Happy Canada Day. If you're a certain age, you'll watch this video and remember every image vividly; for those of us who were kids in 1967, Centennial Year is etched in our memories.
I was eight years old in 1967, and our elementary school in St Catharines, Ontario was consumed with Centennial madness that year. The entire school was decorated with patriotic displays and Canadian flags. Each class had to prepare a bulletin board display on one of the provinces or territories; my class had Alberta. I thought "Oh please, not Alberta! Why couldn't we have one of the cool provinces, like British Columbia?" I was jealous of the class across the hall that got the Yukon Territory - now that was a place worthy of a bulletin board. At least we didn't get Saskatchewan, for heaven's sake. My teacher that year, Miss Francechini, wore miniskirts and go-go boots and had a beehive hairdo - I thought she looked like a movie star. My father flirted with her at parent-teacher interviews and I thought "Boy, you're going to be in trouble with Mom when we get home."
We sang Bobby Gimby's song Canada incessantly that year - it seemed as important as the national anthem, and I had the impression that there was something a little creepy about Bobby Gimby. When we weren't singing Canada, we were singing A Place To Stand, Ontario's official Centennial song with it's nursery-rhyme chorus "Ontari-ari-ari-o".
My parents took us to Montreal to visit Expo 67 that summer along the newly-completed Highway 401 in an epic voyage that seemed to go on forever. We stayed overnight at my aunt & uncle's place in Beaconsfield Quebec, practically throbbing with excitement, and then ventured to St Helen's Island the next morning on the groovy Metro. My mother had been forewarned to carry food and drinks because of the long lineups everywhere, so she lugged around a gigantic purse full of sandwiches and a thermos of Kool Aid.
I don't remember much about Expo 67 except that it was stinking hot and very crowded. I remember riding the futuristic monorail through the US Pavilion, that giant geodesic dome designed by Buckminster Fuller, and thinking that this was what living in the Jetsons' city must be like.
As much as the Centennial hoopla seems corny now, it was a time of great national pride and unabashed patriotism. We could use some of that old-fashioned jingoism right now, I think.