Diplomatic Faux Pas

There was a controversial phrase in a speech delivered on July 24, 1967, during an official visit to Canada under the pretext of attending Expo ’67 in Montreal, Quebec. So let me introduce you to President Charles de Gaulle of France.

French President Charles de Gaulle in 1963

French President Charles de Gaulle in 1963. Wegmann, Ludwig – Deutsches Bundesarchiv (German Federal Archive), B 145 Bild-F015892-0010

The Canadian federal government had been concerned about President de Gaulle for two reasons. One, the French government had not sent a representative to the funeral service for Governor General Georges Vanier on March 5, 1967, even though Vanier and his wife, Pauline, had been personal friends of de Gaulle since 1940; and two because later in April, de Gaulle did not attend the 50th anniversary ceremonies commemorating the Canadian victory at Vimy Ridge.

In the spring of 1966, as part of the Expo ’67 diplomatic protocols, De Gaulle and all world leaders whose countries had an exhibit at the fair were invited to visit Canada during the spring and summer of 1967, and a few months later, de Gaulle was also sent a separate invitation to visit Quebec by Quebec premier Daniel Johnson. Although a visiting head of state, the president did not arrive in the Canadian capital, Ottawa, as would be conventional protocol. Instead, he arrived in Quebec City, the province of Quebec’s capital city. There, De Gaulle was cheered enthusiastically, while the new governor general, Roland Michener, was booed by the same crowd when “God Save the Queen” was played at his arrival.

On July 24, de Gaulle arrived in Montreal and was driven up the Chemin du Roy to Montreal City Hall, where Mayor Jean Drapeau and Premier Johnson waited. De Gaulle was not scheduled to speak that evening, but the crowd chanted for him.  He said to Drapeau: “I have to speak to those people who are calling for me”.  An opportune momen for De Gaulle to voice what he had prepared.

He stepped out onto the balcony and spoke to the assembled masses, which was also broadcast live on radio. In his speech he commented that his drive down the banks of the Saint Lawrence River, lined as it had been with cheering crowds, reminded him of his triumphant return to Paris after the liberation from Nazi Germany. The speech concluded with the words “Vive Montréal ! Vive le Québec !” (“Long live Montreal! Long live Quebec!”), but he then added, “Vive le Québec libre ! Vive, vive, vive le Canada français ! Et vive la France !” (“Long live free Quebec! Long live, long live, long live French Canada! And long live France!”),

This statement, coming from the French head of state, was considered a serious breach of diplomatic protocol.  It emboldened the Quebec sovereignty movement, and produced tensions between the leadership of the two countries. The crowd’s reaction to De Gaulle’s phrase was emotional, and has been described as frenzied,Canadian Prime Minister Lester B. Pearson rebuked de Gaulle with an official statement, delivered to the French Embassy on July 25, and he read it on national television that evening.  He said “The people of Canada are free. Every province in Canada is free. Canadians do not need to be liberated. Indeed, many thousands of Canadians gave their lives in two world wars in the liberation of France and other European countries.”

There was an uproar afterwards, which resulted in de Gaulle cutting short his visit to Canada.  The day after the speech, de Gaulle visited Expo ’67.  The next day, instead of continuing his visit on to Ottawa, where he was scheduled to meet with Prime Minister Pearson, he decided to return to France on a French military jet plane.

De Gaulle was also heavily criticized by a large part of the French media for his breach of international protocol, in particular by Le Monde.

I would suggest visiting Ici Radio Canada for a video of the speech in question.




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C’Mon Kits, We’re Moving Again!



Beaver. Accessed from Bite TV:

In 1975, the beaver became Canada’s official emblem.

“The beaver attained official status as an emblem of Canada when an “act to provide for the recognition of the beaver (castor canadensis) as a symbol of the sovereignty of Canada” received royal assent on March 24, 1975.

Today, thanks to conservation and silk hats, the beaver – the largest rodent in Canada – is alive and well all over the country.

The beavers are pretty clever.  They change their landscape to suit their needs.  They build a lodge with an underground entrance. It’s partly because it fends off predators like coyotes, foxes and wolves.  Also, by raising the water level, it doesn’t freeze in the winter.

