What I like best about Canada Day is what we don’t do to express patriotism.
We don’t cheerlead our country or engage in loud reverie, hundred gun salutes, or glorification of military endeavour.
We Canadians share a mature love of country that doesn’t need the re-assurance of cloyed fanfare or patriotic pomp. We express our patriotism quietly.
As usual, our family will make its patriotic statement by going to Port Moody City Hall for the Firefighters Golden Spike Days pancake breakfast. We’ll eat pancakes and sausages on a paper plate, among friends, neighbours, (and ex-students); drinking sketchy coffee and mingling.
The City Hall plaza won’t be plastered with Canadian flags. There will be no brass band playing “The Maple Leaf Forever”; no ceremony or speeches glorifying our troops or our freedom. We know all that. It will be calm, civilized, friendly, and maybe a bit cheesy; just like Canada.
Over pancakes the talk won’t be about Canada, but to its annual participants, this local Canada Day tradition is a stronger homage to country than fireworks and a fly past.
In the evening, we’ll watch C.B.C. show the Canada Day celebrations in Ottawa; a celebration of understated Canadian proportions – open air, apolitical, scrupulously balanced French, English, and First Nations content, and not too long.
When in Palm Springs (in my recent “snowbird” incarnation), I am repeatedly amazed at how deep Canadian patriotism is.
When, during happy hour, an American friend slips into discussing American politics, Canadians listen, and commiserate without engaging. Conservative or liberal, easterner or westerner, there is a shared, knowing glance; there’s no point arguing; Canadians have a different vision, with which we are quietly, almost smugly, comfortable.
This remote patriotism shows that love for Canada, though reserved, is deeply felt and unshakeable. The fact that Canadianism is so portable is a testament to its strength.
We tried hysterical flag-waving during the Vancouver Olympics; to the point that other countries started to bristle somewhat. Flag waving feels good, but it’s just not how we roll.
This Canada Day, may we all appreciate what Canadians so strongly and quietly, share;
… and maybe have some pancakes.