1497 and So On: A History of White People in Canada
The Caucasian Healing Fund
by Kevin D. Annett
(a clearly disloyal Canadian)
In the Way of a Premable: An Apologetic, which we’re so good at
Canadians are odd people, and I should know, being one myself: odd, I mean. I’m not really a true blue Canadian, obviously, since I’m daring to write all this stuff.
Canadians apologize when they’re the ones being bumped into. And while participating in massive protests, no matter how militant, as a group they will always wait for traffic signals to become green before they cross the street. And they turn away in embarrassment or look uneasy whenever voices are raised or a dispute breaks out, even when they agree with what’s being argued.
The world thinks Canadians don’t exist, except as cliches like bright coated Mounties. And that’s because we actually dont, since we’re too insecure of ourselves to dare to actually be. After all, when was the last time your wife said to you,
“Honey, let’s go have some Canadian food tonight?”
Well darn it, eh! There’s a heck of a good reason for being such nothingness, and it’s rooted in that past we’re never taught about because if we really knew where we come from and what little shites gave us birth, then sacre bleu! We might have to revolt or something, even though we wouldn’tdare to. Be revolting, that is.
Regardless, herein lies an antidote to ourselves: precisely that hidden history of what brought about Johnny and Susie Canuck. And my cheeky little tome is replete with anecdotal goodies you’ve never even heard of, like the fact that John Eh MacDonald, the first Canadian prime minister, used to actually vomit all over his political opponents.
So hold on to your hockey stick there, boyo. And read on. But be warned! To quote a gay Irishman named Oscar Wilde who definitely wasn’t like a Canadian,
“Whoever looks beneath the surface of things does so at his own risk.”
Shit, now I’ve done it: I said “risk”. Now most of you Canucks won’t read any further.
In the Beginning
John Cabot stumbled across Canada accidentally. And he wasn’t even an Englishman although he called himself one.
That about says it all, when it comes to being Canadian.
Legend has it that, beset by a shrewish wife and nagging creditors, Cabot the Breton fisherman took off and got as far from home as he could in an English sloop, until one day he found himself stuck in a shoal of cod fish a hundred miles wide.
Somehow back in England King Henry (not the wife killer, but his Dad) found out about all those fish, and he promptly granted John Cabot title to the cod as well as to anybody’s land he found. (That follows, doesn’t it?)
Such behind the scenes land grabbing was an old trick, of course, that King Hank had borrowed from a papist bastard called Pope Alexander VI. In 1493 Big Al told everyone that he owned the entire world because God apparently said so, and naturally they all believed it, since everybody was still catholic back then, supposedly.
Pope Alexander actually was a completely debauched slob and a hit man for the Borgia family, one of the big mobs in Italy. He also had thirteen mistresses and fathered a child off his own daughter Lucrezia Borgia, thereby proving his moral superiority to all those heathen savages in the New World. But that’s a pig of a different color, as they say, and besides, let’s not upset the McNally children before their first communion.
Meanwhile, out west, John Cabot and his merry crew of sex starved, small pox laden civilizers did a return voyage and followed all those cod fish until they hit the shores of what’s now Labrador, where they found a bunch of obliging and peaceful brown people called Beothuks waiting for them on the beach.
Captain John was invited to kiss the local Beothuk Indian chief, which he did, and then he promptly ordered the guy’s murder. Apparently, John just couldn’t tolerate the chief’s outrageous Newfy accent.
Actually, none of the Beothuk people hung around for too long to kiss anymore of the Europeans, but resettled themselves somewhere else so effectively that none of them were ever seen again, leaving the land wide open and Terra Nullius for the Civilizers.
Word got back to King Hank that there were no Spaniards in sight in the new land, so his delighted Royalness gave John Cabot the green light to keep heading west, young man, brown people be damned, which they pretty much ended up being.
Maybe it was all those fish sticks he had to eat, or the down home spoon-playing manner of life in Newfoundland, but Captain John never made it much further than the island, relinquishing the discovery of all the other savages (not us, but them) to guys like his countryman Jacques Cartier. Or maybe those two wily frogs just made a deal to outsmart les Anglais.
Anyway, Jacques Cartier showed up years later down the coast at the mouth of a mother of a river that he mistook to be the oceanic passageway to China. People see what they want to see, right? So naturally, Jacques was annoyed as hell to come across more brown skinned people who couldn’t speak French. Whipping out his cannons, which had been blessed by the obliging on-board priest, Monsieur Carrtier bombarded the Indian villages with bits of iron, glass and stones: a practice known in Catholic church circles as “administering canon (get it?) law”.
The survivors of this holy canon-ade got the message and offered no resistance to what is commonly known as Conversion, and soon they were all grovelling and genuflecting to idols and praying to imaginary saints when they weren’t picking smallpox scabs off their kids’ faces.
Jacques Cartier was actually quite the sentimentalist, being French. Commenting on his new little- while friends, the seafarer wrote,
“They are a people utterly unconcerned with wealth, and they share what they have with one another freely and naturally. Although they have not five Sous between them they are well fed and happy, and do no harm to anyone. They are far better Christians in that sense than are many of my own countrymen.”
Naturally, such real life examples of Jesus Christ posed an obvious threat to the Roman Catholic church, and they had to go. So none of those Christ-like brown people hung around for long, either.
But before the Indians passed on to where aboriginal converts to “the Faith” seem to always end up, one of the natives stupidly showed Jacques the pelt of a cute, furry little creature, and the Frenchman suddenly saw big Sous signs all over the place.
The fur trade was on.
A couple of centuries and a million or so dead brown folks later, Madame de Pompadour – one of French King Louis’ favorite bed buddies – made the snooty remark,
“Canada exists solely to provide me with furs”
That pretty much summed things up, although Pompy the Romper left out the necessary religious rationales provided by her fellow fur trading monopolists, the Jesuits, whose gun-running and alcohol-dispensing priest Jean de Brebeuf aptly said, before being barbecued slowly to death by some pretty pissed-off Iroquois guys,
“We must govern this country only according to what is of service to the Catholic Faith and the Fur Trade, obliterating both the heretic and the savage”.
Holy Inquisition, eh Batman? But actually, things were not all bad, despite the creepy little Black Robes. The French did learn how to play hockey and lacrosse from the brown people who were still around, and went on to excel as NHL goaltenders and inventors of muffins and the snowmobile.
So actually, I guess, no, things really were pretty bad.
Nevertheless, not content to let anything remain French, the Brits promptly showed up in Canada in a big way soon after Jacques Cartier shuffled off to that big shooting gallery in the sky.
By the year 1600 or so, the Poms arrived from south of that border that still wasn’t there, where they had been warring in their own New England colony and killing off Indians with funny names like the Pequots and Narragansetts by making them eat cold, greasy food and preaching to them a very dry kind of Puritanism.
The tight-assed Anglos also prevented any of the local brown skins from having sex, since that kind of thing can easily lead to dancing. Or did I get the order right?
Naturally, the French couldn’t tolerate seeing such austere aesthetics imposed on the heathens, and so they decided to go to war over it.
Okay, so I lied.
Of course the big fight was really about who controlled the mega profits of the fur trade, which worked like this: the Indians did all the hunting and trapping and skinning of the beavers, and in return were given a mirror or a knife for a hundred beaver pelts. The European traders then sold the pelts to companies set up by some royal fop somewhere who garnered an average 1000 per cent profit or something ridiculous like that for doing nothing more than being a fop.
Sound fair to you?
Naturally, anybody who tried chiseling in on this mobster action got the business end of a bayonet pretty quickly.
This was commonly known as Civilizing the Wilderness, or in later days, “free enterprise in action”.
The Frenchies liked the Huron Indians because they seemed to welcome Catholicism, when in fact they just appreciated the free communion wine which was so much better than the cheap grape juice the Prohibition Puritans pushed.
The Brits, contrarily, sided with the Iroquois because they went to war so much and had really macho chiefs with cool war clubs the size of a Scotsman’s pudenda. So each side armed their own Indians for a battle to the death over who would get to kill and skin all those cute little beavers.
The Hurons lost, which is why you don’t see any of them selling cigarettes on southern Ontario Indian reservations nowadays.
Well, the Brits were feeling pretty smug about the whole thing, as usual, having whipped their old enemies Les Francais once again. But just then a revolution broke out back in Old Blighty and the dour Puritans chopped off King Charles’ empty head and got embroiled in a big civil war, thus giving the Frenchies a breathing space.
So the fight for who would run Canada went on and on.
Inter Imperial Memo: September 1, 1749
Port Royal, Nova Scotia
From Governor Charles Lawrence
To King George Number Whatever, London
About this little matter of the blankets.
General Geoff Amherst is really getting on my bunions.
Not content with banging every Mic Mac Indian maiden he can lay his grubbies on, he’s now ordered Major Bouquet, who’s no fragrant bed of roses himself, to grab all the blankets off his troops who are knocking off from smallpox, and send the stuff as presents back with his pregnant Mic Mac girlfriends when they wander home to their villages.
Now I appreciate a practical joke as much as the next man, but this disease is no respecter of skin color. The smell from across the river is getting to be too much. And we’ve had smallpox scabs ending up in our lunch buckets and drinking mugs. This has really got to stop!
Will you talk to the Amherst lad? He is distantly related to you I think, and he has big plans to name some colleges and towns after himself someday, and have his portrait in London art museums. Like, we’re so impressed over here, especially when he gets his wig in a tangle whenever I even suggest that he lay off all his Mic Mac Whacking.
So anyway Majesty, good luck with all that, and with your English lessons.
p.s. I’ve enclosed the latest law that I just signed into effect authorizing a pound sterling for every Mic Mac scalp the boys bring in. Two pounds for the women. It’s sure bucked up morale around here. I just hope it stays on the books.
(Editor’s note: It has)
The Seven Years War over Nothing, Really
The German Georges never did master the English language, although they sat on the British throne for well over a century.
George No. 3 was the worst of the lot: a nasty, bigoted little creep who was also a complete nutbar who wandered the halls of his London palace at night screaming orders in German to imaginary people. No wonder he lost the American colonies, eh?
