When I told my parents that I wanted to pursue an internship on Parliament Hill, they were surprised and confused. In our native country of Ukraine, which we left for good when I was nine years old, politics were reserved for the wealthy and privileged. A regular citizen had little hope of meeting a Member of Parliament and voicing their concerns, let alone working for one or otherwise getting involved in the political process.
Their hesitation made me doubt my intentions, but eight years of education about the Canadian civic process and the democratic freedoms that Canadians left me hopeful. I called my local Member of Parliament in Richmond Hill and asked if I could volunteer within my riding. Within days, I was invited to help out at an event. Weeks later, I was coming into the riding office regularly to help out. In March 2014, I received a call that changed my life: my application to the Conservative Party of Canada internship was accepted, and I was invited to move to Ottawa for the summer to begin working at the Parliament Hill office of my Member of Parliament.
Three years of extensive political involvement later, I still reflect every day on the incredible amount of gratitude I feel to be a Canadian. Access to political decisions, freedom of speech, tolerance and equality of opportunity are the essential Canadian values that allowed me to pursue my dream career in way I could never have in my birth country. It is for these freedoms that my parents have chosen Canada as our new home, and I look forward to working on protecting and preserving these Canadian values.
Best of all, I see that the lives of others around me reflect my own experience. My friends and colleagues of all backgrounds are free to follow their dreams and are judged on their merit rather than ethnicity, gender or sexual orientation. My parents came to Canada so I could have a better future, and I have thanked them by building a better life than I ever could have back in Ukraine.
Continue to fight, create and innovate
by Julia Mastroianni
My pride in being Canadian has evolved with me over the years, from a very simple pride in the country I was born in affording me the privileges I have access to, to a more complex version where my pride was linked directly to the human rights advances our country has made, to where I am now.
Now, my pride is in the people who live here, the people who may struggle with their identity in relation to this country and have persevered through undeserved hardships and discrimination but still stand strong, continuing to fight and create and innovate and make this country exactly what it is.
Ultimately, Canada would be nothing, Canada would not be all the things I am proud of it for, if it weren’t for its people—sometimes reluctant people, sometimes people Canada didn’t want to be its people for a long time, but still, they remain.
When my grandfather immigrated here from Italy in 1954, he built a successful company from the ground up despite speaking very little English, despite doing labour out of the good of his own heart for people who never paid him back, despite knowing very little about the country he moved to except that he intended to build a life for him and his family there. When my grandmother immigrated with him, she worked at and eventually managed a clothing factory filled with people who all spoke different languages than her and learned English from nothing but tv and work.
These are the people that continue to make me proud to be Canadian. These are the people that, though Canada wasn’t always kind to them, are extraordinarily kind to Canada. If anything is true about the “multicultural mosaic,” it’s that there would be no picture of Canada if it weren’t for the contributions of the people who come here with hope or live here with hope despite the often harsh and unforgiving landscape they face.
In celebrating Canada150, I’m celebrating its people, especially the people for whom Canada was their land long before it had its name.
We received in abundance
by Anita Advani
I am an immigrant to Canada. I came to Canada with my family in 1968 when I was five years old. I feel completely at home in my adopted country and rarely think of myself as an immigrant even though technically I am. In 1974, I became a citizen. My parents chose Canada because they hoped for a better life here. It doesn’t feel like my family adopted Canada; more like Canada adopted us.
I still remember that frigid day in April when we disembarked from the plane. Coming from India and wearing only thin cloth coats, it definitely was a shock to the system! We struggled on one income during those early years. My dad didn’t earn very much money so we barely had any furniture (only our beds) for the first year. Still, my mom always made sure we had enough to eat even if it meant watering down the soup or adding more bread than beef to the hamburger patties.
My three siblings and I encountered some racism at school to be sure. There were fewer immigrants in the early 1970’s. As visible minorities we stood out. Fortunately, the racist comments ended for me by the time I reached adolescence. I suppose it was a sign that I had fully integrated into Canadian society.
Everyone knows there is no utopia. Nevertheless, Canada has far more positives than negatives and most closely approaches a “utopia” – if such a place were to exist.
With its natural beauty, multicultural society, religious/cultural freedoms, inclusive immigration policies and democratic system of government, there are few countries in the world that can rival us.
My favorite place in Canada is Algonquin Provincial Park. I spent many summers canoe camping in this magnificent location. I have fond memories of the pristine nature I witnessed firsthand.
It is difficult to choose only one place, as there are so many stunningly beautiful vistas in our great country. I feel very proud to call Canada my homeland! My family came here for a better life and we received in abundance.
Great country, energetic city, lovely family
by Steven Lu
As a first generation native born Canadian, no year like 2017 recalls me so many memories about my country, city and family.
From coast to coast, we are thrilled to celebrate Canada's 150th birthday. From the days of the Native Indians, Canada’s magnificent history has already begun. However, our story begins on July 1st 1867, the day Canada officially became a country. Year 2017 also marks the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Vimy Ridge, a proud victory of World War I. Many historians feel that this was the birth of our nation and the first time that all units of the Canadian Army fought together. Along with my Air Cadet squadron, I joined Markham's 100th ceremony of this battle on April 9th.
Living in GTA, you probably agree with me that Toronto Maple Leaf is the most popular icon of our city. The 2016-2017 season marks the Club's centennial season. This year is also counting the city's 50 years drought of the Stanley Cup. My hockey passion is inherited from my dad who is a diehard fan of Maple Leafs. The Leafs experienced a fresh debut for the second centennial era, clinching their first playoff berth in four years and second since 2004, which also happens to be the year of my birth.
