Friday, July 01, 2011

Five More Things to Proud of This Canada Day -- 2011 Edition

1. CN - Some -- particularly the Canadian left -- are seized with an overwhelming desire to credit Pierre Trudeau as the person who built Canada.

They're absolutely wrong, and excessively poor students of Canadian history.

As John A MacDonald raced the United States across the continent, determined to build a sea-to-sea country North of the 49th parallel, there was actually only two things that made it possible: twin bands of steel, stretching from the maritime coast all the way out to BC.

The building of the Canadian National Railway and the Canadian Pacific Railway was far from perfect. As were so many political endeavours those days, it was wrought with corruption. Thousands of workers -- many of them Chinese -- gave their lives so that the railway be finished.

Relentlessly working its way through the Canadian Shield, across the prairies, through the Rocky Mountains, the railway was necessary to impliment MacDonald's National Policy, and necessary to secure BC's membership in Confederation.

Many would have said it couldn't be done. But with Canadian hard work and determination, it did get done. And although the state of Canada's railways has fallen into decline, they have given us a country, if we can keep it.

2. Slave Lake, Alberta - The wildfires that destroyed so much of this Alberta town have not destroyed the will of the residents of Slave Lake.

Even though homes and lives have been razed to the ground by those fires, Slave Lake is rebuilding, reminding us all that the Albertan spirit -- and the Canadian spirit -- is stronger than fire.

3. Viviane Forest - In the history of Canadian sports, few would mistake Viviane Forest as a household name. This is rather unfortunate.

As a paralympic skier, Forest has taken something that many Canadians regard as ordinary -- a trip down the ski slopes -- and made it extraordinary. Despite being legally blind, Forest has amassed an incredibly-impressive collection of Paralympic medals (between the Paralympic games regularly held in conjunction with the Olympic games and the Paralymic World Cup).

In Forest's shoes, many people would give up on something like skiing -- and perhaps with good reason. But Forest's refusal to give up on it, and refusal to give up on competing, embodies the very essence of the Canadian spirit.

4. Christopher Plummer - After decades, it could finally be said that Christopher Plummer is starting to get his due.

For decades he's been one of the best actors on the planet. 2010 was an awfully long time for Plummer to wait to have a breakout year -- and, finally, an Oscar nomination -- and there certainly seem to be even better times ahead for this Canadian thespian.

5. Nardwuar the Human Serviette - Some people find Nardwuar, also of the Evaporators and The Goblins, to be annoying. In fact, he's spun his radio show in Vancouver into numerous appearances on Much Music interviewing -- and annoying -- some of the most famous people in the world.

When watching a Nardwuar interview, his talents are not immediately apparent. But there's something distinctly Canadian about Nardwuar. His enthusiastic and energetic view on life can actually be extremely infectious, if one just allows it.

Sure, Prime Minister Stephen Harper's security may have carried him away -- literally carried him away -- when he asked Harper to do the hip flip game with him. But Nardwuar just rolled with it, and had fun with it. Transforming being carried away by security into crowdsurfing is nothing if not uniquely Canadian.

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