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Sad News for Canada Day London

This time last year, I was texting the taller half at work to surprise him with the news that we were going to see one of his favourite bands play live in Trafalgar Square. We joined the hoards of maple leaf-wearing, Molson-swilling, poutine-scarfing Canadians in the centre of London for a evening of good, Canadian music from The Tragically Hip, who were the soundtrack of my Canadian university days. We made friends with the people all around us (because Canadians are awesome, friendly and don't avoid eye contact like Londoners), saw someone from my husband's hometown and had a brilliant night. Unfortunately, there will be no reprise this year.

Last year, we thought it was sad that the Spar on Haymarket had stopped serving Tim Hortons coffee and donuts so there was no Timmy's at the celebration, but this year...oh, this year, there is no celebration at all. Canada Day International who ran the annual event regretfully announced that, due to the loss of key corporate sponsors, there would be no Canada Day in Trafalgar Square this year. You can read their full statement here, but the gist is that it's sad, but there's nothing they can do...and it doesn't look good for next year either. They don't even mention another event until Canada's sesquicentennial in 2017 (that's the 150th anniversary). Insert gutted face here.

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I understand the complexities of annual days, particularly in colonised countries like Canada. First Peoples are still suffering because of the European invasion. I come from a country that was occupied, I've lived in two countries that were colonised, and benefited enormously from that colonisation, and I now have a good life in one of the countries that did an enormous amount of colonising. But I still like Canada Day.

I like it because it fights against just a little bit of that North America = America attitude. Canadians aren't perfect and their history is problematic, but Canada is, on the whole, a heck of country. It's beautiful, the people value politeness, the armed forces value peace keeping, they have universal healthcare and they have subsidised tertiary education. Sure, some Canadians are jerks - I know, I had a bad roommate once. Sure, their eco-friendly reputation gets a little weak when you look at the oil industry in Alberta. Maybe that claim to bilingualism is a little overstated. And worst of all, they still use those archaic British spellings - see my inconsistent spelling on this blog. But, all in all, they're giving it a good shot.

Also, have you ever been to a Canada Day celebration? It's a day when all the best of Canada is on show. Like I said: politeness, friendliness, sometimes you get a good representation of First Peoples' cultures, music, comedy, literature, so Molson's not great, but it's okay and there are some great microbrews (e.g. Fin du Monde), Timmy's is delicious and then there's the artery-clogging goodness of poutine. Oh, Canada. Well done.

Happy Canada Day!

PS: For those of you who found this post because you searched for "Tim Horton's in London" - The Spar on Haymarket, which used to have a small takeaway counter of Timmy's coffee and a limited selection of donuts is still there, but no longer carries Timmy's. I have heard a rumour of a Tim's in Canary Wharf, but have never had this confirmed. There are, however, several petrol/gas stations in Ireland with the beautiful brown logo in their windows.