Sunday, 14 September 2014
Dear Scotland: An open letter from your Canadian cousins
You probably don’t know this, but you made us. The first European to cross the continent and reach our Pacific coast was Alexander Mackenzie – a Scot. Our first prime minister and chief Father of Confederation, Sir John A. Macdonald? Scottish. So too our second PM. Our country’s national dream, a railroad from sea to sea, was realized in 1885 when Sir Donald Smith, head of the Canadian Pacific Railway, drove The Last Spike at Craigellachie – a place named after a village in his homeland. The man who did the most to create Canada’s system of universal public health care, and chosen as “The Greatest Canadian” in a national survey of CBC viewers, was Tommy Douglas. He was born in Falkirk. The thistle and the red lion rampant on our national coat of arms identify you as one of our four founding nations; half of our provincial flags contain a Saint Andrew’s cross; and one of our provinces – Nova Scotia – is named after you. There are said to be more pipers and pipe bands in Canada than in Scotland. And nearly five million Canadians identify their ethnic origin as entirely or partly Scottish, which means we have almost as many Scottish-Canadians as you have people.