The land that holds the people together

Whatever arises to divide Canadians, one quiet but deep response unites them: a feeling for the land itself. The feeling, although we don’t often say so aloud, is love

BLAIR FRASER February 8 1964

The land that holds the people together

Whatever arises to divide Canadians, one quiet but deep response unites them: a feeling for the land itself. The feeling, although we don’t often say so aloud, is love

BLAIR FRASER February 8 1964

The land that holds the people together

BLAIR FRASER

Whatever arises to divide Canadians, one quiet but deep response unites them: a feeling for the land itself. The feeling, although we don’t often say so aloud, is love

As A NATION Canada never did make economic sense. The stresses and tensions of today have always been with us — regions and religions and kinship groups have always lain uneasily with each other. Economically we can never hope for better than a second-highest standard of living, within near and tantalizing view of the highest. And at any time in the past two centuries we could have solved our problems merely by rolling up the undefended border and disappearing into the great continental melting-pot of the United States, taking our share of the way and the standard of life

that the whole world seems to envy. Why have we never done this?

Evidently there is something in Canada that matters to us more than money. We may not be able to say exactly what it is, any more than we can say what life is or what happiness is, but we know it when we see it. We know some of the things that make it up, and they have nothing to do with the standard of living. The homecoming Canadian would still feel the same lift of the heart if there were not a single television set or supermarket from Cape Race to Nootka Sound. continued on page 18

The land

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The land continued

Each of us has his own picture that the word Canada brings to his mind's eye, and the pictures can lie very far apart. Some are of the nooks and crannies of rough coastline, cast or west; some the sweep of the great plain; some the green forest, grey rock and blue water of the Canadian shield. But they would surely have this much in common: they would all be pictures of the land itself. Not of the shiny new second-best cities, still less of the political symbols and slogans and windy abstractions with which we bore each other. Not pictures of a new, raw young nation, but pictures of a very old land, the oldest in the world.

Man has done no more than scratch the

Timeless, changeless, but always changing, the

and itself can “lift the heart of any Canadian ”

southern edges of it. Nine tenths of it is still as it was when the last glacier receded, twenty thousand years ago. In this vast and wonderful land any Canadian can recapture the illusion of solitude. Any Canadian, be he ever so urban, lives within a hundred miles or so of the empty wilderness, and can see and move among the kind of scenery that made Champlain catch his breath when he, the first white man ever, looked out upon the Great Lakes.

Not everybody likes this. Those who don't are free to go away, and do go away by hundreds of thousands in every generation. Those who do are free to come, from wherever they were born, and be Canadians with us. The land will still be here for us, forever. ★