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

Sunday, 1 July 2007

Happy Dominion Day

Donald Shields in a letter in today's Toronto Star states that at 140, Canada is "barely reaching puberty". Come again, oh ignorant one? What is it with people who refuse to grow up in this country? Canada was not born 140 years ago - the colonies of British North America were only partially confederated on July 1, 1867. That's the problem with "Canada Day"; it implies we have a birthdate, it implies that we suddenly came into being. Historically, Canada Day is a fraud.

As Mark Steyn points out, "Isn't there something deeply weird about an entire nation that lies about its age? Canada is... one of the oldest countries in the world--the result of centuries of continuous constitution evolution. Even if one takes the somewhat reductive position that Canada as a sovereign entity dates only from the 1867 British North America Act or the 1931 Statute of Westminster, that would still make us one of the oldest nations in the world. We are, for example, one of the founding members of the United Nations, ahead of three-quarters of the present membership.

As George Orwell wrote in 1984, "He who controls the present controls the past. He who controls the past controls the future." A nation's collective memory is the unseen seven-eighths of the iceberg. When you sever that, what's left just bobs around on the surface, unmoored in every sense. Orwell understood that an assault on history is an assault on memory, and thus a totalitarian act...

It's one thing to delegitimize all those chaps in frock coats with knighthoods who built a constitutional monarchy in a northern wilderness. But to make youth and "newness" the one enduring if paradoxical feature of your national identity is a project far more audacious than even Orwell foresaw. To live permanently in the present tense is to deny even the possibility of societal memory and collective roots."

4 comments:

Andrew Cusack said...

Canada is not alone in lying about its age. Just think of all the folks who call the Fourth of July "America's Birthday", as if the unilateral declaration of independence created a nation ex nihilo. New York was founded in 1624, Massachusetts in 1620, Virginia in 1607, and Newfoundland was physically claimed for the Crown in 1497.

Beaverbrook said...

There is a greater plausibility of "birth" with your country and its unique experience of arrested constitutional development. But you're absolutely correct, even the United States can't ignore the long evolution that came before and the events that gave rise to the rupture, revolution and success of The Republic.

Kyle said...

Valid points all, but no matter how you spin it, one cannot escape the fact that Canada and America are colonial countries, and therefore are in fact younger than most of the world's nations. We are younger than all of Europe, all of Africa, and all of Asia. In fact, we are part of a very small community indeed. America, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and some of the slave-colonized countries in the Carribbean are in fact the youngest civilizations on earth.

It does not matter what year we formally became independent or joined the UN or whatever. In sheer terms of "how long have people lived here" we are by the bottom of the list by any objective standard.

Beaverbrook said...

Quite obviously it depends on what you are measuring. If you are measuring the length of time since "discovery" by European Christian civilisation, then yes, the New World is newer than the Old. If you are measuring in sheer terms of "how long have people lived here", then we might say that all corners of the planet are of the same age, unless you are excluding the indigineous from your definition of "people".

But if you are measuring the relative age of constituted nations (this being our goal here), then it is not spin to point out that Canada, Australia and New Zealand are some of the oldest, most stable and politically mature countries on the planet, with centuries of continuous constitutional evolution guaranteed by the ancient British Crown. How many times have the political borders and systems of EU nations changed in just the 20th century? Just who saved who in the wars of the recent past?