)”

Spring is a time of planting flowers and vegetables and strawberries.  The backyard has a generous sprinkling of deep purple wild violets and I fill my eyes with the sight of them. Spring brings a yearning to leave the city, take a little countryside trip, searching for a teahouse, a new store, a new restaurant, a new park. Everything seems new in Spring!  What spring would be complete without a thunderstorm or two, moody days, electric days, dazzling sunshine, nourishing rain, impressive clouds… How could anyone not love Spring and it’s massive renewal?

Summer: “It’s a smile, it’s a kiss, it’s a sip of wine … it’s summertime!” – Kenny Chesney

Summer Title (s)

Just when you’re getting quite used to Spring, it subtly becomes summer.  More blooms of deeper colours, richer, darker greens, more birds, and sounds of laughter, play and joy from the children. Now is the time for the ice cream trucks to arrive, and the knife sharpening vendors.  A sort of relaxation blankets each day, although there is an abundance of summer energy coursing through a Canadian’s veins, in anticipation of the incredible activities available.

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Baseball, water sports, car races, golfing, tennis, swimming, hiking, picnicking, barbecues, weddings (yes, we tend to have more of those in the warm seasons), holidays, beaches, and throughout it all the sense of community, of people soaking up the sun, traveling and enjoyment.

This is American duo Seals and Crofts, live on the British BBC2 TV music show The Old Grey Whistle Test back in in 1975, with their beautiful “Summer Breeze” (stardustdays)”

Watching Canada Geese Crossing signs on the roads and then seeing a goose family arrogantly and confidently cross the road while you idle the car, taking snapshots with your phone.  They’re hardened Canadians too, aren’t they. Proud.  Some stay all winter down on the shores of Lake Ontario, and in the Toronto area, we visit them and bring seed and grains for them in the winter months. They are sleek and sassy, and very hardy and strong – symbols, like the beaver, of Canadians in general.

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Summer has a different breeze, a different rain, a different sky-filled starry night than other seasons.  It’s the only time we can really feel lazy, as I do when I step onto the patio and doze on my glider swing, day-dreaming a story into being, or snapping pictures of birds as they hop through the branches, looking for berries or bugs.  I think the cardinals and bluejays deliberately flit about, knowing their pictures are being taken.  They do have a generous dash of show-business in their makeup, announcing their arrivals and claims to the territory, as do the crows in the tall pines at the back of the yard.

“This is a classic, happy summer song; the original 1970 version of the British band Mungo Jerry’s biggest hit “In The Summertime” (Mungo Jerry)”

Summer is full of fun, laughter, daydreaming, laziness and holiday – short-shorts, hot days, humid nights, band concerts, trips to get ice-cream.
Summer 2

Summers are hot sunny days spent in air-conditioned malls shopping, going to a movie, eating at a favourite restaurant – or barbecues with ribs, burgers, fish, roasts, corn, topped with strawberry shortcake for dessert.  And don’t forget the beer.

Summer 3

Summer is watching the corn grow as “high as an elephant’s eye”, knowing that June and July mean fresh strawberries with corn on the cob in August.  Summer is visiting pick-your-own produce orchards and farms – feasting now or canning or freezing whatever you need for the rest of the year.

My daughter thought our southern neighbours would particularly enjoy listening to Hall & Oates perform on the Fourth of July at Liberty Park, NJ (fireworks and all!).  They were always well loved here in Canada too and played many of our largest venues to sold-out crowds

“In 1985, for a crowd of 60,000, Rock and Roll Hall of Famers Daryl Hall & John Oates perform a cover of Sly & The Family Stone’s 1969 quintessential summer sing-a-long “Hot Fun In The Summertime”. As a side note, you may notice lead guitarist G.E. Smith, who later joined the Saturday Night Live band as Musical Director. Hope you enjoy, and if you do, look up Sly’s original version too! (MadMelTV)”

Summer is Farmer’s Market and roadside stands displaying home-grown produce full of goodness and freshness.  Summer is a time for the Honda Indy Toronto Race on the downtown lakeshore streets near Lake Ontario, for visiting the Canadian National Exhibition grounds for fun and a taste of Canada and the world.  Summer is a time of street festivals, of Jazz Concerts, of Theatre and rock and classical concerts, of opera, of open air restaurants.  Summer is a time of regattas, air shows, amusement parks.  Summer is a time of meeting and greeting and I love every moment of it!