Back to my family, one milestone is that my dad went through his 50th birthday early this year. My dad, mom and elder brother immigrated to Canada in 2000, and then gave a birth to me four years later. In the past years, dad has devoted all his effort to support my family. After a period of tough time, dad made Canada as our home. My brother has attended to his ideal university and I am growing up year by year .The 2016-17 NHL season will mark the Toronto Maple Leafs Centennial Season presented by Molson Canadian and the team will celebrate the historic occasion with a year full of events that honours Leafs legends, commemorates key moments in club history and engages fans of all ages.The 2016-17 NHL season will mark the Toronto Maple Leafs Centennial Season presented by Molson Canadian and the team will celebrate the historic occasion with a year full of events that honours Leafs legends, commemorates key moments in club history and engages fans of all ages.The 2016-17 NHL season will mark the Toronto Maple Leafs Centennial Season presented by Molson Canadian and the team will celebrate the historic occasion with a year full of events that honours Leafs legends, commemorates key moments in club history and engages fans of all ages.We are all satisfied with the life in Canada.
Interesting year of 2017, right? Great country, energetic city and lovely family, above are my memories and may be the answers why I choose and love Canada.
by Sivakami Thilagrajah
In Grade 5 social studies classes in Sri Lanka, I learned and read about Canadian landmarks such as Niagara Falls and the Parliament. I did not know at that time that in 1990, I would immigrate to Canada.
Compared to Sri Lanka, Canada is safer. In many parts of Sri Lanka it was dangerous to go outside at night, whether to walk or drive.
Also compared to Sri Lanka, there is more opportunity. In Sri Lanka it is difficult for women to get well-paying jobs in sectors which are considered to be more oriented to men, such as engineering, law or medicine. As a woman, Canada provides opportunities in all of these sectors, and ensures women are not discriminated against if they want to get a good paying job.
In Canada, and especially Markham, multiculturalism allows us to experience different cultures and foods. When I moved to Markham, the diverse composure of the city allowed me to experience various cultures from across the world and exchange foods, traditions and cultures in a way which many parts of the world lack.
In Sri Lanka, it took hours to get to the nearest hospital, and when you got to the hospital you had to wait many hours, sometimes days to see a doctor. In Markham we are fortunate as we have one of the best hospitals in Ontario just a short drive away.
I am grateful that Canada does not have the same worries of natural disasters which places such as Sri Lanka has. These are just some of the reasons why I am grateful I made Canada home.
Thank you for accepting me
by Mariam J. Karim
You know you have that feeling of excitement when you have butterflies in you tummy no matter how old you are. This is the feeling I had when I boarded a plane for the first time knowing that I am going to CANADA!
I arrived to Toronto as a refugee in 2006 from the Middle East. I had lived in the Middle East since I was six months old and stayed as a Ugandan REFUGEE for over 3 decades.
As a refugee I had access to everything except it was limited. I could only travel within the country as I did not have a passport. I could have a driver’s license & health card however; they would expire every 6 months. I had no legal paperwork except for my birth certificate.
When things were getting difficult there, I decided to approach the United Nations Office and ask them what the solution is. How long I will be in a country where I cannot call home? I requested them to contact the Canadian Embassy as my sister was in living in Toronto. Sure enough, in a week’s time, I was called to the UN office that provided me with forms to migrate to Canada. 8 months later I got my visa and here I am!
I did struggle in the beginning looking for jobs; however the Canadian’s made me feel like home and helped me around.
Why Canada? Canada is one of the peaceful countries in the world. It’s a land of immigrants were it has unique culture and diversity which can be found throughout the country. We respect one another and also celebrate every festival together. A country which has freedom to do whatever a citizen wants as far as it is ethically correct.
Canada thank you for accepting me and showing me who you are! For making me believe that there is still goodness in this world as I had lost hope! Today, I am proud to call myself a Canadian!
Congratulations Canada on your 150 Birthday!
Great optimism for Canada
by Qwendoline Scheffers-Simoneau
It was December 1958, I had just had my 10th birthday on the boat coming over from Rotterdam Holland to Halifax Canada, leaving our old lives behind. This was our new country, new beginnings, new life, new home.
It was a rough start with temperatures 30 degrees colder than we were used to and piles of fluffy white snow covering the railroad tracks slowing down our travel time by days.
When we finally approached Toronto it was a city like no other I'd ever seen. Buildings so tall my Mom called them "skyscrapers"! The Royal York Hotel stuck out above all. A sight I'll never forget.
In 1967, Canada's 100th birthday, I was proudly crowned "Miss Beautify Toronto 1967"! The speech I made was how Toronto would benefit from parks and car-less streets like Rotterdam to make it a true people meeting place" — which "Toronto" means. My duties that year included opening parks, riding proudly in the Stanley Cup Parade and greeting
the Centennial Train.
Although I loved Toronto back then I long for more space and tranquility as the years fly by. After moving to Willowdale, Richmond Hill, Newmarket area and now Innisfil I am looking forward to going even further north to enjoy the Northern Lights in my twilight years. I'm looking forward with great optimism and awe of what lies ahead in the next 25 years for my children, grandchildren and future Canadian generations..
Happy 150th Birthday Canada!
Starting a new life
by Hayley Shen, Grade 7
“Why did your family choose Canada? How long have you been in Canada? What is the most challenging issue for you in Canada?” A lot of people have asked me those sort of questions.
My name is Hayley, I’m a girl in Grade 7, an immigrant, and have a four-member family. As an immigrant, we chose to move to Canada for sure because here we have the better conditions, which we need. A healthy environment, a good society, and safety are the features of Canada we were looking for.
Language is absolutely the hardest thing I had until now. To be honest, I don’t trust myself to be speaking English like the kids who were born here. In my opinion, learning a new language is actually awful.
I came here in June 2015. It’s the great time to come to Canada but also a challenge because I need to catch up on a lot of things from 5 years that the children in my grade had done already.
