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Parliament to consider changes to "O Canada"

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ballz

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http://news.ca.msn.com/canada/video.aspx?cp-documentid=cbcc2010-0403-0757-0016-143136289200

::)
 

mariomike

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"The Maple Leaf Forever" and "O Canada".
In music only. I'll let the politicians worry about the words:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oy6c7-buMZg





 

Old Sweat

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The following (less the pictures) page, which may be found at www.vancouverhistory.ca/archives_ocanada.htm, provides an account of the adoption of the English version:

Was Canada’s national anthem written in Vancouver? No.

To get the facts, come back with us to a gloriously sunny day in July, 1908 in Quebec City.

Brigadier-General Lawrence Buchan (left) was in command of the garrison at Quebec, at the head of 12,000 troops taking part in ceremonies marking the 300th anniversary of the city's founding. The Prince of Wales (later King George V) was reviewing the troops.

At one point the massed bands of the garrison played a stirring, patriotic air composed in 1875 by Quebec's Calixa Lavallee (right). The prince was so impressed by it that he asked, “What is that magnificent composition?” He was informed that the piece had no formal title and was known simply as “Chant Nationale.” (Note that this was 33 years after the tune’s composition.)


Lawrence Buchan was impressed with the music, too. He got a copy of the sheet music, which included the French lyrics by Adolphe-Basile Routhier (sung to this day by Canadian Francophones), and had them translated into English. He sent them to his brother, Ewing Buchan, then manager of the Bank of Hamilton in Vancouver. Ewing Buchan was very taken by the air and he and his family often sang it in their home at 1114 Barclay St. Daughter Olive provided the piano accompaniment. But Buchan was dissatisfied with the English translation of the French words to the tune and decided to write his own, a single stanza.

The opening four notes suggested to Buchan an obvious first line: “O Canada.”

The same two words began the French lyrics to the song. The air's first four notes, in fact, inspired a small mob of Canadians outside Quebec to begin their versions of the song with the same two words. But it must be said that not all the lyrics were inspired by pure patriotism: it seems a Toronto-based magazine, Collier's, an offshoot of the American publication, had offered a prize for the best three-stanza song in English, set to the Lavallee air.

It gets confusing here: The Canadian Encyclopedia of Music, in a long article, says: “The winner, announced August 7, 1909, was Mrs. Mercy E. Powell McCulloch, one of some 350 competitors. The English version most widely used, however, is the one by Robert Stanley Weir, published in November 1908 . . .”

It is Weir’s words, with recent modifications, we sing to this day.

Ewing Buchan (left) hadn't known about the Collier's contest but, says his son Percy, he would have felt no urge to enter if he had. “Having fallen in love with the beauty of the music, he had a conviction that his fellow citizens would likewise respond to the spirit of the air and would sing it if they had appropriate words.”

In 1947, at the urging of Vancouver's city archivist Major J.S. Matthews, Percy Buchan wrote a pamphlet on his father's creation of those now forgotten lyrics.

“It happened,” Percy wrote, “that in 1908-09 my father was second vice-president of the Canadian Club of Vancouver. The custom of the club was to open its luncheon proceedings with a toast to the King (Edward VII), followed by singing of the National Anthem, God Save the King, and to close with the first verse of The Maple Leaf Forever. Having O Canada in mind, he resolved to urge its substitution for The Maple Leaf Forever at all functions of the club and to that end devoted a considerable part of his leisure during the winter evenings of 1908 to quiet reflection on the matter.”

In the spring of 1909 Ewing sent the nine-line result to his brother in Quebec. Lawrence Buchan and a friend, Brenton A. MacNab of the Montreal Star, made a few minor changes, then Lawrence ran off a number of copies on small printed slips. He sent some to Ewing in Vancouver. A brief introductory paragraph stated that the words of the verse were the work of Ewing Buchan, rearranged by MacNab and Lawrence Buchan.

In the fall of 1909 the two brothers met for the last time in Vancouver, Lawrence Buchan contracted pneumonia during his western trip and died at 62 in October, a short time after his return to Montreal. “This event,” wrote Percy Buchan, “was a severe blow to Ewing and resolved him to bestow the entire credit for the Buchan version of O Canada on the general as a memorial in the minds of the Canadian people. That is the reason the stanza must forever bear the name of Lawrence Buchan.