To make matters even worse for the Brits, the furs from Canada were running out by 1756, and those uppity English colonists around Boston were talking about their unalienable rights and threatening to dump all the imported British tea into the ocean, making it quite undrinkable, even for Americans. So the Crown needed something to get everybody to forget about their nutty King and unite around God and Country again, and so bingo! Wag the Dog!
Along came The Seven Years War.
The French lost that one, big time. They ended up surrendering most of the land they’d stolen to Les Roti des Boeufs, in places like India and the Caribbean. Sacre bleu, eh? Pas de Empire! And then to top off their bad luck streak, a few years later, their own King Louis got his head chopped off, too, by more revolting masses.
Not the best of times for French imperialists. But to quote my grandfather, who cares about the fucking frogs, anyway?
Canada went officially British after that, to the eternal ruination of the sexual and intellectual life of most Canadians. And jolly old Quebec remained an enclave for poodles, priests and outrageous accents. But America went officially un-British thanks to help from the French and their navy who really kicked Limey butt, so things sort of evened out, which is kind of nice and fair, isn’t it? Very Canadian.
Now that a border existed next to Canada, lots of immigrants starting showing up, running away from life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness down south. They called themselves the United Empire Loyalists, but the Yanks had a less complimentary name for them. Fearing political freedom and happiness, they sought out Canada, and built a society there quite free of both.
All these newcomers started seriously crowding out those Indians who weren’t rubbed out by then, so the redskins were given by a beneficent Crown the kind of choice Empires love to offer their targets: surrender or die. Quite sporting, when you think of it: giving the savages a choice, like that. Well done, I say.
But remnants of Indians were only some of the headaches facing the Brits. A few Anglican Bishops, colonial governors and fat merchant bankers ran the country (hey, just like now!), which they’d divided into Lower Canada (being filled with French, hence, lower) and Upper Canada (where the Anglos gathered, as in, over and above).
This little clique of governing fops was derogatorily known as The Family Compact, especially by their political nemesis, a bald little Scotsman with a fiery tongue and atrociously bad manners named William Lyon MacKenzie.
Let me bow out briefly and allow my Dad, Bill Annett, to tell this tale, in an extract from one of his works entitled:
Canada: Rebels with No End of Causes by William S. Annett
Just when most Canadians thought there wouldn’t be any more wars, two rebellions were held in 1837, one in Toronto and of course, a similar one of equal time in Montreal.
It’s important to note that the 1837 uprising was led by a diminutive Highlander named William Lyon MacKenzie, who usually wore an outrageous red wig. He and his rebels faced a formidable opponent in the person of Sir Peregrine Maitland, a corpulent aristocrat who pretty well ran all of what was then Canada, stretching from at least Yonge street to the farmlands a hundred miles west of Mimico.
The whole colony or country was owned by a few families called The Family Compact who bore little resemblance to modern-day Conservatives, other than that they were inbred, narrowly imperialistic and read nothing but the Globe and Mail and the Bible, not to mention being intolerant of what at that time passed for a Liberal party.
On second thought, perhaps they did bear some resemblance to modern-day Conservatives.
They also ran the Church – of which only the Anglican variety was allowed to operate – and they owned most of the land, the banks, the law courts and what taverns there were in Toronto.
The farmers were routinely outraged, just as farmers are today over issues such as freight rates or ethanol prices. But they were joined by equally annoyed Quebecois who didn’t like living under a foreign king unless it was the King of France.
Upper and Lower Canada were ripe for revolution, and if a vote had been taken and included Indians and Quebec women, there would have been a landslide in favor of war, which was unusual for Canada. Unfortunately, the vote at the time was restricted to rich English speaking white men, similar to those who had forged the American Constitution.
Philip Annett, the great-great grandfather of the present writer, who was a farmer and blacksmith from rural Ontario, picked up the family flintlock and joined MacKenzie in this great endeavour, being an inspired nationalist. Actually, Philip’s wife was a bit of a battle axe, and he got out of the house as much as he could. When he left in 1837, his wife was angrier than ever, because he took the only gun they owned, leaving her defenceless against marauding Indians and Mormon missionaries. Perhaps intentionally.
Anyway, the rebels lost.
About the same time in Montreal, Louis-Joseph Papineau, who was a lawyer, offered to lead the rebellion there pro bono. He did a littler better than MacKenzie, defeating the British at the Battle of St. Denis. But in two successive battles over the following three weeks, the British disbursed the rebels and re-established the sovereignty of the Crown and North Toronto.
One of the more noteworthy facts about William Lyon MacKenzie was that he was crazy. As a result everyone, farmers and townspeople alike, considered him normal compared with the rest of Toronto at the time.
Little Mac, as he is sometimes referred to by historians, to distinguish him from Big Mac (the much later first Prime Minister, John A. MacDonald) began to store up – instead of treasures in heaven – gunpowder and muskets in his basement.
At the same time, Papineau, the Montreal lawyer, sent a lengthy brief to MacKenzie, deposing that, whereas he was prepared, notwithstanding or precluding the necessary legal formalities, and in no way limiting the generality of the foregoing, to act, promulgate and proceed, subject to it being – and deemed to being – the case that the time had come for hostilities.
In other words, if it pleased the court, he would move to strike.
Having no legal background and being five feet in height, Little Mac had both a lack of legal verbiage with which to respond and also an inferiority complex. Besides, he hated waiting for people, especially legally-trained French Canadians.
So Little Mac gathered a small army at a pub known as Montgomery’s Tavern, north of York. As it turned out, Sir Peregrine happened to own Montgomery’s Tavern along with every other bar in Toronto, so he was aware of Little Mac’s plans. Unfortunately or fortunately, Sir Peregrine had also learned of Papineau’s plot and had already dispatched all of his troops to Quebec.
The local armory stood open and unguarded, as was Sir Peregrine himself.
Little Mac immediately incited his troops to action, with the objectives of seizing the Governor, occupying Fort Henry, flying in the face of the Family Compact as well as the English monarchy, and declaring a Republic.
With Little Mac, they were led by a former Dutch army officer named van Egmond, who had fought with Napolean, and had been severely reprimanded for it. They had marched half way down Yonge street when, somewhere near Bloor street viaduct, they were suddenly confronted by a dozen or so figures approaching through the early morning mist.
This scant handful of locals had taken up arms to defend Sir Peregrine, the Crown and the established order. Now, confronting the rebels, they let go a volley of musket shot at the opposing farmers, and immediately turned tail and ran away.
Mackenzie’s men returned their fire, but then tragedy struck, snatching defeat, or at least stalemate, from the jaws of victory. Colonel van Egmond, in the best fusilier tradition, had ordered the front rank to kneel, providing the second rank with a simultaneous field of fire.
Unfortunately, the Colonel had not had the time to instruct the men in infantry tactics. Seeing the front rank drop, those in the second rank concluded that those in front had all been killed by the Tory fusillade. Immediately, most of Little Mac’s army turned and ran back in the direction of Unionville.
And that was pretty well the end of the Rebellion of 1837. Sir Peregrine’s government exacted a terrible revenge on the revolting Canadians by deporting 100 of them, sentencing them to life in Australia. That was judged to be a fate worse than capital punishment.
Two of the rebel leaders, Peter Matthews and Samuel Lount, were actually hanged, although MacKenzie managed to flee to the United States, which he viewed as marginally preferable to the gallows.
My ancestor Philip Annett somehow managed to escape and return to the farm, deciding that there are some things in the affairs of men worse than putting up with one’s own wife, however ballistic.
Canada was launched down a road over which historians are still divided, some viewing it as “law, order and good government under the Crown”, while others consider it a road of servile dependency. Still others say that the two descriptions amount to the same thing.
More Mac Attacks
For some odd reason, white Canadians prided themselves on their staunch Britishness even more after the aborted 1837 rebellion, and a silly conservative smugness and desire for afternoon tea descended on the people of what then comprised Canada.
Fortunately, all that banal Rule Brittania bullshit didn’t extend to the burgeoning territories west of those Great Lakes, a vast land peopled by Indians and a curious bunch of folks called the Metis (no, that’s not pronounced “metus”, you dumb yankees, but “may-tee”). The latter were mixed-blood buffalo hunters who were the offspring of Scottish and French trappers and Cree Indian babes doing what comes naturally during those long, cold prairie nights.
West of the Great Lakes was a huge unsettled territory in 1840, owned by nobody, except in the minds of a few London businessmen who possessed something called the Hudson’s Bay Company: one of the the biggest illegal land grabs in history, founded a century and a half earlier by a royal ripoff artist named Prince Rupert. (Hey, like, who the hell ever elected him?)
After disgracing himself back in England by helping lose the Civil War for his uncle, King Charlie the Brainless Who Became Headless, the young bozo Prince Rupert got handed millions of acres of other peoples’ lands in 1670 by his convenient cousin, King Charlie the Second, after the latter illegally restored the monarchy in England and vented his rage on those pesky Roundheads who’d chopped off his Dad’s head by having their corpses hanged and then burned (I kid you not). Yeah, that’ll teach ‘em, eh Chuck?
Okay, so “king” Charlie number two wasn’t the brightest light in the cosmos, but he did reward cousin Rupert with all that land. And the fucker wasn’t even a Pope! The vast stolen acreage stretched from Lake Superior to the Pacific Ocean, and was cheekily dubbed “Rupert’s Land”.
Wow. That’s a hell of a lot of buffalo dung, and millions of acres to boot: quite the reward for being a loser.
Anyway, after they’d hanged or deported the Republican rebels of 1837, the bankers and bishops in Canada East gazed longingly at all that land out west and, drooling like kids in a bakery, decided it all had to be British, too. So they promptly handed over those millions of acres to a single company – you guessed it, Rupert’s Hudson’s Bay Company. And then, as usual, they shipped some tight-assed Church of England missionaries out west to soften up and make stupid the savages and the half breeds.
For one thing, those western hombres were tough dudes who didn’t want to be converted, especially to Anglicanism, of all things, particularly since the first thing the English clergy ordered was for an end to any rolling in the hay or conjugals with Indian women. Ah, mangez la merde, couchons d’anglais!