It’s the great choice to choose Canada even though it’s like starting a new life.
Deep roots in Canada
by Dustin Kenney
Why Canada? I decided to write this essay because I was born in Canada and as it turns out everyone else in my family was born here also.
This essay was easy to write because my father worked for the Canadian Coast Guard. At first Dad worked as a lighthouse keeper. The first light station where my father worked was a place called Gros Cap, near Sault Ste. Marie in the middle of Lake Huron.
I cannot think of a more Canadian home for me and my family. The front of the light station acted like a giant ice breaker and there was also a helicopter pad on the top. We didn’t have a driveway like other families. Instead our boat would be lifted up by heavy cables about two stories high so we could get into to the cabin. Other people up there would have front lawns and backyards; all we had around us was Canada’s most valuable resource, water!
Later in my life as a proud Canadian we lived in a beautiful small town called Coldwater, ON. Coldwater was a great place to grow up.
We enjoyed many Canadian pastimes especially watching Hockey Night in Canada. It really is Canada’s game. It sure brought my family closer together. The game was created here in Canada and as far as I am concerned it will stay that way.
Great men play hockey, especially the men on the Team Canada hockey team. I am reminded of 1978 when Paul Henderson got his own rebound and united our country in one great moment. I’m sure Paul was proud to be Canadian and score for his country.
Just as I am proud to be a small town, son of a coast guard, hockey loving Canadian. Canada is the land of the free and filled with hometowns like the one that I live in. It is really different than any other place where I have lived because it’s the best place.
by Lily McMorine
My parents immigrated to Canada in the late 1920s from Poland for a better life. Immigration was encouraged at the time. As a first generation immigrant I recall the horse and buggy days as well as the one room school. The trying ‘30s saw my parents lose their farm. Kind citizens soon helped us get back on track -- a Canadian trait!
As a toddler I developed a health problem that required a lengthy hospital stay. The result was a strict diet that continues to this day. Only here in Canada would I have had the lengthy health care for my recovery. Living on the farm was an asset as we could grow/raise the necessities.
An early memorable family Christmas gift was the purchase of a radio and hearing the Christmas music.
Opportunities came to the Lake Huron area in the form of a school bus for children to attend high school. My parents encouraged their girls to attend. Some neighbour girls could not. The principal had a saying, “You can become anything you want to become.” What freedom and opportunity girls began to have back then compared to girls in other countries even today!
It was a joy to learn Canadian history even as Canada was becoming a nation.
I left the farm and went into the medical field. Here as elsewhere Canada added to the growing medical bank of knowledge. The advent of Medicare changed the health care system of Canada.
Having had the opportunity to have travelled across Canada, my heart now wonders back to the farm and the Lake Huron area. For the most part, crowds have not discovered this region yet and all that it offers.
Many years ago I started my education in one room school and have advanced to the computer age! Back then I traveled by horse and buggy. Now I’m looking forward to a self-driving car. The changes I’m experiencing as a proud Canadian!
A dream come true
by Seema S. Fernandes
As a recent Immigrant, we chose Canada to call it “our home.”
My husband and I have worked in the Middle East for 1 5years. Though we have family ties in Canada, my husband was always taken aback by the beauty of the country, its culture, the freedom, the education and professional work field and that, it was a family oriented place. It met all the criteria he had envisioned in a place for us to make it home. Without a shadow of doubt, Canada was the place he ever wanted to settle down with his family.
With 2 young kids, age 4 and 2, we made this move last April 2016. My family adapted to the weather, new environment, school, work. Everything was so systematic and organized, I can proudly say there is no turning back. We all love Canada.
I have to admit, its only God’s hand that has blessed us to make the decision to be in the right place at the right time. I am proud to share within 2-1/2months of landing in the country, my husband was selected for his first job in his field which he is working till date. My third child was born in Canada five months ago. And, by God’s grace we also were able to buy our own very own home in this competitive market a few months back. It’s a dream come true for us, as this was another affirmation that we had made the right decision by choosing to immigrate to Canada.
We want to help our next generation to have roots strong enough to be an asset for the country. I am blessed for all the things Canada has provided to my family, the health facility, children’s education, the children’s benefits and not to mention even the taxes that we pay to let our infrastructure take care of what we expect in the quality of life.
I am proud to be a recent immigrant and glad we made it on time to celebrate Canada’s 150th Birthday! God Bless Canada!
A journey with imagination
by Yann Wang
If a place makes you to ignore or conceal desires, swallow and suppress ideas, hide beliefs, stand in the shadow of who, if a city reminds you often of paying attention to unfair child education, worrying about food safety daily and smog fog in the next time, then the desire to leave is constant, but why Canada? Because, on any person who desires this kind of leaving, Canada will bestow the gift of lucky charm with multichoice, my family among the others is only one of winners for this kind of choices in 2014.
And the person like us, with some kind of dusting background first landing the soil of Canada, we always like to say that this is the land of blue sky with fresh air which in some sense could been identified as parades on the earth according to the sayings of Mr. Duplessis who claimed Le ciel est bleu; l'enfer est rouge, of which is making me certainly a little bit confused unless I can find further explanation through personal exploration in the field of theology later on.
So this longest journey, we have made so far, is just beginning, it is not from the physical experience of having made it that we know how very great the distance is, but social and cultural from very beginning, after our landing in 2014 as new immigrants.
Just like the winter is always waiting time in Canada, for the spring flowers blossom, or the girl name of hurricane.
We also would wish, not only us, but to all others, to become a fully acculturate citizens of a country soon or later, not as foreign to my some new friends as China.