When there isn’t enough room for the kits (that’s a baby beaver) anymore, or they run out of nearby food, they just move on and build another lodge.

The fact that they can hold their breath for up to 15 minutes is a reason why they can make their entrances underwater.  They have huge lung capacities.  Also, they can divert blood, hence its oxygen, from its paws to its brain.

A beaver will down, on average, 200 trees a year.  Using their tails for balance, they get on their hind legs and use their teeth to break the trunk.

Did you know beavers’ teeth are orange?  Apparently that’s because of the high content of iron that makes up the hard enamel.

A comment this post has produced came from Lone Grey Squirrel (You would find the blog very entertaining, by the way) asked about a debate in Canada about making the polar bear our national symbol. I had forgotten about that. In 2011, Sen. Nicole Eaton suggested this very notion. Well, a flood of debates and opinions came out of that. Nothing ever came of it, but many Canadians had voiced their opinion. There are two good articles about this. The first is from Macleans Magazine, and the second one is quite amusing is at the National Post.


Posted by on July 19, 2014 in Animals, Fact of the Day


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We Were Five


Mitchell Hepburn with Dionne Quintuplets

Mitchell Hepburn (11th Premier of Ontario, Canada) with Dionne Quintuplets. This image is available from Library and Archives Canada under the reproduction reference number C-019533 and under the MIKAN ID number 3191913

Elzire Dionne suspected she was carrying twins, but no one was aware that quintuplets were even possible.   In her third month,  she reported having had cramps  and passing a strange object which, hindsight, may have been a sixth fetus. The Dionne Quintuplets were born on May 28, 1934.   The five girls, in order of birth: Yvonne Édouilda Marie, Annette Lillianne Marie, Cécile Marie Émilda, Émilie Marie Jeanne, and Marie Reine Alma.

They are the first quintuplets known to survive their infancy. The sisters were born in Canada south of North Bay, Ontario, just outside Callander, Ontario, near the village of Corbeil. Émilie and Marie shared an embryonic sac, Annette and Yvonne shared another one, and it is believed that Cécile shared an embryonic sac with the miscarried sixth fetus. Each girl became emotionally close to whomever she shared a sac with, and Cécile tended to be alone the most.   The girls were born two months premature.

After four months with their family, they were made Wards of the King for the next nine years under the Dionne Quintuplets’ Guardianship Act of 1935. The government and those around them began to profit by making them a significant tourist attraction in Ontario. Four months later, the Ontario government,  Lieutenant Governor-in-Council, on the advice of Premier Mitchell Hepburn, intervened and found the parents to be unfit for the quintuplets (although not for their earlier children), in 1935.  The government realized that there was massive public interest in the sisters and proceeded to engender a tourist industry around them. Across the road from their birthplace, the Dafoe Hospital and Nursery was built for the five girls and their new caregivers.   It was surrounded by a covered arcade that allowed tourists to observe the sisters behind one-way screens.

Dionne Sisters in June 1947

The Dionne quintuplets, accompanied by Mrs Olive Dionne and Frère Gustave Sauvé, take part in a program of religious music at Lansdowne Park, during the five day Marian Congress which prayed for peace and celebrated the centenary of the Ottawa archdiocese (June 1947). This image is available from Library and Archives Canada under the reproduction reference number PA-155518 and under the MIKAN ID number 3192103

It is estimated that 6,000 people visited the observation gallery every day. 3,000,000 people walked through the gallery between 1936 and 1943.   In 1934, the Quintuplets brought in about $1 million, and they attracted in total about $51 million of tourist revenue to Ontario.

Quintland, as it came to be called, became Ontario’s biggest tourist attraction of the era; then surpassing the Canadian side of Niagara Falls!

In November 1943, the Dionne parents won back custody of the sisters. The entire family moved into a newly built house, with many amenities of the time, including telephones, electricity and hot water.

According to the accounts of the surviving sisters, the parents often treated them at home as a five-part unit, and often lectured them about the trouble they had caused the family by existing.  They were unaware for many years that the lavish house, the expensive food and the series of cars the family enjoyed were paid for with money they themselves had earned.

