My recollection of childhood celebrations on Dominion Day don’t readily come to mind.
If July 1 fell on a Friday or Monday, then it was likely my Dad would agree to a day of fishing, or at least a journey to Besant Park or Rowan’s Ravine for a time of doing not much of anything. Maybe there was a game of catch (balls, not fish) and lots of food packed in ice in an old cooler — fried chicken, potato salad, fresh fruit, sandwiches, cookies and cake, plus coffee and tea and Kool Aid.
Because Dad’s oil and gas business was crucial to our family finances, he could not be away from home for long lest he lose customers to Moose Jaw firms eager to enhance their own farm gate delivery business. If we did leave home for more than one night, he always made sure he had someone to babysit the oilshed, and if necessary, to drive the gas truck for deliveries to farmers’ yards.
If our school talked about confederation or Dominion Day and its relevance, I must have dozed for those lessons.
It wasn’t until 1967, Canada’s centennial year, that I awoke to a true understanding of why Dominion Day was important and why July 1 was indeed more than a reason to head to the lake.
Celebrations that year were intense, with funding available to every community that could put together a parade, a historical display, cooking and canning competitions or ball tournaments played with old fashioned rules. Business for fireworks companies boomed that year. My school class was involved in advance and had displays of essays written about Canada. Mine, I believe, is saved in a box now stored in a dark corner of the basement.
Then years later, in 1983, Dominion Day was renamed Canada Day, even after communities in 1974-75 had organized Canada Week or Canada Day committees to promote Canadian unity.
And since 1974 and the name change, Moose Jaw has been among communities throughout Canada that hold special celebrations to acknowledge all the benefits of living in this country, benefits that sometimes are taken for granted, or are assumed to be part of our birthright.
Canada is not a perfect country but even with its imperfections, it has so much to offer to all who live here and to those who choose to make it their home.
Much has changed since Confederation in 1867 and no doubt more changes will impact the lives of Canadians, wherever they live in the provinces or territories.
One thing that has changed several times is the lyrics to our national anthem. When O Canada is sung on July 1 will the majority cling to “in all thy sons command” or will they remember to warble “in all of us command?”
I suspect older folks will insert sons in there as a matter of course, while youngsters will adopt the latest version.
Regardless, sing at the top of your lungs, salute as the flag goes by and be thankful that we are free to celebrate on yet another July 1. Happy Canada Day.
Joyce Walter can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org