What best defines Canada for you ...a place, an event, a person?


Canada Day on Cross Country Checkup: 
It's the day Canadians get to wave the flag and beat the drum for the country they have no reserve about loving ..but sometimes have difficulty defining.
How do you define a country ...by its geography, or its people and accomplishments?
What best defines Canada for you ...a place, an event, a person?
With guest host Suhana Meharchand.

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Make no mistake about it, today is Canada Day. It's a day to celebrate our country, and also to reflect upon it. On Cross Country Checkup today we want to talk about Canada ...about what it means to you ...and how you define it ...in your own mind, in a personal way.

How do you think about it? Do you think of particular geographic places like the Prairies, the Rockies or the North ...or perhaps just the view out your own window? Do you think of certain events ..big events, such as the War of 1812 ...Confederation or the repatriation of the constitution? Maybe you think about certain people whether they be historical such as John A MacDonald and Laura Secord ...or cultural like writer Margaret Laurence and inspirational such as Terry Fox ..or even Sydney Crosby.

Canadians are perhaps better known for understating their love of country ....but that has been changing. Flag waving here is becoming more common ...and more vigorous.

Patriotism brings together a complicated set of emotions and a range of different experiences ...but sometimes it can also be found in the small things in life ...the little reminders that you are content being where you are, surrounded by the people you know, in the landscape or cityscape that you love. We want to tap into some of those details today.

If it's geography that moves you, Canada has an overabundance: from the wind-blown shores of Georgian Bay with the kind of scenery made famous in paintings by the Group of Seven ...to the prairies' endless horizon and a sky that takes over your imagination. Or it might be the Rocky mountains with their impossibly white sharpened peaks and bottomless verdant valleys. Go north to the pristine tundra flatlands ...or east to Atlantic Canada where history merges with the sea and all that it holds. Marvel at the pastoral beauty of Quebec framed by the Canadian Shield and carved by magnificent rivers. Tell us what corner of the country stirs your heart.

If it's history, with it's marvellous harvest of people, events, and symbols, there is lots to choose from there too. The War of 1812 is being highlighted this Canada Day because this is its bicentennial year. This year is also the 30th anniversary of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Do they make you proud? Maybe it's something more recent that reveals who we are, such as the response of the citizens of Gander, Newfoundland and Halifax to the forced landing of so many planes bound for the US during the 9/11 attacks ...or the outpouring of support for the Manitoba floods.

Perhaps it's people that have inspired national pride in you? From world figures to national figures to countless un-named local community leaders ...they come from every corner of this vast country. If there is one that inspires you and makes you think 'that is us', then let us know.

Our question today: "What best defines Canada for you ...a place, an event, a person?"

I'm Suhana Meharchand, on CBC Radio One, and on Sirius satellite radio channel 159, this is Cross Country Checkup.


  • Dr Adam Chapnick
    Deputy director of education at the Canadian Forces College in Toronto and an associate professor of defence studies at the Royal Military College of Canada.

  • Susan Aihoshi
    Author Torn Apart: The Internment Diary of Mary Kobayashi, Vancouver, British Columbia, 1941.

  • Sarah Ellis
    Governor General Award winning children's author and writer of A Prairie as Wide as the Sea - The Immigrant Diary of Ivy Weatherall, Saskatchewan 1926 and That Fatal Night: The Titanic Diary of Dorothy Wilton, Halifax, Nova Scotia, 1912 in the Dear Canada series.

  • Julie Lawson
    Award winning author of "No Safe Harbour: The Halifax Explosion Diary of Charlotte Blackburn, Halifax 1917." and "A Ribbon of Shining Steel -The Railway Diary of Kate Cameron, Yale, British Columbia, 1882"



National Post

The Globe and Mail


Ottawa Citizen

Halifax Chronicle Herald

Citizenship and Immigration Canada




I am so proud to be Canadian. There are so many to thank for our freedom; there is so much to be grateful for in our country.  The one thing that would make me prouder is for people who have made promises many years to keep them. People in our country should not be hungry especially our young. Let us all, especially those who have multi-million dollar salaries feed  mind, body and soul.  Happy Canada Day one and all let's fly the flag everyday!

