Canada Day 2020

The word for July 1st is:
Confederation /kənˌfedəˈrāSH(ə)n/: [noun]
1.1 An organization which consists of a number of parties or groups united in an alliance or league.
1.2 A more or less permanent union of countries or territories with some or most political power vested in a central authority.
1.3 The action of confederating or the state of being confederated.
Late Middle English: from Old French confederacion or late Latin confederatio, from Latin confoederare, from con- ‘together’ + foederare ‘join in league with’ (from foedus ‘league, treaty’).
Hmmm… more or less permanent union… that sounds ominous!

Canada Day 2019

In earlier times July 1st – Dominion Day – was a secondary holiday to Victoria Day (May 24). Give that this photo dates from 1948 or 1949 I’d say it was probably the later but whatever feast day of the two it was we were waving our flags and celebrating Canada. That would be BillyJohn (me) at the far left with my father; my beloved Aunt Lil is just behind him.

July 1, 2019 was one of the gloomiest Canada Days I’ve seen in all my years including in my younger days when it was known as Dominion Day. It was off-and-on rainy, cold (14c/54f), and there was a bitter North-Easter that tossed my silver locks (both strands) in the breeze as Nora and I did our Marcel Marceau walk against the wind number. And a kitchen disaster (see below) the night before threatened to bring that gloom – and a dearth of food – to our Canada Day party. However all turned out well and twenty-two friends joined us for pulled pork, Sloppy Joes (see below), Thai Salad Rolls, Mix Salad, Derrick’s Couscous, Lynne’s Radish Salad, Lori’s Paté, watermelon and Ice Cream Sandwiches. Plus the odd glass of wine or two was consumed and we finally did something with that Guinness that has been in the fridge for a while – well we didn’t but a friend certainly did.

The premiere edition of Cook’s Illustrated from 1993.

My friend Dr Spo wrote about a recipe for Sloppy Joes that he had come across at Cook’s Illustrated for April 2019. I bought my first copy of CI when it reemerged on the scene in 1993 and continue to purchase each edition for the next 20 years. However in a move I was forced convinced to give them up to a used book emporium. When it became digital I switched and again became a faithful subscriber. I won’t go into a long tirade on the current state of what had once been my major go-to for so much in the way of culinary research, information, and recipes. Let’s just say that since originator Christopher Kimball was bought out in 2015 it has become a bloated marketing force filled with product placement, endless email offers, and I have the uncomfortable feeling that its equipment testing is highly suspect. However their recipes are still fairly reliable, well researched, and in most cases easy to make.

On the good Doctor’s recommendations – not all doctors is quacks! – said recipe for Sloppy Joes was the one chosen to be included in our Canada Day celebrations. And as he suggests in his post according to all and sundry at our gathering it is a keeper.

Hopefully a left click on this image from Cook’s Illustrated will take you to the recipe for their classic – and yummy – Sloppy Joes. I’m just not sure if it’s available to non-subscribers and copyright precludes posting it. However a quick email may be the solution.

So much for the Sloppy Joes (though on the invitation Laurent, with his usual Gaelic sense of le HaHa thought it would be cute to call them Sloppy Willys!!!! Enough said.) but what about the kitchen disaster? Well in a fit of let’s not leave everything to the last minute I decided to do the recipe on Sunday night using a combination of frozen and “fresh” ground beef. I was working in batches and the first two seemed okay however when I went to do the last batch there was a distinctive odour that suggested that something was rotten in the Province of PEI. So at 2300 on a Sunday evening before a major holiday I had to toss two batches of Sloppy Joes and over a pound of ground beef and half my party menu. Plus I had taste tested the earlier batches and that meant my overactive imagination – okay hypochondria – went into overdrive.

Fortunately my tummy upset was entirely in my imagination and the gods of commerce (or the Weston and Sobey families, which are much the same thing) had decreed that the big stores be open from 1100-1500 on Canada Day! A real tums settled the stomach of Le Malade imaginaire and three pounds of newly ground lean beef produced a very satisfying pot of Sloppy Joes.

So a full menu as planned was snatched from the jaws of disaster and guests were sent out into the driving drizzle well and truly fed. Oh and the ice cream sandwiches were a big hit too. That recipe I can give you: take a cookie and put a scoop of ice cream on top of it – take a second cookie and press it down on the ice cream until it reaches the edges of the sandwich. Wrap the cookie in tin foil and put into the freezer until needed.

July 5th has quite the combination of holidays: Apple Turnover Day, Bikini Day, and Workaholics Day. Make of that trio what you will!

Mercoledi Musicale

As part of the Canada Day celebrations here in Charlottetown we went to the first performanceVoices-of-Canada by this year’s Confederation Centre Young Company’s new show – The Voices of Canada.  Twelve young performers from across Canada (it was interesting to note that many of them have trained with the Music Theatre faculty at Sheridan College) gave us a 50 minute “exploration of the elusive Canadian identity”.  The Young Company programme gives young performers a chance to work with seasoned professionals and, with six shows a week plus classes, experience a bit of the grind of show business.

Using a Gordon Lightfoot classic as a framing device writer/director Adam Brazier took 12 songs by such diverse songwriters as The Guess Who, The Trews, Same Latitude as Rome, Great Big Sea, Stan Rogers, Julian Austin and our old friend Traditional to tell the story of the Acadian Deportation, Louis Riel, the Underground Railway, our Peace Keepers and the varied peoples that make up our Country.  Rather oddly, but I found touchingly, it included a brief tribute to Tommy Douglas*, the man we gave us Universal Health Care and the Canadian Pension Plan.

Continuing on the railroad theme from yesterday and extending the Canada Day celebrations into the Octave I thought I’d post the Lightfoot song that encapsulates the building of the railway from the Atlantic to the Pacific that, whither intended or not, in many ways came to symbolize a united Canada.   Composed for our Centenary in 1967 under commission by the CBC it first appeared as a variety programme production number choreographed by Alan Lund who was one of the first artistic directors of the Charlottetown Festival.


*Sadly most people in the audience would have had no idea who he was other than perhaps Keifer Sutherland’s grandfather.

On this day in 1892: Dadabhai Naoroji is elected as the first Indian Member of Parliament in Britain.

Birth of Canada As A Nation – An Ode

I know,  I know I’ve gone into Canada Day overload but give me a break its my first Canada Day celebration back home so I’m allowed.

Festivities on July 1, 1880 as captured by the Canadian Illustrated News, a publication out of Montreal.  I attempted to access this by going to the Archives and Library of Canada website but it is no longer available due to budget cuts.  Had to get it from the Quebec Archives – no money but at least they are holding on to their heritage.

My friend Liz – one of those ‘mericans that I love – put this up on facebook.  I’m ashamed to say I’d never heard it. 

Hail Britannia’s noblest daughter,
Who is surrounded by the water
Of many a lake and broad sea,
Land of beaver and of maple tree.

Her lofty brow is wreathed with smiles,
For from the far Atlantic isles
In pomp have come their delegates,
All seeking to unite their fates.

With Canada great northern queen,
And now throughout the land is seen,
High festival and stately dance,
Triumphant nuptials to advance.

And soon shall Red River valley
And distant Vancouver rally,
To form this Empire gigantic
From Pacific to Atlantic.

Birth of Canada As A Nation
July 1, 1867

01 July -1873: Prince Edward Island joins the Canadian Confederation.

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