Not surprisingly, it soon became open season on Anglicans around the central Metis hangout in what’s now Winnipeg, in no small part because Catholic missionaries were already out there stirring the pot. (Shit, those black robed pederast bastards do get around, don’t they?).
So naturally, all those half breed gunsights were quickly trained on the Canadian government as well, since Ottawa clearly no comprendoed the desires of the mostly French speaking Metis to be left alone with their Cree babes and buffalos. (Ouch. Did I say that right?)
Things went from bad to worse, and naturally, a little war broke out, which is always a good thing for bankers and politicians. The trouble for Les Anglais was that there was no fast way for them to get their troops out west, since the country lacked a national railroad.
Hmm. Did somebody say Problem – Reaction – Solution?
Enter the Canadian Pacific Railway, affectionately known as the Government On Wheels, since so many prime ministers and cabinet members of the new government were its lawyers and shareholders. Not like now. (Smirk)
Oh yeah, sorry, but I forgot to mention: during the on again, off again dispute out west, Canada was officially declared a nation by some more palid skinned rich guys, in 1867. But it wasn’t really Canada yet, just four eastern provinces, and boring ones at that: Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Quebec and Ontario.
Anyway, back to the Canadian Pacific Railway, the CPR. (No, that doesn’t mean Cardio Pulmonary Resucitation, although the CPR did revive the waning political fortunes of a soon-to-be named alcoholic and his odious minions).
The CPR needed lots of cash and land grants, of course, because, hell, all those fat financiers couldn’t spend any of their own money, for god’s sake! So enter the railway’s chief lawyer and lobbyist, John A. MacDonald (ta-da! remember, Big Mac?), a notorious drunkard and corporate bagman who also and just coincidentally of course became Canada’s very first Prime Minister!
Don’t you hate all this fucking predictability?
Well, to help out his bosses, Big Mac tried to foment a war right away with the western Metis through his agents and the ever-obliging Roman Catholic church, which has always loved to play both sides of the Game. And naturally, the Papists held their usual We Are God sway over the Metis gun toters.
But sadly for the back room boys, the war didn’t come off for some reason, much to the consternation of the CPR shareholders, who’d been promised rapid funding from the government once the war erupted. After all, those dashing red coated bullet catchers for the Bank of England needed railroad construction to get out west and save Canada from all the bearded and smelly Catholic Terrorists.
If you think that’s silly, there’s more.
In 1870, a zany prophet named Louis Riel emerged from out of the Metis hordes to proclaim a Provisional Government in Winnipeg consisting of woolly faced guys in slouched hats who definitely didn’t drink tea and read Chaucer.
Louis was only slightly Metis, as a matter of fact. Winston Churchill, whose very hot mother Jenny was a quarter Iroquois, actually had more aboriginal blood in him than did Monsieur Riel. I guess Louis was just another wannabee Indian who was in the right place at the right time, or something.
But to make the tale funnier, before Louis could lead his revolution in Winnipeg, he spent some time in a Montreal looney bin where he claimed to hear instructions directly from God, which of course didn’t make him a very good Catholic. And all those heavenly signals prepared him well for taking on the Crown of England, which of course is as equally demented as the Vatican.
For awhile, after proclaiming his Metis Republic, Louis Riel somehow solidified his power and outmanuvered Big Mac politically, and nearly toppled the new Canadian government. Looney Messiahs One, Corporate Drunkards Nothing! Mais oui! And Louis did all that even though he didn’t even speak English. Weird, eh? And not bad for a nuthouse inmate.
But don’t gloat yet. The Metis Provisional Government eventually got smashed, worse the luck, partly because the Metis soldiers who guarded Riel tended to wander off all the time in search of their babes and buffalos. (I know what you’re thinking, so stop it). Defenseless, an unrepentant Louis Riel got out of town one step ahead of the hangman (who eventually got him, but wait), and Law, Order and The Stiff Upper Lip moved in to set up shop in the Red River settlement.
The Metis bided their time, which is easy to do when your daily activity amounts to hunting, tossing buffalo dung and playing the fiddle. Louis Riel actually got himself elected to the Canadian Parliament after that by a disgruntled French electorate in Winnipeg, until the Ottawa cops tried arresting him for being so impertinent. They didn’t catch him, of course, since he ran away from the House of Commons faster than they did, proving that even back then, Canadian cops were fat, stupid and hung around in donut shops too much.
The pause between all these Metis shenanigans gave Big Mac and his CPR backers time to think, and plot. What we need, they muttered, is a Master Plan, like, you know, a way to lock up all those savages once and for all so we can build trading posts and cities and strip malls that sell shit.
I’ve got it! someone yelled (although probably not Big Mac, who was usually passed out drunk).
How about we do a law called the Indian Act (which is still around, by the way, just in case you holier than thou Canadians are tempted to feel smug), which makes every Indian and Metis, note, “wards of the state in perpetuity“: in other words, legal prisoners of that imaginary thing called “The Crown” forever.
That’s right, Mr. Numb Nuts Ph.D. expert: Forever.
And (continued the back room boys) how about a national military force to keep all the redskins in their place, called something like the Royal Mounted Police? And special concentration camps to isolate and make sick all those brown people, called Indian Reservations?
And – here was their real piece de resistance – let’s finish off all the brown peoples’ children with special “industrial schools” where the savage youngsters who survived (about half of them) could be turned into miniature British geeks at a tender age, and provide lots of after-hour fun for horny priests, as well.
And it all happened, right on schedule.
Enter the G word. That’s Genocide, boys and girls. A Canadian-style genocide.
Our home grown slaughter wasn’t a simple bang-bang extermination – that would have been much too impolite for Canadians, as well as inefficient. The Canadian Holocaust (sorry Myer, but you don’t own the term) amounted to a legal eradication of the Indians that ended up producing as many corpses as the American shoot up fest to the south.
By the time the western Metis revolted once again in 1885, all of those Indian-gutting laws had been approved by a compliant, lily-white Canadian Parliament. And yes, you guessed it: so had millions of bucks in interest-free grants to the CPR, and oodles of free land, to build the railway that would send the ready and waiting troops west in the next contrived war with the Metis, known as the Second Rebellion.
Big Mac had a Big Mouth and he couldn’t keep anything a secret, which of course comes with being a drunkard. No Alcoholics Anonymous back then. But MacDonald did have a good knack at comebacks. In a drunken state during an election campaign, Mac once threw up all over the stage where he was debating a political adversary, and without missing a beat, he exclaimed to the shocked crowd,
“You must excuse me, ladies and gentlemen, but whenever my worthy opponent speaks, I can’t help but become sick to my stomach!”
Big Mac used the same rhetorical skills to bamboozle the Canadian public to support the War against Terror out West, which of course was needed by a badly debt-plagued CPR. And he got a lot of help from Louis Riel himself, who had returned to Winnipeg by then with a zealot’s fire and incited the Metis to take up arms and arrest any settler who wasn’t with them – especially if he spoke English.
Naturally, the catholic church helped mess things up for the Metis. Under orders from Rome, a local Bishop named Tache did all he could to stir up and set up Riel by promising him backing from the church for his little revolt, but of course the backing never materialized.
One of the unlucky sods who raised Riel’s ire was a fervent Ulster Protestant (yeah, one of those guys, look out!) named Thomas Scott. He denounced the oath of allegiance to the second Provisional Metis Government demanded of all Winnipeggers, and not inaccurately saw catholic conspiracies under every bed. But being a boot boy Orangeman, Thomas Scott didn’t favour subtlety, and he publicly announced that he would personally take a musket shot at Louis Riel himself the next time he saw him.
Bad thing to say, boyo.
Scott was the one who was shot, naturally, on Riel’s direct order, and on trumped up charges. And that was exactly what Big Mac needed. The Second Metis war was on.
A whack of troops plus every red neck honky with a home made rifle soon climbed aboard the CPR and chugged west on those convenient new rail lines, cheered on by most Canadians outside of Quebec, where naturally everybody was rooting for Saint Louis Riel. Tabernac!
The entire government military contingent was led by an aging Colonel Blimp character pulled out of military retirement named General Thomas Middleton, who didn’t know his ass from an infantry training manual.
Defying all military logic, and in the manner of another not so brilliant strategist, General George Custer, Tom split his force into three columns in the face of an invisible enemy and chugged off into unexplored hostile territory without any hard intel. Once General Blimp got to Winnipeg, he set out into the wild west to hunt down Riel on horseback and foot.
Gee, can you guess what happened next, boys and girls?
Middleton and his unblooded troops got their collective Orange butt kicked almost immediately by the Metis sharpshooters, who tended to hit and run during the night when they weren’t picking off all those green Canadian recruits from a safe distance during their daytime marching. All of this caused General Middleton to go into a profound sulk that almost lost the government the war at the outset.
The Metis were led by a Che Guevara character of natural guerrilla warfare cunning named Gabriel Dumont: an enormous buffalo hunter who could take the smug look off a Brit at two hundred yards with his rifle that he affectionately called Le Petit. Gabe continually outgeneraled Middleton and made a bigger ass of the General than he already was, which was no small feat.
Unfortunately, Gabriel Dumont and Louis Riel didn’t see eye to eye on how to fight the biggest Empire in the world.
Riel, by then, was quite insane, being devoutly religious and the recipient of many cryptic and quite private messages from the Almighty, including, it seems, on how to do battle against the British. (Of course, we only have Riel’s word on that one, in the manner of any know-it-all priest or born again evangelical bunko artist who tells you, “Hey trust me! I’ve just spoken with the Big Guy!”)
Thus divinely inspired, Louis instructed Gabriel to cease his guerilla tactics and stage a face to face, “honorable” war against the cannons and gatling guns of the Brits because, well, God wants you to.
Um, yeah okay Louis, replied Gabe, who must have figured that advice that crazy had to come from heaven.
So the showdown that tested God’s ability as a military tactician happened at a little place in Saskatchewan called Batoche. The Metis soldiers, clearly not as impressed with Louis and God as Gabriel Dumont was, dug rifle pits rather than frontally attack the Brits, as Saint Louis kept ordering them to do.
