Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Happy Birthday Canada!

"Oh Canada, We stand on guard for thee..."
On July 1 Canada will be 144 years old. We are in our infancy as a nation compared to countries such as China and Japan that count their existence in thousands of years rather than mere hundreds. However, I can say with some pride that what we lack in terms of longevity we more than make up for in spirit.

I became a Canadian citizen in the fall of 2007. One must pass a test in order to become a citizen. On this test they ask questions pertaining to Canadian history, government and geography. I was a bit nervous about taking the exam. After all, it had been quite a few years since university, and after parenting five kids my brain has partially disintegrated.

On exam day I have to admit I felt ashamed for being so worried. As I looked around the room at the other twenty people taking the test I realized I was most likely the only one whose native language was English. I can't imagine what it would have been like to study for and then take a test in a language you were struggling to learn. I should have had ten points taken away for having an unfair advantage. I'm happy to say I did end up passing the test and a couple months later attended a ceremony where I was sworn in as a Canadian citizen.

I love this picture for two reasons. The first is that the four of us are all immigrants to Canada. I think it is pretty neat to have that common bond with my three youngest kids. The other reason I love the picture is the RCMP officer. Even after thirty years in this country there is still something about seeing a Mountie in red serge that makes my day.

Citizenship Ceremony
RCMP Officer, Kristie, Alexandra, Rebekah, David, Judge
This country that I now belong to is quite an amazing place. It is the second largest country in the world in terms of land mass, yet is tied for fourth among nations with the lowest population density. Basically this means we have a lot of empty space.

We have the longest coastline of any country and the highest tides. And when you turn away from the oceans and look inland you will be faced with 2 million lakes and 1/4 of the world's fresh water.

We have the third largest oil reserves in the world, and in what will be a surprise to many we actually provide the USA with more oil than the Middle East.

We invented basketball and insulin.

We consume more donuts and Kraft Dinner (Kraft Macaroni and Cheese for Americans) per capita than any other people on the planet. Let me just say this is a statistic, not a point of pride.

Our citizens can expect to live longer than those of all but seven other nations. (There might be some room for improvement here if we would give up the donuts and Kraft Dinner.) And upwards of 90% of us fully support our system of universal medical care.

The population of Canada currently stands at 34,500,000. I am very happy to announce that as of September of this year that number is going to increase to 34,500,001 when my niece Corinne moves North of 49 to attend Mount Allison University in Sackville, New Brunswick. When Corinne was here over the Christmas holidays we did all we could to prepare her for life in the Great White North.

We introduced her to cooking Canadian style. Whatever that means.

Rebekah and Corinne
We taught her how to knit. This will come in handy not only to keep her warm during our long, cold winters, but will also give her something to do if she is bored in any of her classes.

Danielle, Diana and Corinne
We took her skiing at Sun Peaks so she would know when Canadians say "mountains" they really mean it. Corinne is from the flatland of Chicago, which is why it was important to clear this up.

Corinne and I at the top of Sun Peaks
Of course no introduction to life in Canada would be complete without a stop at Tim Hortons. Here is Corinne enjoying her first ever "Double Double."

Bienvenue au Canada
Here is your official North of 49 Canada Day Quiz. I promise to make it easier than the test I had to take to get my citizenship. It only has one question, so shouldn't take too long to complete.

Who has been a Canadian citizen longer, Corinne or me?


  1. Is that a trick question, because I HATE trick questions. I'm going to say YOU because Corinne isn't a Canadian citizen; she will be an International student. Am I right? Or did I miss something REALLY obvious?

  2. I also think it's a trick question. But after first thinking the same thing as Aneta, I am now going the other direction. I'm going to guess Corinne was born in Canada, then her family moved south to Chicago--just like the Mountie in an old tv show (can't remember the name).

    Being a respectful neighbor, I knew some of those facts about Canada--but not the land mass, Kraft Dinner or basketball. Being American, I don't want to acknowledge we didn't invent basketball and it's hard to accept 2nd place on the Kraft Dinners--I was sure we'd be #1. LOL!

    Happy Canada Day! The US hits 235 on Monday, but we're telling everyone we're only 229. =)

  3. Canada does have a few years on me, but we do share the same July 1 birthday.

  4. Happy Birthday, Canada.

    Wow, you are a great sales lady for Canada! Thank you for all the great information. I can bring them up in my conversation with people and surprise them. I thought for sure basketball was totally US sport. My son will be very disappointed.

    Among all the fabulous qualities, the universal health care stands out for me. If Canada, Japan and other countries have the system, the US can have it also.

  5. @Aneta - Check back in a day or two for the correct answer.

    @Ric - Come back in a few days and the answer will be revealed. If it is any consolation it was a Canadian who invented basketball but he happened to be living in the US at the time. Happy 4th of July to you!

    @lyndagrace -Happy birthday to you! I hope you have a great day!

    @keiko - Basketball might have been invented by a Canadian, but it has been the Americans who have perfected the game. :-) Plus, as I said to Ric above, the Canadian inventor was actually living in the US when he invented the game.

    I agree about the universal health care being at the top of the list. Maybe you will come visit us after reading my great sales pitch! :-)

  6. OK, so I'm going to guess that one of her parents is Canadian, giving her dual citizenship since birth, therefore longer than you.

    I remember my mum writing her test. So cool.

    I love telling people how big and empty Canada is. Although really it doesn't sink in until you've experienced it. Drive the length of Vancouver Island, a little blip on the coast of Canada, and you quickly realize just how vast and empty this country is. Or better yet, drive across it. Astounding.

    (You left out Lester B. Pearson and his work with the United Nations. He's one of my favourite Canadian stories.)

  7. I'm related and should know this answer. I'm pretty sure Corinne was born in the Chicago area. Her dad is American this I know for sure. Her mom I believe is American. I'm going to say it is Kristie. But I'll be checking back because now my brain is really tired from trying to figure out this tricky question!

  8. @kate - Lester B. Pearson and Superman. What a combo! :-) I bet your mom got to stand by a Mountie in red serge too. They seem to be a feature at citizenship ceremonies!

    @Marcia - Stay tuned...! It is interesting to see the different theories that have been put forward so far. Being related should give you an edge. :-)

  9. Happy Birthday, Canada! Do you hold dual citizenship? I've only been to Canada a couple times, but I think I would quite like making a few more trips that direction. It seems like a lovely county!

  10. @Michelle - Yes, I hold dual citizenship. My 5 kid also are all dual citizens. I was born in the US and lived there until I married my Canadian husband and moved to Canada. You should definitely come up for a visit!

  11. QUIZ ANSWER: My brother and his wife are both US citizens, but happened to be living in Calgary, Alberta when Corinne was born. This means Corinne has had her Canadian citizenship for many more years than her aunt!

  12. Hmmmm, I was almost right. I didn't think about her parents' citizenship one way or the other.

  13. There were many Slovenians immigrating in Canada and from what I hear, they are all well integrated in your country. So when I think of Canada, I imagine breathtaking nature, friendly people and a nation of immigrants. It must be a delight to live in your country. Hope I can visit one day :)