Ironville, Nova Scotia


Happy Canada Day to all!
Today I am grateful to CBC for giving me a front row seat to all the Canada Day Festivities.  I came down with the worst cold in years on Friday afternoon so I have been housebound for the past two days having to give up all my plans for the weekend.  But no need for sorrow because CBC radio given me two days of stellar programming to remind me of the many reasons I am proud to be Canadian. Thanks for being a friend.

Ellie Munn
Toronto, Ontario


Hearing you talking with the current guest about what the maple leaf means to us reminds me of something that made me proud to be Canadian. In April, we were waiting for our baggage at Gatwick Airport in London when a young woman approached me and asked if I would mind keeping an eye on her bag while she watched for another one to come along on the carousel. Of course I agreed and then she gestured towards my backpack, which had a prominent Canadian flag decal on it and said, 'I knew if I could find someone with a Canadian flag on their bag that I could trust them to take care of mine.'

Brenda Skinner
Madoc, Ontario


To me, Canada is my history.  My great-grandparents (and their parents) who lived and worked in rural Ontario (near Leeds, Ontario of today)  Sadly, they left Canada to emigrate to the U.S.  in 1868 (just after Confederation)--for what reason, I'll never know.  I like to come "home" as often as possible, and I listen to CBC via Sirius Radio wherever we travel.

Pat Carrie Smith
Sandspit, British Columbia


Happy Canada Day!

I am listening to CBC Radio online, and can certainly have the festive and exciting feeling about Canada Day.
I am writing from SF Bay Area, California about my thoughts about Canada.  From May 26 to 28, 2012, I visited Vancouver, BC by myself to attend a conference, hosted by Disability Resource Network of BC.  This was my first trip to Canada, and absolutely became one of the best experiences in my life.  When I was having a cup of coffee, series of great memories of my trip came to my mind: signing up for this conference with happy feeling; preparing for my first Canada trip with nervous, but exciting feeling; arriving at YDR for the first time; taking Sky Train by myself from YDR to Downtown Vancouver; taking bus from City Center Station to the hotel; meeting with a very nice lady on the bus and she got off the bus with me and took me to the hotel; getting used to my hotel room; walking around the neighborhood of the hotel with my white cane and Braille GPS machine; having a nice dinner; taking a bus to UBC to listen to the concert; and of course, meeting wonderful people and learning valuable information about people with disabilities, to name a few.  Also, I enjoyed beautiful flowers and fresh air of Vancouver.  As a person with visually impaired, this trip definitely made me a great confidence to become adventurous and travel independently.  Moreover, I was able to find out different systems, services, rights, as well as education for people with disabilities in BC.  I thought Vancouver is a very disability friendly city and I was blessed to meet very helpful and warm people. 

Although I am not physically in Canada, Canada means so much to me and now, I truly feel like I have a strong and special connection, I decided to write my thoughts and I would like to do my own celebration today for Canada's 145th birthday. 

Thank you very much for letting me share my thoughts, and I wish you a very happy Canada Day!

Very Best Regards,
Yuki Nagasawa
San Fransico, California


Hello. The event which defines Canada in the mind of this longtime frequent American visitor to Canada (who also has family relatives in suburban Toronto) is the twilight of the summer season's annual C.N.E., Canadian National Exhibition, especially the C.N.E.'s well manicured, immaculately arranged horticultural exhibits. For people-watcher types, like this writer, The C.N.E. (few seem to call it by its lengthier name) is also an annual exhibit to the World of the  social rainbow quality of Canadian Society, that pass through the various C.N.E. fairgrounds exhibit buildings. The multicultural look and character of canadian society at the C.N.E., to my thinking, is  rather like the varied appearance of the vibrant floral arrangements abundantly on display at the annual Canadian National Exhibition. The C.N.E. fairgrounds is a physical landmark contained within the larger physical landmark of the architecturally dramatic Downtown Toronto skyline, visible across Lake Ontario to this American visitor to Canada, especially from a certain vantage point as one drives along the "Old Roosevelt Highway" (New York State Route 18) from home here in Rochester, N.Y., approaching the Village of Wilson, N.Y., on the way to Toronto to visit the C.N.E.

