June 26th, 2017

Small steps have made Canada a great country over 150 years


By Medicine Hat News Opinon on April 13, 2017.

Easter Monday marks 75 days until the celebration of Canada’s 150th anniversary — the halfway point of the 150-day counter that first appeared on the News’ front page in February.

At that time an editorial challenged readers to consider how they could engage is a special commemoration of Canada’s sesquicentennial.

So, how are things coming along?

Well, we hope, as it would be sad to think that Canada’s patriotism in this special year will be defined by the fact that five of Canada’s seven NHL franchises have qualified for the post-season.

Yet, standards have fallen.

It’s difficult to find much in the way of collective effort to mark the anniversary.

An annual Canada Day celebration in Kin Coulee Park promises a program above its usual offering.

Elsewhere, though, aside from a mention, the idea of Canada 150 seems a minor tack-on to business as usual.

Hopefully we’re misreading the mood of the general populace, but citizens seem much more concerned with any number of international issues.

New winds in global politics seem to signal a change in our traditional tri-lateral relationship with the United States and the United Kingdom. Both appear ready to retreat from trade agreements and internationalist stances that defined the post-Second World War era.

It’s hard not to be overwhelmed, though it should be noted that Canada’s 50th anniversary, in 1917, came months after the Battle of Vimy Ridge. That is seen as a watershed moment when our nation began defining its own role, own institutions and a Canadian identity for itself.

That process has been ongoing ever since, and in the same spirit, this commemoration need not be monumental, but should continue a march toward improving this great country.

Recently the News has told the story of how local school children in 1967 planted trees to mark the centennial occasion.

It’s not original, and hardly grand, but the foliage of our city could use a boost.

Wind storms in 2015 badly damaged a significant number of tall trees. Each year, we lose more and more mature trees that were planted during a beautification program in the first half of the 20th century.

Indeed tree-planting is as much the story of developing Medicine Hat as anything else.

Also in 1967, Medicine Hat’s first museum was constructed as a centennial project near the corner of the Trans-Canada Highway and what would become Gershaw Drive.

It’s sad to note this year that its replacement — the vastly superior Esplanade — lost its curator, box office and cafe due, likely to budget cuts.

The namesake of Gershaw Drive — Senator Gershaw — would author a local history book to celebrate the 100th birthday.

The Medicine Hat Public Library is currently winding up its fundraising to pay for ongoing theatre renovations.

Small steps toward a better community and Canada are required and will add up.

That’s been proven over 150 years.

(Collin Gallant is a News reporter. To comment on this and other editorials, go to http://www.medicinehatnews.com/opinions.)


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