Riel actually made a complete ass of himself during the battle, running around waving a cross and commanding the bullets to drop to the ground. They didn’t, naturally, but I guess you knew that.
On the other side, General Middleton still hadn’t overcome his lethargy and was so bored or demoralized, or both, that he didn’t even use his heavy ordinance against the scattered Metis riflemen. Instead, he actually sat in his tent and wrote letters home to his wife during most of the battle at Batoche.
But eventually, a pissed off junior government officer acted very un-Canadian by taking matters into his own hands and ordering a plucky bayonet charge against the Metis. Soon, the field was carried by Rule Britannia, undoubtedly to the stirring refrains from a nearby Gilbert and Sullivan chorus.
Louis Riel had chosen a martyr’s end by then, which may explain his weird behaviour during and after the battle. For rather than take off south with Gabriel Dumont and the Metis survivors, which he could have easily done since the Brits never mopped by the remnants, Riel immediately surrendered himself to General Middleton, who had finally emerged from his tent after the fighting was safely over.
Louis expected a divine intervention to vindicate him, but naturally it didn’t arrive. Clearly, the Metis Messiah still didn’t get the message: God is an Englishman, bozo! (Napolean said something similar when he noted, “God is on the side of the biggest battalions”, but he was another frog, so never mind).
Riel’s own lawyers argued in the kangaroo court set up to try him that the poor guy was clinically insane and so should be reprieved. But Big Mac and his big money buddies back east needed a corpse, what with an election coming up, and the verdict was already in. Besides, Riel helped his enemies once again by sacking his own lawyers and arguing that he was perfectly sane and deliberately treasonous to the “perfidious” Crown of England.
Eh bien, take that, you English pig dogs!
So that was that. Goodbye to Louis Riel: the first and unfortunately only Member of the Canadian Parliament ever to be hanged.
And just in case all you sauve history majors think that Canada finally outgrew the sentiments of that “dark chapter” of its history, the rope that lynched Louis was proudly displayed in a front hall glass case at the Royal Canadian Mounted Police headquarters in Regina until the spring of 2007, when trendy political correctness took over and had it removed from public view. (Although I hear it wasn’t destroyed, so nah-nah).
The big winners of the whole Metis Rebellion charade, of course, were the MacDonald Conservatives and their bed partners, the CPR shareholders.
Stuffed to their greedy little gills with all the cash and acreage they wanted, the Canadian Pacific Railway honchos went on to control most of the land around their rail lines, which reached the Pacific Ocean shortly after the rebellion was squashed. Handy, eh? And with all that land, CPR real estate companies ended up owning the best property and politicians in the Canadian west, and raking in their mega profits to the present day.
And that, of course, is what the whole thing was all about.
Canada Comes of Age, Sort of
Well, as you can imagine, all of that flag waving, railroad building bullshit swelled British patriotism enormously across the country, and every oddball with a Union Jack did his best to grab all that immensity for himself and kill off even more Indians … especially if those invading oddballs were missionaries.
In 1864, for instance, one Church of England cleric named Reverend John Sheepshanks personally wiped out most of the Chilcotin Indian nation in what became British Columbia by poking smallpox bugs into their arms, starting with the kids.
Pastor John just happened to also be a shareholder in the Hudson Bay Company’s subsidiary, the Puget Sound Land Company, that had illegally bought up all the Chilcotin land while all those particular brown people were still breathing. And so for securing all that land for his fellow shareholders, including “Crown” officials, the good Pastor got rewarded with a permanent seat in the House of Lords in London. He also became the Bishop of Norwich and undoubtedly gave great sermons about the love of Jesus.
But then again, being an Anglican, probably not.
The whole thing just makes one gosh-darn proud to be an Englishman, you know?
One Canadian prime minister who as far as I know wasn’t a drunkard, Wilfred Laurier, felt the same way, and around 1910 he declared,
“I am a British subject and shall always be one. That is my pride and my salvation”
Well good for you, Wilf. Now kiss my royal Irish ass.
The truth is that all those John Bull wannabees were so jingoistic after killing Louis Riel because they were scared shitless about the evil Yankees grabbing the west coast and more of “their” newly acquired territories. And knowing Americans, it wasn’t an idle fear. After the US civil war, politicians in Washington and all the Big Bucks behind them had been bandying about the slogan “Fifty Four Forty or Fight!”: that number was the latitude somewhere up near Alaska.
Of course, little colonies of Brits had stationed themselves with typical Albion Pluck all along the west coast of the continent as early as 1850, especially after massive coal deposits were found on Vancouver Island near what’s now Nanaimo (Hey, I live there!).
“Mine! Mine!” went up the cry from Whitehall and Ottawa, and not just over the coal deposits pointed out to them by an especially imprudent local Indian. All those massive old-growth cedar trees that are now long gone just cried out to constitute the hulls of Royal Navy warships. And so the CPR boys came in quite handy in getting more Brits with axes and saws out to the west coast in record-breaking time.
But before the railway linked east to west in 1886, Canadian politicians and businessmen had a lot of sleepless nights. How can we grab all of it? they wondered. Bingo! Around about 1880, they came up with the ideal solution: fill up the whole place with farmers and settlers!
Thus began the biggest flood of immigration in Canada’s history, once the CPR got their way and Saint Louis and the Metis had become hors de combat.
Suddenly, posters appeared all over the right parts of Europe – no Italians or Poles need apply, quite yet – inviting the unwashed, hungry masses of England and Scotland (and there were lots of them, thanks to the Industrial Revolution) to receive 160 acres of free land in the Canadian west, provided they camped out on it for a year.
None of the erstwhile immigrants knew anything about those bone-chilling prairie winters, of course; or even worse, about what tedious conversationalists Canadians tend to be. Nevertheless, soon enough little towns with cute Anglo-Saxon names were popping up all over the land formerly inhabited by Crees and Metis: a tidy bulwark of Englishness erected against guys with Tennessee accents, and everybody else as well.
And speaking of the Bloody Railway …
My great grandfather Daniel O’Neill got killed by the Canadian Pacific Railway, by the way. His employer.
Grandpa Dan almost got snuffed a lot earlier than his final 43 years of age, however, when as a ten year old he and his whole family got the Royal Treatment back in the old country and were tossed off their ancestral land in Ireland and got loaded starving and sick onto death trap vessels, courtesy of Queen Victoria the Opium Dealer. (Hold on, I’ll get to her).
Grandpa Daniel was the only one of his clan to survive the great genocide called An Gorta Mor, or The Great Hunger: the deliberate starving out of three million Irish and their expulsion from their land.
During their sea voyage to Canada, my great grandfather’s parents and siblings all died from typhus, malnutrition and other accidental acts of God care of the British Crown. I figure I have a whack of ancestors on the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean or in the mass grave of the Irish at Grosse Isle in the St. Lawrence river. But Dan endured, if one does actually survive such a thing; and after disembarkation, he was adopted out to some family named Jackson, and grew up in the east end of Montreal before all those Jews arrived. (Was that an anti-semitic remark?)
Years later, as a man, Daniel ended up working as a railway mechanic and brakeman for the CPR: the father of eight kids, including his eldest, my grandmother Grace.
Great Grandpa Dan is one of my guides and close friends, actually, which is mostly why I’m writing about him; and for the link to my substance that runs like a great river from here to there, from me to him, and beyond.
But you’re undoubtedly wondering how the CPR killed him.
Let’s be clear, first of all: the Canadian Pacific Railway didn’t just snuff Daniel, but finished off his entire family for good measure. And all for money, of course.
The tragedy seemed to begin on the night of January 12, 1911, when a big snowslide wiped out half a train, a mile of track, and Great Grandpa, at Roger’s Pass in the Rocky Mountains near to Revelstoke, where Dan and his brood lived. But it started long before that, when as a poor catholic Irishman Dan had to take any work he could find while having as many kids as possible, like any good “believer”. And the railway, like all robber barons, knew perfectly how to exploit true believers.
The local newspaper accounts of Daniel’s funeral – one of the biggest in Revelstoke history, up until then – describe him as a “conscientious and reliable worker”, which means no doubt he worked a lot of unpaid overtime and didn’t bitch about it; not if he wanted to keep his job. So when the snow slide hit and buried a train during the night, he didn’t dare refuse the call for rescue workers, and he diligently hurried out with a shovel to Roger’s Pass.
To the misfortune of Dan’s family, one of the guys stuck in the snow-beseiged train that night was one of grandpa’s bosses and a fellow Mick, ironically: a CPR executive named James FitzPatrick. Daniel saved the dude’s wealthy ass. But then a second slide hit the train, as the last of the rescued and FitzPatrick were pissing off, and as Dan remained at his post.
That second avalanche swept Great-Grandpa down into the valley, where they dug him out, cold and dead naturally, two days later.
My grandmother Grace – Dan’s eldest child – told me once how she recalled the morning they brought in her father’s still-frozen body and laid it on their kitchen table. She was barely eleven years old. Nobody from the CPR was there to offer their help or condolences to the family, including Boss FitzPatrick, whom Daniel had saved with his own life. On the contrary.
When Dan’s wife Rose asked the CPR for the pension owed to her and all her children, it was denied to them by none other than James FitzPatrick on the grounds that “Your husband was not working during his regular shift when he died”.
“So what?” Rose might have said in her Basque-French accent. But we’ll never know. All we do know is that her family fell into destitution afterwards and then disintegrated completely, after Rose died of cancer and grief a few years later. Like their father, my grandmother Grace and all her siblings were then orphaned out and grew up separate and scattered.
I used to plan how to stick it to the CPR for destroying my kin like that, especially after discovering Great-grandpa’s unmarked grave years ago in one overgrown corner of a Revelstoke cemetery. But that particular corporate entity was doing what their ilk do; and anyway, that’s the kind of thing that made Canada what it is today. Ask any of the other of the millions of unfortunates who lie buried in unmarked graves all along the CPR lines, like Chinese coolies, and Indians, and all the other expendable ones.