Autumn: “Delicious autumn!  My very soul is wedded to it, and if I were a bird I would fly about the earth seeking the successive autumns.” – George Eliot

Autumn Title (s)

Now comes Autumn, to some people the best season of the year. I particularly love it because my daughter was born and married in Autumn, for starters. What is more awe-inspiring than a trip to Algonquin Park, or any of the north woods where the Master Painter has been at work splashing colour on the maple trees, in vivid reds, oranges, yellows, golds – balanced with bright or deep dark greens.  There is a different scent in the air, and just a touch, a hint that it will be getting chilly. But there is still a generous serving of warm days left over from summer.

Here’s Chet Atkins, “Mr. Guitar”, performing “Autumn Leaves” for a Boston Pops audience in 1972. He begins in slow Flamenco style then switches to up-tempo with his unique “finger” picking style. (muzikman74)

This is the time when the yard is cleaned up, leaves are raked (after the piles have been jumped into and thrown around a bit by the kids).  Tree branches are pruned back, gathered, tied into bundles, placed at the roadside for pickup. (Even yard cleanup is kind of invigorating and satisfying.)  In the countryside, you can catch the pungent aroma of burning leaves here and there, bringing a bit of nostalgia for the days when we were once allowed to do the same in the city, in your back yard or at curbside.

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Autumn is watching the birds getting a little restless, the ones who endure that enormous, brave journey down south each year, knowing one day they’ll be here and the next they’ll be gone.  The joy is in watching them mass up, gathering their kind together, prepping themselves for the journey, making sure everyone is there, and breaking out in song together as the evening sun sets.  I have seen fields massed with millions of Monarch butterflies waiting for the right wind to help them cross the lake on their first stretch of the journey to California or wherever is as south as they can go.  The whole field was shivering and glittering with their fragile bodies, wings moving, waiting, waiting and then…. gone.

1237140-1200x800--1_1Monarch-butterflies
Or a tree completely filled, every inch of every twig, with warblers of every ilk, waiting, waiting … look again, and they’ve left Canada for their great sojourn below the border.  I’ve seen southern Ontario crows leave for southern U.S., and northern Ontario crows leave for southern Ontario.  Go figure!

84783-1280x1024-Geese

Through it all the faithful sparrows and cardinals and Canada Geese who stay, keep me remembering that hardy ones are always here, through all the seasons, the ones I worry about in a bad storm. (Where do they hide? How do they keep warm?  Find food?) Yet they are there every spring, ready for a new season of life.  And that’s who we are, as a nation.  We don’t need to flee to southern climes – although some of us do, or temporarily do, or sometimes do – but mostly we stay, roll down our sleeves and wait and prepare for winter.

“Do you know Justin Hayward? He’s been the lead singer of the influential British band The Moody Blues since 1966 and I’ve always enjoyed his distinctive voice. From 1989 this is “Forever Autumn” (amethyst2001)”

Autumn is a time when we give thanks for this wonderful country, our home.  This is the time we gather what we’ve sown and set it aside for the lean months of winter.  (Well, theoretically at least.  After all, our stores never run out of bananas and mangoes and lettuce, summer, winter, spring and fall, but I’m creating a picture of our hardiness here!)  Seriously, I do give thanks.  Thanks for being born here, thanks for the newcomers who have adapted to our ways and become hardy Canadians too, and who have brought touches of India and China and the Middle East and Europe to our restaurant fare. My friendly, helpful next-door neighbours are from the Philippines, quite used to our seasons now, shovelling snow and mowing lawns with the greatest of ease.  Autumn is a rich, beautiful season, with hardy chrysanthemums lasting out well into the first snows.  I think of them as Canadian all the way.

Indian Summer: “Each golden day was cherished to the full, for one had the feeling that each must be the last.  Tomorrow it would be winter.”  Elizabeth Enright (The Four-Story Mistake)

Indian Summer

Before Autumn is finished with its wild winds and whirling leaves, there sometimes comes a period of grace called Indian Summer.  Just when we are getting used to thinking cold thoughts and preparing for the white stuff, a few days or a couple of weeks will come with warm breezes and sunny skies and shirt sleeves again, even if the air still smells of late Autumn.

Autumn 1

These are times for a final soaking up of as much sun as you can hold, before having to take your Vitamin D drops in the winter.  These are times for a day trip or two to a country inn, walking around outside, taking advantage of every minute. It’s a time of respite, of gathering together your stamina, getting ready for what is to come – for that period of still, quiet mornings, gray skies and threatening clouds, harbingers of that first day of snow.

