Over the years, Canada and the United States of America’s stories have been intertwined; brothers born from a land across the sea, sometimes warring, sometimes peaceful. Both seeking freedom from their overbearing parent, though in different ways.
It fits, then, that by some coincidence, Independence Day and Canada Day fall a mere three days apart. They’re close enough together that at least one person has asked me what I was going to do on July 4.
Disregarding their temporal closeness, they’re actually very different. As you probably know, Canada Day celebrates the day we became a nation, the day the British North America Act was signed: July 1, 1867. That signing began a long process in which the British government relinquished its control over Canada, ending in 1981 with the Canada Act. Along with the Canada Act came a name change; what was Dominion Day before became Canada Day as we know it today.
Independence Day is quite the different story. It celebrates, with its famous fireworks, a day almost a century before. That day is July 4, 1776. It is, of course, the day America declared its independence from Britain, intending to forge ahead very firmly on their own terms. Fitting for a day (and a country) all about freedom, the second most famous “event” to happen on July 4 is what we like to colloquially call “everyone getting smashed.” Not that we, as Canadians, are strangers to booze, of course; Google autocompletes “drinking” to “drinking games” first, and “drinking age in canada” second. “Drinking age in canada” even beats “drinking and driving” if you type an “a” after “drinking.” Though, perhaps that simply shows a greater interest in American youth of the possibilities of getting smashed here instead.
In Nakusp, we celebrate in much the same way as other communities, albeit on a less grand scale. All the staples are there; games, a parade, (my personal favourite) food, and more. This year was no different, with a few notable exceptions; at the forefront of my mind were a small collection of vintage automobiles (and an ‘89-’93 generation Porsche 911), most of which were shined to perfection. The lineup was mostly American, with a large portion being Mustangs, but there were foreigners as well; two Datsuns, a very Swedish-looking Volvo, and said 911.
Tearing myself away from the subject of cars (a difficult task), the other happenings were not to be missed. Among them was the game “Bunnock” which I initially mistook for a kind of bread. Of course, that wasn’t the case. Bunnock is actually a game in which you throw bones at other bones in order to knock them down. While somewhat reminiscent of what particularly belligerent children do when playing chess, it is a game of some finesse. According to a rather oddly laid-out rule and fact sheet from the website Bunnock.com, it was invented by soldiers posted in the frozen wasteland known as Siberia. It must’ve been a lifesaver; people with nothing to do in Siberia might just freeze solid (-71.2 °C was recorded in one city. Where people live! That’s like casually existing inside of a meat locker). While I am unable to report to you the results of the game, as I was distracted by the cars forgot about everything else, it was sure to have been as interesting as any game not involving dragons or warp-speed could be.
If you attended, which you likely did, you might be wondering exactly when I mention all the other events. To that I say, “Sorry, I didn’t go.” Bound, as I was, to strictly parental modes of transportation, I did not get to sample many of the goings-on. So, an honourable mention to those casualties, then. An honourable mention, too, to those that organized everything. Sorry, I have no idea who you are, but thanks.
Canada Day is, as days go, pretty awesome. It’s when we celebrate, in roundabout ways, what it means to be Canadian. Judging by our festivities, that means knowing how to have fun.