Mark  A. Nadrowski
Rochester, New York


I am a new Canadian and even I am struggling to find a job and currently working as security guard, I love Canada. I travel around the world speaking at international conferences, and still working on my dream in Canada, I love Canada. I give advising to governments in Latin America on security issues, and still struggling here, I love Canada. I will achieve my dreams because I am in Canada, my loving country.

Johan Obdola
Edmonton, Alberta


A Canadian by choice,  I immigrated here in 1981 from the state of Louisiana.  Two things define Canada for me, and those two things are based upon how they distinguish us from the United States.  First, there is bilingualism.  Coming from a Louisiana Cajun background where laws were passed to eradicate the French language and where we were made to feel ashamed for speaking French, the fact that my children can attend French schools is something that my grandparents could only have dreamed of.  The fact that my grandparents' language is still spoken and written in our family is only because we are in Canada.  The second thing is our wonderful form of government.  Our constitutional monarchy is something that many Americans secretly envy and when we see the Queen as she exemplifies virtues and courage that most of us could only hope to emulate, we realize that Canada is bigger than any politician or party, that our history goes back hundreds of years and that we are an important part of a greater whole in the history of western civilization and of the world in general.  How privileged we are to live in this great country called Canada!

John Thavenot
Deux-Montagnes, Quebec


Happy Canada Day from Duncombe, Iowa U.S.A.!
As I am listening to the comments on Cross Country Checkup, there is a lot of love today of you, our neighbours to our north. Your program offers a unique insight on the minds of Canadians about what makes the nation tick. I can tell there it a lot of celebrating on this 145th birthday today. With the power of the internet, I enjoy spending Sunday afternoons with you. Happy Birthday Canada! All my best wishes!
Pat Powers 
Duncombe, Iowa


A great Canada day from beautiful Alert Bay BC! We've just finished the first annual dog (mountain bike) race; a great success by any standard with cyclists from all over coming to join in. The proceeds going to the animal control for the island and the prizes being provided by some our local first nations carvers. The junior rangers (with a little help from the LIONS), were handing out birthday cake and everyone was smiling and awaiting the first bikers to return. Later I'll be attending a retirement BBQ for a few of our BC Ferries engineers. Al in all, an awesome Canada day.

Casey Chapman
Alert Bay, British Columbia


Canada, for me, is a place of discovery. I've traveled down so many roads in various provinces, yet I keep discovering new wonders; beautiful towns on the south shore of Nova Scotia, a new trail in the Cape Breton Highlands, or beautiful green fields on Prince Edward Island. I am just in love with the physical landscape of our country. It is truly something national, as varied as the natural landscapes get across the provinces and territories.

Renee Doucet
Nova Scotia


From those that have traveled from outside our borders along with all those born and bred Canucks, each and every one of whom help make this vast land truly the best country to live in anywhere in the world, today more than ever may we all keep in the forefront of our minds the responsibility and obligation that we have as citizens to keep Canada true - north - strong and free! Happy 145th Birthday from Waterloo, Ontario, thanks so much.

Naomi Furmston
Waterloo, Ontario


I am writing this from the most westerly capital in Canada, Whitehorse, Yukon. My Canada is the fact that we have devolved from little ethnic communities all over this  expanse of land from Cape Spear Newfoundland/Labrador to Beaver Creek, Yukon Territory to be as inclusive as any expectations our forefathers had 145 years ago. I have had the opportunity to leave the most exquisite Yukon and drive to Newfoundland and back, staying off Highway 1 as much as possible. It took 15,000 kilometres just to get to Cape Spear and another 9,000 plus to get home, including a ferry ride through the Inside Passage. This is a rare and sometimes desolate country and I don't wonder anymore at what immigrants thought about this place upon arrival many years ago. I have had the privilege of getting to compare our home to those of other nations and wouldn't trade this for any other place. I would like to recommend inside Canada travel to all Canadians, summer or winter, as we have the most spectacular scenery and the most welcoming of people. I wonder that our history hasn't evolved with us. I think mainly because we are "just" Canadians and our contributions to the world are somewhat taken for granted by us all. We have such a great history of worldly contributions and we fail to pass this on. I am proud to be Canadian of immigrant stock but always Canadian, no other ethnicity required.  Happy Canada Day. Bon Fete.