From a 1957 episode of The Nat King Cole Show, here’s the man himself singing the classic “Shine On Harvest Moon” in his own unmistakable style (NelsonGoncalves)”

Happy, Happy!

I noted that the 2015 World Happiness Report, the third of its kind, has Canada listed as #5 of the 10 Happiest Nations, behind only Switzerland, Iceland, Denmark, and Norway – and followed by Finland, Netherlands, Sweden, New Zealand, Australia (oops! the USA is #15 — just joshin’ ya).  I think, when you look at the list of happiest nations, you should note how many of them are known for their changing seasons…… I rest my case for Canadian Seasonings.

Crea-degli-accostamenti-gradevoli

Before I leave the post, for those visiting for the first time, I normally have Paws Awhile, with animal pix or notes, a poem of mine, quotations, some art or interesting items (to me) from around the world, or another whimsy or two.  But this post was a little longer than usual, and my daughter and I decided to include a few quotations and some music within each season.  I hope you enjoyed it!

Signing off…
ej

Happy Canada Day Fireworks

Oh! CANADA! – eh?

Canada Day Ottawa, Ontario - Federal Parliament Buildings

Canada Day Ottawa, Ontario – Federal Parliament Buildings

Whoever says we Canadians don’t have pride of country doesn’t know what they’re talking about.  We’re not loud, but we’re proud!

Flag of Canada with Maple LeavesLike many of us, I tend to grumble about winter weather when I know others are having perpetual summers, but what the heck!  They have their air-conditioners on all the time, don’t they?  We don’t need to, except in the hottest months of summer.  All we need is a good heating system, a sweater or two, some warm winter clothing for outdoors, (including a good hat), and the common sense to stay indoors in the middle of a blizzard. Canadian Winter Clothing (Olympics)Here in Toronto, we have The Canadian Shield and The Niagara Escarpment protecting us like an umbrella from the most severe weather, although sometimes Nature tests our complacency with a large dump of snowfall.  Most winters here have hardly any snow at all.  Now, on the other hand, London, Ontario

Western University London Ontario

Western University London Ontario

and Stratford, Ontario

Stratford Shakespearean Festival Ontario

Stratford Shakespearean Festival Ontario

and that whole corridor that stretches up to the north from “The Golden Horseshoe” can get some pretty large snowfalls, but I remember that’s one of the reasons my Mom and Dad came back from Arizona where they had spent several months each year, because Christmas just wasn’t right without the snow.

Snowbound Cars in Barrie Ontario

Snowbound Cars in Barrie Ontario

But winter aside, the rest of the year in Canada is truly spectacular.

VanDusen Botanical Garden Vancouver British Columbia

VanDusen Botanical Garden Vancouver British Columbia

The first hardy Canadian crocuses sometimes pushing their way up through snow, the healthy abundance of tulips, daffodils and forsythia bushes with all the other spring flowers tell us that winter is over for another year. Early Blooming Crocuses It’s well worth waiting through the white months of December, January, February and part of March to get the rains that open up the earth to all the beauty waiting to spring forth. Spring Tree Blossoms The trees and bushes are magnificent presenting intense yellow-greens, gradually changing to dark as summer comes along, rich, deep reds of the Manitoba maples, framed against the forest and medium greens of pines and evergreens – absolutely stunning. Atlantic coast vegetation Then summer is upon us with all its warmth and sweet breezes, summer showers, trips to the beaches, colourful flowers everywhere, with fresh fruit and vegetables appearing in Toronto’s unique and colourful Kensington Market area…

Kensington Market Toronto Ontario

Kensington Market Toronto Ontario

or Toronto’s historic St. Lawrence Market

St. Lawrence Market Toronto, Ontario.

St. Lawrence Market Toronto, Ontario.

and in Farmers’ Markets in cities, towns & villages…

Red Wing Farmers Market, Vancouver, British Columbia

Red Wing Farmers Market, Vancouver, British Columbia

and at country roadside stalls and “come pick-your-own” farms all across Canada…

Roadside market in Mahone Bay, Nova Scotia (Betty Ann Deobald)

Roadside market in Mahone Bay, Nova Scotia (Betty Ann Deobald)

including the great, multicultural City Market, in St.John, New Brunswick.

