The Sunday Magazine

Everything you didn't know but were afraid to ask about 'O Canada'

Musicologist and broadcaster Robert Harris delves into the murky and unexpected origins of our national anthem.
(Adrian Wyld/Canadian Press)

Originally published on June 23, 2017.

Throughout 2017, musicologist and broadcaster Robert Harris and The Sunday Edition's host, Michael Enright, listened to and exchanged pieces of music that changed their world, and you shared your choices with us as well.

Here, we look back at a piece that changed Canada's world.

Robert Harris on O Canada

5 years ago
Duration 4:19
Robert Harris on O Canada

Harris presents a fascinating illustrated biography of the national anthem.

Here are a few fun facts about the song:

  • The opening bars of O Canada were plagiarized.
  • The song has its origins in French Canada, and was at first resolutely military in both tone and intent.
  • The words have changed many times over the years, and the debate continues.

Click 'listen' above to hear the piece, which originally aired in 2017. Audio is available only within Canada for copyright reasons.


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