Sixty Joyless De-Britished Uncrowned Commonpoor Years (1949-2009)

Elizabeth II Vice-Regal Saint: Remembering Paul Comtois (1895–1966), Lt.-Governor of Québec
Britannic Inheritance: Britain's proud legacy. What legacy will America leave?
English Debate: Daniel Hannan revels in making mince meat of Gordon Brown
Crazy Canucks: British MP banned from Canada on national security grounds
Happy St. Patrick's: Will Ireland ever return to the Commonwealth?
Voyage Through the Commonwealth: World cruise around the faded bits of pink.
No Queen for the Green: The Green Party of Canada votes to dispense with monarchy.
"Sir Edward Kennedy": The Queen has awarded the senator an honorary Knighthood.
President Obama: Hates Britain, but is keen to meet the Queen?
The Princess Royal: Princess Anne "outstanding" in Australia.
H.M.S. Victory: In 1744, 1000 sailors went down with a cargo of gold.
Queen's Commonwealth: Britain is letting the Commonwealth die.
Justice Kirby: His support for monarchy almost lost him appointment to High Court
Royal Military Academy: Sandhurst abolishes the Apostles' Creed.
Air Marshal Alec Maisner, R.I.P. Half Polish, half German and 100% British.
Cherie Blair: Not a vain, self regarding, shallow thinking viper after all.
Harry Potter: Celebrated rich kid thinks the Royals should not be celebrated
The Royal Jelly: A new king has been coronated, and his subjects are in a merry mood
Victoria Cross: Australian TROOPER MARK DONALDSON awarded the VC
Godless Buses: Royal Navy veteran, Ron Heather, refuses to drive his bus
Labour's Class War: To expunge those with the slightest pretensions to gentility
100 Top English Novels of All Time: The Essential Fictional Library
BIG BEN: Celebrating 150 Years of the Clock Tower

Thursday, 28 June 2007

The Great Solitude

Before Canadians across this "Peaceable Kingdom" head off to cottage country to celebrate 140 years of Confederation and the British North America Act of 1867, I thought it would be appropriate to share a rather touching but little known sermon that was delivered forty years ago on the "Great Dominion's" Centennial.

From A Centennial Sermon
by Blair Fraser, Ottawa Editor, Maclean's


"Two weeks ago tonight I was dining, by moonlight, in an outdoor restaurant beside the Great Pyramid at Gizeh, outside Cairo. A short walk over the brow of the hill, looking even more enigmatic by night than by day, was the Sphinx, the oldest surviving artifact known to us of civilized man. Both are rather disquieting reminders -- the Pyramid of man's endless preoccupation with a question he still cannot answer, the Sphinx of what limited progress man has made, in all the ages from those remote beginnings until now, in matters he still deems important. (As a sculptural expression of the essential riddle of life, that earliest of artifacts has never been surpassed.)

"It was an environment that would provoke anyone to reflection -- forty centuries looking down upon you, as Napoleon said to his doomed army -- and the stimulus was no less genuine for being hackneyed and trite. Yet we have in Canada an environment, a stimulus perhaps equally hackneyed, but equally provocative, too, a milieu in which not merely forty but three hundred centuries look down upon us with the same imperturbable indifference that greeted the first man over the land bridge from Asia, just after the first retreat of the polar glaciers. We have accessible to us something that until the day before yesterday was accessible to man almost anywhere, but that now is increasingly rare -- the cleansing experience of solitude. The temporary disappearance, or at any rate the illusion of disappearance, of those barriers that man has contrived to place between himself and Reality.

"Not everyone requires or responds to this experience of the cleansing wild. But in a country to which almost anyone who wants to may come, and from which anyone who wants to may go, a land whose endowment of comfort will never be better than second best but whose avenue to escape will always be open, we may expect that the people who do so respond will be the ones who want to stay here.

"In that expectation lies hope. We all, I'm sure, have many hopes for Canada on this Centennial day -- that she may grow, thrive, prosper in all things. To these I would add one hope more: that Canada will not so greatly grow, and not so grossly thrive, as to destroy this heritage of solitude which makes us what we are and which our children will know perhaps better than we how to value."

An address given at the Unitarian Church of the Messiah, Montreal
July 2, 1967


Hat tip to Paul Wells of Maclean's magazine.

1 comments:

Young Fogey said...

"the cleansing experience of solitude". Ne'er a truer word was spoken. I frequently return to Canada to escape the hurly burly of the Great Wen and enjoy precisely this experience.

May God Bless the Dominion of Canada.