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Posts Tagged ‘loyalists’

Henry Sandham's "The Coming of the Loyalists" (1910) reveals a romanticized conception of Canadian history common in his day.

Henry Sandham’s “The Coming of the Loyalists” (1910) reveals a romanticized conception of Canadian history that was common in his day.

(For the introduction to this series on national narratives click here.)

It’s the 4th of July. The skies of America are lit up by a bouquet of colours as fireworks announce another year of that country’s independence from Britain. With the Stars & Stripes on full display, crowds waft between watermelon picnics and baseball games, stopping now and then to listen to a marching band play “Yankee Doodle.” Magically, amidst all its political gaffs and global blunders, the sentimental face of the “Home of the Brave” reveals itself with an unabashed blend of pride and kitsch. It gets to you.

Just a little ways North of the border in a dingy but well-loved campus bar in Halifax, Nova Scotia an altogether different sort of celebration is taking place. Instead of the Stars & Stripes, you find the old “loyalist” flag of Britain tacked to the wall, while in some place of prominence – in front of an old speaker, perhaps – an image of Canada’s reigning monarch, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, smiles down upon the revelries as undergraduates hoist their drinks in the air and stumble their way the lyrics to “God Save the Queen.” (more…)

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Mi’kmaq figures view Halifax from across the harbour.

Well, I don’t know about everyone else, but I’m feeling the post-turkey melatonin hangover this week. Three feasts and a few left overs besides have left my poor, would-be vegetarian stomach in recovery mode, after this most North American of holidays. Thanksgiving, we are told, began with the sharing of harvests between settlers and indigenous peoples in early colonial North America, and continues to be associated with the “harmonious” nature of colonial relationships in popular culture today (if not always within family traditions).

That much is contentious – perhaps offensive – but the holiday is at least a reminder of the nature of our settler society. We, the relative newcomers to Canada, have not always been here, and yet we are seldom reminded of this fact (or its implications), because settler society has by and large marginalized the voices of the societies that preceded it. So, allow me take advantage of the holiday to go back to those early colonial days to tell a settler origin story. (more…)

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