Canada Day 2013 Celebration in Stratford, Ontario
|Passing through Uptown Waterloo to the town of Stratford, Ontario we spied the locomotive of our local tourist train all decked out for a special steam train Canada Day excursion to nearby Elmira, Ontario.|
July 1st, 2013 dawned sunny and beautiful. My first Canada Day to be celebrated in Canada in recent memory. I KNOW I was in Canada on July 1st, 2005 when my grandson was born - and several times thereafter; however, most of my national holiday celebrations have focussed on the U.S. holiday, Independence Day, which was also the birthday of my very independent mother. Or on the birthday of our grandson.
However, this year signified a change for me. My mother passed away last year shortly after celebrating her 97th birthday and my grandson went to camp taking his entire family with him.
|A shop window in the nearby small town of Stratford decorated to the hilt in honour of Canad|
The year of "firsts" after a death is always difficult, and because we had celebrated the U.S. Independence Day rather than the Canadian Canada Day in recent history, it was proving to be the most difficult of the firsts.
So what to do?
What is a healthy way of dealing with this first? The memories, not always pleasant, from last year came thick and fast. Bombarding me with their intensity.
So, again, what to do?
And here is where different encouragers came into play. One invited us over to their backyard for a bonfire and fireworks the evening before.
I loved it! I loved being with people who know me and my difficulties and still choose to associate with me. Neighbours who feel comfortable enough to include us in their activities.
It was an incredible display of both fireworks and love.
|The street was closed off to vehicular traffic, so this young man and his friends made the most of it. One of my favorite pictures of the day.|
However, the actual day itself remained a huge question mark UNTIL someone posted a link on their Facebook wall outlining Stratford's Canada Day festivities. A four hour long "party" behind City Hall with vendors, food, entertainment, things for the children, even free cupcakes.
As my husband said when we got there: "follow the noise". So we did. And found what looked a bit like a "tent" city behind city hall. A stage was set up for local performers and other attractions such as giving the Bronze Star to the grandson of a man who helped forge Srtatford into the gorgeous town it is today.
What struck me immediately, besides the noise, was the sea of red. Almost everyone was wearing their red and white best. Waving flags. Proud to be Canadian. United in our identity as Canadians for the day.
Although the events were in one designated area behind city hall, the entire town took on a holiday atmosphere. Our first glimpse arriving in Stratford were these Buskers performing on the main corner of town.
Members of a local cadet corps comprised an honour guard for the singing of O Canada.
Volunteers handed out free cupcakes after the singing of O Canada. By the way, O Canada was sung not once but twice yesterday. Once to open the celebration and a second time mid-way through. I'm not sure why exactly, but maybe it was simply to impress on latecomers why we were there.
It was almost like a huge family event. One of personal favorites was this clown on his ... well ... I have no idea what they're called but they were springy - and fun to watch him bouncing around. I asked him how he did it. His answer: Practice.
Confederation was accomplished when the Queen gave royal assent to the British North America Act (BNA Act) on March 29, 1867, followed by a royal proclamation stating: "We do ordain, declare, and command that on and after the First day of July, One Thousand Eight Hundred and Sixty-seven, the Provinces of Canada, Nova Scotia, and New Brunswick, shall form and be One Dominion, under the name of Canada." That act, which united the Province of Canada with the colonies of New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, came into effect on July 1 that year. The act replaced the Act of Union (1840) which had previously unified Upper Canada and Lower Canada into the united Province of Canada. Separate provinces were re-established under their current names of Ontario and Quebec. July 1 is now celebrated as Canada Day.
(Sorry, but you really can't have a blog on Canada Day without a wee bit of a history lesson, right?)
I've seen Canada change - or maybe my perception of my adopted country as changed - over the last 30 years. When I first came here as a new bride, Canada Day was the most confused holiday of the year. Celebrated whenever. Many people worked on July 1st opting for a three day weekend on whichever was closest.
But things are different now.
Somehow over the last three decades, we've become proud of ourselves as a nation and our role in this country. Who we are as Canadians. Our identity.
So we proudly came together yesterday all over Canada. In towns and cities. We wore our national colours and waved our flags.
Today, it's back to the "real" world. Work. Worried. Whatever.
Yet, the memory of our celebrations whether big or small; town, village or city remain with us and strengthen us.
I'm proud to be Canadian.