Canada was his destiny
by Domenic Brigante
My story begins in Puglia, one of the most fertile and picturesque agricultural regions in southern Italy. Father, a passionate “motorcycle” Evangelist, preferred roaming from town to town preaching the Gospels. He hated farming. One winter, handsome young Antonio meets beautiful Genoveffa and it is love at first sight. They soon marry. I was barely five months old when my life was to forever change. With our meager possessions in tow, my parents and I set sail from the port of Genoa for Canada. It was the summer of 1956.
The long journey by ship and train led from Italy to Toronto’s Union Station and finally, to a stifling third-floor apartment, near Kensington Market. Father’s command of the English language soon landed him a job as a stock clerk. However, he was not happy. The solution to father’s discontent was as Canadian as maple syrup. It was called “self-employment.” Thanks to his passion for electronics, Anthony’s Recording Studio was born. Father was free to work from home, in a second-floor rental on Montrose Avenue, near College Street.
Within three years, the Brigante family was able to purchase a semi-detached dwelling on Roxton Road. In 1962, an enormous Buick provided mobility to enjoy week-end trips to Niagara Falls and special visits to Algonquin Park, the New York World’s Fair and Expo 67. Father’s early agrarian life was rapidly becoming a faint memory.
College Street was the life-blood of the Italian community. However, prosperity created the necessity to stroll off the beaten path. This occurred in 1963 when my parents bought a storefront business on Bloor Street, near Christie Pits. “Anthony” was becoming a true Canadian entrepreneur! In time, the four Brigante siblings each acquired a university education. I even entered law school and became a lawyer.
Recently, when father took ill, I asked him if he ever regretted leaving Italy. His answer was a resounding “no”. The young immigrant had left his beloved birthplace determined to become master of his own destiny. To this day, I have never forgotten my late father’s unwavering tenacity to make Canada our home.
Proud to be Canadian
by Surjit Singh Flora
Cold weather and hockey may be internationally recognized symbols of Canada, but beyond its climate and recreational activities, this great nation has a lot to offer to newcomers.
I chose to immigrate to Canada because of the wonderful and helpful Canadians I had met along my life’s journey. When I first arrived from Indiain 1989 with my family, everyone was extremely nice and kind, and tolerant of my language difficulties, helping me learn to speak and read English very quickly.
Canada is successful as a nation because it has always been a country founded and built by people who came here by choice, who immigrated for a chance at a new life, and who have worked hard, generation after generation, to build a tolerant society. Unlike many other places, here in Canada everyone is free to dress as they wish, speak English or the language of their birth or ancestry, worship and live in peace.
Canada is a nation where the culture of peace has the deepest roots. People here can freely express their ideas, participate in politics and depend on a fair judicial system to protect their rights. The country’s multicultural policies also help everyone to find their place in society.
Ours is one of greatest countries in the world, with free health care, accessible schooling for kids with physical handicaps or intellectual disabilities, and many helpful non-profit organizations such as the Friendship Circle, which helps people develop a social life, without having to resort to cyberspace. And, yes, we love the game of hockey and our four distinct seasons. Add into the mix the natural tendency of Canadians towards peace and love—and you can see that we have it all here, in abundance.
I find it fascinating to live in a multicultural environment such as the Greater Toronto Area because, as a journalist, I have the opportunity to meet people with very different backgrounds and learn about their cultures. I believe that Canada as a whole draws strength from its multicultural spirit.
The people of Canada have worked hard to build a country that opens its doors to include all, regardless of race, religion or community, and as such, is a country that respects and gives equality to all.
While violence is prevalent in many parts of the world, and takes many forms, Canada has built a culture of peace by adopting and developing values, ways of thinking and attitudes that are in keeping with equality, tolerance, sharing, generosity and respect.
Canada is my home now, and I have a lot of fondness and love for such a fantastic country. It has given me hundreds of special moments and the opportunity to forge incredible friendships and continually make new acquaintances.
I would say that Canadians get along with everyone, unless someone tries to step on us or our friends, in which case, look out, because we will stand up for one another. Overall though, Canadians are easygoing, and blessed with a vast amount of land and lots of clean water for drinking, swimming and fishing. Our forests are rich with timber and scenic beauty, and our farms are fruitful with good harvests. We do indeed have to face the cold and snow in winter, but that is bearable for most and enjoyable for many.
I’m proud to say I am a Canadian, proud also that my children will be able to say the same. There is no other country in the world with the freedom and choices our Canada has to offer.
My home sweet home
by Jan Latimer
Back in the spring of 1954 I was nine and my life was just about perfect. Then one day my father announced that he had booked passage on a Cunard ship called The Samaria bound for Canada. I was not happy at the thought of leaving my friends and school, but most of all my Nana and Grandpa whom I loved very much.
Plans were made quickly, the house was sold, our trunks were packed and we boarded a train to Southampton. I will have to admit I was excited about the trip. The ship was huge, I’d never seen one so big.
The voyage was rocky, my mother and younger sister were sick. My dad and I explored the ship; there was a playroom for kids and a room where adults could bet on horse racing. There were miles of decks to run around on and many stairs to climb up and down.
Then the sea calmed down and we entered to St. Lawrence River. I remember looking at the shore and seeing little buildings there. I thought they were the houses and commented that they were smaller than our house in England. A man then told me that they were ice fishing huts. What in the world was ice fishing?
Our ship docked at Quebec City and we were taken to a large warehouse where we were processed to enter Canada. Then we boarded another train to take us to Toronto. We left Union Station and went to a boarding house on Avenue Road. I was not happy to be here. I wanted to go home.
The following spring my dad had a car and took us to Wasaga Beach. He walked me down to the shore and told me to start swimming, that my beloved England was that way. Little did I know that it was Georgian Bay and not the ocean!