Famous "City Market", St. John, New Brunswick

Famous “City Market”, St. John, New Brunswick

Everywhere you travel you will find barbecues-in-the-park, attractive golf courses, neighbourhood ballgames…

Nat Bailey Stadium, Vancouver British Columbia

Nat Bailey Stadium, Vancouver British Columbia

beach sports, fishing, swimming, bocchia, theatre, jazz, picnics, festivals and outdoor cafés.

Cafe Maurizio Montreal, Quebec

Cafe Maurizio Montreal, Quebec

Summer gives way to glorious, vibrant, wild autumn, painting totally superb pictures in Algonquin Park of seas of maples, breathtaking in their abundance.

Autumn Colours in Algonquin Park, Ontario

Autumn Colours in Algonquin Park, Ontario

The air is crisper, and we know that after an Indian Summer, we will be eased into winter, where ice-skating, snowboarding, skiing, snowmobiling, ice sculpturing, and all the joys and beauty of winter will ease our pain past the cold..

Quiet Winter Beauty, Owen Sound Ontario

Quiet Winter Beauty, Owen Sound Ontario

(which we’re insulated against anyway, with our warm clothing – you’ve heard of our “Roots” apparel stores, right?).

Wearing "Roots" on The Rideau Canal Ottawa Ontario

Wearing “Roots” on The Rideau Canal Ottawa Ontario

Did You Know...

BUT, DID YOU KNOW THIS ABOUT CANADA?

Most Peaceful Countries In The World – Iceland, Denmark, Austria, New Zealand, Switzerland, Finland, CANADA, Japan, Belgium, Norway.

Best Countries for Business In The World  – Ireland, New Zealand, Hong Kong, Denmark, Sweden, Finland, Singapore, CANADA, Norway, Netherlands (reported Forbes.com). CANADA Has outstanding banking services, with 4 of the world’s top banks belonging to Canada. CANADA is #8 out of 185 countries posting lower corporate taxes on its citizens.

Toronto Ontario Business/Financial District

Toronto Ontario Business/Financial District

Countries With The Highest Quality of Life / Standard Of Living – Australia, Sweden, CANADA, Norway, Switzerland, United States, Denmark, Netherlands, Iceland, United Kingdom.

Best Countries to Live in – Switzerland, Denmark, Norway, CANADA, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Iceland, Sweden, Australia, Austria. Over 92% of the people in CANADA are happy with their life (2013 happiest country report)

World’s Healthiest Countries – Iceland, Sweden, Finland, Germany, Switzerland, Australia, Denmark, CANADA (one of the world’s longest life expectancies 81M 83F), Austria, Netherlands.

World’s Cleanest Cities – (using quality of air, drinking water and life) Calgary, Alberta, CANADA is #1, followed by Ifrane (Morocco) Helsinki (Finland) Honolulu (Hawaii) Wellington (New Zealand) Adelaide (Australia) Kobe (Japan) Ottawa, Ontario CANADA #8 Reykjavik (Iceland) and Singapore.

Calgary Alberta at The Bow & Elbow Rivers on the Rocky Mountain foothills

Calgary Alberta at The Bow & Elbow Rivers on the Rocky Mountain foothills

Ottawa Ontario (our nation's capital) across the Ottawa River from Gatineau Quebec

Ottawa Ontario (our nation’s capital) across the Ottawa River from Gatineau Quebec

Best Parks In The World – (Trip.Advisor.com) Stanley Park, Vancouver, CANADA is #1, ahead of Garden of the Gods (Colorado) Central Park & High Line (NY) Millennium Park (Chicago) Kings Park & Botanic Garden in Perth, Australia, Guell Park and Retiro Park in Spain, Ibirapuera Park, Sao Paulo Brazil, and Luxembourg Gardens in Paris, France.

Forested Stanley Park, Burrard Inlet, just off the city of Vancouver British Columbia

Forested Stanley Park, Burrard Inlet, just off the city of Vancouver British Columbia

Palm Trees in Stanley Park Vancouver British Columbia

Palm Trees in Stanley Park Vancouver British Columbia

World’s Most Beautiful National Parks – In the Forbes.com list Banff National Park, Alberta CANADA stands out alongside Kakadu (Australia) Manuel Antonio (Costa Rica) Fiordland (New Zealand) Lake District (England) Swiss National Park (Switzerland) Torres del Paine (Chile) Serengeti (Tanzania) Guilin and Lijiang River (China) Fuji-Hakone-Izu (Japan) Grand Canyon, Yosemite (USA) .

