Give Us a Place To Stand

June 29, 2018 | Ann

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On July 1st, Canada celebrates another glorious year with a mid-summer statutory holiday. Canada as a country 'officially began' back on  Monday, July 1, 1867 with the enactment of the Constitution Act. People have been celebrating this day each year and called it Dominion Day for 115 years until 1982.

  Dominion Day pyrotechnics invitation

1889 Queen's Park Dominion Day Celebration ticket to a Pyrotechnics Display

The Red Ensign

Prior to 1965, the Red Ensign flag was flying proudly and underwent four formal designs from 1707 to 1965 as shown on The Canadian Encyclopedia.

As with new transitions, there was strong resistance to preserve the old traditions.  

John F. Diefenbaker with Red Ensign

In 1964, Canada's 13th Prime Minister, John George Diefenbaker, defended the Red Ensign

Before the official change to the maple leaf design we see today, many people petitioned to keep that flag flying. 

John Dalrymple with Red Ensign petition
John Dalrymple displayed a 129 foot petition with over 6,000 signatures in 1964 in favour of the Red Ensign

Despite the objections to the new design, the Red Ensign did retire to be replaced by the new Canadian maple leaf flag. 

Red Ensign lowered
In 1965, the Red Ensign was lowered for the last time to a lone trumpeter's blast.

The Canadian Maple Leaf

After 1965, the maple leaf flag made its debut. New generations celebrate Canada's birthday with a bright new red and white flag.

Canada Day in Ottawa
Baby in red and white held up beside Ottawa Legislative Building in Ottawa, Ontario on Canada Day in 1998
Canada's Centennial Babies Celebrate
Canada's Centennial Babies from the Northwest Territories, Quebec, and Newfoundland in 1977 in support of Quebec not separating from Canada 

Little Mountie and new Canadian

RCMP Constable Andrew Rhodes and Judith Tse with matching hats in 1995

 King Clancy and Foster Hewitt

NHL Player King Clancy (left), 74, and Canadian Radio Broadcaster Foster Hewitt, 73, say they are ready to rough it-2,500 miles on a bus through northern Ontario-to help promote Canada Day (1977)

In 1967, to celebrate Canada's Centennial year, Ontario created its own song called, "A Place to Stand". The YouTube audioclip below shows the original RCA record cover when it was released.

Also called, The Ontario Song, the verses described a place that every nationality could stand, live, and grow freely. It was an optimistic tune for the time.

Indigenous Peoples

Indigenous Peoples who lived here before colonization and immigration began did not experience the same benefits after Canada became a country. Many of Indigenous children grew up with sexual abuse, emotional abuse, and assimilation into Western culture in Canadian residential schools. In the Sixties Scoop, Indigenous children were taken from their homes and put up for adoption by non-Indigenous families. It amounted to cultural genocide.

As of February 2018, the Government of Canada proposed The Recognition and Implementation of Rights Framework. This framework aims to, "include new legislation and policy that will make the recognition and implementation of rights the basis for all relations between Indigenous Peoples and the federal government going forward." These first steps hope to offer Truth and Reconciliation to the Indigenous Peoples of Canada.

The Virtual Reference Library offers digitized historical images of the Indigenous Peoples: 

 Noel Ducharme with artwork
Indigenous Artist Noel Ducharme in Kleinberg,Ontario in 1975 displaying his artwork of a beaver which was considered in Ottawa as a Canadian emblem

 image from

A happy Ojibway couple preparing a feast at Lakefield and Burleigh Falls in 1991
Jamie Kunkel feather dancing
Jamie Kunkel demonstrates his prowess at the feather dance at a 1994 First Nations Celebration at Erindale Park
Woman cooking over fire
A young Ojibwa lady preparing a meal at the Rama Reserve near Orilia that opened an Ojibwa version of a pioneer village with 14 teepees (1987) 

Tracker Wolf

Tracker Wolf is the Indian Name for Art Stevens from the Nipissing First Nation in North Bay. He imitates a wolf tracking its prey (1994)
Colleen McKay
Colleen McKay works in the coffee shop so that she could remain with her parents and help supplement her father's income as a trapper (1995)

 Painting of two Chippewa Indians

Chippewa Indians at Coldwater, Ontario in 1844 [original description]

As Canada continues to acknowledge its social inequities, we hope to begin to celebrate the achievements of our country as a whole.