Hey there, welcome back to Plaidspin, the Blog That Just Barely Has A Point™. This is part 4 in our “It’s a Canadian Holiday!” series. Previously in this series:
What’s Canada Day? It’s our nation’s 148th birthday! She doesn’t look a day over 146 if you ask me. It’s also a day off on a Wednesday this year, which gives you non-dirtbag-types a chance to see what bars are like on a Tuesday night.
So it’s like Independence Day? Yeeaaahhh... just, with less, *mimicks explosion with hands* and more, *smiling shrug*.
On July 1, 1867, Canada politely asked Britain if it could be an independent nation. Britain responded with “for God’s sake, Canada, you’re middle-aged and you’re still living in your mom’s house - I thought you’d never ask!” Although our big brother, America, had to fight and scream and carry on to move out of the house when they were a teenager, by the time 1867 rolled around, Mama Britain was more than happy to no longer call us up for dinner from the basement.
So was there a Canadian Revolution, or anything? As you probably know, revolutions are generally a messy affair. As many as a hundred thousand died on the streets of Paris fighting for French independence in the 1790s. Fifty thousand Americans died over eight years fighting in the American Revolutionary War. Canada, well... we had a couple mild skirmishes over the idea of independence, and a few people even died, let me tell you!
Although independence didn’t finally come to fruition until 1867, the initial seeds of liberty were planted thanks to a few rebellions 30 years earlier. In Quebec, a group calling themselves Les Patriotes took arms against the British, and a total of around 100 people died in a series of brief skirmishes from 1837-1838 around Montreal.
In Ontario, meanwhile, the armed rebellion was laughably short-lived. An independence-minded fiery Scotsman named William Lyon Mackenzie got a bunch of like-minded rebels together at the bar, and, as you do when you drink, they decided to overthrow the British government. They got a bunch of rifles and tried marching down Yonge Street in Toronto, but, much to their shock, the redcoats showed up and started shooting their rifles at them! Our rebels fled into the forest. No one died. That was it. That was the revolutionary battle that led to Canada’s independence. There’ve been Kenny Chesney concerts that were more violent than the Canadian revolutionary war.
What do Canadians do on Canada Day?
If you’re in Ottawa, you probably go to the big concert/fireworks thing on Parliament Hill. Every year, thousands of people cram onto the hill for fireworks and a free concert, usually by the most terrible CanCon artists they can scrounge together. This year, let’s see who they’ve got... oh! Shad! I love Shad! Y’know, maybe I pre-judged the Parliament Hill concert, maybe they’ve turned it around this year.
Let’s see, who else is headlining... oh look, it’s fucking mom-reggae pioneers Magic!. Terrific. You’ve ruined Canada Day again, Ottawa.
If you’re in Toronto, you go to the special Canada Day afternoon Jays game, the only game other than the home opener guaranteed to sell out. The team wears red jerseys, the crowd gets red sunburns, and the Red Sox lose. The Jays’ special red jersey this year isn’t bad. It’s been worse.
If you’re in Halifax, you get drunk all day. From what I hear, Halifax takes Canada Day seriously, and the entire city just gets lit up at pubs all day, followed by a free concert (hey, it’s The Arkells this years! I love the Arkells!) Then they launch fireworks off a barge, which, given Halifax’s spotty relationships with explosions coming from barges, ehhh...
If you’re in Quebec, you don’t celebrate Canada Day, because fuck those Anglos, am I right? Instead, because it’s a day off in the middle of the summer, Quebecers celebrate July 1st as Moving Day. The streets are lined up with moving trucks, and, if you want to play treasure-picker, lots of stuff left behind on the curb.
In general, you just go to the place downtown where you think there might be fireworks, and there probably will be fireworks. In Vancouver, you go to Canada Place. In Winnipeg, you go to The Forks. In Calgary, you go to Olympic Plaza. Bring a flask, watch some fireworks.
If you’re in London for some reason, all of the Canadian ex-pats have a big drunken concert/party in Trafalgar Square every year. Have you ever heard a more drunken rendition of a national anthem?
Brings a tear to your eye.
This has been a Plaidspin Canadian Statutory Holiday Reminder. We’ll see you in August for August Civic Holiday!