Banff National Park Alberta

Banff National Park Alberta

The World’s Largest Countries – CANADA is #2, behind Russia, ahead of the USA, PR China, Brazil, Australia, India, Argentina, Kazakhstan, Sudan & South Sudan combined. (Wikipedia)

World’s Best Country to Grow Old In CANADA is #5 behind Sweden, Norway, Germany, Netherlands, and ahead of Switzerland, New Zealand, USA, Iceland and Japan. (United Nations’ Global Age Watch Index) The 14.9% of the population aged over 65 in Canada is anticipated to double in the next 25 years.

Countries With The Best Education Systems – CANADA ranks #7, behind Japan, South Korea, The United Kingdom, Singapore, Russia, and Finland, and ahead of the Netherlands, Ireland, Israel, China, New Zealand, Norway, Belgium, Germany, Denmark, Estonia and the USA.  Of all the countries in the world, CANADA is #1 for the highest rate of college graduates. Once early childhood education is enhanced, Canada will rank much higher than #7. (eBlogfa.com)

Countries With The Best Zoos in the World, #1 Singapore Zoo, #2 Schonbrunner Zoo, Vienna, #3 Toronto Zoo, Ontario CANADA, #4 Animal Kingdom, Florida, #5 San Diego Zoo, #6 Smithsonia Zoological Park Washington DC, #7 Bronx Zoo NY, #8 National Zoological Gardens Pretoria S.Africa, #9 Zoo Basel, Switzerland, #10 Zoo Praha, Prague Czech Rep.

Polar Bears Toronto Zoo - Ontario

Polar Bears Toronto Zoo – Ontario

Best Educated Countries in the World – CANADA ranks #1, followed by Japan, Republic of Korea, United Kingdom, Sweden, Israel, France, Germany, Poland, and the USA. It was noted that Canada’s access to basic knowledge index is at an unprecedented 65.0.   Canada’s education system is controlled by the different provinces, varying widely, with no national, centralized curriculum.  The education system has created one of the most skilled labor forces in the world;  attributing at least in part to Canada’s strong economy and competitive industries. (therichest.com)

Most Charitable Countries in the WorldCANADA is #3, behind Sri Lanka and Ireland, ahead of New Zealand, the USA, Netherlands, Indonesia, United Kingdom, Paraguay, and Denmark. 64% of the people donate to wide varieties of charities. (Wikipedia)

…and if all of that wasn’t enough to make Canadians proud, here’s a few more tidbits: CANADA is the #1 country “to hold good reputation” – for the third time in a row.  A good reputation all over the world. (RepTrak report). And from askushowto.com come the following rankings: – CANADA has one of the lowest crime rates in the world. – CANADA has a low unemployment rate (as low as 5%). – CANADA has the world’s longest coastline, that has expanded up to 202,080 km. – CANADA is the home to 9% of the renewable resources in the world. – CANADA is the shelter for about 55,000 different species. – CANADA has 50% of the world’s bitumen (asphalt) supply. – – CANADA is the ninth richest country in the world with a GDP Per Capita of $42,317 billion. –  CANADA is High on the list of The Best Place To Work, Invest and Study. – CANADA generated more than $81.9 billion over last year in the tourism industry.

…and also – CANADA has the longest street in the worldYonge Street from the shores of Lake Ontario in Toronto to Lake Simcoe, a distance of 1,896km (1,178 miles)…(wikipedia)

Yonge/Dundas Streets Toronto Ontario-looking north

Yonge/Dundas Streets Toronto Ontario-looking north

CANADA produced Poutine, Maple Syrup and Alexander Graham Bell’s telephone. – CANADA has a Canadian Forces Station Altert on the northern tip of Ellesmere Island – just 834 kilometres from the North Pole, therefore we have a legitimate claim to Santa Claus.

So there you have it – not exactly in a nutshell – but the facts tell the story.  We are a great country; we have a wonderful, diverse population, who enjoy a terrific lifestyle.  We are law-abiding, friendly, with an orderly society, caring for the less fortunate; we are tolerant, multi-cultural, and we do not engage in celebrity worship.  We really do love hockey, maple syrup, Tim Bits, — our beer is the absolute best.  In sports, our attitude is “Oh, well, there’s always next year….”  But anyone who thinks we are passive and can’t be aroused, has never watched an international hockey tournament when Canada is in the mix.

