Happy Canada Day!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zsq68qRexFc

We Are More

BY SHANE KOYCZAN

“Define Canada

You might say the home of the Rocket
Or The Great One
Who inspired little No. 9s and little No. 99s

But we’re more than just hockey and fishing lines
Off of the rocky coast of the Maritimes

And some say what defines us
Is something as simple as ‘please’ and ‘thank you’
And as for ‘you’re welcome,’ well, we say that, too

But we are more than genteel or civilized
We are an idea in the process of being realized
We are young, we are cultures strung together then woven into a tapestry
And the design is what makes us more than the sum totals of our history

We are an experiment going right for a change
With influences that range from A to Zed
And yes, we say ‘Zed’ instead of ‘Zee’

We are the colours of Chinatown and the coffee of Little Italy
We dream so big that there are those
Who would call our ambition an industry
Because we are vineyards of good year after good year
We reforest what we clear
Because we believe in generations beyond our own
Knowing now that so many of us
Have grown past what we used to be
We can stand here today
Filled with all the hope people have
When they say things like ‘someday’

Because we are more

Than a laundry list of things to do and places to see

More than hills to ski

Or countryside ponds to skate

We are the abandoned hesitation of all those who can’t wait
We are first-rate greasy spoon diners and healthy living cafes
A country that is all the ways you choose to live
A nation that can give you variety
Because we are choices
We are millions upon millions of voices
Shouting, keep exploring
We are more

We are the surprise the world has in store for you, it’s true
Canada is the ‘what’ in ‘what’s new’

So don’t let your luggage define your travels

Each life unravels differently

And experiences are what make up
The colours of our tapestry
We are the true North
Strong and free
And what’s more
Is that we didn’t just say it
We made it be”

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There’s a feeling… Part Two

It’s absolutely bucketing with rain here in Calgary today, but when the weather is dry, one of my favourite places to visit – and a ‘must’ if you’re visiting the city in summer – is Heritage Park. When we moved to Calgary I worked as a docent in the Park telling schoolchildren tales of the pioneer days. It was a wonderful way to learn and experience the history of this land. I even had the good fortune to meet the daughter of an early pioneer.  She was in her 80s at the time, and she and her family had moved to Alberta in the early part of the century from Chicago.  Her father had gone on ahead to build a house for the family who followed on several weeks later.  When they arrived, she recalled her mother just sat in the wagon for hours and sobbed.  They’d left a house with beautiful furniture and stained glass windows to live in a ‘soddie’, similar to the one in the photo below. Those early pioneers certainly had grit.

SoddieThere is so much to do and see here that you really need to spend the whole day in the park.  And there is something for everyone; original houses filled with history and stories, train and steam boats rides, an old fashioned fairground and lots of shops selling everything from little nick-nacks to gingerbread men and old fashioned candies.

Sweet shop

Another absolute city gem – which most Calgarians aren’t even aware of – is the Cantos Music Foundation. Situated in a red brick downtown office building, it holds a treasure house of keyboard instruments, some dating back almost 400 years.

Cinema organ

The picture above is only part of an old 1920s cinema organ. In the early days of silent films, the organist wasn’t just responsible for providing the musical accompaniment, but also for creating the necessary sound effects, and that’s what you can see lining the wall behind the organ. Absolutely fascinating.

Keyboard

The museum offers everything from harpsichords to the latest electronic keyboards. Sitting amongst all these beauties is the simple white upright piano on which Elton John wrote ‘Your Song’. On his last tour through Calgary he made a special visit to the museum to play on it once more.

As I said, an absolute treasure house for anyone interested in music.

There’s a feeling in the air…

The tradition within the North West Mounted Police on their March West across Canada in 1874 was that the Inspector establishing a fort was given the honour of naming it after himself. Therefore, when Inspector Brisbois arrived at the confluence of the Bow and Elbow rivers, he did just that. Unfortunately for him, Colonel James Macleod (his superior officer) suggested the name be changed to Calgary, after Calgary Bay, a place he’d visited on the Isle of Mull in Scotland. But maybe it was just as well. The Brisbois Stampede doesn’t have quite the same ring to it as the Calgary Stampede, does it? CalgaryBay CalgaryHouseWhen we first moved to Calgary, the skyline was sparse with the tallest building being the Calgary Tower. Now the tower is dwarfed by a forest of skyscrapers, and one of my favourite things to do is go to the bluff in Crescent Heights and watch the sun set on the city. The combination of city lights, setting sun and image of the mountains in the distance is magical. CalgarySkylineBack in the day, one of the local TV channels ran a great advertising spot which – to me – reflected the energy of this young city.  It looks a bit dated and hokey now, but the video still makes me smile.  Oh… and just recently, Calgary was voted the cleanest city in the world! Not bad for a city only 138 years old.