Canada Day in NL: Always Bittersweet

Quebec and Ontario, Nova Scotia and NB you know.
Red River resistance, Manitoba comes to be.
BC, PEI, trouble building railway lines.
Alberta, Saskatchewan. Sea to sea to shining sea.

Great war, Blue Puttees, conscription leaving none too pleased.
General strike in Winnipeg, women’s voting rights.
World war two, King’s in, you heard, BC’s Japanese interned.
Newfoundland is in at last, Tommy, for Medicare, fights.

Pearson’s peace plan, seaway flowing through the land.
Bill of rights, new flag, highway coast to coast.
Expo, FLQ, martial law in Quebec—it’s true!
Thanks to Henderson, we all get to boast!

Olympics, Winnipeg dances, Terry Fox’s run commences.
Referenda in Quebec, Constitution & Charter is a must.
Meech lake fails to show, Charlottetown’s another no-go.
Oka reminds us all how fragile is our trust.

Nunavut, clarity bill, Afghanistan, for some, a bitter pill.
Gomery inquiry, record Olympic gold.
Natural gas, tar and oil, Canadians who work and toil
remind all those in Ottawa, the country can’t be sold!


All celebrations aside, today is also a bittersweet one for those of us Canadians fortunate to reside in Newfoundland Labrador. NL’r’s have always given unselfishly to others and the war efforts were no exception. On this day, in 1916, at Beaumont-Hamel, the regiment from this province, the “Blue Puttees.” so named for their distinctive leggings, suffered grievous loss during the infamous “July Drive.” I get to think of it often, for my office is located at Memorial University, a place built to honour the memory of the many who gave the ultimate gift. As we celebrate this country’s birthday we are also reminded that peace and prosperity come at great cost.


About Maurice A. Barry

Coordinator: Teaching and Learning Commons, Faculty of Education, Memorial University of Newfoundland, Parent & Husband. eLearning consultant/coordinator. Program Development Specialist - eLearning (Department of Education; Retired). Writer: over 40 Math/Physics texts/webs. Developer & Manager of web content. Geek. Not into awards but loves comments.
This entry was posted in Canada, Newfoundland and Labrador, poetry/songs and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

24 Responses to Canada Day in NL: Always Bittersweet

  1. jennypellett says:

    Thanks for bringing this to our attention. To have 80% of a regiment wiped out on the first day of battle is a shocking statistic and while a memorial to the fallen rightly reminds us of the terrible sacrifice nothing can make up for a generation lost in the great war. Dulce et decorum est, pro patria mori? – like Wilfred Owen, I don’t think so.

  2. Excellent post. Wishing you a delightful Canada Day from a little corner of Toronto.

  3. Dymoon says:

    thank you for dropping by =^_^=

  4. Mjollnir says:

    You’ve got me annoyed no Maurice. I definitely need to read some more Canadian history ‘cos I only get about half the references in your poem! Anyway, Happy Canada Day:-D

    • Ha Ha!
      Towards the end, especially they may get a bit off.
      Here are some tid-bits
      Tommy Douglas was the person largely responsible for Canada’s medicare.
      Lester Pearson, PM of Canada won the Nobel Peace Prize for his peace plan. He also saw the completion of the trans Canada highway in ’65
      Canada has always had an uneasy but respectful relationship between the Aboriginal, French-speaking and English-speaking cultures. This relationship has been quite complex several times in recent history. The FLQ precipitated a particularly ugly crisis in August 1970 that resulted in Martial Law being declared. In 1990 in the Oka crisis, once again, Aboriginal and English Speaking cultures were hugely strained.
      We have tried several times (Meech and Charlottetown) to devise a constitution we can all live with. The work continues.
      Finally there’s my own bias–these days it seems like our capitals are bent on creating a petro state and I would like to remind those so-called ‘leaders’ that they work for us, not the reverse.
      Harper Government? Last time I looked he did not own this place. It’s ours and he should be content with thinking that we have honoured him with the title of PM of this place. It’s not his.