Since that time I have come to love Canada. I made new friends, loved my school. My family prospered in this new country and we proudly became Canadian citizens. I met and married the man I love and we raised three great kids, one that was born in Canada’s Centennial year! Wasaga Beach is still my favorite place and my favorite memory and I’m so glad I didn’t start swimming!
by Kristine Villegas
I am proud to be Canadian. I am proud and privileged to live in a country that honours life and offers free health care.
I am proud to be able to speak and understand both English and French. I am proud to be in a country that celebrates multiculturalism, where diversity is not seen as a source of tension, but one of strength.
I am proud that I am encouraged to have an open mind towards others, so that as a nation, Canadians can be seen in a positive light.
I am proud to live in a place of politeness where “please”, “thank you” and “I’m sorry” are part of my daily vocabulary.
I am proud that my doors are open to help any Syrian brothers and sisters in need.
I am proud of the world renowned stars this country has generated…Canadian born and raised hockey superstar, Wayne Gretzky and singing sensation, Celine Dion.
I find warmth in my Canada Goose parka in the Winter, find comfort in my Roots sweater in the Spring/Fall, and enjoy many summer days exploring the beauty of nature in my Lululemons.
I am proud to climb the Rockies, take a dip in Canada’s beautiful lakes, and to venture off into hundreds of beautiful forests with thousands of species of trees. I am proud of these trees which produce the sweetest, most delicious and natural, maple syrup. This is the icing on the cake.
This is Canada and I am truly proud to be Canadian.
A magnificent country
by Erin Penrose
As Canada celebrates its 150 years, I reflect and know that I am proud to be Canadian for so many reasons. Canada is a well-revered country world-wide and consistently rated by the UN as the world's best country to live in.
Here, we enjoy freedom, a high quality of life, good economic conditions and a diverse range of landscape, weather, activities and people.
In Canada, we have free (publicly funded) health care and education where students perform better than any other English-speaking country, a variety of climates with all four seasons, wealth in natural resources, modern cosmopolitan cities, vast rural areas, pristine nature and we are the world's second largest country.
Canada's landscape is clean, diverse and beautiful. We are a large country, bordered in many locations by water as well as having a natural abundance of lakes, rivers and waterfalls within. There is the beautiful rugged tranquility of the Rocky Mountains and the many national and provincial parks.
Here, we have unlimited recreational opportunities and we know how to make the most of each season. Winters provide opportunities for skiing, snowshoeing, tobagganing and skating. Summers, and some months in the spring and fall, offer us swimming, hiking, boating, fishing and camping to name several.
However you choose to enjoy Canada, whether it's active participation, trying something new or sitting back relaxing, you can feel safe here.
I am proud to be Canadian and call this magnificent country home.
This land is made for you and me
by Jerry Gray
January 1, 1967, a little over 50 years ago, the first day of Canada’s Centennial birthday. I am a charter member of The Travellers, Canada’s first folk song group, formed in 1953, who were asked by Pete Seeger in 1953 to, perhaps, alter the words to Woody Guthrie’s This Land is Your Lad, as Pete, Woody, and the song, were all blacklisted from airplay during the early 1950’s, the Joe McCarthy era.
The new version was sung for 10 years in Canada, becoming a national “hit” even though it was resurrected in the U.S in early 1960’s, but The Travellers’ version remains one of Canada’s most venerable patriotic songs to this very day. The group sang it before 250,000 people in Parliament Square on the first Canada Day celebratory TV Specials in 1962 and some 6 times after that.
Fifty years ago, the group was signed to appear in every province and territory in Canada by Festival Canada, to , as the press said, “let Canadians know about their heritage”. By the end of 1967, we had recorded 3 TV “specials”, 3 souvenir LP’s, done a Command Performance in Charlottetown for Queen Elizabeth and Prince Phillip, and appeared in 186 concerts across the country, including a month of 26 concerts in the Northwest Territories, only accessible by air. Each concert ended with the whole audience singing along with This Land.
Throughout the years I have appeared with the group in Great Britain at The Palladium, toured through Russia, Poland, Lithuania, The Ukraine, USA, Cyprus, Germany, and Panama, but most importantly in every area of Canada. The song, This Land, gives the physical boundaries and talks about Canada and its peoples.
Several years ago I was invited to conduct The Mormon Tabernacle Choir and Orchestra in the final song on their programme, as they finished a North American tour at Roy Thomson Hall in Toronto.
In my honour, they said, they would be singing the Canadian words, written by The Travellers in 1953. Fortunately it was recorded on You Tube, and can be seen by typing “Jerry Gray, The Mormon Choir and This Land”.
As I think about a good way to celebrate Canada’s 150th birthday on July 1, or anytime this year, is to tune in to the YouTube version and be inspired to sing along. It will give you a profound feeling of love of country that I have had the honour of doing for some 63 years, because, “this land is made for you and me.”
Celebrating the maple leaf
by Mike Zichowski
As Canada's 150th anniversary approaches, I am reminded of the important symbol that unites us all. Adorned, stitched, painted, waved and sung, the red maple leaf emblem forever touches our hearts. A simple red maple leaf on a white background between two red bars is recognized around the world as the Canadian flag and the bold spirit of its strong people.
It's a comforting symbol especially when I encounter it on knapsacks, tents and even foreheads and cheeks when visiting foreign lands, and always an easy-going conversation erupts about the land we love. It's no wonder that our politicians carry pockets full of Canadian lapel pins as they greet their constituents, and foreign retailers flutter the Canadian flag on their premises.
But Canada's anniversary is a tribute to our maple leaf country that is both smart and caring, which keeps the peace, rights wrongs, accommodates the disable, protects human rights and gives people a new chance at being the best.
We are a proud nation because of our willingness to make sacrifices to build a better life and improve the lot of our neighbours and fellow citizens, no matter what accent voices their thoughts.
