There are a lot of countries in which you could have been born or of which you could call yourself a citizen; 196 to be exact. And most of them are pretty swell in their own special ways.
But this week, on July 1st, we’re celebrating the birthday of one in particular…
I could ramble for hours about the things that make this country inspirational, beautiful, and an honour to represent no matter where I go in the world. But knowing how much Canadians love lists, I’ll do one of those instead.
From music and medicine, to sports and sit-coms, here are just a few moments in this country’s great history that continue to make each and every one of us proud to rock the red and whites…
Legalized Same-Sex Marriage
In July of 2005, we were the first country outside of Europe, and the 4th country on the planet to nationally legalize same-sex marriage. Only 10 years ahead of you know who…
The Charter of Rights and Freedoms / The Constitution Act
A wonderful piece of literature from 1982 that paved the way to all kinds of goodness (like same-sex marriage) without paving the way to a bunch of a**holes being able to buy automatic weapons at Pizza Hut.
Straight outta Montréal in 1884. You’re welcome, Universe.
Thanks to the breakthrough work of Canadians Frederick Banting and Charles Best, we are able to produce large quantities of highly refined insulin, assisting in the treatment of hundreds of millions of people affected by diabetes.
The Hard-Cup Jockstrap
Between this and insulin, Canadians pretty much saved the entire human race.
Olympic Golds on Home Ice
In 2010, literally all of us were singing “O Canada” after both our Men’s Olympic Hockey Team and our Women’s Olympic Hockey Team defeated the US to take home two of our fourteen gold medals at the Vancouver games – which, by the way, was the most gold medals for any country that winter.
Jon Montgomery’s Olympic Beer
That same year, Jon Montgomery won gold in the Men’s Skeleton and in true Canadian fashion, to celebrate, he accepted a pitcher of beer from a random woman and chugged it on national television. You can watch a clip of the video here – warning: it will probably make you tear up with pride.
Canadian Club Whiskey During American Prohibition
By the early 1920s (minus PEI) we had gotten rid of that legislative silliness and were forging our reputation as friendly Canadians by helping our pals to the south get drunk while their laws prevented the distribution of booze. In other words, for like a decade, we were the adult, and the US was that loser in high-school shoulder-tapping us on our way into the liquor store.
The Tallest Free-Standing Building in the World
When the CN Tower was finished in 1976, it was both the world’s tallest free-standing structure and the world’s tallest tower. It held those titles for a solid 34 years and is still the tallest free-standing structure in the Western Hemisphere.
The Sheepdogs on the Cover of Rolling Stone
In 2011 there was a voter-based competition called “Choose the Cover” in which Rolling Stone asked North America to vote for one of 16 unsigned bands to be on the magazine’s prolific front page and earn a recording contract with Atlantic Records. Beating out the 15 competitors, Saskatoon natives The Sheepdogs became the first unsigned band to ever be on the cover of Rolling Stone Magazine and officially claimed their victory in August with their performance on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon.
The Fastest Man in the World
In the 1996 Olympics, Donavan Bailey won the gold medal in the Men’s 100m. In that race, not only did he attain the world record for the fastest 100m, but he also topped the charts with the fastest top speed of any human at 27.02mph / 43.48kmh. So technically, when he’s jogging, he’s not allowed in a school zone.
The Baywatch Bombshell
As much as we all love David Hasselhoff, especially when he’s eating cheeseburgers, the biggest show in the world isn’t nearly as big without C.J. Parker and her big…uhhh…presence….um, on screen.
The Funniest Character on Everyone’s Favourite Show
“Ohhhhh. Moayyyyyy Gaaaawwwwwwwwwd. CHANDLAHH BIIIIIIING!!!!” Could that character have BEEN any better?
The White Reggae Artist
In 1993, Canada had its first internationally acclaimed white rapper / reggae artist when Snow’s “Informer” spent seven consecutive weeks at number one on the Billboard Hot 100 and reached number 2 in the UK. Ok, maybe this doesn’t make every Canadian proud, but for the ones that aren’t proud, at least they’re laughing.
Women at the Voting Booths
In 1917, we became the 10th country to grant women voting rights. Three years ahead of you know who…
Women in Space
In 1992, we sent Roberta Bondar into orbit as the first neurologist and more importantly, the first Canadian female in space. One year ahead of you know who…
The Summit Series
Few of us remember it, but we all sure as hell know about it. It was the first hockey competition between The Soviets and The Canadians in which NHL players were allowed, and after going down 3-1 in the series, we came back with three straight wins in Moscow – winning the last game by scoring with 34 seconds left in the 3rd – to take the series 4-3. Oh, and it was during the Cold War, so you know, the timing was pretty good too.
The 92/93 Jays
On October 20th, 1992, the first world series game ever played outside the U.S. was in Toronto’s fancy new SkyDome, and four days later, the Blue Jays had won the whole thing. Then they did it again at home the next year with only the second World Series walk-off home run in history, courtesy of Joltin’ Joe Carter. The Montréal Expos probably would have given Canada three World Series wins in a row in 1994, but their 74-40 season momentum was shattered by the league’s first major strike.
During the Marathon of Hope, with only one real leg, Terry Fox ran for 143 days and 5,373 kilometers (from St.John’s, Newfoundland to Thunder Bay, Ontario) in order to raise awareness and research funds for Cancer. 35 years later, after he accomplished his goal of getting the equivalent of $1 from every Canadian, over 50 countries around the world have hosted a Terry Fox run and the organization has raised over $650 million for cancer research.
Highway of Heroes
There are few recent moments from the Canadian public and its media more memorable than the thousands of people gathered and saluting on the overpasses of the 401 while motorcades carried bodies of fallen Canadian soldiers from the war in Afghanistan to a coroner’s office in Toronto. A student from the University of Windsor, Jay Forbes immediately recognized the importance of the display and posted an online petition to rename a section of the 401 to Highway of Heroes. In less than 2 weeks, the petition had more than 65,000 signatures and by September 2007, the Ontario government had made the change. Forbes tragically died in May of this year at only 30 years old.
The Two Best Cities in the World
This year, The Economist published their Safe Cities Index 2015 White Paper. While the focus of the paper was to identify the most “secure” cities in which to live (Digital, Health, Infrastructure, Personal), the data they gathered also identified the best overall cities in the world based on their Safe Cities Index in conjunction with indexes scoring Livability, Cost of Living, Business Environment, Democracy, and Food Security. The top 2 overall cities in the world were Toronto and Montreal.
All Day, ‘Err Day
This place is the best.
Happy Canada Day, everyone. Wear the leaf with pride.