AS MOST CANADIANS will be doing at some time during the year, Maclean’s with this issue pauses to consider and, within prudent limits, to applaud the sovereign province of British Columbia. We began to do so with a distant, nagging uncertainty. On re-examining the words and pictures contributed to the following pages by a number of famous B. C. writers and artists, we perceive that they, too, share the same irresolution.
The cause is an embarrassing one, but at least we can now identify it: nobody is quite sure whether to call B. C. a him, a her or an it.
A matter like this can be particularly awkward at times of fete and anniversary. For one thing it puts orators under maddening and inhumane strictures. It knocks the poets right out of the box. Lyric playwrights and the directors of pageants are licked before they can get off the ground.
We propose therefore, as our most useful contribution to the birthday celebrations of the western province, to bestow on it the most important ingredient of any personality, be it corporate or human. Since, through a hundred years of hemming and hawing, the province has not been able to do so for itself, we herewith choose for B. C. a sex.
The easy — and as we shall show — the specious thing would be to designate the province as a him. To an eye willing to judge solely by externals, B. C.’s granite mountains and mighty, barrel-chested forests do, indeed, have a masculine aspect.
But in assessing bodies of land enclosing bodies of people, geology and botany have little to do with the ultimate truths. The shape and spirit of any society is a matter of metabolism and metaphysics, a whole complex of forces that can be sensed but neither seen nor well described.
If we are to judge by this ancient law, B. C. cannot conceivably be anything but a Her. A tall, youthful and leggy Her, not unlike the engaging senior prep-school girls of the native novelist John Cornish. Her heart full of well-justified confidence, her mind full of honest pleasure at her own comeliness and promise. Her proud young head towering above the Douglas firs into the hovering rain clouds which, to her faint annoyance and surprise, have proved to be wet and once more gone and spoiled her hair-do.
We observe her with boundless gratification and some envy, striding forth toward another term. Precisely into what main roads and byways her lengthening steps will lead her, we are not bold enough to guess. Now and then she will surely pause to pick a wild orchid from the forest floor and she will spare several minutes for the pursuit of butterflies. It is not inconceivable that, for all the excellent counsel she has had from those older and more wise, she will be led into a dangerous encounter with some strong, fair-talking farmer’s boy. Should she—perish the thought—suffer what is sometimes described as ruin, we venture the forecast that she will nevertheless and somehow recover.
Here, then, is to British Columbia. God bless her. And incidentally keep an eye on her.
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