Friday, July 2, 2010

Canada Day 2010

yesterday we spent Canada Day in the birthplace of Confederation (as folks round here call it).

Charlottetown's Province House, location of one of the first Conferences for the founding of our country.

John A. was totally up for celebrating with me.

During the day, Rob and I wandered in and out of several Charlottetown bars, watching the entire population of the Island slowly make their way into town. we passed the time drinking local beers, counting visible minorities, and eating overwhelming portions of PEI specialty foods.

Seafood chowder! Potato skins!

I like Charlottetown. The downtown core is really small, and you can easily cover it on foot in a short period of time, but there still were a lot of interesting unique shops (like the vintage & vinyl store - what a genius idea), and the harbour is as pretty as, well, a picture.

the whole area just has this cosy and friendly feel to it. i sneezed, and a man standing a block away from me said "bless you". i wondered out loud about how to pay for parking, and a woman who happened to hear us told us we didn't have to. the local newspaper sends off their local indie bands leaving to go on tour with the same well wishes that a mother would give her kids. that's just nice.

the support for the small but surpisingly talented music scene was especially evident when we saw Paper Lions performing as part of Summerfest in Confederation Landing Park near the wharf. I've heard Paper Lions a few times on CBC Radio 3 before, but as a PEI band, there was something particularly special about seeing a band play in its hometown with the support of their friends and families, on a gigantic stage during a primetime spot that no Toronto band of equal fame would be given in its hometown.

I was impressed by their performance overall. they definitely knew how to put on a show. they had an extended drum solo featuring the drummer playing with his bare hands then slowly adding drumsticks until he was playing with four sticks. he later on played a conga solo that almost, almost rivaled my own percussionist Brian's performance during our Mock Trial show. in the middle of their song Sheriff, they broke into an impressive four-part rendition of Bohemian Rhapsody, which is not an easy song to cover.

then they announced that Anne of Green Gables would sing the national anthem. i thought they were joking.

they were not.

it was a surreal but moving moment. a fat guy with very hairy arms wrapped his arms around me, singing "don't be a stranger in my place" (he was still singing a Paper Lions song), the Japanese tourists apparently knew all the words to our anthem, and folks switched to the French version at the appropriate moment with no hesitation. but most importantly, freakin' Anne Shirley was singing the national anthem.

fireworks followed, synched up with music, all of which were, for some reason, songs by British bands. we didn't have the best view for the fireworks, since trees partly blocked our sight (this wouldn't have been a problem in Toronto, since they cut down the trees downtown in security preparation for the G20). Even so, it was still impressive - supposedly the second biggest fireworks display in Canada (you can guess where Number 1 was).

afterwards, there was the biggest crowd that i'm sure Charlottetown ever sees, all year round.