      • Mjollnir says:

        Thanks for that quick synopsis Maurice! I’m aware that Mr Harper isn’t exactly Captain Popular (a bit like that hopeless twat Cameron in the UK and his economically illiterate sidekick Osborne), but I admit to being a bit baffled by some of the older references. I’ll be better prepared next year! 😀

  5. Josephine Barry says:

    Another great piece of work . Makes us take a moment to remember things did not come easy for those who paid the ultimate sacrifice so that we may have such a wonderful country to raise our families .Happy Canada Day 🙂

  6. Thanks for sharing a little bit of Canada with us!

  7. elkement says:

    You really got me interested in Canadian history now! Probably motivated by your previous post on so-called “discovery” I have followed’s recommendations and have read a book on tribal societies (and what we can learn from them) – “The World before Yesterday”, by Jared Diamond.
    What is your opinion about the status of “native Canadians today”? I have skimmed some Wikipedia articles on Inuit, Status Indians and legal stuff now – but I would prefer an opinionated summary :-).

    • Hi Elke–it’s nice hearing from you!
      The ‘fit’ between the various aboriginal cultures and the entity that is Canada is something that is almost impossible to summarize owing to the vastness of this country (Canada at 10.0 million km^2 is almost the same size as all of Europe combined 10.2 million m^2), the differences that exist between the various aboriginal cultures and, perhaps just as important, the various personalities involved in the government of Canada and the various aboriginal governments.
      On the negative we do have our share of idiots who like to play what you might call the “race card;” that is, using race as an excuse to get something unrelated to racial differences. We also have our share of racist fools; enough said.
      Fortunately the same northern climates that have erected awesome social safety nets in northern Europe have had a similar effect here and the dominant thinking among most government and community leaders is that we need to devote more attention to the various social issues that exist within our country and work on them rather than harping on what might divide us.
      Through it all I am guardedly optimistic that the strides we have made in the past three decades toward native self-government, resources management and land rights will make a positive difference for the upcoming generations.
      There’s still much to be done–the ‘Oka’ reference in the post was an acknowledgement of that–and serious problems remain; one can only work and hope.

      • elkement says:

        Thanks for the detailed reply, Maurice! Now I understand the Oka reference – and for the first time I see a relationship between northern climate and social safety!

  8. Sorry for being absent Maurice … I’ve been away. Thanks for the post and for bringing Canada Day to my attention (does that make it four more until the sesquicentennial?) … like others who have commented I too need to be better informed. Your posts are an easy way to do that – keep ’em coming.

  9. johnlmalone says:

    you seem to have less trouble with rhyming poetry than i do. congratulations

  10. Mmm. I wonder why the rest of the world focuses on American Indepedence Day and no-one gives a rat’s arse about anyone else’s national day?

    I’m resonating with the Brit comments here, as Jenny said, Dulce et Decorum est doesn’t quite do it. Owen is one of the best poets ever.

    I’m sure I’ve seen that photo before though, on another blog, I must look it up. I read about it and it reminded me of Gallipoli I didn’t even know Canadians were massacred there too Our history needs to be shared and your posts are playing their part.

    • The difference, I think, is that on our national holidays we go about our own business. Here, in Canada, we just enjoy being a part of this country, but we don’t try to convince others that ours is necessarily the best and that others should do as we do. Sure, we’re proud. I AM a proud Canadian and an even more staunch NL’r but as I noted I don’t own this land. Rather, it lets me stay here and sustains me and, for that I’m grateful. The thing is, though, that I don’t believe my way is THE way. It works for me. Period. Everyone else should do likewise 🙂

      The photo in the blog is just one I took of a beautiful wetland not far from where I work. I’m lucky in that, even though I (currently) work for the ministry of education my office is at nearby Memorial University. The grounds around this place are what I consider beautiful 🙂 The place is of no historical significance. I just like how it looks and smells. It’s left alone and free to do what it needs to do, just like we should be…

      By the way, I found your bus story fascinating…will comment later tonight…which will be late late late for you! UGH–scraping the eaves of the house and have one end yet to do. Have to climb to the roof for that end. I hate heights.

      • Perhaps next year you should just reprint your first par. Because that is how it should be. I had a discussion with an American blogger about ID, he’s pretty broad-minded, about how utterly boring it is to have ID stuck in everyone’s faces. In fact how boring it is to have USA stuck in your face. Must be like when you open your mouth and people say, ‘You’re American right?’ A bit like when my partner is called English (he’s Welsh).

        But why is American ID more important than the Indian one? Or any other? Everyone is patriotic but just keep it polite people, and within yourselves. Which means, no Spain, Gibraltar is not yours to claim, for example.

        Your Rock does look very beautiful. If a little chilly and lacking sun.

        I remember your roof top pix of before. careful!

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