But Grandpa Dan got his monument, from yours truly and some of my family. His new headstone reads:
“Better love has no man than to give his life for others”.
Drug Dealing in High Places
On a similar note, let’s get back to Queen Victoria: history’s biggest and most successful drug dealer.
Not our Vicky! I can hear all of you royalty-loving Canucks whimper. Yes, you dolts, your Vicky: probably the least-popular British monarch in history, incidentally, who underwent at least six assassination attempts by various of her “subjects”. Not the nicest person in the world, either, if you recall her comments about her own children, whom she referred to as “little nasty objects”, to their faces.
But that’s not her worst crime, despite how all those love-deprived screwed up kids of hers went on to sire the crowned heads of Europe who launched the War that Didn’t any War against each other in 1914. Abused children will do that sort of thing.
No, Vicky’s real claim to historical infamy was Opium.
Incredibly, the British-sponsored Chinese opium trade accounted for almost one third of the total revenue pouring into the British Empire during the mid 19th century. Vicky launched two wars against those heathen Chinks for having the temerity to try curtailing the opium addiction that was killing off their people and fueling the coffers of the British monarch. Queen Victoria ended up killing a million or so people just so she could wander her dozen or so vast estates in the company of various he men Highlander studs.
I guess that’s why we still celebrate Victoria Day all across Canada, right?
Staying Becalmed and Carrying On
All this Britishness made Canada a hot spot for weirdos in white sheets and pointed hats. The Ku Klux Klan swept local elections across western Canada all during the latter 19th century and as the new century dawned, proudly hanging Union Jacks alongside their burning crosses at their bakeouts. But of course most white Canadians didn’t go to that extreme. They didn’t need to, since the land had already been ethnically cleansed and bleached quite pale.
Still, even with all its proud legacy of race killing, white Canada was suffering from a profound identity crisis as the 20th century dawned. Something irked us inside when we snuggled too close to the British monarchy, as if another spirit bobbed around inside us, trying to worm its way out. The writer Pierre Berton said that’s because all Canadians (his kind, at least) are burdened with the heart of a Gaelic bard and the mind of a Scottish banker, and can’t decide who the hell to be.
Could be. Or maybe we’re just too fucking banal to overthrow anything or anyone, starting with ourselves. After all, we had our kick at the revolution can, back in 1837, and we missed. Even Little Mac, William Lyon MacKenzie, had commented back then on the lethargy of his fellow insurrectionists, who “even while fighting the enemy, they seemed more concerned with their estates and cow pastures”.
But as usual, a big bloody war came along to make up for all that, and help us pale Canucks find an identity, of sorts, in the mangled fields of Flanders in that first global war in 1914 that all my uncles are still so fucking proud of because, to quote one of them, “It’s what first gave us a sense of national unity”.
Funny that, eh? How it took twenty million more corpses for Canada to come into being in its own mind? And all those World War One dead enemy people weren’t even Indians or Chinese, but solid German folks. Many of them might have immigrated to the west and become our good downhome neighbours, if only that evil Kaiser Wilhelm of theirs hadn’t have personally raped so many Belgian nuns and boiled up and eaten tiny French babies like he did, the evil Hun bastard!
The War that didn’t End a Single War
As part of the 54th Canadian Battalion, my grandfather Ross Annett got gassed when he was nineteen, won a permanent limp and even lost his horse Zambuk to the war by the year 1915. By then, Gramps had finally enlisted and made it over to France to discover that all of his friends who’d signed up before him were as dead as the Pope’s nuts.
Grandpa Annett told me that life in the trenches was worse than anyone could ever describe, and he never tried to. But I’m proud to say that he personally participated in the Big Canada Formulating Event known as the Battle of Vimy Ridge in 1917. And I guess that makes me more of a Canadian than all of you losers whose forebearers stayed at home shoveling horse shit and banging the neighbours’ daughters.
Vimy Ridge made Canada: isn’t that what you got crammed into your bored and vulnerable little brains when you were at school? So how come we got made then? (Hold that expression). Well, because soldiers like my Grandpa served there for the first time under a Canadian General, and their own real live Canadian officers!
Now that wasn’t such a big accomplishment, when you think of it, since none of our guys would ever obey the order of a British officer if they knew what was good for them.
The Brits have always used us “colonials” as bullet catchers on impossible missions, like in August 1942, when that moronic child rapist “Lord” Louis Mountbatten told our South Saskatchewan Regiment boys to go scale a German-held cliff in France called Dieppe that was crammed with enemy machine gunners, from a beach bracketed on three sides by artillery and barbed wire.
Brilliant move, Mounty. That IRA bomb in 1979 was the nicest thing that ever happened to you, you degenerate pomy schmuck.
But back to WW 1: we got made all right, at Vimy Ridge. That’s what mobsters call it when they get officially accepted into the inner circle of the Mafia after loyally whacking whoever the Big Boss tells them to, without scruples or hesitation. The mark of a true soldier.
So after we stormed the Ridge in an hour (the French couldn’t take it at all, nah nah!) and slaughtered every German lad in sight, and we did it not under the duress and command of some inbred Limey aristocrat but willingly, and bearing our own Flag, well: We had been made.
Now I get it.
1919: We Try Another Brief Revolt
Lots of pissed off and unemployed soldiers who are crippled by wars tend to ignite revolutions. Trust me. It happened in Russia, and it nearly did in Germany, Italy and lots of other places impoverished and traumatized by the War that Didn’t End Any Wars. The potency of the mixture even made Canada boil for a minute or two with some radical impulses, on the streets of Winnipeg in the summer of 1919.
Winnipeg again eh? So what is it about that place that incites otherwise placid Canucks to take up arms?
It’s not too big a mystery. I grew up on those streets, so I know that trying to navigate Portage and Main on a Friday night is enough to piss off anybody.
But back in the hot summer days of 1919, some printers in the Peg went on strike for better wages, and that somehow morphed quickly into a General Strike, because – if you believe the government and churches of the time – a bunch of no-good-nik Russian Bolsheviks infiltrated the Printers Union and made them all speak Slavic and hate the King and join up with hordes of hungry ex-soldiers.
“Let’s overthrow the state, comrades!” whispered the Outside Agitators, and whammo! All the workers of Winnipeg walked off the job quicker than you can say Karl Marx. I guess their unpaid overtime, starvation wages and lack of union rights had nothing to do with their decision.
Low and behold, our Boys in Red showed up, fresh from killing off remnant groups of Indians, and they smashed the strike to pieces. The RCMP galloped up and down Main street and managed to shoot to death two strikers and a little kid who was nine years old. And all the strike leaders got a one way trip to Stoney Mountain Penitentiary.
Actually, the ringleaders got out of the slammer after a few years, and having received their lumps, some of them went on to remain (by Canadian standards) pissed off enough to form Canada’s first quasi-socialist party, the Cooperative Commonwealth Federation (CCF): a sort of tepid “let’s be fair” Canadian version of Britain’s Labor party, minus all those angry red flag-waving miners and dockers.
One day, the CCF would become something even milder called the New Democratic Party (NDP), a funny concoction of cautious “liberals in a hurry”, to quote one derogatory Prime Minister: a sincere group of nice Canadians who are still trying earnestly to make Canada an even nicer place, without much success.
The Ennui and We
The roaring twenties never roared much in Canada, except among all those odd foreigners who kept invading our lovely little slice of England because we needed their cheap labor. Yeah, but like, not their cuisine, okay?
Ukrainians and Poles and Italians started showing up and adding onions and garlic to our food and making it actually tasty, which of course is the ultimate insult to us bread and porridge Puritans.
And then there were the Jews, of course, although we don’t like talking about them very much except on Holocaust Memorial Day. Up until the 1960’s, us good ol’ boy Canucks even had a quota at many of our universities allowing only 1% of the student body to be Jewish. And to think, I didn’t even know my best friend Gary Jacobs was one of them! Those sneaky little Yids!
But one of the immigrant Jews we did end up liking was named Edgar Bronfman because he got really, really rich. (Hey, I’m not being anti-semitic, it’s true!) Ed B. made the news and a huge fortune by running whiskey across the border to big time gangsters like Al Capone and Joe Kennedy senior all during Prohibition. Canadians just love wealthy criminals, so Bronfman the Big Jew was okay in our books, which probably made a lot of us feel like we were combatting anti-semitism.
But that was about all the excitement we had until the Depression hit us.
Most of the western farms and their families got trashed by the double punch of a years-long drought and a bank crash that didn’t hurt any bankers, naturally. Over half of western Canadians were on “relief”, which didn’t do much relieving, since it amounted to some dry goods and three bucks a month. And to add to the problem, the country was run, as usual, by a rich scumbag: a fat cat Easterner named R. B. Bennett, another railway tycoon posing as a politician (Gee, that’s odd, eh?), who told all the poor Canadians to go dig ditches and stop having children.
Enuf’s enuf, said a bunch of unemployed guys in Vancouver. In the summer of 1935 after walking out of the “relief camps” where they were imprisoned, they jumped on some freight trains and headed east to shove a bit of something up Prime Minister Bennett’s big fat ass. They called themselves the On to Ottawa Trek, and they got as far as Regina, where once again, the Boys in Red killed some people and stopped free speech faster than you can say “Oh, Canada!”.
A few of the survivors did make it to Ottawa, and Bennett met with them for ten minutes just to be able to say he did, and he politely told them to kiss his behind, which none of the guys did of course: again, quite unusual for Canadians.
Meanwhile, back on the Indian reservations, the brown skins kept on dying en masse, of course, especially their kids: at least 50,000 of them, in fact, jailed by law in what we still like to call Indian residential schools: delightful little internment camps run by papists and protestants alike where those little savages who survived were processed into civilized consumers through such tried and true civilized methods as routine gang rape, electric shocks and slave labor.
But we’ve apologized for all that now, I hear, so it’s all fixed. I mean, the government and the churches wouldn’t lie to us, right?
Kicking Butt Again
With all that blood and gore staining our lovely land, Canadians started sniffing around hungrily for another war to go to.
