Greetings from the new City of Markham where the "city" fathers and mothers have deemed the former Township of Markham, and subsequently the Town of, are sufficiently grown-up to warrant city status. That's one thing ober 300,000 people will do.
Over 40 years ago, I began writing a Canada Day Journal. During my college days, I spent my summers working in public relations for the Ontario government and, for four years, spent July 1 in Thunder Bay, Ontario. After a day of greeting the populace and handing out literature at the Central Lakehead Exhibition, I would repair to my motel room and write - that was on paper with pen and ink - what I had doen that day and what I was feeling, 1000 miles away from home and family (yes, we were still measuring our distances in imperial units).
While most of those notes have long since been misplaced, I recall vividly one year when for reasons of scheduling, I had the day off and, with time to kill, I wandered to Lakehead University campus to look around and compare it to some of the other new university campuses that were springing up in the province in the 1970s. Somewhere outside a student residence, I encourtered a small group busy with a Canada Day BBQ. We got to talking and I ended up staying for hours; an undergraduate liberal arts student from Toronto in a group of graduate and doctoral geologists and foresters who were more accustomed to spening their summer in a tent in the fly infeseted bush. Student residence beds, warm showers and fresh food to BBQ were luxuries they had learned to forego in the pursuit of their careers.
I learned a lot that day about northern Ontario and resource economies; all very different from my southwestern Ontario farm background or my adopted "Toronto as the centre of the universe" perspective. I'd like to think, it helped me empathise with "northerners" duing the subsequent 3 decades I worked in the public service. What I learned that Canada Day mattered.
Can I say the same for today? Well probably not. Still it was a good day beginning with an old fashioned bacon and eggs breakfast on the veranda, overlooking our beautiful garden and pond. Having acquired new tastes, breakfast was enhanced by very non-Ontario-traditional expresso coffee, but that too reflects how the we've all changed in forty years. Then it was off to a boozy brunch with friends as a warm-up to Toronto's Pride Day festival and parade.
After a more than a couple of decades of gay pride festivals, like many of my generation, I've become a bit jaded. Pride remains a "very big deal" for the newly "out", and for those desperately seeking a mate, and this year's was no exception. As always, it was good to see that the number and variety of groups and activities for gay man and women of all ages continues to grow and amaze. And there was, of course, just enough eye-candy to maybe entice attendance again in twelve months.
Back home now, listening to the rustle of the wind in the trees, the birds' pre-dusk chatter, the waterfall falling and, occasionally, fish jumping at insects over the pond (while trying to screen out the distant sounds of Hwy #404 - it is the City of Markham, after all), I can't help but reflect on just how fortunate I've been to have been born in Canada and Ontario, given an excellent public education and a long career in public service and surrounded by good friends and family. When the fireworks start popping in about an hour, I will be ready to say, with renewed passion, "Oh Canada! indeed.