Whenever Canada appears during my nostalgic mental meanderings, I feel a happy smile stretch across my face. This is because Canada is in my top two countries to live on Earth list. As a U.S. citizen, I’m obliged to pick my native country first and will always feel most at home in Nebraska. However, when I travel to Canada, my heart tells me the U.S. and the rest of the world should emulate that amazing place.
My deep, abiding love of Canada began in my late teens when my brother Mark and I drove to Saskatchewan and Manitoba. It was our first long-distance car adventure, on our own, away from the family.
Even though we had driven north through the prairies of both Dakotas, the flatlands of Saskatchewan seemed even more flat. Perhaps this was just an illusion we wanted to see. The lay of the land isn’t really any different on the near north side of the border.
Mark pointed out the Maple Leaf flag and the provincial flag of Saskatchewan at the border crossing. They were interesting because they appeared longer than the U.S. and most of our state flags. This length to width ratio is not usually illustrated in books or magazines. It’s odd that this is one of my first memories of Canada.
As we interacted with Canadians, we noticed a different, less strident type of patriotism. They rightly believe Canada is probably the most realistically free country in the world. This opinion is bolstered by knowing their nation is the largest one in North America. In Canada there are thousands of kilometres to explore. There’s an ever present feeling that you can stretch out and deeply breathe in the wide-open frontier lands and countless wild spaces.
Mark and I discovered the friendliness and generosity of Canadians, long before these qualities became popular clichés and stereotypes. This perception has stood my personal test of time through long-term friendships with pals in Toronto, Winnipeg, and Vancouver. Even after you remove your rose-colored glasses, you can sense the subtle harmonious nature not found in most people from the United States.
This generous attitude should not be mistaken for passivity or meekness. Canadians are like people everywhere. They are very passionate and enthusiastic. If you want to witness this, be sure to attend a hockey game in Canada.
Recent rantings out of Washington DC notwithstanding, the nation of Canada is our natural ally. We have a mutual kinship with each other culturally and geographically. Our military forces have partnered to battle tyrants and oppressive regimes in the two World Wars and other international conflicts.
I have celebrated Canada Day in Canada twice. Once in Regina, Saskatchewan and once in Vancouver, British Columbia. The celebrations are similar to our Fourth of July, but with a definite Canadian twist. There are the picnics, family reunions, parades, and fireworks. Today, “Oh Canada” will be heard and Maple Leaf flags will fly proudly across the nation. My old memories of Canada are revived on Canada’s birthday, today.
To my readers and friends in Canada, Happy Canada Day!
The Blue Jay of Happiness quotes Winston Churchill. “There are no limits to the majestic future which lies before the mighty expanse of Canada with its virile, aspiring, cultured, and generous-hearted people.”