Sure enough, a sadly more than one man freak show run by a little shit named Alois Schikelgruber gave us the chance. The guy started strutting that stupid little walk of his around Europe and threatening to flood Mother England with apple strudel. So despite Winston Churchill’s personal admiration for the little corporal Hitler, Britain, and thus Canada, hit the trenches again on September 3, 1939 in yet another Final War against Germany.
It was a Good War this time, except for guys like my Uncle Bob who at age 19 got torpedoed and drowned in the English Channel in order to make the world safe for Exxon and Mitsubishi.
For helping defend old Blighty during the dark hours of 1940, Canadians got the personal thanks of King George the Stutterer and that nice old drunkard and pro-Nazi, his wife, who never got called anything but The Queen Mother. Woopie, eh?
But then, worse the luck, our boys got their asses shot off at Dieppe and other useless excursions dreamt up by pommy twits in bright uniforms who got buggered senseless at a young age in elite boarding schools, hence their complete absence of intelligence.
And even worse, us loyal Canucks were outshone at D Day by all those overfed, over sexed and over there Americans who keep claiming they beat Hitler all by themselves. (What, no Red Army?) So World War Two was kind of a draw in the Glory for Canada department.
But hey guys, no worries. The world was so appreciative of us for saving England’s collective ass and Fair Play that we got our undeserved but gratifying post-war reputation of being the most decent country on earth. (What, no mass graves of Indian kids?) So that boosted our international credit rating, at least, and made us a safe bet, if not for our own people, at least for the tourist industry.
Maybe the world saw us as so nice merely because we weren’t Americans or Nazis, even though we sure let in a hell of a lot of the latter after 1945: more than any other nation on earth, actually. But Canada, notwithstanding all the Indian corpses, had earned its spurs as the Land of Decency: even if it still legally restricted Jews to being no more than 1% of their college student populations, remember.
Our sudden elevation into an officially recognized power broker in the post-war world – and hey, even at the United Nations! – hit us kind of hard. We didn’t really believe it.
Like, wow! we said. You mean us here in like, Canada eh, we belong to our own, real live, like sovereign nation, finally?
Get the Heck Out, eh?
The Brits may have gone – bankrupted by the war, stripped of most of their colonies, and just generally out of it – but Oh Say Can You See who took us over after John Bull-shit pulled out?
America got its grasping hands around our balls quicker and more completely than the Brits ever had, thanks to the post-war economic “boom” (don’t you just love the accuracy of that expression?) and a flood of Yankee takeover investment into our economic entrails. Over three quarters of our trade was with America by 1950 and all our manufacturing was getting bought up by Wall Street. So after that, none of our politicians ever really dared to challenge Washington over anything serious.
But, no, that isn’t quite true. There was actually one Canadian Prime Minister who did sort of stand up to the Yankees, once: old John Diefenbaker, a die hard Brit-loving Tory from the prairies, who in 1962 told John F. Kennedy that he couldn’t station those darned Bomarc missiles in Canada. Like, take off, you catholic hoser!
Jack Kennedy didn’t like being denied anything, by anybody – just ask Marilyn Monroe, if you’re a psychic. So El Presidente told the CIA to get rid of that inconvenient Tory John Diefenbaker, which of course they did quite neatly during the next Canadian election by massively funding his Liberal opponent, Lester B. Pearson, and through other methods we can’t describe in front of the children.
Sadly, Diefenbaker didn’t have any subsequent imitators, so none of you need to worry: you won’t be seeing US Marines patrolling on Granville street and spoiling your afternoons, you sorry bunch of docile, west coast latte-sipping, sun-bathing diletanttes.
So in our nice sort of way, after 1945 we settled right in to becoming resource whores for the Americans, and for any other nation that paid, shipping off all our raw logs and water and oil and uranium and jobs to the United States, and Japan, and now China.
We didn’t want to cause any controversy, after all. Very un-Canadian, you know.
Something in this big prostitution didn’t feel quite right to us, however – that funny Canadian split-thinking again – so a mild sort of nationalist movement took hold during the 1960′s, on both sides of the English-French divide. (I haven’t mentioned the French much recently, but hold on to your tortieres).
The nationalist Parti Quebecois started gaining ground in Quebec; no suprise there, really, when you consider the corrupt papist-run governments up until then in La Belle Province. Eventually the Separatistes got as much as 35% of the vote for outright separation (gasp) from lovely old Canada.
What the heck?! came our media-hyped howl. Reject our wonderful British heritage? That made us Anglos fighting mad, sort of – we had whipped frog butt at the Plains of Abraham in 1763, after all – and it caused many of us to pull out our faded Maple Leafs (leaves?) from mothballs and wave them around a bit during the tumultuous 1960′s.
But it was all mostly show, because we always ended up giving Quebec anything they wanted just so they wouldn’t end our beautiful relationship together that went back to all those throat-slitting, bayonet-gouging days.
It must have worked. We’re all still together, formally speaking. But if you’re like me, some part of you secretly and treasonably hankers to see the fleur de lys waving by itself over Montreal and a million Quebecers lined up along the Ottawa river waving their bare derrieres in the direction of the Cochons d’Anglais who they will have outsmarted once again, eh! Those silly English persons whose mothers are elderberry bushes and fathers are ‘amsters, n’est ce pas?
Fortunately for the feds and Ma and Pa in Saskatoon, that scenario will never happen, since like everyone else, Les Quebecois have learned to play the game to get along.
Okay. So, speaking of the French, I forgot to mention the War Measures Act.
Some of the Westmount crowd got panicky when Rene Levesque and his nationalist Pequistes began climbing in the polls in 1969, and they asked the Boys in Red to do something about them, and fast.
So low and behold, early in 1970 a convenient and tiny band of armed mercenaries sprinkled with paid provocateurs calling themselves the FLQ (Front pour la Liberation du Quebec) showed up out of nowhere and kidnapped a Quebec cabinet minister, Pierre La Porte, and a British diplomat named James Cross. Somebody shot Laporte through his head and stuffed him in the trunk of a car – the guy did have strong Montreal Mob connections, but of course that was never mentioned by anybody – and then a well crafted hell broke loose.
Enter that paragon of liberal mythology, Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau (Jesuit educated and a kiddy fucker, just like Adolf Hitler), who promptly called out the troops, literally, while trashing all those bleeding heart liberals who worried about such silly things as civil liberties and a fair trial.
“Well, go ahead and bleed” Pierre admonished them on the public airwaves, with his usual aristocratic sneer.
Welcome to the War Measures Act.
Pierre Trudeau had a real sexual identity problem, and not just involving under age boys. He used to beat up his sweet wife Margaret in public, including once at the Chateau Laurier in Ottawa when he slammed his fist into her face and blackened one of her eyes, according to my Uncle George McOuat, a Liberal party bag man, who witnessed the whole thing.
I guess Jolly Pierre (his last name means Waterhole in English, by the way) had to keep proving what a real man he was, or something. He had sat out World War Two, after all, like the pampered rich boy he was. So bingo! In came the Canadian army and out went civil liberties and the rule of law faster than Pierre could say “Look at my Big Dick!”, just to deal with twelve FLQ guys and four undercover Mounties carrying pop guns.
Hundreds of us got arrested and jailed without trial during the fall of 1970, and not just in Quebec. That particular reign of state terror went on for weeks. But it had its funnier aspects. The Boys in Red, not known for their artistic sensibilities or brain cells, once gathered up a “subversive” suspect’s entire collection of art books on Cubism because … you know, Cuba. Cubism. Duh.
Well, that’s the Arsee Empee for you. Their top officials are getting sued by their own female officers nowadays for sexual harrassment and on the job rape. Go figure.
So who says Canada is boring? And now Pierre Trudeau’s debonair son Justin has got himself made head of the “Liberal” party and wants to be the next Prime Minister simply because of his last name and cute profile.
What? Dynastic Successions, here in Canada?
Peter Waterhole kind of faded in and out of the Canadian political scene after doing his early version of Homeland Security. We just didn’t trust him anymore, I guess, after what he did to Fair Play, and also being French, you know.
I know I sure as hell didn’t like the wanker, and not only because he loved to give the finger to protestors.
One day in 1972, me and my highschool buddy Mike Helmer and fifty other malcontents showed up at a Vancouver mall where Pierre and Maggie Trudeau were doing some stupid photo op. All of us rabble started yelling at the smiling couple, “Capitalists out of government!”, except for that moron Helmer. When he got close enough to Trudeau to confront him and win his priceless chance to slam the bastard to his face, all Mike said to The Turdo was,
“When are we going to get a French language TV station out here?”.
All I could do was stare dumbfounded at Helmer. I think the fucker did it just to piss me off because I wouldn’t go to bed with him.
Now, I don’t think I’m projecting too much when I say that this kind of serious let down characterized the 1970′s for Canadians as a whole. And the times tended to sag for us even more when those wily Arabs raised their oil prices and we hit our first real economic depression since the seconf world war, sometime around 1973.
As our manufacturing infrastructure (the Brits and Yanks had kindly allowed us to keep a little bit of it) headed south to warmer tropical climes offering such great business incentives as military dictatorships and starvation wages, all we had to sustain ourselves with was the selling off of ever more chunks of Indian lands and resources, and setting up fast food chains and tourist meccas for rich Yankees and Brits and Chinese.
As usual, the Indians weren’t a problem. Their residential school-traumatized and brainwashed “chiefs” kept faithfully signing over everything in their territories to whatever corporation gave them a blow job. Those overpaid fat-cat apples still call that being “Partners in Development”, or something.
But don’t be too hard on the Injuns. A lot of them lived then, as they still do, in a pretty shitty poverty. Well, not the chiefs and their families, of course, but pretty much all the other Canadian Indians, who as a nation have a standard of living about Number 70 in the world, around the level of Thailand.
My relatives still don’t believe me when I tell them the number of Indians I knew a year ago who are dead today. After all, we’ve got the nationally televised Aboriginal Achievement Awards nowadays, where every little red skin can become a star! But then again, my same relatives think the Americans landed on the moon, so go figure.
