The Observer Magazine of 25 June 1967 celebrated Canada’s official 100th birthday, though its claim that it had ‘suddenly got a new international glamour’ – referring to the 1967 World Fair and the Queen’s impending visit – was a stretch (‘Suddenly, after 99 lost years’).
Canada had been born of the British North America Act 1867, but it was hardly world news: ‘It was passed in an almost empty House of Commons, which then filled up for a lively debate on a dog tax bill.’
The ‘educational whiz-kid’ was the new Simon Fraser University in Vancouver where the first intake of students admirably voted against fraternities. ‘The university buildings, soaring patterns of glass and concrete, are among the most exciting in Canada,’ wrote Marcelle Bernstein. ‘But many new towns still have a haphazard impermanent air as if they might vanish overnight, together with the low buildings, the dust and the endless neon fringes of motels.’
This sense of containment and curtailment was exemplified by Dennis, 20, on the cover, who finished his education in Grade 9 because ‘we had no teachers for the higher grades in the school’.
‘The fishing people live in insulated communities and, until the building of the vast Trans-Canada Highway, intermarry almost exclusively within them,’ wrote Bernstein. ‘Now towns are more accessible, but winters are so cold they avoid travelling.’
The Father who built the church by the railroad track did so because he ‘could leap off the train and straight in the door’. A very practical leap of faith.
Ronald Bryden wrote about growing up there. Canadian teenagers, he recalled, talked a lot about sex. ‘It was nearly all talk, for Canadian sex, it appeared, was largely a summer activity. In winter you built yourself up, with milk, chocolate bars and sport.’
‘Drink was Toronto’s problem: it had none,’ he complained. ‘Like most Canadian provinces, Ontario restricted the sale of alcohol to cheerless government stores where you queue for a strict monthly ration wrapped in brown paper.’