Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Canada Day: Ô Mon Cher Pays

"Un Canadien errant...parcourait en pleurant des pays étrangers"
It's Canada Day - Dominion Day as it was once called - and my homeland is now 143 years old. Once again, I celebrate it from afar. There are worse places than Hong Kong to be a Canadian; in fact, today is also "Hong Kong Day," a holiday and the anniversary for when Britain returned the territory to China in 1997. It's also an unofficial day of protest when thousands gather to support democracy and vent about other issues. This year the numbers are projected to be smaller since the Democratic Reform package passed just last week.

I miss White Rock, the beach, family, friends, backyard barbecues and live music that doesn't function as a backdrop to some ridiculous promotional event...where a folk song doesn't mean "Puff The Magic Dragon," but manly, rugged things like falling trees...

Lately, I been reminded of "Un Canadien Errant", the classic expat lament for mon cher pays. Canada has been making international news recently through the obscene G8/G20 circus that took over Toronto last week. Stephen Harper continues to disgrace my country by yoking it to a religious/conservative agenda that has more in common with the American Bible belt than anything I recognize as Canadian.

I turned up this clip from Harry Rasky's 1980 documentary, Song Of Leonard Cohen. Leonard looks so forlorn and his version of "Un Canadien Errant" includes a mariachi band! A statement, perhaps, of his utter dislocation from his least he looks great barefoot in a suit.

Un Canadien errant,
Banni de ses foyers,
Parcourait en pleurant
Des pays étrangers.

Un jour, triste et pensif,
Assis au bord des flots,
Au courant fugitif
Il adressa ces mots

"Si tu vois mon pays,
Mon pays malheureux,
Va, dis à mes amis
Que je me souviens d'eux.

"Ô jours si pleins d'appas
Vous êtes disparus,
Et ma patrie, hélas!
Je ne la verrai plus!

"Non, mais en expirant,
Ô mon cher Canada!
Mon regard languissant
Vers toi se portera..."


  1. Hey bud, Canada is a lot older than 143 years old - 1867 is only Confederation. As a recognized geographic/political entity, you need to go back to at least 1608, which makes it 402 years.


  2. P.S.: "Un Canadien errant" was written in 1842 by Antoine Gérin-Lajoie, after the Lower Canada Rebellion of 1837-1838. A song about Canada 25 years before Canada was "born"??

  3. thanks for your comments -

    "lk" - a genuine revanchist - long live champlain, the "founder" of canada! kudos for your wiki insights...indeed, that's why you're known as "little larry"

    "un canadien errant", aka "un acadien errant," is much older than you suggest - by gérin-lajoie's own account it was based on "par derrière chez ma tante" and "j'ai fait une maîtresse". nice try tho'...

    p.s. cohen's version also bears the title "the lost canadian"...that's right, with an 'a'...sacré! origins, like authenticity or truth in advertising, are slippery things...c'est la vie & happy 143rd canada!

    "佩春" - if a tree falls in the forest and no one is there, does it make a sound?