As a kid growing up in the Parkdale community of Toronto, I ran the neighbouring trails of High Park religiously attempting to better my previous time. My cross-country run always culminated at a gigantic maple leaf flower bed surrounded by cherry-blossom trees on the steep banks of Grenadier pond which for some reason I circled twice for good luck. It marked the end of an arduous journey, similar to my parents and which gratefully maintained my health but moreover rooted my pride.
True, north and strong
by Rose Nisi
Happy Birthday Canada!
On July 1st. you will turn 150 years old! Remember you are still young. I am very proud to be a Canadian!
Canada is a beautiful Country, we are a country of diversity of its people to our diversity of our landscape.
We have beauty from our small fishing villages in the East Coast, to our historical French Quebec.
We have Toronto in Ontario, which is a thriving large metropolitan city. We have the prairies and the beautiful mountains of British Columbia….and much, much more ….
Canada is often referred to as a land of immigrants because millions of newcomers have settled here and helped build Canada and defend our way of life, starting from France and England.
We have the Europeans, Italians, Portuguese, to the Chinese, the Indians and many, many more who came to Canada and now call it home.
Why did many people come to Canada and are still coming? Why do they want to start a new life here?
People came to Canada for many reasons. They came for a better quality of life, better employment opportunities, they also came for political reasons.
We have free education and medical care. We have welfare benefits, old- age insurance and unemployment insurance.
Whatever the reason or background. We come together as one, we are “Canadian”!
We are a country of true, north and strong! We live in the Best Country in the World, Canada! I would not live anywhere else!
A beacon of hope
by Alan Atkins
What lies closest to the heart is often least talked about. Canadians tend to be like that about their country. Our love runs deep and silent.
I have travelled much of the world and most of Canada many times. I realize that I was fortunate to be born here, like many others, by a twist of fate. My father was an immigrant.
When I was a child he often recounted how he felt when he arrived as a six year old in Windsor, Ontario, transplanted from the slums of Baltimore, Maryland during the Great Depression.
He described it as being like the scene in the “Wizard of Oz” where Dorothy opens her front door after the tornado picked up her house and dropped it.
The scene in the movie shifts from black and white to dazzling colour and she sees Oz for the first time.
For the next 82 years he never lost his sense of wonder that Canada was that enchanted place.
Canada is a young country. When I was born it had existed officially for not much longer than I have been alive.
What a privilege for all of us to be here at the beginning of such a wonderful adventure, enjoying the freedom to contribute to what is emerging as one of the ideal nations on earth.
We would, if we were not Canadians, shout this from the rooftops.
It may be enough that we know and cherish, with gratitude, this truth.
More importantly, despite our adolescent fumblings and growing pains, our most important contribution is how we live out our ideals of democracy, acceptance of strangers, caring for others and fairness in our personal and civic lives.
Passing on our values and love for this country is a legacy. Despite our peace loving ways, we cannot forget that during our short history Canadians also fought and died tenaciously to preserve these values for others and ourselves.
Teaching our children to never take our freedom and privileges for granted is essential for Canada to be what it is becoming – a beacon of hope in a broken world.
Canada is the best for hockey
by Cameron Lapp
In this essay I will tell you why Canada is the best for hockey because it has been our number one sport for Canada.
Hockey started a long time ago and has evolved ever since. Actually hockey started all the way back in 1887 when it was developed here in Canada. In Montreal on March 3rd when a bunch of friends decided to use a puck. And still today some of the other things like the length of the rink and the puck were kept today. And this is just a couple of rules they keeped.
The first arena was built in 1968 it was called Madison Square Garden built in New York for the New York Rangers and had ten REFS! (the normal arena now has four refs two refs for calls and two linesmen. But the biggest thing is that they even kept the old stick design today for purposes like players would like the curve and not the new design of the ring design but that became its own thing.
The team that has the biggest fan base today is the Toronto Maple Leafs. When the Leafs lost to the Capitals won 4-2 against the Leafs lately they scored and won the series but the fans were still screaming and cheering for the leafs and the other team's GM (general manager) said “I wish we could get this kind of a fan base and how can we get that.” Canada’s other teams are also on the list like… Montreal at 3rd, Vancouver at 4th, Winnipeg in 7th, and Calgary in 8th that just is a couple of Canadian teams on the ranks.
Canada’s main sport is hockey and we should all take more notice in it and explore the best things about hockey so this is my essay on hockey.
Beautiful land, beautiful people
by Madison Ryckman
Canada is a nice place to live in because people are nice. They’re nice because they don’t just care about themselves, they care about kids and other people. The government even gives money to help raise their children. Canadian families love and value each other.
Canada is a nice place to live in because of the beautiful land. The lake is my favourite place to go in the summer because it’s clean and pretty to look at. There are so many trees and flowers where I live. I like them because they’re pretty and they help us survive.
In Canada we have so many farms and parks. Farms are great because of all the animals that live in them. I love going to the provincial parks because you get to go tent camping with your family. When we’re camping it is so quiet and peaceful.
Canada is a nice place to live in because of the great city of Toronto. Toronto is so much fun because there are many fun activities for kids.
My family and I love going to Blue Jays games, car racing and the zoo. We also enjoy going to museums like the ROM and the Hockey Hall of Fam. The TTC/subway is so cool because I love trains! It’s fun to watch the airplanes land at Toronto Pearson Airport.
Canada is a nice place to live because there’s fresh food. I love going to get fresh food from the local farmers market. It makes me stay healthy and energetic. The local food tastes fresh and delicious.
I am very proud to be a Canadian citizen because Canada is an amazing place to live with my family.
Canadians warm, friendly, caring, gracious
by Nikki Putric
What makes me proud to be Canadian? Of course people like activist Gord Downie and Nobel laureate Alice Munro, but I am most proud to be Canadian because of everyday Canadians who are warm, friendly, caring, and gracious.
