From sea to shinning sea, Canada is waking up today and being greeted with festive birthday greetings, as our beautiful nation turns a 146 years young. Of course Canada has had European settlers here for hundreds of years further back in time than that, and the First Nations Peoples have inhabited nearly ever corner of the country for millennia, but it wasn't until 1867 that three colonies joined together to collectively begin forming the nation of Canada (a point that I chatted about in this post from two years ago).
The rest, as they say, is history. In the decades since then, the country has grown rapidly, spanning from the Pacific to the Atlantic, the American border to the Arctic Circle in the far, frozen north. Though we're the second largest country on earth in terms of land mass (surpassed on only by Russia), our population is relatively small for such a vast expanse of land (we're inching quite close to 35,000,000 people these days), due in no small part to the fact that so much of this majestic nation is not very suitable for human habitation (Rockie Mountains, aforementioned Arctic circle, etc).
Canada's relative youngness also plays a role when it comes to its population. Though parts of the East Coast began to be settled as early as the late 15th century (with more substantial and long-term settlement taking place from the 1600s onwards), the mid and western regions of this land remained largely untouched by Europeans until the 1800s, when - thanks in no small part to the ever-expanding railroads that were rapidly springing up - a massive surge of folks began heading west, settling across the prairie soil, Rocky Mountain trails, and verdant Pacific coast as they did, to create grand cities (Winnipeg, Calgary, Victorian, Vancouver, etc) and countless small towns and communities alike along the way.
In the prairies, the tall fields of grain whisper tales of the hard working pioneers; in the Yukon one still encounters those hell-bent on extracting gold from the soil. Montreal and Quebec city sparkle with the charm of a grand European city unlike anywhere else in this country (though Victoria has a certain marvelous British quality to it that cannot go unmentioned), and Toronto and Vancouver are massive melting pots of immigrants from around the globe, all of whom have come to Canada in recent decades, fuelled on by the freedom, tolerance, opportunities, and safety that this nation offers each of its citizens.
No matter where you go today in this magnificent, humble, constantly evolving country, I can promise you that a spirit of cheer – low key as it may be at times, in true understated Canadian fashion - and happiness will greet you. Beckoning you to pull up a lawn chair, have a doughnut (and a beer!), and sit back as we watch the evening's kaleidoscopic display of fireworks.
Happy birthday Canada, here's to countless more to come!