Florence (Edberg) Roberts
Whitehorse, Yukon Territory


A gorgeous sunny day at Spruce Meadows.  Eric Lamaze won the West Canadian Cup and as the Male Leaf Flag rose the whole crowd sang O Canada  What a way to celebrate this amazing country.

George B Brookman
Calgary, Alberta

is a constant process of becoming
free of jingoistic claims
or the need to be 'the greatest' anything
mildly in love with our history
high and our land and our people
we're as uncomplicated as a brand new morning
and just as wonderful.

Bonne Fete mon cher Canada, je t'adore!

Montreal, Quebec


I love Canada because we are still a country of "good faith." We mostly bargain in good faith, argue in good faith, plan and decide in good faith. One indicator that we usually act in good faith is how surprised and upset we are when someone does not. As Canadian as possible in the circumstances, we work in practice but not in theory. That is, we act in good faith.

Holly Nelson


I am really enjoying your program on this, Canada's 145 birthday  One of my favourite things about being Canadian is, teaching my grade 2s about our great country: the names of the provinces and territories and their capitals, the 3 oceans that flank our shores.  I love to see their responses when we learn about various Canadian symbols: the flag, the RCMP, the mountains, the prairies,  nature, wild animals to name a few. Teaching  about our divers populaiotn and where we all come from is so inspirational.My students love learing about Canada and I love teaching them about our true  north strong and free.

Beatrice Vandenbosch
Surrey, British Columbia


One needs to remember the help the folks for Boston offered and then durring 9/11 the assistance the folks of Gander NF gave.  Opening up the way they did I think is what we are about.

Peter Smurlick
Dundas, Ontario



I spent five months in the Occupied Terrietoies of Palestine last year. I witnessed the sufferings of an Occupied  population  who were living without protection of the rule of law. Upon returning to Canada, I experienced problems with Revenue Canada arising from the fact that I was away when  certain information was required. My letter of explanation to them included my appreciation of the fact that in my Country when problems arose, I had the priviledge of being able to appeal to our government institutions to sort things out.

Patricia Mercer
St. Johns, Newfoundland


I think what sets Canada apart from many other countries is the way we are able to laugh at ourselves.  I think of all the smart, sharp, insightful shows, such as the Royal Canadian Air Farce, Ici Farce Canada! Wayne & Shuster for the old folks, Rex Murphy, The great Canadian laugh-up festival in Montreal, Just for Laughs, Juste pour fire, Stuart McLean's humour, Stephen Leacock, Let's make a list...

Suzanne Mooney
Ottawa, Ontario'


What defines Canada for me are our many multicultural communities.  There is a large Indian and Pakistani community in our neighbourhood and they hold an annual celebration on July 1st in our local park.  I just strolled over and enjoyed looking at the stalls of saris and scarves and bangles and bought a few samosas.  There were some young people singing songs from their country on the stage.  As I was walking home, I heard them singing our national anthem.  This moved me very much.  I admire these lovely people and their courage at making a new home in Canada.  They contribute enormously to our community.

Rachel Ellis
Toronto, Ontario


I am a US citizen and a Canadian citizen and have lived in both countries about half each. To me the US is a country based on government for the protection of the individual and Canada is a country based on government for the protection of the people. The difference is subtle but very important. Neither does it perfectly, many of the results would be the same if they did, but I prefer the results of the imperfect Canadian to the results of the imperfect US.

Dan Merritt
Key West, Florida

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