Media #1

Hi! This is EJ’s daughter contributing a few videos to Mom’s “Oh! Canada! – eh?” blog.  Back in 2010, I remember watching, and thoroughly enjoying, this video shown during Canada’s Winter Olympics in British Columbia. Tom Brokaw explained Canada’s special relationship to America to the backdrop of gorgeous scenery from coast to coast.(Fred Hodgins-YouTube) 

Here’s a patriotic music video of our National Anthem “O Canada” with still shots of beautiful landscapes and architecture from across the country.  (Isabel Leong-YouTube) O Canada” is the national anthem of Canada, originally commissioned by Lieutenant Governor of Quebec for the 1880 Saint-Jean-Baptiste Day ceremony. French lyrics were translated into English in 1906. Robert Stanley Weir wrote another English version in 1908, which is the official and most popular version (not a literal translation of the French). Weir’s lyrics have been revised twice, taking their present form in 1980.  “O Canada” had served as a de facto national anthem since 1939, officially becoming Canada’s national anthem by an Act of Parliament, effective July 1st, 1980 as part of that year’s Dominion Day celebrations. Dominion Day was renamed Canada Day in 1982. (wikipedia) 

I’ve chosen just one more video to commemorate Canada Day. It’s “The Maple Leaf Forever/Alberta Bound” as performed by Toronto’s own Pipes and Drums of The 48th Highlanders of Canada. (RaGDollxEffecT-YouTube) “The Maple Leaf Forever” is a Canadian song written by Alexander Muir (1830–1906) in 1867, the year of Canada’s Confederation. He wrote the work after serving with the Queen’s Own Rifles of Toronto in the Battle of Ridgeway against the Fenians in 1866. CBC Radio’s Metro Morning show in Toronto ran a contest to find new lyrics for the song in 1997. The contest was won by Romanian immigrant, mathematician, and now a songwriter, actor and poet, Vladimir Radian, who came to Canada in the 1980s. (wikipedia)  

poetry_2Not my poem, but I love the words of our national anthem, “O Canada”, and I follow with a poem I wrote many years ago, when our little family explored this country at every opportunity.

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.

HOLIDAY: Canada

This is the day we have waited for
With our bags all packed and the maps at hand,
When we store our loads and lock the door
To journey half-way across this land.

We will pass the lakes which are not named,
We will ride on mountains in the clouds,
We will pass through forests still untamed,
We will see the cities, join the crowds.

We will see the prairies and fields of grain,
We will go where the mighty rivers drain,
We will hear the winds and watch the rain,
We will want to travel this road again…..

© E Joyce Finn/Collie

Canada has some of the very best scenery in the world

Here’s a sampling of spectacular Canadian landscapes for your enjoyment. I’ve tried to represent scenery from our ten provinces and three territories in different spots throughout this blog. I hope these pictures will inspire you to travel and visit for yourself.

Breathtaking Saskatchewan

Breathtaking Saskatchewan

Beautiful Quebec City Quebec

Beautiful Quebec City Quebec

Indian Head Cove Bruce Peninsula National Park Ontario

Indian Head Cove Bruce Peninsula National Park Ontario

Halifax Nova Scotia, Citadel Hill,Fort George

Halifax Nova Scotia, Citadel Hill, Fort George

Rocky Mountains British Columbia

Rocky Mountains British Columbia

A Coulée (valley) in the flat-lands of Saskatchewan

A Coulée (valley) in the flat-lands of Saskatchewan

Butchart Gardens Brentwood Bay, near Victoria British Columbia

Butchart Gardens Brentwood Bay, near Victoria British Columbia

Canadian Horseshoe Falls, Niagara Falls Ontario

Canadian Horseshoe Falls, Niagara Falls Ontario

Whirlpool Lake, Riding Mountain National Park, Manitoba

Whirlpool Lake, Riding Mountain National Park, Manitoba

Whale Watching along British Columbia's coastline

Whale Watching along British Columbia’s coastline

Emerald Lake, Yukon

Emerald Lake, Yukon

Prairie near Rathwell, Manitoba (R.Wiebe)

Prairie near Rathwell, Manitoba (R.Wiebe)

