Category: Being Canadian

On being Canadian

CBC radio is a bit of an addiction. I have it and I’ve found that many of us have it.

Recently during an interview of an American entertainer that entertainer said he thought Canada function a lot like a matriarchy. I believe he considered this a compliment.

As simply put a I can, a matriarchy is a society ruled by mothers. I once had a colleague who described our job (we held the same position with different employers) as mothering our primary systems. In a pique of politically correctness, I said “parent?”. His answer was “no; Mother, there’s a difference”. There is a connection between mother and child. If a matriarchy reflects that difference, Canada functioning like one is a good thing.

Another interview with a successful Canadian entertainer provided another insight into what makes a Canadian.

The interviewer kind of hinted that it would be Ok for the singer to take full credit for his success. The quintessential self made man.

The singers response was although he could be credited with making the most of his opportunities, he was in a lot of ways lucky.

He was lucky to have been born into a loving, supportive, musical family.
He was lucky to have been born in a place that appreciated and nurtured its children.
He was lucky that the opportunity to sing came when he was ready and capable.

The difference between this and “self made” is the lack of emphasis on the “I”. Being lucky and making full use of that luck is a very different outlook than I did it all myself.

Our constitution contains the words “peace order and good government”. These watch words make us a very different nation than our southern neighbours “life liberty and the pursuit of happiness”.

I like that difference. Hopefully we are able to maintain it.

The Plaidneck

What has happened to Canadian University Football?

Last week and this, I went on line to catch some of the Queen’ Gaels Football game.
A bit of background.

I am a Queen’s grad from the mid 60s. When I started, the total student population about 4,500. When I graduated, it was near 7,000.

When I started, frosh were encouraged to attend the first home game and we did. The
Student stands were full pretty well every game (my memory, I sat near the middle so maybe the ends weren’t full, but there was certainly a crowd). This carried on for my full 4 years.

I also got to a few away games and as visitor supporters, we were pushed to the low numbered yard lines. The stands between us and centre field were full. Students from other schools also attended the games.

Students in the 60s attended football games.
What happened between then and now?

Today there are about 18,000 full time students at Queens. The Frosh are almost as numerous as the total student population when I started.

Last weekend (the end of Frosh week) Queen’s hosted Ottawa U. The game was tied with about 2 ½ minutes to go. A game that should have held its crowd. When the camera panned out to show a kickoff, the number of student fans approximated the number of people in the bands – somewhere under a hundred.

This week (when the full student complement had arrived) Queen’s hosted a long time rival the University of Western Ontario. Although Western had a convincing win, Queen’s was in the game up until the end of the 3rd quarter. This time, when the camera panned back, the band outnumbered the student crowd.

Elsewhere it doesn’t seem much better. My sons attended Bishop’s U. They have a storied football team and last week they played at Concordia. That game was televised on Radio Canada. Again when the camera panned back, the student stands were maybe 1/4 full.

An exciting local game is being played to empty stadiums.

What has happened to Canadian University Football?

The Plaidneck

Why the Loon?

Sometime a while ago, we in Ontario selected the Common Loon for our Provincial bird. If I remember correctly, we had school aged children send in suggestions and there was a panel who based their selection on these submissions.

Great choice?

Let’s consider how the Loon lives.

Does not live in Ontario year round.
Ontario forms a part of their summer breeding season only. They do not stay around for the winter.

In effect, they come to our lake country, avoid people, fish, reproduce and disturb the piece and quiet with a piercing, eerie ululate. Finally, when the going gets a little tough they take off.

I was born in Ontario; choose to live in Ontario, and live in Ontario year round. I enjoy our four seasons. Spring for its revival; summer (with the exception of sweltering dog days) for its myriad of activities; fall for its excitement and winter for its cleanliness and conviviality.

I know, there are many who hate the winter and believe that travelling to warm places (as does the loon) is the way to go. There are problems with this.

• Great Canadian winter getaways (Ottawa’s Winterlude, various Ski destinations, etc.) are missed.
• Money earned in Ontario (often subsidized pension money) is spent in a foreign country. A loss for our troubled economy.
• Read “How Bad Are Bananas” for an assessment of the cost of flying.

Unfortunately, too many Ontarioans are like the Loon.

New Brunswick may have gotten it right. They selected the black-capped Chickadee as their Provincial bird. This tough little bird stays year round; doesn’t mind people and has a pleasant vocalization.

Canada doesn’t have a national bird but may. One of the criteria is that the bird chosen isn’t already a Provincial bird. Too bad. I’d have voted for the black-capped Chickadee.

The Plaidneck

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