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Dominion Dreams

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.

OCanada-bk&fr

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.

 

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.

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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.)

Dominion Dreams

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)

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Happy Canada Day to all Canadians reading here. And to those in the U.S., Happy 4th of July (in a few days)!

poetryfridayThis post is linked to Poetry Friday, hosted today by Diane at Random Noodling.

 

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33 Comments

Posted by on June 30, 2017 in History, People, Poetry Friday

 

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Vancouver Island

Today (July 1st) is Canada Day! A Happy 149th Birthday to Canada, the country I love. As you can imagine, the birthday celebrations this year will be eclipsed by celebrations next year when Canada turns 150. (Our poetry society is planning to publish a book of poetry to commemorate the event. Our members are busy writing about Canada. That bit of writing is also on my to-do list.)

Today, a poem about one of my favorite places in Canada to visit. Though it’s just a 90-minute ferry ride away, Vancouver Island is a special place full of memories of the wonderful times we’ve spent there. The accompanying slide show lets you see just a few of its features. Of course the best part of any place we visit is the friends we have there.

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Vancouver Island

Ninety-minute crossing meanders between Gulf Islands
from Tsawwassen to Swartz Bay
slows us down to island speed

Drive roadways lined with rocky outcrops and arbutus trees
that shed their trunks in curling rusty flakes

Shiver in bone-cold Port Hardy fog
Breathe air that feels thick as a milkshake.

Watch whales breach, sea lions sunbathe
on a brilliant Telegraph Cove morning

Spend a day wandering Chemainus
camera in hand gathering murals

Gawk at Buddha statues and goats
on the roof of the Coombs market

Stroll past Victoria’s Parliament Buildings outlined in lights
to the skirl of the bagpipes of buskers

Talk with my friend till late
Wood fire embers snap a sleepy goodnight
as I head to the guest room

© 2016 by Violet Nesdoly (All rights reserved)

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PF-2This post is linked to Poetry Friday, hosted today by Tabatha Yeatts at The Opposite of Indifference.

 
16 Comments

Posted by on June 30, 2016 in Poetry Friday

 

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“Flag” on Canada Day

Today is Canada’s 148th birthday. And this year our flag turns 50!

I’m celebrating by reposting my poem “Flag,” written a few years ago.

One of Vancouver’s downtown hotels sported a gigantic Canadian flag during the 2010 Olympics. It helped  foster the Canadian spirit which infected  the streets of Vancouver during those fabulous weeks. (Photo © 2010 by V. Nesdoly)

Flag

National flag of Canada
two by length and one by width, red
containing in its center a white square
the width of the flag
with a single red maple leaf
centered therein”
*
flies majestic since 1965
over town squares
by cenotaphs and schools
from Cape Spear, Newfoundland
to Beaver Creek, Yukon
Alert, Nunavut
to Middle Island, Ontario.

Proudly raised at Olympics
wrapping the grim coffins of soldiers
feted on Canada Day
marched in to the skirl of bagpipes November 11th
this silk-screened symbol
stitches together
our experience and destiny
sea to sea to sea.

When so plentiful at home you no longer see
till it’s reincarnated into jester caps
umbrellas and wind socks
painted on faces, stamped on T-shirts
decaled onto mugs and beaver pens

abroad even one
grabs your homesickness
like the initials of a sweetheart.
Meet someone with your flag stitched on his pack
and you know he’ll understand Tim Horton’s
hockey, Z that rhymes with “bed”
loonies, toonies, Bruce Cockburn, Diana Krall
Cirque du Soliel, CBC, Air Canad, O Canada.
Sorry, but great is it to have found someone
who speaks your own language, eh?

© 2008 by Violet Nesdoly

* Official description of the flag taken from the Public Works and Government Services Canada website.

The Canadian flag had a 40-year gestation. Read the story of its birth HERE.

The first flag was stitched together by Joan O’Malley, daughter of Ken Donovan, who Prime Minister Pearson asked to provide prototypes of the new design for a meeting with the premiers with just a few hours’ notice. The story is HERE.

 

 
 

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