July 01, 2009

This is my home: Canada Day 2009

Today is Canada Day: the 142nd anniversary of Confederation. (This, for the record, makes Canada 103 years and 5 months older than me, give or take a week or two.) As always, Ottawa is Celebration Central, and Canadians and tourists alike shed their usual reservedness for one day of overt patriotism.

Every Canada Day, I post the story of one Canadian patriotic song. Since right now I'm caught in the middle of a week of Canadian hits of the 1980s, it seems fitting that this year's song also fit that theme.

During Vancouver's centennial year in 1986, the city hosted the 1986 World Exposition on Transportation and Communication - better known as Expo '86. This was the second time a World's Fair was held in Canada, the first being Expo '67 in Montreal, during the Canadian centennial year. Expo '86 had pavilons from more than 50 nations, most of Canada's provinces and territories, and many corporations, and was attended by numerous VIPs, including Prince Charles and Princess Diana, Margaret Thatcher, and then-U.S. vice president George H. W. Bush. Despite losing more than $300 million, it was considered a resounding success. After the fair was over, much of the land was redeveloped into parkland and condominiums, and a section of it is now being turned into the Olympic village in time for the 2010 Winter Olympics.

Vancouver-based, avant-garde composer Bob Buckley penned a theme for the Canadian pavilion: "Canada: This Is My Home." The song is nothing profound: it's simply a stirring, sentimental piece about how wonderful it is to live in Canada, "from sea to sea." Naturally, it's bilingual (and since my French is barely passable, please excuse any mistakes in the transcription, I've done my best):

From sea to sea, a tapestry of colour, shapes and sounds
We're a people bound together by the visions we have found
From place to place, face to face, we share this common bond
It's a feeling lying deep within, where only dreams belong
Et quand on partage un rêve on va beaucoup plus loin
Viens plus loins, prends ma main, tout un pays se rejoint

This is my home O Canada
This is my home O Canada O Canada

Je découvre avec moi des splendeurs et des coeurs
Des façons de vivre et des pouvoirs createurs
It's here where you realize the heart and home are one
Canada, Canada, we're your daughters we're your sons

This is my home O Canada
This is my home O Canada O Canada
On est chez nous Ô Canada
Chez nous partout Ô Canada Ô Canada
This is my home

O Canada, this is my home
Chez nous partout Ô Canada Ô Canada
On est chez nous Ô Canada
This is my home O Canada O Canada
This is my home

Since Expo '86, the continuing popularity of "This Is My Home" has made it practically an unofficial national anthem. I've heard it performed live twice on Parliament Hill on July 1 (and probably only missed it the other times).

Once again: Happy Birthday, Canada.

Previous Canada Day songs: