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In the beginning, there were four provinces-Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Ontario and Quebec (which those two together, were called the Province of Canada). This ‘beginning’ took place on July 1st 1867, and for the last 146 years, this stitching of British colonies into their ‘own’ entity has been celebrated from coast to coast of the Great White North. This celebration is well deserved because Canada is stupendous-that’s all there is to it. Our scenery is magnifique, our currency is color coded to avoid confusion, we allow sasquatches to live quietly among us by continuing to deny their existence because we take the right of privacy THAT seriously. We have so much maple syrup we just don’t know what to do with it and when a truck load of it is stolen, it makes the headlines. Our health care system is stellar, even if heaps of people still lament and complain about it, our nation invented basketball, we are generally a chatty and curious folk because we end every statement with a question (‘The sky is really blue today, hey?’), AND we have Jian Ghomeshi. True patriot love, indeed.
The first man to steer our country was a fella by the name of John A. McDonald. He served for 19 years and is the second longest serving prime minister, to date. His time in office was not shy of some political/financial scandals, but all in all, we must have really liked him because his face appears every time someone flashes a 10-dollar bill, there is a mountain peak named after him in Roger’s Pass, a few statues sprinkled around the country are dedicated to him, some schools bear his name, and the airport in Ottawa is all about John. Though no cities or towns are named after him, he didn’t do too bad in the legacy department.
Living overseas as an expat has made me even more proud to be a Canadian (minus the fact that our national animal is the beaver. In my opinion, that is a poor choice given that our mighty neighbour to the south uses the bald eagle. If one was to engage in the ever so entertaining hand-game of ‘paper-rock-scissors’, and replace the three inanimate objects with national animals, eagle would totally clip the beaver. Discuss.). We went into town today with our Canadian t-shirts on and our mighty leafy flag for no other reason than to wander and show off our pride. Fellow touristy Canadians approached us and commented on our ensemble and it was so easy to engage in chit chat of our large nation-it’s as if we were neighbours on the same street discussing the upcoming cul-de-sac block party. Simply put, that’s another thing I love about Canada-everyone is so friendly and willing to share their poutine with you or would literally give you their flannel sport coat off their back. When telling the family we met today that we are from Calgary, they replied ‘Wow! You guys got lots of rain recently…..hey?!’ Sigh. I love my people. (And I should add, I truly love the people of Calgary and how tremendously they are helping one another out after all the recent flooding. Uber proudness.).
But, I have lived abroad now for 3.5 years and have truly grown to love the people here in Milan too. Though today is a day to celebrate all things above the (averaged) 47th degree of latitude, I have decided to brush up on Italy’s origins too.
The borders we see today were drawn in officially on March 17th 1861, making Italy 152 years old this year and hence slightly older than Canada. The first King of this newly unified land was named Vittorio Emmanuelle (VE) II (but for real, his full name was ‘Vittorio Emanuele Maria Alberto Eugenio Ferdinando Tommaso’, which implies his parents were massively indecisive and so proceeded to include all the names they liked for him, including the feminine name, Maria). Unlike Johnny who was in power for 19 years, VE ruled the boot for 17 years. He was also 5 years younger than Johnny, and also lived a much shorter life (VE died at 57; Johnny died at 76). VE liked the military, politics, and sports where as Johnny studied law and then later moved into politics. VE had quite the moustache-it was a monstrosity of epic proportions meanwhile Johnny did not have a moustache and braved Canada’s winter without one. VE had quite the score board of wives, primary, and other mistresses, as well as his own colony of children. Johnny had two wives, and only remarried after his first wife died. In terms of kids, Johnny had three children. From a scientific perspective, I ponder how different romantic life for Johnny would have been had he too sported a broad sine-curve-resembling thicket of facial hair spawning his entire face. VE has heaps of monuments, streets, and buildings named after him throughout Italy. As mentioned before, Johnny does not, but, if he was a farmer and not a politician, he would TOTALLY have a nursery jingle dedicated to him and all the animals he had which today is sung world wide……hey?!
Italy was born from a desire to be free from foreign rule, especially that of the Austrians and also from a strong national identity. Canada was born from a desire to lump British colonies into one ‘file’ and give it some independence from the queen. Freedom essentially was a sign of the times, and hence this is the title of today’s entry, borrowed from George Michael. Of course, my historical synopses are very general summaries of rather colourful histories so I hope no one quotes me directly in their social studies essays. (Plus, with plagiarism, we all lose). Regardless of their reasons and origins, the 152 years and 146 years that have brought us Italy and Canada respectively, have been mighty interesting, colourful, and in truth, something to be thank ful for. To end, the Albino Hulk and Little Miss Stubborn had a fun time celebrating the birth of our fabulous nation, a place that one day we will be super proud to call home once again. Matlock and I can’t wait to one day teach them more about the land of the maple leaf, but also about the rich history of the boot-shaped country we temporarily lived in, but permanently fell in love with.