March 22nd, 2018

By the Way: Faithfully celebrating Canada 150

By Medicine Hat News on June 3, 2017.

I grew up on the streets of London, Ont. Its motto? “The Maple City.” Well, most mid-20th-century kids did spend time on the streets and in the neighbours’ yards.

That’s where we played from morning to night. We really did walk back and forth to school four times each day. In the autumn of the year, the walks took much longer because we had piles of fallen maple leaves to rake-up, jump intoÉand throw at the girls!

When I think about Canada 150, I remember learning — and singing often — “The Maple Leaf Forever.” Alexander Muir composed this in 1867, our Confederation year. Now 150 years later, we’re still united as a country, looking pretty darned good on the international scene, don’t you think?

What makes Canada a desirable and enviable “home and native land”?

We can disagree respectfully with each other and with our governments, without fear of retaliation or violence. We can conduct spirited conversations through Letters to the Editor, and even share the strangest of opinions in the coffee shops. And if we’re really serious, we can run for public office with the support of at least a few backers. Small wonder new immigrants to Canada thank their lucky stars!

Recognizing the historical reality that the movers and shakers who founded our nation, were people of faith, it’s no surprise they turned to the Psalms in the Bible, for the description of Canada as a Dominion.

The author of Psalm 72, in looking for the kind of ruler most desirable for Israel, prayed: “May they have dominion from sea to sea.” (Psalm 72:8)

The ideal leader of such a “dominion,” will be a ruler showing justice, peace and compassion, and a liberator from oppression Those who rule are subject to the same moral standards under Divine law, that apply to those they rule.

Such are the requirements for all our leaders.

Following heroes uncritically, and being unable or unwilling to recognize their flaws and human weaknesses, never ends well.

So let’s get on with celebrating Canada 150. This has already been happening in Medicine Hat and area. In concerts this spring, the Medicine Hat College Adult Choir and the Medicine Hat Concert Band Society have featured songs and compositions in concert, from all regions of Canada.

Tomorrow (June 4.) at 2 p.m. in St. John’s Presbyterian Church, Medicine Hat’s men’s chorus, The TarTones, are celebrating 20 years of singing together in our community and present a program of Canadian music old and new, from Atlantic Canada, to the Arctic, to British Columbia, with musical stops in between.

Our Canadian story is so colourful — and so unknown.

The TarTones have enjoyed preparing a “rouser” called “The Royal Hudson.” This was the steam engine which pulled the Royal train in 1939, conveying King George V1 and Queen Elizabeth (the Queen Mother), across Canada. This trip cemented the Dominion’s support for Great Britain and the Allies as the world descended into the Second World War.

Who knew our history could be put to music? Maybe we would all know more about Canada if we could sing about it, or play it on an instrument!

Enjoy this Canada 150 summer. Let loose, and show a little patriotism!

And remember the TarTones concert tomorrow afternoon!

The free-will offering is for a good community cause, the services provided by the Ecumenical Campus Ministry at Medicine Hat College.

Bob Cruickshank is a retired Presbyterian minister, living — and singing — in Medicine Hat.

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