“The song,” Percy continues, “had its introduction at the close of a luncheon meeting (of the Vancouver Canadian Club) on Wednesday, February 9, 1910, in old Pender Hall, situated on the upper floor of the present two-storey building at the southwest corner of Pender and Howe streets. [Remember he’s writing this in 1947.] After some brief introductory remarks by Captain William Hart-McHarg, a quartette, accompanied by Miss Grace Hastings at the piano, led the first singing of O Canada by a Vancouver audience and the first performance of the Buchan version within the Dominion . . . Eventually it became the custom of the club to close its meetings with the singing of O Canada instead of The Maple Leaf Forever.”

Ewing destroyed from his private files every trace of his authorship of the verse. But a letter to Percy from the general, written a few months before he died, makes it clear where the major credit lies.

Supporters of the Buchan version distributed some 40,000 copies to Vancouver school children and kept up steady efforts on its behalf for years. By 1929 the fight between the two factions, one pushing for Buchan's words, the other for Weir's, broke into print. (Some backers of the Buchan version referred to the competitive lyrics as "the Weird version.")

Then Prime Minister W.L. MacKenzie King, visiting the coast, heard the Buchan version sung at a meeting of the Vancouver Board of Trade . . . and liked it a lot. Better than all the others he'd heard, in fact. That really got the fur flying.

Which version would prevail?

Well, this is one story to which every Canadian knows the end. But, for the record, here are the words to “the Buchan version” of O Canada:

O Canada, our heritage, our love
Thy worth we praise all other lands above
From sea to sea, throughout thy length,
From pole to borderland
At Britain's side, whate'er betide,
Unflinchingly we'll stand.
With heart we sing, “God Save the King”
“Guide thou the Empire wide,” do we implore
“And prosper Canada from shore to shore.”

Note that both The RCR and the RWR claim Buchan, as he served with the later in the regular force, including in South Africa, and with the former in the NW Rebellion.




 

medicineman

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For the love of God (or deity of your choice, if you so choose), how many freaking times will I have to relearn the English version of "O Canada" in my lifetime?  As noted above, at least the French version has remained unchanged (and oddly enough, I learned it in French before I learned it in English - another story).  Will political correctness ever end?

MM
 

40below

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I have no opinion on this topic but an anecdote. When I was living in Inuvik around 1998 or so, the Mounties provided security for territorial court, which I had occasion to sit in on. A new guy had come up from the south and his fellow officers informed him that he would sit in on court to get a feel for things and besides security, the RCMP's duty in the NWT included opening court for the day, which involved singing O Canada once the judge had entered.  He stood at attention and sang it beautifully and continued as the criminals, the court staff and the other members from the detachment who had come to court that morning broke up laughing, and it was only when the judge started losing it that he turned red and stopped.
 

mariomike

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Good grief. I just gave a listen - first time I heard it - to that Australia song you mentioned. Whatever happened to "Waltzing Matilda"? Until today, I thought it was the anthem!
Doesn't exactly get my tired blood pumping, like "La Marseillaise" never fails to.

I remember in school when they changed the Canadian flag. I must have been about ten years old. If I recall correctly, some of our teachers had some difficulty containing their displeasure.

Too bad Canada didn't have an Irving Berlin.
Official or not, this has always been one of my favorites, but I guess now they would have to omit the first word:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TnQDW-NMaRs
 

Old Sweat

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Move on, folks. Nothing to see here.

The following column from the National Post's website is reproduced under the fair comment provisions of the Copyright Act:

Don Martin: Tories backpedal on anthem change
Posted: March 05, 2010, 3:36 PM by NP Editor

Oh OK Canada, that plan to tweak the national anthem is dead.


After facing a blitzkrieg of backlash to a minor Throne Speech afterthought, which proposed a single line change to eliminate a gender reference in the anthem's lyrics, a senior cabinet minister confides the notion will be quickly and quietly dusty-shelved, never to see the light of actual committee study.


Cabinet ministers, flush with the success of a budget which slipped a final burst of spending into the books ahead of deficit-elimination cutbacks, were cursing the anthem change as a party anathema in the post-budget bar scene Thursday.


The Prime Minister's Office is not officially changing its true patriot heart on the issue, probably because Stephen Harper is believed to be personally responsible for the insert under pressure from feminist Conservative Senator Nancy Ruth. 


And Senator Ruth isn't giving up the crusade. She issued a press release on Friday demanding "that the English version of O Canada be restored to include women and girls. The national anthem in English should reflect our constitution and the role that women and girls play in Canada today, not the prejudices of the past."