Anyway, as the 1960′s dawned, Indians finally got the dubious privilege of voting in Canada, but the women still couldn’t until a decade or more later. Besides, those wonderful death camps called Indian residential schools still had things well in hand by proficiently fucking up future generations of potential placard-waving and road-blockading Red Power native activists, from among those half of the inmates who did manage to survive.
Okay, don’t worry, I won’t get preachy on you. I know how much Canadians hate any negativity, man. But I can’t resist writing a brief aside about Our Injuns.
Looking for Them
My Dad tells a story of how I disappeared one day when I was five years old. It turns out I wasn’t lost at all, but searching for someone.
It happened at that bit of down home chintzy hype Canadians call the Calgary Stampede, where cowboys and other real men abound and prove they have balls by trying to lose them, literally, by riding on the horns of pissed off brahma bulls for tons of idiotic and fat applauding tourists.
The rodeo shit didn’t interest me that year, even though my brother Bill and I were decked out like latter day Hop Along Cassidys in our chaps and spurs and cardboard cow boy hats. Too innocent to feel ridiculous as I strutted around like Wyatt Earp, I remember being profoundly disappointed at not seeing any real live Indians at the Stampede, since all the brown skinners were dressed just like me and all the redneck noise in cowboy regalia. I wanted feather bonnets and tomahawks and all that stuff. So as quick as you can spit tobacco, I vanished into the crowd as Dad, who was supposed to be watching me, was off smoking somewhere.
He and my Mom spent a number of what I’d like to hope were panic-filled minutes searching for their cute and utterly irreplaceable wee Kev, and coming up empty. Dad says they were about to sound the general alarm and bring in the red coats (yeah, that would have helped) when he spied my cute little butt in my unmistakeable cowboy chaps sticking up in the air outside some tourist Indian’s Tee Pee. The top part of me was inside.
Dad grabbed one of my legs and hauled me into the light of day. Giving me his make believe pissed off look he only donned when Mom was around, Dad demanded of me,
“What the hell were you doing in there, Kev?”
And I lisped back at him,
“I wath looking for thom real Indianth”
I still am.
Growing Up, and Down
I was a kid for most of the Sixties, missing out not only on real Indians but all the cool protests and rock concerts and free sex, although even if I had have practiced I would have passed on the latter, being a staunch Presbyterian.
That tumultuous decade ended for me perched, awestruck, in my Grandmother’s living room in Winnipeg watching a shadowy figure on the idiot box pretend to land on the surface of the moon as he was somehow filmed by a camera already placed there. So that kind of official make believe was a good intro to the Seventies, which for Canadians were a series of similar kinds of illusions and ultimate disappointments.
The decade got off to quite the bang with the War Measures Act hysteria, which I’ve already talked about. Then things went as flacid as an accountant, police raids and jailing without trial being a hard act to follow. So the 1970′s stumbled on towards those pukey Brian Mulroney years, and things started looking ever more bleak for we Canucks.
In the summer of 1976, for instance, Prime Minister Peter Waterhole decided to freeze everybody’s wages – but not prices, naturally – and a million Canadian workers got mildly upset and did a “militant” General Strike across the country for a whole day, which changed nothing, of course. And those defeated hopes set the stage for the moribund 1980′s, and the most hated politician in Canadian history:
Lyin’ Brian Mulroney.
The guy was a corporate sleeze ball from English Quebec who was Canada’s answer to Ronnie Raygun and Maggie Snatch-The-Children’s-Free-Milk-Program Thatcher. And Mulroney talked and looked sleezy too: the kind of greasy smooth-talking creep who flashes porn at you from an alleyway.
What Mulroney actually displayed was gross corruption, even by Canadian standards. He openly welcomed bribes from corporate lobbyists, and his Prime Minister’s Office had an unofficial policy of tacking a 15% surcharge on all government contracts for the sake of you know whose private bank account.
But that was just petty crime. At the bidding of his bosses in Washington and the International Monetary Fund, Mulroney smashed the protectionist tariff structures that had safeguarded Canadian jobs for generations, and he forced Canada into its first major Free Trade Agreement – again, through incredible corruption, manipulating and sacking judges, stifling the press and bribing everybody in sight.
Take water exports, for instance – and the Yankees sure have taken them.
Against the will and knowledge of Parliament and all the citizenry, Mulroney snuck into the Free Trade Treaty a secret provision that allowed bulk water to be shipped right out of Canada, mostly to California. Like any creative corporate accountant, Lyin’ Brian had one set of records for the public and its politicians, and an actual deal that he kept locked away in his own private safe.
Some pesky Parliamentary assistant named Shelly Ann Clark did the unusual thing for a Canadian and spilled the beans, after securing a copy of the real Free Trade deal. She was canned, demonized and blacklisted, naturally, and The Boys in Red stopped raping their colleagues for a moment and tried locking Shelly away in a psychiatric hospital in Ottawa. They blew it, of course, being Mounties, and Shelly told the world.
Canadians got mildly upset for awhile after that came out, and Mulroney’s popularity sank to far less a percentage of the people than those who believed that Elvis was still alive … about 8%. But that massive unpopularity didn’t change anything, this being Canada.
Remember that odd bi-polarity in our self conception as a people that I mentioned? (That’s a test, actually, to see if you’ve read this whole treatise). Our bi-polarity shows up in our national voting patterns: either blue or red, Tory or Liberal. Yeah, like there’s a difference, but maybe you get my point.
So eventually we dumped Lyin’ Brian – gone in body, at least, to some corporate sinecure, though not in spirit – and we brought in various pale facsimilesof him to run our sinking boat: not out of anger or conviction to do something different, but in the lazy and unconscious reflex action so much like crapping that we like to call voting, or if you like, “choosing responsible government” which isn’t responsible to anyone but themselves, and some aging bitch in London.
We’re a frightened people, you know. And oh so careful.
Cautious folks like Canadians worry about things like recycling and their credit rating. And around about 1990, the banksters let it be known that Canada had dropped slightly in its standing with the International Monetary Fund.
For one thing, bemoaned the Gnomes of Zurich, more of those dirty Indians of yours are occupying resource-rich lands and talking about their sovereignty. Like, they want to have the whole place back? Now that’s not good. It’s very bad for investors, you know, to have a bare chested Mohawk stud waving a gun at the Canadian army, like what happened at a little place called Oka in Quebec that very same year.
Start apologizing, and fast, ordered the guys in charge. That way, you get the last word.
So low and behold, in the same year that the world press flashed images of Mohawks going to war with zit faced white kids in the 22nd Van Doos Regiment over a piece of traditional sacred land that some greedy white prick wanted to turn into a golf course, can you guess what happened, boys and girls?
The Big Spin Set In!
Soon after the Oka crisis, and adorned in the standard silver jewelry and pleasantly plump look of your typical government-bought Indian chief, Head Apple “Flying Phil” Fontaine of the misnamed “Assembly of First Nations” (AFN) – a wholly owned subsidiary of the Bank of England – stood up in front of TV cameras and announced that he had been “abused” in an Indian residential school.
, please note. Not raped. Not tortured, or soul murdered. Abused.
Damn, what a perfect Canadian word: abuse. How it evokes images of a not very nice but basically benign incident where somebody spoke harshly to somebody else, and hurt his feelings. As in, “Gee, you’ve abused our relationship. Now say you’re sorry!”
Phil Fontaine was handed his script, and he pressed onto our collective mental template that notion of a mild aggrievement over the genocidal horror of the Indian residential schools, from where more than 50,000 children never made it home. And what followed was the kind of shabby and corrupt self-exculpation that Canadians excel in.
Well, the corporate press climbed all over Fontaine’s words quicker than a priest can leap on some unsuspecting little kid.
“It’s time for healing! Let’s all be reconciled!” the pale pundits started to squawk, rushing past the scene of the worst mass murder in Canadian history with their worried blinders firmly on, and trying not to trip over all those little brown corpses in the process.
And then nothing happened, of course.
A secret deal had been quickly struck with any Indian leader within easy reach of a government paycheque, and that was simply to leave those murdered kids in the ground and stay quiet about everything.
Most of the chiefs went along with the deal, like Around the Fort Natives (AFN, remember?) always do. And the very churches that did the crime – no, not just the Catholics, but the Anglicans and United Church too – started shredding documents quicker than you can say litigation, relying on their buddies in the press and in Ottawa to shield them from the consequences of their own shit.
And it worked, for awhile. But then I stepped in.
I’m still too Canadian to blow my own horn much, even when nobody else will do it for me, but gosh folks! Like, it isn’t every day that a Winnipeg boy like me gets to expose mass murder on his own turf, and crash and burn a whole government and a clutch of corporate churches all the way to Rome in the process!
But don’t worry, this is Canada. My example never caught on, since the last thing Canucks want to do is to offend popes and prime ministers with blood on their hands. Somebody might get upset, don’t you know?
Anyway, to add insult to injury, sometime around the spring of 1999 – a few months after yours truly went public with the worst of the residential schools crimes, but don’t worry, that’s all a big coincidence – some bright boy in Ottawa came up with something he called The Aboriginal Healing Fund. I kid you not.
Money fixes everything, right? said Bright Boy. And Canadians just love that word, healing, which oozes such careful niceness.
So here is the deal, explained Bright Boy: Now that the dirty family secret is out of the bag, let’s just throw a bit of cash – no more than $10,000 a piece – at a few Indians who are still breathing, somehow, after getting ass fucked and cattle prodded for years at a tender age. But the poor sods can’t sue anybody once they take the dough, including the kindly priests who screwed them. And we get off the hook by avoiding a trial and buying our way out of everything: even mass murder.
The arrangement should have more accurately been named The Caucasian Healing Fund, since all that it fixed was our own white guilt and legal liability. But to quote British General Kitchener after his long range artillery had slaughtered from a distance over 10,000 Mahdi warriors in the Sudan in 1898,
“It’s not cricket, I grant you, but there you have it.”
Fortunately, as somebody once said, Murder most foul will out … that was Shakespeare, dummy … and it sure has, thanks to a pesky and unusual white Canadian – me again, sorry for blowing the horn – and a host of unbought and unbossed real live Indians who began occupying churches and talking out loud about what they went through in Canada’s Gulag.
