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Letter: Time to get back to essence of O Canada

Or perhaps we should remove the quaint old world ‘toil.’
singing anthem
I had expected to hear frequent singing of the national anthem, national meaning "of the nation", and anthem meaning "a song sung by many", on Canada Day, but instead a dreadful solo was encountered.

Dear Editor

I was among the people who drove through the beautiful land, the very green land, on July 1 to Frenchman Butte to buy a copy of Crossing the River, neatly compiled by Carol Light. It is a history of cable ferries north and northeast of Lloydminster. The book was launched in the tea house in Frenchman Butte where customers drink from china teacups, the tea being poured from teapots. Hurrah!

Coming home, I turned on the truck radio to see what the rest of Canada was doing. I expected the national anthem to be sung frequently on July 1, national meaning “of the nation”, and anthem meaning “a song sung by many”.

What did I get? A person somewhere droning, off-key, O Canada as a solo. It was being dragged out as a dirge. It is supposed to be a quick-step, it is supposed to be sung with energy. More and more we hear it done mournfully, and by a soloist of some kind.

There have, however, been some tempests in teacups (oh, sorry!) in the last few years about the words in the first verse, usually the only one sung. I’ve often suggested we use, instead, the second verse. If you don’t know it, and you should, look it up. It is more attractive. (Speaking of attractive, something which made the “soloist” even less attractive. He did not sing “O Canada, our home and native land.” He sang, “O Ken-er-der, r home und native lend.”)

Oh, good grief. I turned it off.

There’s a third verse which ends, “As waiting for the better day, we stand on guard for thee.”

Waiting? Waiting! Should it not be working? And what is the better day?

Since 1980, with a few gaps, I’ve employed summer students. This year I can find no one.

Perhaps they’re waiting for a better job.

The second verse of O Canada ends “Thou land of hope for all how toil the true north, strong and free.”

Shall we remove the quaint old word, toil?

Christine Pike