Torngat Mountains National Park, Labrador

Torngat Mountains National Park, Labrador

Virginia Falls, Nahanni National Park Reserve, North West Territories

Virginia Falls, Nahanni National Park Reserve, North West Territories

Signal Hill and The Battery, St. Johns, Newfoundland

Signal Hill and The Battery, St. Johns, Newfoundland

Peggys Cove, Nova Scotia

Peggys Cove, Nova Scotia

Dalvay By The Sea, Prince Edward Island

Dalvay By The Sea, Prince Edward Island

Rue du Petit Champlain, Quebec City (Ville de Québec) Quebec

Rue du Petit Champlain, Quebec City (Ville de Québec) Quebec

Hopewell Rocks, Bay of Fundy, New Brunswick

Hopewell Rocks, Bay of Fundy, New Brunswick

A Night View of Toronto Skyline across Lake Ontario

A Night View of Toronto Skyline across Lake Ontario

 

Beaver - Paws For Awhile 2

The CANADIAN Beaver is native to North America and is the national animal and one of the national symbols of Canada, and is not only depicted on the Canadian five-cent piece, but also carved in statuary on our Canadian Parliament Building in Ottawa.

Beaver Sculpture over entrance to Canadian Parliament Building, Ottawa, Ontario (D.GordonE.Robertson)

Beaver Sculpture over entrance to Canadian Parliament Building, Ottawa, Ontario (D.GordonE.Robertson)

It was on the first Canadian postage stamp, the Three Penny Beaver.  It is a common school emblem for engineering schools, including the University of Alberta, and appears in the coats of arms of the Hudson’s Bay Company, University of Toronto, Wilfrid Laurier University and the London School of Economics.  It’s called the North American Beaver, but everyone in the world knows it is OURS!  

Diagram of North American Beaver

Diagram of North American Beaver

Our Canadian Beavers are prolific breeders, explorers and homesteaders.  They usually mate for life, having one litter a year with the two to six “kits” remaining with Mom and Dad for up to two years. Their average life span is 24 years.

Baby beaver "kit" eating a carrot (Martin Fakan)

Baby beaver “kit” eating a carrot (Martin Fakan)

Excellent swimmers, beavers can remain submerged for up to 15 minutes, using their webbed hind feet like a diver’s swim fins. Their eyes have a membrane which allows them to see underwater, with nostrils and ears sealed while submerged.

Beavers are excellent swimmers

Beavers are excellent swimmers

The beaver is totally prepared for winter, with a double coat – long, coarse outer hairs and short, fine inner hairs, usually a dark brown colour, and a thick layer of fat insulation.

Beaver feeding in winter, Gatineau Park, Quebec (D.GordonE.Robertson)

Beaver feeding in winter, Gatineau Park, Quebec (D.GordonE.Robertson)

He uses glands to waterproof his fur.  Like bunnies stomping their feet, the beaver is said to slap its scaly tail on the surface of the water to signal danger.

Beaver with fur dampened by a recent swim

Beaver with fur dampened by a recent swim

Beavers are marvellous engineers, particularly as home and dam builders.  They use natural materials like sticks, twigs, trees, rocks and mud in lakes, streams and today river deltas.

Beaver Dam

Beaver Dam

The lodges may be surrounded by water, touch land, or have burrows dug into the riverbank. The largest beaver dam is 2,790 ft (850m) in length (more than half a mile) discovered by satellite imagery in 2007, located on the southern edge of Wood Buffalo National Park, northern Alberta.  It is TWICE the width of the Hoover Dam! (1,244 ft).

World's largest Beaver Dam at Wood Buffalo National Park, Alberta

World’s largest Beaver Dam at Wood Buffalo National Park, Alberta

Beaver dams are natural methods of forming lakes, ponds, and wetlands.  Their dam-building talents can create artificial ponds, regulate streams, and change the landscape. The dam and the ponds provide protection against predators such as coyotes, wolves and bears.  The dam is constructed using logs from trees the beavers cut down with their excellent teeth, with inner bark, twigs, shoots and leaves being an important part of the beaver’s diet.   This can preserve a water supply in an area, while also preventing soil erosion.  Beavers work at night and are prolific builders, carrying mud and stones with their forepaws and timber between their teeth;  they can rebuild primary dams overnight. Hence the common description of a hard-working person being “busy as a beaver”.

"Busy" Beaver (Michael S. Quinton-National Geographic)

“Busy” Beaver (Michael S. Quinton-National Geographic)

Like most Canadians, the Beaver is a good neighbour, helping many of his wildlife friends – and man.  Almost half of endangered and threatened species in North America rely upon wetlands… and beaver dams create them. Trumpeter swans and Canada Geese often depend on beaver lodges as nesting sites.  Removing pond side trees increases the shrub layer, enhancing waterfowl nesting cover and the insects they feed on. “Drowned” trees become ideal nesting sites for woodpeckers who carve cavities attracting many other bird species, such as flycatchers, tree swallows, tits, wood ducks, goldeneyes, mergansers, owls and kestrels.  Songbirds in particular benefit by the habitat created by the beaver pond. 