Like a tiny boat battling against the current at the top of Niagara Falls, our efforts have seemed pointless and even suicidal to many Canadians, who after all are very careful people, and just don’t like having their nice churches publicly accused of gang raping, killing and sterilizing little brown kids, even when they did.
After all, saying those things might upset your dear Aunt Bertha, a loyal United Church member who sings in the choir and helps support the local food bank.
But meanwhile, in the real world, less frightened people starting listening, and looking at the evidence, and somewhere after too many years of struggle, a critical mass went click and suddenly, there stood lovely Christian Canada, with blood all over itself.
Holy crap! came the cry from Bay street and beyond: Apologize, again!
So the ghost of Lyin’ Brian Mulroney stood up in Parliament in July of 2008 in the form
of another Supposed Tory (a suppository, get it?) named Stephen Harper, a weird little
drone from Alberta with lizard eyes whose sub-human moral structure handily landed
him the job of Prime Minister. And with the kind of sincerity you can imagine coming
from a lizard, Harper said he was sorry, if not for genocide, then at least for not being
nice to Indian kids by taking them away from their moms and dads.
Sorry, Steve, but no cigar. Even with all the right cliches, the crime didn’t go away. Graves started getting unearthed, and Canada’s Holocaust made it to the agenda of the United Nations – thanks to our intrepid band of shit kickers who started occupying churches early in 2007 while displaying banners declaring “All the Children Need a Proper Burial” as the pew crowd tried singing their quaint little hymns.
Drastic measures are needed, declared the Feds. So Steve called in the latest bunch of Apples and said, Let’s bury this whole mess with another Big Spin. And we’ll even call it a Truth and Reconciliation Commission, you know, like from South Africa. Brilliant, eh? Casting ourselves in the afterglow of Nelson Mandela like that?
Lying, Big Time
OK, there I go preaching again. The occupational hazard of a clergyman. But there’s a method to my madness, namely to show you how lying to ourselves is the required trait of any successfully accomodated Canadian.
Indulge me for a moment while I share a story about that, from my days as a nice clergyman among nice folks in the not very nice lumber mill town called Port Alberni, not a mile from a mass grave, still unexamined, of residential school kids who got put there by very not nice (former) United Church colleagues of mine.
One of my parishioner’s name was Mike, and having a vestige of Canadian caution still wired in to me somewhere I won’t mention his last name. He came to me in my church office one Sunday morning before worship and asked me for my advice.
Mike was a self-described happily married man with a really decent and gorgeous wife named Esther and three terrific daughters who graced our congregation. He was intelligent, considerate, and politically correct right down the line. But as he described to me in slow and lurid detail, he was also fucking several local women all at once, besides Esther.
The guy asked me if I thought it was okay.
After staring at Mike quite dumbfounded, I asked him if he thought it was.
“Sure” he said, his eyes as clear as his apparent conscience. “I keep my underwear on the whole time we’re doing it!”
“Oh” I replied, wondering if Mike fully understood the architecture of your standard pair of male jockey shorts.
“I just had to see what you thought” he voyeuristically concluded, before hurrying off to sit with Esther and the kids in their church pew.
Esther found out, of course, although not from me. But she stayed with him, being a Canadian.
I see my culture as one big Mike.
Which brings us to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC).
Like Mike undoubtedly does every night before the lights go out with his sadder but wiser wife Esther, the church going folks who did the residential school nightmare have tried soothing their victims, most recently by setting up their own self-inquiry to reassure us all with honey coated words like “reconciliation” and “truth telling”: the two, somehow, going hand in hand. Like, not.
At the TRC sessions – big, glitzy shows set up to impress the world to the tune of $68 million – the Indians who survived soul rape and torture get to sit in front of their pale rapists and torturers, and those who cover for them, and listen to their even paler self-justifications for slaughter.
The Indians, if they behave, get a whole ten minutes to read from their monitored and censored “stories” that will have absolutely no legal consequence, even when they refer to the killings of children, because – did I tell you? – the churches that did the butchering have already been legally indemnified by their governmental partners in crime!
The survivors can’t name the names of the perpetrators, or even discuss the nitty gritty of what really went on in, anymore than can Esther if she wants to keep everything nice and “reconciled” with Mike and the kids.
A nasty catholic critic of mine named Terry Glavin who likes to pretend he’s a real live journalist once accused me of “jeopardizing healing and reconciliation” in Canada.
Locking up the Queen
As I write this, Lizzie Brit is thinking of stepping down as the monarch she claims to be, which means she’ll be history, probably, by the time you read this. Just like former pope Joe Ratzinger, the papal kiddy killer, is.
My good old great great great grandfather Philip Annett who shouldered his musket to snipe at Tories back in 1837 in Canada’s aborted revolution must be laughing his celestial butt off right about now. And maybe he’s especially gay (even for a Baptist), knowing that his great-great-great grandson had a hand in Lizzie Brit’s deposing.
Actually, I can’t take too much credit for her fall, although I will. The old royal bitch brought it on herself, after snatching those ten forever-missing Indian kids from the Kamloops residential school on October 10, 1964 in front of eyewitnesses. I guess she figured she’d get away with it. But that’s the kind of wooly thinking that comes with imperial inbreeding, what?
Poor Liz was even served an arrest warrant early in 2013, after word of her after-hour fun at the Kamloops school reached European jurists. I’m sure that had absolutely nothing to do with all this talk of her resigning. (I just smirked, so you know). But it shows you how even Queens can get a pink slip when the heat starts coming down.
The funny thing is that the latest opinion poll of Canadians says that over half of them want to dump the British monarchy altogether. So it does look like a final curtain is falling on the long British connection to Canada. But then, of course, as a Republic, we’d have to stand on our own feet, which isn’t exactly the Canadian thing to do, now, is it, hosers?
So I guess we’ll end up doing nothing.
Looking Forward to the Rosy Dawn
I didn’t mean to end this tour down memory lane on such a Negative note. I wouldn’t be a real Canadian if I did.
It’s been an odd 518 years here for my people, because I know how as Pale Canadians we’re as mixed up us as was French-originated John Cabot who found himself working for the Brits. As a people, we rarely follow our better angels, although as individuals we are generally decent, despite our niceness.
We just have to be decent, after all, since being otherwise might offend somebody.
I actually like most of my fellow pale Canadians, despite all that, and their generally taciturn humor.
On the prairies, I grew up around their solid if limited goodness, and amidst all of their dull conformity and smug political conservatism, I always felt reaching out to me from somewhere in those lives an unspoken and transcendent spirit that keeps briefly surfacing now and then in a William Lyon MacKenzie or a Gabriel Dumont. The unafraidness that keeps the real Kanata going.
Kanata: it was a Haudenosaunee word of the Six Nations, meaning Our Village.
Canadians are best in their own villages, and not striving to become grasping big city idiots. It’s there in the small places that we lived peacefully alongside the Indians and made the Metis Nation together and fought for our rights against the railroad owners and bankers and catholic priests. As much as we are cautious of change, a hard stream of romance runs through us that can sometimes lift us above our strait laced politic.
I know this to be true, for when I was barely six years old and just awakening to the vast wonder of the Manitoba sky, a pulse of excitement led me on my bicycle out into the countryside, where I tore along the dirt roads and explored long abandoned homes of former settlers, still scattered in the occasionally unplowed land southwest of Winnipeg.
All of the lives of those long-gone people lay strewn about me in their decaying homes, in bits of letters and school reports, family photos and World War medals and citations for valor kept safe behind broken glass, along with the assortments of lives that were devoted to one another, in the small family groups that gathered together around the fires of love stoked against the cold, unpredictable prairie nights.
From those remnants of other lives, my child’s heart drew something that has never left me, which is simply the glory of doing what is right for our neighbours, and even strangers: perhaps not an original impulse, but one without which I would have blown away like so much dry prairie thistle. The same impulse that is still the fibre of our real country.
After surviving mustard gas and Vimy Ridge and refusing his veteran’s pension so as not to take it away from a more crippled survivor, my grandfather Ross Annett captured that real Canadian spirit in his Depression era stories that he wrote for The Saturday Evening Post in America because, naturally, his own country wouldn’t publish them.
Grandpa’s tales were about a widowed farmer named Joe who refused to abandon his dust bowled land in southern Saskatchewan but fought to keep it a home for his daughter Babe and son little Joe, against every conceivable odd and hardship.
Maybe a corny premise for a modern tale, the Babe stories were among the most popular ever read by the Post’s vast audience, even though they were mostly Americans. For in every simple and often humorous tale, the courage and decency of the walked-over characters shone through, and gave farmer Joe and his children more luminosity than any prince of the realm.
“We got a Princess too” Joe remarked to the visiting Queen of England in one of Grandpa’s best stories, as the farmer placed his worn and adoring hand on the golden hair of his tattered little Babe, and stared unashamed at royalty and posterity, unbowed and unconquerable.
That image of Joe and his little Babe is my real country of Kanata. And I know we’ll get there again, once we cease being afraid, and stop fooling ourselves.
So good luck to all of us. And long live the Republic, you hosers!
Kevin Daniel Annett is a Recovering Canadian who was conceived on a lovely spring morning somewhere west of the Lakehead in the back of a green chevy. Fleeing the prairie cold against his better judgement to a placid west coast life against which he has ceaselessly rebelled, Kevin divides his time between writing, occupying churches, engaging in paint ball warfare and conspiring to overthrow the state.
Having worked as a waiter, mail sorter, steel fitter, professional student and non-conforming clergyman, Rev Kev knows that there’s nothing that beats working better than not working. He is presently composing a new syllabus of the mating habits of catholic clergymen and criminally convicted popes.
Kev is presently dividing his time between Winnipeg, the Cannes Film Festival, the Vatican lavatories and the Stansted Airport Immigration Prison. But mostly he’s planning his eventual retirement somewhere on the Prairies under perfect skies, where he will someday lie decaying in and adding to the good soil of the true Republic of Kanata.