The Sunday Edition

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

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

This piece with Robert Harris was originally broadcast in 2017. Enjoy the clip by clicking 'listen' above.

All this year, Robert Harris and Michael Enright have been listening to and exchanging pieces of music that changed their world, and you have shared your choices with us as well.

For our last show of the season, we thought we'd look at a piece that changed Canada's world.

Robert Harris on O Canada 4:18

Robert presents a fascinating illustrated biography of the national anthem. Here are a few fun facts:

The opening bars of "O Canada" were plagiarised. 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. We can only make the audio available within Canada for copyright reasons. 


To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.