Recently, a lovely lady began a conversation with me and my sister in a gift shop. She complimented the teacups and saucers we were purchasing and mentioned that she owned plenty which she no longer needed. To our surprise, she then offered us her tea set and refused to accept any payment. A couple of weeks later, this kind-hearted lady met us at our local library with two boxes containing a gold-coloured teapot and over a dozen beautifully adorned porcelain tea cups and saucers.
When I began sharing my experience with family, friends, and neighbours, I discovered why I am proud to be Canadian.
I am proud to be Canadian because Canadians smile at you in the grocery store and say “Hello” when passing you on a Main Street.
I am proud to be Canadian because Canadians offer to sign out your library books when you forget your library card at home.
I am proud to be Canadian because Canadians will search an entire neighbourhood until they find the lost dog’s family.
I am proud to be Canadian because Canadians shovel your driveway in the winter and knock on your door during a power outage to make sure everyone is okay.
I am proud to be Canadian because Canadians will bring you a jerry can of gasoline when your car is stranded on the side of the road.
I am proud to be Canadian because Canadians use the lost and found, offer their bus seat to expectant mothers, and give strangers bus fare.
I am proud to be Canadian because Canadians will share their extra sun umbrella with strangers on a beach and welcome their new neighbours with a plate of homemade cookies. These Canadian stories are endless.
What makes me proud to be Canadian? Canadians make me proud to be Canadian because they are warm, friendly, caring, and gracious.
Accepting of others, considerate of nature
by Tatum Ellwood
This is what makes me proud to be a Canadian.
Being a Canadian is great, and I am super proud to call myself one. Canada is a really great place to live. We are polite, accepting of our differences, we value education, and treat nature with kindness. Here are some reasons why I am proud to be Canadian.
First of all, everyone gets along. No matter what ethnicity, race, religion, or beliefs someone has, we still treat them with the same respect as anyone else. Here in Canada, there is a mosaic of different cultures, and everyone is free to be themselves. In America, it is like a melting pot. All immigrants are encouraged to cut all ties with their previous lifestyle and become ‘American’. But in Canada, we embrace our diversity and encourage newcomers to remain in touch with their roots.
Not to mention the fact that we were the final destination for slaves to escape during the Underground Railroad. Between 1787 and the 1860s, the Underground Railroad helped almost 100,000 slaves escape to Canada, where they could live their lives freely, without being enslaved. Canada treats everyone equally.
Another reason to be prideful of our Canadian heritage is that our country produces a lot of people that went on to help the world. Examples: Alexander Graham Bell, Terry Fox, Frederick Banting, Marcellus Gilmore, Reginald Fessenden, Helmut Lucas, David Suzuki and so many more. All of these Canadians changed the world for the better, and life would be so different without their work. Imagine what life would be like without the telephone!
And lastly, we respect nature. Canada is the 9th cleanest country on the planet. Most of the population is huddled around the border, so that leaves more room for nature to be nature. Our country has such a low population for its size that almost 90% of Canada is uninhabited.
In conclusion, I think that Canada is very accepting of others, considerate of nature, and has produced some very helpful people, and that is why I am proud to be a Canadian.
A carefree, safe childhood
by Gordon Weber
I have had the good fortune of being born in Canada to German immigrants who wanted to live in the greatest country that offered great opportunities to hard-working people.
Growing up in the village of Swansea in the city of Toronto, allowed me to enjoy a happy, carefree, safe childhood and adolescence.
I was able to walk to and from school, starting in grade 1 up to high school.
The numerous parks that were within Toronto provided lots of social and athletic activities. Summers were spent in High park playing baseball, visiting the High Park zoo and seeing the exotic wildlife enjoying the world renowned cherry blossoms and also swimming at Sunnyside public pool. Winters were occupied with hockey on the outdoor public rinks-all activities sponsored by the city of Toronto; which allowed the public to grow up in a healthy environment.
As I matured, I travelled from coast to coast and I discovered all the natural wonders that define Canada and the towns and cities that make up the fabric of our country.
I made my home in the town of Midland, which encompassed the natural beauty and community spirit I experienced growing up in Toronto and travelling this great land.
Little lake is everything I love about Canada-green space to enjoy social and athletic activities, surrounded by a friendly safe environment just like the village of Swansea 50 years ago.
Climate, culture and commerce
by Nick Mancuso
On July 1, 2017, Canadas 150-year-old fabric, will continue to be woven, through its threads of climate, culture and commerce. A metamorphic climate, that transforms itself annually, from a crystalized winter playground, back into a brilliant and renascent summer oasis. In keeping with the embracing culture of our Native founders, we as Canadians continue to welcome people from all over the world. Altogether partnered with a government that truly honours the foundations of growth, of my Alma Mater St. Michaels College School, in goodness, discipline and knowledge.
Our winters months are spent with friends and family on the snow filled landscapes of Muskoka, rediscovering childhood skiing and snowboarding adventures. A few short months later the spring reappears, making the same snow filled landscapes come alive with green grass and dense foliage. They almost appear to be magically painted back in place by the effortless brush strokes of The Group of Seven. Now in the summer months of July and August, the shores of Georgian Bay reveal Canada’s largest freshwater beach, in the community of Wasaga. Finally, the artistry of the fall season returns once again, reuniting us for our back to school walks through the elegantly forested streets of Vellore Woods.
I enjoy long conversations on my street with my neighbours from Vietnam, India, Iraq and so many other beautiful parts of the world. While our kids play street hockey and other sports together, we share espressos and other imported treats. I’m proud of my neighbourhood families, knowing that we all came together from places around the world, that aspire to offer what Canada is to us today: A truly northern, strong and free nation.