But influential  officials are reassuring Conservative MPs that the kerfuffle will be allowed to fade away -- and never to return to the agenda, even as a suggestion for further study. 


This has got to rank as the fastest back-away from a Throne Speech initiative ever. It's rare to find so many senior members of the government candidly opposing their leader's initiative or admitting local voters are infuriated by his move.
Insiders who have polled the Conservative caucus found more than nine out of ten MPs are opposed to any anthem change.


It has infuriated the Conservative base and captivated all political water cooler conversation, dwarfing debate about the Throne Speech and federal budget. If this was intended as a bad-news diversion, it worked so well the government may well need to unleash a diversion to this diversion.


Sensing it had a major oopsie on its hands, the government had reacted almost immediately. 


Barely an hour after the Throne Speech was delivered, an MP ‘talking point' was rushed out from the PMO insisting the government was "not taking a position.  We are simply suggesting that a parliamentary committee examine the subject and report back to Parliament."


That's politic-speak for backpedalling, if not running, away from an ugly mess.


Some rank this as one of Harper's top four biggest mistakes, right up there with gratuitous arts funding cuts which infuriated the key battleground of Quebec on the eve of the 2008 election, the political financing elimination which created the opposition coalition and the February prorogation move which whacked the Conservatives down in the polls. 
That seems a bit too much significance for a word change, but keep in mind Quebec pundits say the $15-million arts funding reduction cost Harper his shot at a majority in 2008.


But for a government to propose an anthem alteration just (ital) three days (end) after Canada's patriotic tidal wave crested at the Vancouver Winter Olympics suggests Harper's tone-deafness to the average voter has become a pattern.
True, the scope of the reaction caught many  by surprise -- and you can count me among them. But the timing could not have been worse and the Prime Minister clearly needs someone in an office filled with sycophants to grab his collar and shake these sorts of bad ideas out of his head. 





 

ballz

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The timing had crossed my mind too. Canadians just rallied around the flag and the anthem for 2 weeks, something we don't see as often as I'd like. Many people who probably never looked at the flag in awe or sang the anthem at the top of their lungs before experienced what it feels like to do so and to mean it.

I also notice the mentions of the older flags/anthems/songs or whatever. I had to google what the old flag looked like and I had never heard of "The Maple Leaf Forever" until that YouTube link (although I had heard it on bagpipes before, I never knew what it was and never heard the lyrics).

For me and my younger peers, I grew up with one anthem and one flag, and it's all I've known, and I think it makes the issue a little more of an issue for me, because I always imagined that it's always been this way (although I knew it hadn't been).

If we change things all the time, it doesn't give people a chance to love them as much. Give the flag 100 years (so 2065), and pretty much everybody will have never seen another flag associated with Canada. It will symbolize Canada so much more. Same with anthems, or any other symbol. The longer they stand as a symbol the better.
 

a_majoor

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The proposed change to the Anthem is probably not only a bit of an afterthought, but also serves as a honeypot to draw the attention and energy of people, allowing the government to quietly, you know, govern......

Just thinking out loud
 

Dennis Ruhl

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mariomike said:
Good grief. I just gave a listen - first time I heard it - to that Australia song you mentioned. Whatever happened to "Waltzing Matilda"? Until today, I thought it was the anthem!
Doesn't exactly get my tired blood pumping, like "La Marseillaise" never fails to.

Here are the lyrics to Advance Australia Fair

Traveling in a fried-out combie
On a hippie trail, head full of zombie
I met a strange lady, she made me nervous
She took me in and gave me breakfast
And she said,

"Do you come from a land down under?
Where women glow and men plunder?
Can't you hear, can't you hear the thunder?
You better run, you better take cover."

Buying bread from a man in Brussels
He was six foot four and full of muscles
I said, "Do you speak-a my language?"
He just smiled and gave me a vegemite sandwich
And he said,

"I come from a land down under
Where beer does flow and men chunder
Can't you hear, can't you hear the thunder?
You better run, you better take cover."

Lying in a den in Bombay
With a slack jaw, and not much to say
I said to the man, "Are you trying to tempt me
Because I come from the land of plenty?"
And he said,

"Oh! Do you come from a land down under? (oh yeah yeah)
Where women glow and men plunder?
Can't you hear, can't you hear the thunder?
You better run, you better take cover."


