Canadians tend to really celebrate Canada Day when they're in Ottawa or abroad. Here in Victoria, BC we have a bit of a street party with fireworks and musicians, but after growing up in Ottawa I see any less than a million people as a small party.
Now, I see London as the place to be for Canada Day! It's mayhem! It used to be that Canadians in London would go to the Maple Leaf pub on Canada Day, and it always turned into a massive street party because the pub couldn't contain us all. Drinking in the streets is acceptable in London, so we'd all grab six packs of Canadian beer from the Canada Shop down the street and celebrate in London style. A few of the restaurants even make poutine for us. My favourite was from a Thai restaurant. How cool is that? They don't use real cheese curds, so it's really not the real Canadian poutine, but still, I enjoyed it.
But a few years ago, the World Cup was on at the same time as Canada Day and the powers that be decided that it wasn't safe to have a few thousand Canadians on the street celebrating at the same time as the World Cup fanatics would be pouring out of the pubs happy or angry depending on their soccer preference. As a Canadian, of course, I saw this as ridiculous and went anyway. My friends had to line up to get in, and it all seemed very anti-climatic.
At the time, someone organized a Canada Day party in Trafalgar Square to try to encourage all of us to go to a larger, more organized & contained street party. The problem was that it wasn't actually on Canada Day. They organized it for a few days before if I recall correctly. I'm sure it had to do with paperwork & bureaucracy, but it just doesn't feel right to be celebrating Canada Day abroad on the wrong day. Let's face it - the whole thing is about feeling nostalgic, and imagining your friends & family "back home" celebrating with you from across the globe. That just doesn't work if it's on the wrong day.
Now, Canada Day in London is on Canada Day - July 1st! Yes. They got it right. Many Canadians will still try to carry on the tradition of going to the Maple Leaf Pub in Covent Garden, but I suspect that the majority will go to Trafalgar Square to see the live acts, drink in the street, eat poutine, play street hockey and all round be Canadian in London. Last year, plenty of the Classroom Canada teachers partied in style in Trafalgar Square so I suspect they'll repeat the tradition.
I had some temporary tattoos made for our teachers and Morgan, a new teacher from Victoria, will be bringing them to our London office next week when she arrives to start her teaching there. I hope they make the teachers smile & feel just a little bit proud to be a Canadian Teacher in London on that day.
Next year, I think I'll have balloons made instead. What do you think? Any other ideas for Canada Day? Where will you be?
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