Our Liberal government continues to innovate in providing Vaughan’s newest hospital, The Mackenzie Health Centrw, along with many community amenities annually. The Vaughan and Toronto Transit systems continue to expand to unite Vaughan’s Metropolitan Centre with Toronto’s Spadina subway extension. An amazing new first and incredible birthday surprise, a few of Vaughan’s citizens have organized a world record flight, in honour of Canadas 150th birthday: https://www.c150go.ca Happy 150th Birthday Canada!
Proud mama, proud Canadian
by Nicole Gordner
While jumping on the couch, my three-year-old holds his Canadian flag up high while simultaneously belting out the Canadian anthem. Everyone who knows him knows that he LOVES Canada. I’m not sure where his Canadian pride really originated from. Though I’ve shown him the flag and read the occasional book about Canada, I’ve never given the topic of our country or its symbols much attention. Nonetheless, he is relentlessly passionate, insisting he bring his Canada flag, Canada cap, and Canada sweater to school each day. The preschool teachers, attending to his interests, have now made “Canada” a central topic in the classroom. His excitement over this country has certainly reminded me of its greatness.
I want my son to truly understand what makes this country great. Yet, how does a person explain concepts such as freedom, peace, and security to a three year old? Since a country is only as good as its people, I decided to personify Canada. I’ve explained that Canada is a great leader for the following reasons (that a three-year-old can understand by referencing bagels, one of his favourite foods):
1. Canada makes mistakes but apologizes and tries to do better the next day. Sometimes they burn their bagels but they make fresh bagels the next day.
2. Canada also works hard to make people feel safe. They don’t throw their bagels at others.
3.Canada is generous and helpful. If someone can’t buy bagels, they share their bagels with them.
4.Canada also tries to be fair. If you’re very hungry, Canada may give you more bagels than they have. Canada never tries to force a person to have more bagels if they don’t want.
5. Canada is really respectful, welcoming and open-minded. They make all sorts of different bagels to appeal to different people. Canada knows that when they make bagels that people will get to eat and enjoy, every one will be happy and productive.
From the mouths of babes, we hear the truth. In my son’s own words: “Canada is the best country!” Period.
Close to utopia
by Joanne Bailey
Canada is the closest to utopia on earth.
Canada has a large diverse beautiful landscape from coast to coast to coast.
To the east, is the province Newfoundland “the Rock”, an explorer’s paradise where whales abound the ocean and icebergs climb. On the west, is British Columbia where coastal and Rocky Mountains majestically soar and pierce the sky. Not to forget the beauty of every other province and territories within.
A country with four distinct seasons with the best walks at night in the winter, when tiny ice crystals fall and become snowflakes. Spring a season of beautiful flowers, bees humming and birds chirping. Summer brings us many outdoor social activities with brighter and longer days. In our National and Provincial parks we observe nature and how our natural land is preserved. In the fall the air is cooler with foliage revealing an artistry of color. Canadians adapt to these four seasons with temperatures ranging from minus 30 Celsius in the winter to 30 plus Celsius in the summer. We are hearty and love the variation of the extreme cold and sweltering heat.
Very importantly Canadians are outside thinkers. We are a multicultural respectful society with a great appreciation of others. As Canadians we have freedom of speech, a stable democratic government, we live at peace with each other and have an excellent standard of living. We value our education system and health care. Canadians are great participants in worldly events. A country populated by immigrants with many seeking refuge in Canada with a strong desire to live within our country.
On July 1, 2017 Canadians will be proud to wave the Canadian flag, the maple leaf our symbol of Canada representing “unity, tolerance and peace”
As a Canadian I feel honoured to live in King Township in Ontario Canada. Ontario is home to the nation’s capital city of Ottawa and the nation’s most populous city Toronto.
CANADA - “THE TRUE NORTH STRONG AND FREE” – I AM PROUD!
Freedom and diversity
by Tammy Merchant
As a Canadian, I walk proud, talk proud, and live proud! Canada is about freedom and diversity.
Being Canadian means you can befriend all you meet here, no matter any one’s race or religion, age or sexual gender.
We all share a common idea: unity.
In Canada you can come and go, explore this great country, without any disappointment as to where you’ve ever visited. You’re always sure to get a warm welcome from Canadians eh!!
The sites and sounds of all families enjoying our Canada can be seen and heard far and wide.
Weather it be snowing, cool autumns, crisp spring air, or hot summer days with rainfall, we all enjoy being Canadian no matter where we are our what we do.
“CHEERS CANADA 150”
The best place on earth
by Barbara Boutilier
I am proud to be Canadian because my ancestors came out from U.K. in the 1770s and some the Year York was named Toronto 1834/5. They came over on a boat they called a Rolly Polly. They arrived on the muddy shores that are now Toronto. It was a black fly and mosquito infested swamp and bush. They were the pioneers who cleared the land, dug out the roots, made the roads including Yonge St.
They settled in York Mills near St. John's Anglican Church. Where my great great great grandfather built his home. He was into lumbering and died when a tree fell on him. He is buried at St. John’s Anglican Church. They had six sons and one by one they all worked their way north into Muskoka. Two ancestors pilots of the mail ship Segwun one before the renovations and one after. Some moved on to where Bracebridge is now.
Our old family graveyard is on Taylor Road, Bracebridge. My great grandfather moved up around Hoodstown. They expected the train to go there but when the train went to Huntsville Hoodstown became a ghost town. I have ancestors on Buck Lake, Lake Vernon and Loon Lake that had its name changed to Lake Waseosa in 1918.
I grew up on the Muskoka River in Huntsville. I worked 32 years for a Marine Insurance Co. in Toronto. I am retired now on beautiful Lake Simcoe in the Orillia area. This is as good as it gets! I am 79 years old I love this area. It is the best place on earth.
I have so many stories I could fill a book.