Tomorrow (July 1st) is a very special day in Canada. For not only is it our nation’s national holiday—Canada Day—(like the U.S’s 4th of July), but this year we celebrate Canada’s 150th birthday on this day.
I have been well aware of the specialness of this year for quite some time. Eighteen months ago our Fraser Valley Poets Society began working on an anthology focusing on Canada and timed to release just before July 1st. As associate editor some of the weight of that 208-page, 18-contributing poets book fell on my shoulders and so it was with great joy and relief that I saw the book launched just last Monday.
O Canada: Celebrating 150 Years – back, spine, front cover.
At the launch, the editor and I explained some of the processes of putting it together, and several of us read selections from it. At the the break all contributors present assembled around a specially designed cake for a group photograph. Then we celebrated with cake and other goodies before an open mic time.
O Canada Cake
Editor Alvin Ens speaks of the book
Associate Editor (moi) explaining my contribution
Group shot of contributors. All but two are present.
I wrote several Canada-themed poems for the book. The one I share, below, was based on an article I came across on the website of the gold rush town Barkerville (a very interesting place to visit if you love history).
The article, written from the British perspective, attempts to dispel the gloom of naysayers and convince Brits of the wisdom of colonizing this newly discovered land—which had monetary value too (and that should convince them, if nothing else did!).
Of course the fact that this wasn’t really their land to claim is a matter to explore another day. You could say that, to some degree, their confident assumptions still haunt us.
This mural on the side of the Fort Langley Historic Site depicts the Hudson’s Bay Trading Post built on the Fraser River near the current site in 1827. Local First Nations Stò:lō people traded salmon, and furs for metals, ropes, and Hudson Bay Blankets, with guns being a relatively unimportant item. (Photo © 2017 by V. Nesdoly, Information from Wikipedia Langley National Historic Site and Fort Langley.)
Based on an article published in the British newspaper The Cosmopolitan – June 10, 1867
The amount of earth’s crust to be ruled by our queen
defies European analogies!
No matter that more than half this vast land
is in a perpetual perma-freeze.
That all that grows there is pale reindeer moss
roam the musk-ox and wild caribou.
There’s still much land left not in barrenness’ grip
to claim on this land mass so new.
The climate and earth are not what you’ve heard
why, the song-sparrow sings first of April.
While the melons and grapes and peaches so plump
are ripe long before the first snowfall.
Now speaking of snow, you likely don’t know
it covers the land—a warm mantle.
So the Red River farmer welcomes early flakes
to blanket fall’s spring wheat so gentle.
And Isle of Orleans just below Quebec
navigators have dubbed Isle of Bacchus.
While cows overwinter to Fort Edmonton
—very bearable, that’s what the fact is.
A Governor General under our queen
will rule this vast new Dominion.
We’ve tallied the value of stocks, goods, and land
it comes to over $1 billion!
© 2017 by Violet Nesdoly (All Rights Reserved)
Happy Canada Day to all Canadians reading here. And to those in the U.S., Happy 4th of July (in a few days)!
This post is linked to Poetry Friday, hosted today by Diane at Random Noodling.