Lately, we Americans have been obsessed with Mexico but it’s all too easy to forget about our other neighbor, Canada. No American forgets about Cinco de Mayo (actually a rather minor Mexican holiday), but I’d be surprised if more than one in a hundred knows about Dominion Day. This commemorates Canada’s transition from British colony to Dominion in 1867. People sometimes refer to this as Canada’s independence day, but it’s a more complicated than that.
Though Canada (or rather, four of the current 10 provinces) gained autonomy in 1867, it remained an official part of the British Empire. In 1931, the British Parliament passed the Statute of Westminster which granted further independence to the Dominions of Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. My understanding of this complicated law is that gave these countries nearly equal status with the UK, though they still needed British permission to amend their own constitutions. Canada didn’t become fully independent until 1982 when the Canada Act replaced its previous constitution. So you might call Canada a late bloomer.
Canadians, if I got any of this wrong, please correct me in the comments below!
Though I grew up only 200 miles from the border, we didn’t go there very often. I did listen to Canadian radio stations and always enjoyed the way they pronounced words like “shed-ule” and “aboot.” Canadian coins commonly appeared in mixed in with our money. My first visit to Canada was as a child when my family went to the Peace Garden, an international park straddling the border between North Dakota and Manitoba. It commemorates over a century of peace between the U.S.A. and the colony/dominion/nation of Canada. It’s also the explanation for the obscure slogan “Peace Garden State” that used to grace all North Dakota license plates.
Perhaps that’s why we don’t hear much about Canada. It’s like that well-behaved middle child or the average student who never makes trouble. Lately, however, Canada has had its share of citizens whom even Americans know, such as its boyish Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. Another is the popular and controversial psychologist, Jordan Peterson. Later this month, I’ll have an article on his book Twelve Rules for Life which will be my first non-fiction review for Steampunk Desperado.
The attached collage shows some scenes from the Peace Garden. I know I have photos of my own somewhere, but alas, I was unable to find them, so I had to get these from Wikipedia. In this insane world of ours, it’s reassuring that there are actually some monuments which commemorate peace rather than war.
Happy Canada Day!