The quintuplets left the family home upon turning 18 years old in 1952, and had little contact with their parents afterwards.  Annette and Cécile both eventually divorced; by the 1990s, the three surviving sisters (Annette, Cécile and Yvonne) lived together in the Montreal suburb of Saint-Bruno-de-Montarville.

In 1998, the sisters reached a monetary settlement with the Ontario government as compensation for their exploitation. Yvonne Dionne died in 2001, and as of May 2013, there are two surviving sisters, Annette and Cécile.

The sisters wrote a book, We Were Five: The Dionne Quintuplets’ Story from Birth through Girlhood to Womanhood that’s worth a read. A blog at Gosselins Without Pity posted a letter the sisters wrote to a couple who just had septuplets, I also find the comments on this page quite interesting.



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WHO’s Warning

SARS virus

The SARS Coronavirus, from:

SARS, severe acute respiratory syndrome, the epidemic, spread faster than expected at a time when immediate global news is taken for granted. Just remembering the warnings are enough to make me cringe. In Canada alone, there were 251 cases, and 44 of these died.  But thank goodness, on July 5, 2003, the World Health Organization (WHO) announced the epidemic was no more. In total, SARS took about 775 people’s lives from 29 countries.

The epidemic of SARS was started in China in November 2002. The first reported case of SARS, a farmer, was treated in the Hospital.  The patient died soon after, and no definite diagnosis was made on his cause of death. Despite taking some action to control it, Chinese government officials did not inform the World Health Organization of the outbreak until February 2003.

It was actually good timing that allowed Canada to learn about the virus.  Canada’s Global Public Health Intelligence Network (GPHIN), is an electronic warning system that is part of the World Health Organization’s Global Outbreak and Alert Response Network (GOARN), that picked up reports of a “flu outbreak” in China.  Thankfully, GPHIN had recently been upgraded to enable Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Russian, and Spanish translations.  Prior, the system was limited to English or French.  Still, an English report was not generated until 21 January 2003.

The CDC and a Canadian laboratory identified the SARS genome in April, 2003.

Masked Palm Civet

Masked Palm Civet

In late May 2003, studies from samples of wild animals sold as food in the local market in Guangdong, China, found the SARS virus could be isolated from palm civets, even though they didn’t show any symptoms. The preliminary conclusion was the SARS virus crossed the xenographic barrier from palm civet to humans, and more than 10,000 masked palm civets were killed. The virus was also later found in raccoon dogs, ferret badgers, and domestic cats. In 2005, two studies identified a number of SARS-like viruses in Chinese bats.

Health care providers were the heroes.  Even at risk to themselves, they cared for the sick around the clock.  The BBC wrote a wonderful tribute to these men and women.


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Alice Munro

Canada has the privilege to acknowledge some of the world’s best authors.  As such, I would like to introduce you to Alice Munro today.

She was born on July 10, 1931, at Wingham, Ontario.

She’s won so many awards for her short stories.  A few are: Governor General’s Literary Award for English language fiction (1968, 1978, 1986); Canadian Booksellers Award for Lives of Girls and Women (1971); The Writers’ Trust of Canada’s Marian Engel Award (1986) for her body of work; Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize (2004) for Runaway; Trillium Book Award for Friend of My Youth (1991), The Love of a Good Woman (1999) and Dear Life (2013); And the list goes on.

Munro began writing as a teenager, publishing her first story, “The Dimensions of a Shadow,” in 1950 while studying English and journalism at the University of Western Ontario.  During this period she worked as a waitress, a tobacco picker, and a library clerk. In 1951, she left the university to marry fellow student James Munro.

Munro married James Munro in 1951. Their daughters Sheila, Catherine, and Jenny were born in 1953, 1955, and 1957 respectively; Catherine died 15 hours after birth.

In 1963, the couple moved to Victoria, where they opened Munro’s Books, which still operates.  In 1966, their daughter Andrea was born. Alice and James Munro divorced in 1972.

In 1976, she married Gerald Fremlin, a cartographer and geographer. The couple moved to a farm outside Clinton, Ontario, and later to a house in Clinton, where Fremlin died on April 17, 2013, at the age of 88.

At a Toronto appearance in October 2009, Munro indicated that she had received treatment for cancer and for a heart condition requiring coronary-artery bypass surgery.

