“As the 19th century was that of the United States, so I think the 20th century shall be filled by Canada.” Prime Minister Wilfrid Laurier, speaking to the Canadian Club on Jan. 18, 1904.
Happy Canada Day! I spent my July 1st, helping out as part of the Milton Canada Day Committee at the Fair Grounds. As I went about my day I kept thinking of the Wilfrid Laurier quote about the 20th century being Canada’s century. I kept thinking; he was right; his words proved a little prophetic; Canadian hands are everywhere in world history throughout the 20th century from medicine to politics; from the arts to diplomacy.
But he was also wrong, because I think Canada has always been what Canadians have made of it; even in 1867. Natural geography has us going from north to south- against the rule; five provinces (New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, P.E.I, Quebec and Ontario) were proclaimed a country. Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta, B.C.and Newfoundland would all join after confederation.
Canadians have been warriors; fighting through both world wars with distinction. The battle of Vimy Ridge marked the first time four Canadian divisions fought under one Canadian Commander. It was also one of the first times the maple leaf appeared associated with Canada. W.W.II ended with Canada having one of the largest navies in the world, and we also made various contributions behind the scenes. Sir William Stephenson was one of the top spies during W.W.II for the allies- and is rumoured to have been the inspiration for Ian Fleming’s James Bond.
Canada has always stood for compassion, equality, peace, and justice. Peacekeeping was in fact a Canadian invention- one of our more famous by Lester B. Pearson. Canada more or less peacefully negotiated its sovereignty- fighting for it with words, instead of bullets. Equality, and justice; look no further than the U.N. declaration of Human Rights, or even our own Charter of Rights and freedoms.
Our compassion demonstrates itself in the many social programs. Universal healthcare works; anyone who needs medical attention walks into any hospital and gets it; no matter their station in life. Our compassion demonstrates itself in the legendary generosity; over $300 thousand raised for a harassed bus monitor in up state New York. Every time there’s a major disaster Canadians donate in the millions- the Tsunami in southeast Asia, an earthquake in Japan. No matter what happens Canadians respond donating money and time whenever and wherever asked.
Over 145 years after Confederation Canada has had as Laurier predicted its own century. But it’s also managed to be what Canadians have wanted it to be; a truly amazing country that serves as a beacon to the world.