I hate Canada Day…

Flags

Flags

Okay… I don’t hate Canada Day…. What I hate is having to drag my ass down town on the bus and wade through 1/2 a million people hoping to actually enjoy myself…. which I invariably don’t.

Yesterday, my mother wanted to go to see the festivities. I had been hoping to go and meet up with my sister, wander about, have a meal, and come home. I didn’t want to leave Mom at home but I knew Mom wouldn’t be up to the amount of walking required. So we decided on a modified plan. Shirin and Gabby were going to eat and meet us and just sit at the War Memorial and watch the crowds walk by.

You can’t park anywhere even remotely close to the activity so it required taking the bus at least part of the way.

My niece, Ange, had asked if she could borrow some camping chairs for the day so I decided that we would go to her place, drop off the chairs and park near there and take the bus. We left for Ange’s. Ange wasn’t home… Luckily, when we left home, the bus was just leaving so I anticipated that we would be able to park along the route it takes, get the bus, and then pick up the car on the way home.

While we were waiting for the bus, I discover that Mom has removed the bus tickets that she keeps in her wallet and we have no tickets. Since I hadn’t been to the back, planning on going to the bank machine right near the bus stop right down town, I had a $5 bill and no change on me.

Right. The bus comes and we have to let it pass. Just as well, because Mom also took her pain pills out of her fanny pack and put them in the glove compartment of the car…. Why? I don’t know…

So…. we head back home, get the bus tickets and the pain pills and take the bus from near the house.

The bus we had planned to take was nearly empty. The one we ended up taking was jam-packed and I gave my seat up for an elderly woman who spent the entire ride glaring at me. My arm was aching from hanging on for dear life on the twisting route. We arrive down town and I mistakenly got off one stop too early which put an extra 4 blocks on our walk to the War Memorial which is where I normally meet my sister. This means an extra several stops for my Mom to sit for her hip to stop hurting.

While my Mom took a breather across from my bank, I went in to go to the cash machine. Long line, of course.

My sister called and said that she and Gabby would walk over to where we were sitting and I knew that would give Mom a little extra recovery time.

Shirin and Gabby arrived and moments later, Mom said…. “I’m feeling dizzy”… which is ALWAYS a sign that she is about to pass out.

With the help of a very nice young man selling t-shirts, we got her lying down with her feet up, gave her some water and, thank GOD, she did not actually pass out because that would have meant a trip to the hospital. Finally, after about 10 minutes, she was feeling back to normal and I decided that we should go back home.

Luckily, it is just two short blocks to the bus stop and we were able to walk down there without incident.

Shirin and Gabby left and I took Mom in to the bus shelter where there was a single seat left on a bench but just as we get there, another woman took the seat. Both were seniors but both were much more able than my Mom and I asked “Would it be possible for my Mom to sit?”. The woman who had grabbed the seat before we got there ignored us and the woman who was already sitting glared at us, looked my mother up and down and said “I’m probably as old as your mother is…”. She did get up but she was loudly remarking about “what nerve” I had in “expecting” her to give up her seat to someone.

I said “Oh Heavens! I wouldn’t want to deprive you of your seat!” and we turned away. Meanwhile, she was loudly informing all her friends about how rude I was and how my mother shouldn’t expect to get “special treatment” (what “special treatment” this was, I don’t know. I simply asked if she could sit in one of the only four available seats).

When we turned away, two ladies on the other bench gave up their seats quite cheerfully. I sat Mom down and went back to the woman who was still ranting on to her friends and said “My mother is 85 and recovering from a broken hip. But thank you so very much for feeling it necessary to be so rude”. She was still standing and you could see that she was perfectly fit. She had runners calves for Pete’s sake! She was surrounded by a group of women and it appeared that she was obviously the “leader of the pack”.

How is it that someone who is a senior, herself, could not understand when another senior isn’t as well as herself? She should thank her lucky stars that she has her health and has the luxury of being fit at whatever age she is. Many seniors aren’t so lucky. I could have pointed out that Mom had nearly passed out barely 15 minutes before… I could have pointed out that she has dementia… I could have pointed out that she was just lucky that she wasn’t in my mother’s shoes. Instead, I waited until our bus came and went over to her and said “Thanks for being so fucking rude!”

Not my finest hour but it was better than punching her which was what I felt like doing. She must be some prize at the seniors home.

We are buying a wheelchair.

