Wednesday, 28 June 2017

Happy Birthday, Eh!

Happy Birthday, Eh!

Canada is getting a lot of attention this week as she/we/it turns 150. We are challenged to define what it means to be Canadian, to rethink our symbols, and to simply embrace the word “eh”, eh.

Canada 150

When I was 10 years old, Canada turned 100. I thought that was really old. In an effort to broaden the horizons of the New Brunswick relatives, my Toronto aunts generously arranged for a number of the country cousins to attend Expo 67 in Montreal. Remember this ditty?:

“Come one, come all

 Come one and all
 To Expo ’67, Montreal”

Expo '67 Montreal

Although I only remember snippets of that trip, I’m sure my horizons were broadened. I remember elevators, escalators, Place Ville Marie, the American pavilion which was a geodesic dome, the bags of pamphlets and brochures I dragged home with me and kept in my bedroom closet until after I finished university. My aunts sublet an apartment in Montreal for the summer, and the various New Brunswick relatives stayed there over the summer months. I remember being so impressed by the words “sublet” and “apartment”, concepts so foreign to my rural experience of 10 years.

American Pavilion

What does it mean to be Canadian in 2017? That discussion has been all over the CBC this week. CBC---speaking of what it means to be Canadian... One radio discussion I heard this morning cautiously agreed that we should be proud of our country, but not too smug as we have some black marks in our history that we need to atone for.


And what about those symbols? Mounties, moose, beavers, maple syrup, hockey. Do they still represent Canada? There are more Canadian adults playing golf than playing hockey, and twice as many kids play soccer than play hockey. In 2017, one in five Canadians is foreign-born, and 81% of us live in urban centres where it is unusual to meet a moose or a beaver.

Urban Moose 

That little word “eh” continues to set us apart. According to CBC, it is still widely used across the country, but is declining in use by the younger generation who replace it with “right, hey, you know, or don’t you.” It is still alive and well in my house. But I’m old. And I have a case of maple syrup in the basement of my urban home, eh.

Maple Syrup Stereotype

...Until Next Time...

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