Beaver Lodge, northern Ontario

Beaver Lodge, northern Ontario

The ponds are used for fishing by herons, grebes, cormorants, bitterns, great and snowy egrets, mergansers and belted kingfishers.  The ponds have a beneficial effect on trout (brook, rainbow, brown) and sockeye salmon populations, increasing fish numbers and size.  Frog and toad larvae benefit from the warm, well-oxygenated water of a beaver pond.  Ponds increase stream flows in seasonally dry streams by storing run-off in the rainy season.  Five-lined Skink, Northern Brown Snake, Eastern Painted Turtle, Snapping Turtle, Common Musk Turtle are more abundant along beaver streams. Even when beaver abandon a locality, their dam eventually breaks, the pond drains, leaving behind a large open meadow, with nutrient-rich soil from the organic sediment that settled to the bottom when it was a pond. These “beaver meadows” have more light penetration, higher soil moisture, more nitrogen, and a different vegetation.

Beaver Lodge Construction

Beaver Lodge Construction

Dr Hugh Ross reports that a geological, geophysical team at Colorado State University disclosed that the ponds created by beaver dams help purify our lakes, rivers and waterways, creating environments for processing nitrogen and storing carbon, removing much of both from the water. Oxygen depletion causes dead zones for fish and other animal populations, and beaver dams could reverse these conditions where they exist.  Chlorinated water combines with carbon, producing a variety of cancer-causing chemicals, which can be reduced by beaver dams and canals which remove carbon, thus reducing the accumulation of these carcinogens. Some herbicides and pesticides introduced into streams by agriculture, are metabolized and decomposed by the bacteria in the cellulose-rich bottom of a beaver dam.

Beaver gnawing on a tree trunk - West Nipissing Ontario

Beaver gnawing on a tree trunk – West Nipissing Ontario

Beaver once numbered between 100 to 200 million, but were nearly wiped out, so European Gentlemen could wear their tall beaver hats and the ladies could trim their coats with beaver fur. 

"Gentleman's" Beaver Felt Hat, Fort Langley National Historic Site, British Columbia (TheMightyQuill-Wikimedia)

“Gentleman’s” Beaver Felt Hat, Fort Langley National Historic Site, British Columbia (TheMightyQuill-Wikimedia)

Full Length Coats Trimmed in Beaver, Otter, Opossum & Ermine & a Fur Boa (Jacques Nam-1912)

Full Length Coats Trimmed in Beaver, Otter, Opossum & Ermine & a Fur Boa (Jacques Nam-1912)

Beaver were also relocated or exterminated because of their persistence in repairing damage to their dams.  Now the population has rebounded to an estimated 10 to 15 million, and non-lethal “Beaver Deceiver” flow devices (invented & pioneered by wildlife biologist Skip Lisle) are used by Canadian & US governments. Flow devices are relatively cost-effective, low-maintenance solutions that regulate the water level of beaver dams and keep culverts open and allow man and beaver to live together harmoniously. (wikipedia)

Beaver can live happily and productively with all they require to survive &  we can keep our roads, fields and homes free from flooding.

Beaver happily munching, and munching, and munching (Steve Hersey)

Beaver happily munching, and munching, and munching (Steve Hersey)

I leave my Paws For Awhile section with one last item for you. Pictures are wonderful, but a video can show you even more about a special little critter like the Beaver. Here’s a 1936 “Canadian Cameo”documentary “Produced By Special Arrangement with The National Parks of Canada” showing one of Canada’s early conservationists Archibald Belaney (an ex Brit known as Grey Owl) who turned from trapper to protector of the Canadian Beaver. The short historical film features an interesting beaver dubbed “Little Brother” that Grey Owl befriended as an orphan. I hope you enjoy this video my daughter discovered called “Grey Owl’s Strange Guests” (stromgull-YouTube):

Canada with Flag

Yes, I’m proud, very proud, to be a Canadian.  And I’ve only just barely scratched the surface as to why.

Happy 147th Birthday Canada!

Signing off….. ej

 

Write me in…..

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My story starts in Saskatchewan, north of the flat parts, up in the land of coulees and lakes and hills and brilliant Northern Lights. Land where little gophers poked their cute noses out of their hidey-holes….

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