When we got home, I was still seething so we took the car, Mom, and Mom’s friend, Selene out for a drive to Kemptville.

We had a terrific time.

We stopped for hot dogs at the chip truck/ice cream place we love, and then stopped to see how some of the Osprey nests were doing.

The first one, the adult was out of the nest preening on a nearby pole, allowing me to get a number of really good photos.

Adult Osprey at Nicholson's Locks

Adult Osprey at Nicholson's Locks

Then, instead of going back along the main highway to Kemptville, we took the River Road and found another Osprey nest that I didn’t know about. An adult and two babies on the nest!

New Osprey nest, River Road

New Osprey nest, River Road

We stopped in Kemptville to get gas before heading home and I spotted a large moth lying on the cement at the pumps. I thought it was dead but it was barely hanging on to life. I put it over in the brush on the toher side of the parking lot. It is a Pachysphinx modesta or Modest Sphinx or Modest Sphinx moth. So beautiful!

Modest Sphinx moth (Pachysphinx modesta)

Modest Sphinx moth (Pachysphinx modesta)

Then we headed home, after stopping to check on the Osprey nest on the East shore of the Rideau River. Parent, and two young actively bobbing about the nest.

We went out to the Rideau Falls to watch the fireworks and it was a terrific show. I managed to get the entire thing in photos, as well as one short video. 500 or so photos!

Fireworks By Moonlight

And that fricking bird is out there AGAIN today chip, chip, chipping!

A brief history of the Canadian flag.

In their comments on my PhotoHunter contribution this week on flags, several people asked me what  flag Canada had before we had the current flag, the red maple leaf in a white background.

Up until 1965, we had no flag that was truly “Canadian”.

Most of our flags were either the flag of the country to which Canada belonged or derivative of them.

To understand the history of the Canadian flag is to understand the history of Canada as a nation. Rather a large project for this little blog.

Canada as a nation did not exist until 1867. Prior to that, it was claimed by France, initially. Then Britain made claims to portions of what would later become Canada as part of their broader claim of American colonies. While the American colonies were settled early on by the Dutch and the British, Canada was merely seen as an exploitable resource to the French and the British (and, on the West coast, by the Russians). It wasn’t until the 17th century that France brought the first settlers.

The first flag to appear on what would later become Canada was carried by John Cabot during his exploration for the British Crown.

That flag was known as St. George’s Cross:

flag_st_georges_cross

St. George's Cross

Jacques Cartier planted a cross with a flag bearing the French royal coat of arms and the Fleurs-de-lis. After that, the French colonies of New France flew whatever the latest evolution of French military flag was current, one commonly used one was this:

Fleurs-de-lis

Fleurs-de-lis

The British colonies, meanwhile flew the British flag which eventually replaced the fleurs-de-lis when France ceded its colonies to Britain as part of its settlement in the Treaty of Utrecht (any historians may be tearing their hair out over my foreshortened version of Canadian history… sorry… trying to summarise not write a thesis!).

First flown in 1610, the Royal Union flag was used at all British establishments on the North American continent from Newfoundland to the Gulf of Mexico. This flag is often referred to as the flag of Canada’s United Empire Loyalists. From the early 1760’s it was the flag that flew over British North America, which included what would later become Canada. Post-revolutionary War, Canada consisted of “Upper Canada” and “Lower Canada”. Upper Canada the mainly English-speaking regions, upstream on the St. Lawrence and into Lake Ontario, Huron and Erie, and Lower Canada was the mainly French-speaking regions of the colonies….. downstream on the St. Lawrence, along the Gaspe, and into the New Brunswick.

Royal Union

Royal Union

Following the Act of Union between Great Britain and Ireland in 1801, the diagonal Cross of St. Patrick was incorporated with England’s St. George’s Cross and Scotland’s Cross of St. Andrew. This gave the Royal Union its present-day configuration. This flag was used across British North America and in Canada even after Confederation in 1867.

The first “Canadian Flag” to appear was not intended as “Canada’s Flag” but became the flag flown, usually below the Union Jack. It was the flag of the “Canadian Red Ensign” the flag of the British Merchant Marine, with an added crest on the right hand side.

Red Ensign 1868–1921

Red Ensign 1868–1921

Red Ensign 1921–1957

Red Ensign 1921–1957

Red Ensign 1957-1965

Red Ensign 1957-1965

From 1868-1921, the flag included symbols for each of the provinces which were then part of Confederation, as each came into Confederation. Eventually the shield depicted just the founding peoples of Canada (ignoring, of course Native Peoples…) England, Scotland, Ireland, and France over three maple leaves.

