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all rise for the national anthem


some of you may have gotten sucked into watching the olympics recently, or at least have been exposed to some vitriolic coverage of the games currently taking place in vancouver.

many of you may not be familiar with canada, since we are a somewhat quiet nation, thought of (in some circles) as perhaps a bit dull or slow, especially compared to our rather dynamic neighbour to the south.

so many of you may not know that canada is the second largest country by area in the world, or that we are home to the second largest french-speaking city in the world. or that canada was the unlikely site of the largest pre-atomic explosion in world history. likewise, you may not have heard that in the one war fought between canada (then a british colony) and her neighbour to the south, that we not only defended ourselves admirably, but marched south and sacked the capital. (we probably wouldn't try this again nowadays. of course nowadays, if the americans burned toronto, a lot of canadians would probably bring them gas cans and kindling. (the country's odium towards its largest city is another thing about canada that seems to remain a national secret.)

the battle that raged around washington inspired an american by the name of francis scott key to pen a hopeful little poem called "the defence of fort mchenry" when he saw that the tattered flag of his young nation had survived a brutal assault on chesapeake bay by the british navy.

canada's own national anthem is a bit of a mystery, with its oddly ungrammatical lyrics, its self-deprecating humour and its melody, which demands to be sung at such volume that no sober human can hope to do it justice. whereas other national anthems project gravitas and pride, ours is simply one more of the strange bonds that ties our unwieldy country together.

ladies and gentlemen, please rise for the lyrics of "o canada":

O Canada
Your home’s on native land
True pastry love
That all of us command
With glowing hearts
We seethe and rise
The true north song we freed
Flung far and white
On cannonballs
We stand on carts and freeze
Cod feed our land
Glory of the seas
O Canada
We stand on God for thee
O Canada
We stand on God for thee!

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