It has a catchy tune but I wish that someone had written lyrics to Waltzing Matilda that didn't suck.  Waltzing Matilda is Australia.



 

Kat Stevens

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Or maybe this;



  Australians all let us rejoice
For we are young and free
We've golden soil and wealth for toil,
Our home is girt by sea:
Our land abounds in nature's gifts
Of beauty rich and rare,
In history's page let every stage
Advance Australia fair,
In joyful strains then let us sing
Advance Australia fair.

Beneath our radiant Southern Cross,
We'll toil with hearts and hands,
To make this Commonwealth of ours
Renowned of all the lands,
For those who've come across the seas
We've boundless plains to share,
With courage let us all combine
To advance Australia fair.
In joyful strains then let us sing,
Advance Australia fair.
 

The Bread Guy

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More here:
O Canada, the Harper government is standing on guard for your lyrics after all.

Just two days after promising to ask Parliament to consider restoring the national anthem's original gender-neutral wording, the Tories have done an abrupt about-face.

They've dropped the idea of changing the phrase "in all thy sons command" to something more inclusive of women - in the face of what they said was "overwhelming" public opposition.

"We offered to hear from Canadians on this issue and they have already spoken loud and clear," Dimitri Soudas, a spokesman for Prime Minister Stephen Harper, said Friday.

"They overwhelmingly do not want to open the issue. The government will not proceed any further to change our national anthem."

Soudas wouldn't elaborate on how the government gauged public reaction to the surprise proposal, floated in Wednesday's throne speech, to go back to the original tongue-twisting wording "thou dost in us command."

A Tory insider said Harper had hoped the issue - along with his promise to champion maternal and child health at the upcoming G8 summit - would appeal to women voters, who tend to be more supportive of the Liberals.

However, the prime minister underestimated the backlash among the Conservative party's core supporters, which the insider said the Tories gauged from the uniformly negative reaction on talk radio shows ....
 

1feral1

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Good one lads, and now a tad off topic, play the link. This song too is unique to Australia, and the words are quite inspiring to all Aussies, either born here, or naturalised.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jD3SkTyXzcE

For those that have visited this vast southern land, this might make you feel like you're back, and realise what lures and keep both me and my heart here. For those Aussies that left that are now elsewhere, it might make you homesick.

You might be hanging for a dark 'n stormy, or feeling 'morish' to fang down a few fresh lamingtons, or some of your neighbours nan's dinkum country style rissoles, or her fresh baked pavlova. These are all as Aussie as a mouth full of Territorian bull dust, or the sting of a bull dog ant, ha!

WRT O' Canada, I am happy they'll now not touch it (yet).

Regards,

OWDU

 

mariomike

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Remember these disasters? :
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5bFCJ_YVrGY&feature=player_embedded#
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a1vSwn37qT0&NR=1
 

The Bread Guy

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Necrothread revived with the latest - more calls for the same....
Shirley Robinson spent 30 years in the Canadian military and figures she knows something about leadership. Hence, her message to Stephen Harper: Show some leadership and change O Canada to make it genderneutral.

"Stand up and be a woman," the former lieutenant-colonel said Thursday in expressing her frustration at the prime minister's hesitation to alter lyrics in the national anthem. "Our laws are very explicit; women and men are equal in this country. Our anthem should reflect that. He (Harper) should do the right thing."

Robinson's challenge was prompted by a Citizen article that reported the prime minister's unwillingness to address the issue again after have been burned politically last year when he used the occasion of a Throne Speech to float the idea of changing a line in O Canada - "in all thy sons command" - to something less gender specific. At the time, the suggestion met with overwhelming public opposition and was quickly dropped ....
Postmedia News, 9 Dec 11
Postmedia News, 8 Dec 11 - screen capture of article also attached in case THIS link stops working
 

a_majoor

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Maybe we should just start singing "The Maple Leaf Forever" instead...
 

Rifleman62

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Maybe we should just start singing "The Maple Leaf Forever" instead...

Absolutely!

I wish the evil Harper would do this. IMHO, "O Canada" is boring and about as inspirational as a Rap tune.

Two of my grandchildren are in the US and they really like the US National Anthem.

My granddaughter sings O Canada at the OK Barons games when they are playing a Canadian team. Last week, when she started singing, it almost sounded like "Oh say ...." vice "O Canada ...". Funny.
 
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