Eventually, though, many Canadians were wanting a distinctly “Canadian” flag, something that did not owe its design to the flag of another nation. There had been movements over the years to create a flag but met with great resistance. In the early 1960s, with the approach of the Canadian Centennial in 1967, there was renewed interest in a new Canadian flag. When, in 1963, the new minority Liberal government under Lester B. Pearson came to power, Pearson pushed for a Parliamentary debate over the subject. Opponents were many and vocal, including the former Prime Minister, John Diefenbaker.

Pearson had his own design in mind, three joined maple leaves on a white background, with blue side-bars representing the Atlantic and Pacific Ocean. It met with stiff opposition in Parliament and was dubbed “The Pearson Pennant” by detractors. Eventually, a committee of 15 multi-party members was formed to come up with a design suitable and appropriate was formed. Canadians were invited to send in their ideas and public excitement and debate grew.

After reviewing many designs, the Committee finally settled on a design by George F.G. Stanley, a professor of history in New Brunswick. The committee approved the design, October 29, 1964, and later passed by a majority vote in the House of Commons on December 15, 1964. The Senate added its approval two days later.

It was proclaimed by Queen Elizabeth in January, 1964, and in February, it was inaugurated.

Canada had a new flag!

The Canadian Flag...

The Canadian Flag...

PhotoHunter: “Flags”

With Canada Day approaching (July 1 – unless it falls on a Sunday at which point “Canada Day” is the 2nd…. except that all the celebrations are on the Sunday which is July 1st and “called” Canada Day, which means that you get to celebrate Canada Day on “Canada Day” and get the day of on Monday which is Canada Day….. unless you are someone who works in retail or a service job… Then you get to WORK  and wait on everyone else who is celebrating on “Canada Day”  — don’t ask….)… I thought I would share just a few of the flags you might see.

If you are wondering at the lack of crowds, that is because there are thousands of people up on Parliament Hill watching the Noon celebrations. Once they end, there are thousands of people out on the streets, painted with flags, wearing flags, waving flags…. Unfortunately, my camera battery died just at the crucial time.

I will be taking more photos, this year. You can check back and see them. Meanwhile, these are from the last few years.

The flag atop the Peace Tower, Parliament Buildings, Ottawa.

The flag atop the Peace Tower, Parliament Buildings, Ottawa.

photohunter7iq1

The RCMP escort for the Governor General

The RCMP escort for the Governor General and Prime Minister

The RCMP escort

The RCMP escort

Flags aloft

Flags aloft

Flags held high....

Flags held high....

Flags held low....

Flags held low....

...and Flags held somewhere in between....

...and Flags held somewhere in between.... (those are my grand-nephews and niece)

But the place that leaving a flag means the most….

... on the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, at the National War Memorial...

... on the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, at the National War Memorial...

By the end of the day, there are thousands.

On November 11th, people leave their lapel poppies atop the tomb. By the end of the day, one can hardly see the tomb at all.

The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier was designed to be approached and touched, not kept away from Canadians. Unfortunately, it’s approachability had led to problems. Some people don’t even know what it is and stand or sit on it. Last year, scandal erupted when drunken louts were photographed and filmed urinating on the National War Memorial. Now, guards stand nearby during events such as this.

Funny true story about the Canadian flag. I was out in Oregon visiting my brother and sister. One day, my brother took me to the University of Oregon where he worked. We went through the library because he heard they were setting up a display on Canada he thought I might like to see.

Basically, it was two library display cases with some pamphlets and books on Canada. Throughout the display cases were a number of Canadian flags, each and every one of which was upside down (the leaf top pointing down). When I pointed this out, my brother laughed and I said that if it was an American flag, he’d be pretty upset. He agreed and we went off to find the librarian to point out this “travesty”… When I pointed out the error, he said… Oh! I didn’t know those were FLAGS! I thought they were just decorations….”

I guess a little research for the display might have gone a long way to helping apprise him of the fact that this was our flag.

My mother’s lawyer, John Matheson, later a Member of Parliament under Lester B. Pearson, was one of those responsible for choosing Canada’s new flag, back in 1965.

I remember Mr. Matheson very well, though I only net him when I was 5 when he hamdled my adoption by my strp-Dad. I remember him because he had been wounded during the war and let me feel the soft spot where he had no skull… true story!

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