I set about my weekly Food Bank ritual (a special ‘once a week’ in honour of Covid-19) on Wednesday. Rituals are comforting even in thirty degree heat. A leisurely twenty minute bike ride across town, leisurely thanks to the virus, no one in sight, the barred gate ominously closed. No sign. Approaching Armageddon? It wasn’t till I got home that I realised it was 1 July – Canada Day! Then it struck me, our national holiday has been so completely trivialised that it is erased from my consciousness. Yes, post-colonial multicultural Canada really has nothing much to celebrate. Much like its twin, July 4, it does little other than eulogise rampant colonialism, Great Game scheming. I am reminded how urgently all this is in need of a major overhaul.
Canada Day celebrates the British North America Act of 1867, uniting Upper and Lower Canada, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, with Manitoba and the Northwest Territories hastily added in 1870, and British Columbia in 1871. This was a desperate attempt to forestall the now independent settler-colony US from gobbling up the last of British America. A precarious federation was patched together and looking back a century and a half later, it is hard to believe Canada survived. The US was already rapidly taking over the entire continent, including the purchase of Alaska from Russia just months after Confederation in 1867. We can only be grateful the US was too busy expanding west and south, leaving the cold wasteland to the north till it was too late.
The intent from the start for Alaska was to build a tunnel and unite the world by rail. William Gilpin, first governor of the Colorado Territory, envisioned a vast Cosmopolitan Railway in 1890 linking the entire world through a series of railways. Tsar Nicholas II approved a tunnel in 1905. Imagine if the US had managed to swallow up Canada and unite with Russia. To any Canadian, that thought is chilling these days. Yes, Canada is as artificial as countries come – the land cleared of natives, poor British, Irish and later Germans, and then just about anyone who looked white, hence the Lebanese, Albanians and Jews slipping in – now faithfully parroting whatever the US says. It is hard to get emotional about being Canadian after 70 years of wholesale multiculturalism. The only glue, Hollywood movies and Chinese toys, leave Canadians in a situation at least as precarious as in 1867.