In 2002, her daughter Sheila Munro published a childhood memoir, Lives of Mothers and Daughters: Growing Up With Alice Munro.

On learning she had been awarded the 2013 Nobel Prize in Literature,

“I am dazed by all the attention and affection that has been coming my way this morning. When I began writing there was a very small community of Canadian writers and little attention was paid by the world. Now Canadian writers are read, admired and respected around the globe. I’m so thrilled to be this year’s recipient [and] hope this brings further recognition to the short story form.”

To learn more about Munro, I can suggest a few sites: World Cat Identities offers a list of her stories with descriptions; The Canadian Encyclopedia; and Open Culture. Finally, I highly recommend you visit Munro’s Books site!




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On Becoming a Canadian Citizen

“I swear (or affirm) that I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, Queen of Canada, Her Heirs and Successors, and that I will faithfully observe the laws of Canada and fulfil my duties as a Canadian citizen.”

People who wish to become a Canadian citizen take this oath of allegiance.

I am a Canadian

“I am a Canadian” The words of Prime Minister John Diefenbaker, describing the rights all Canadian share. from

The vow’s roots lie in the oath of allegiance taken in the United Kingdom which was implemented in 1689 by King William II and III and Queen Mary II.  Prior to 1947, Canadian law continued to refer to Canadian nationals as British subjects,

In 1947, Canada enacted the Citizenship Act, and the Canadian Oath of Citizenship was established.  Prime Minister William Lyon Mackenzie King was the first person to take this oath.

Many amendments were suggested through the years, but surprisingly, there has been only one change, in 1977.  Part of an amendment to the Citizenship Act in 1977, the words Queen of Canada were inserted after the Queen’s name and the oath was officially named the Canadian Citizenship Oath.

Lawyer Charles Roach, a permanent resident of Canada and executive board member of Citizens for a Canadian Republic (CCR) who refused to swear the Oath of Citizenship, attempted through the courts to strike down the requirement to pledge allegiance to the monarch to obtain citizenship. Roach launched a number of suits against the Crown, beginning in 1994.  This attempt was unsuccessful, with the majority of the court ruling that:

“[t]he fact that the oath ‘personalizes’ one particular constitutional provision has no constitutional relevance, since that personalization is derived from the Constitution itself… Even thus personalized, that part of the Constitution relating to the Queen is amendable, and so its amendment may be freely advocated, consistently with the oath of allegiance, either by expression, by peaceful assembly or by association.”

Further appeal of this decision to the Supreme Court was denied.  In 2007, Roach, along with three others: Michael McAteer, an Irish immigrant with “republican heritage”, Dror Bar-Natan, an Israeli math professor, and Jamaican-born Simone Topey, a Rastafarian who regards the Queen as the “head of Babylon” filed a class action lawsuit in the Ontario Superior Court of Justice, claiming that the requirement to take the Oath of Citizenship not only violated sections of the charter, but also related to freedom of conscience.  He stated in the media that “requiring black people to swear allegiance to the Canadian sovereign to receive citizenship was akin to forcing Jews to swear an oath to a descendant of Adolf Hitler,”

Though the federal Crown made two attempts to have the case dismissed as frivolous and vexatious, on February 20, 2008, the Ontario Court of Appeal approved the proceeding of the case to the Ontario Superior Court.  Roach’s case was dismissed by the Ontario Superior Court in January 2009.  Roach relaunched the case in 2012 and on June 18, the Ontario Superior Court permitted the case’s continuance.  Unfortunatetly, Roach died on October 2 of that year. In September 2013, Justice Edward Morgan dismissed the case.  A person who wishes to apply for Canadian citizenship is subject to the following conditions.  A person

  • is aged 18 years or over
  • has lived in Canada for a total of 1,095 days during the four years preceding the application for citizenship
  • has knowledge of Canada
  • is not a subject to any criminal prohibitions
  • is not a war criminal
  • is able to speak English or French well enough to communicate with people

To everyone applying, good luck, and welcome to Canada!

For more information, I suggest visiting the Government of Canada’s Immigration & citizenship information site.


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Just a few minutes …

I saw this video and knew right away that I had to share it.  Enjoy!



Posted by on July 8, 2014 in Broadcast, Entertainment, Music


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