Monday, October 25, 2010

O Canada

Last Tuesday, 19th October 2010 was a very important date in the Anderson household.  It started normally enough.  We got up around 7 a.m. and ran around the house getting the kids ready for school.  DH worked from home and we both did as much work as possible to make up for taking the rest of the day off.  At noon we dropped everything, dressed up, grabbed kids and headed downtown.

We had a hot date at Government House.
That's the Manitoba Legislature building just behind Government House, with 'Golden Boy' prancing in the sunshine.
This is the home of the Lieutenant Governor of Manitoba, The Honourable Philip S. Lee, and Her Honour, Anita Lee (his wife). It is also the place where, once a year, they conduct the ceremony to become Canadian Citizens.  We hadn't realised we were getting the star treatment.  We actually thought that everyone taking the oath did this (insert big laugh because the pomp and ceremony really was awesome).  But most people take the oath at the CN Rail terminal (another lovely building).

So we park, worried about being towed because--dude--this is the home of the Lieutenant Governor and are you sure we're in the right place?

We were.

We immediately bumped into the biggest Mountie I've ever seen (6' 6" I reckon) in full red serge uniform.  Awesome.

Then we went inside and presented our old Landed Immigrants cards and got to sign the Guest Book. Even the kids signed and their writing is probably better than ours (yes, we are doctors, LOL).

When everything was ready we were formally announced and introduced to the receiving line of the Lieutenant Governor, his wife, and the Honourable Judge Macky who was presiding over the ceremony.  Our son said his full name--all four names--in a very loud and clear whisper that you could hear in the ballroom (apparently). Once we were all settled in our seats we had a couple of speeches about what it means to join the Canadian family, and quickly got onto the Oath of Citizenship. 


I swear (or affirm) that I will be faithful
and bear true allegiance to Her Majesty
Queen Elizabeth the Second, Queen of Canada,
Her Heirs and Successors, and that I will faithfully
observe the laws of Canada
and fulfil my duties as a Canadian citizen.

Considering the Queen is the same Queen I grew up with, I didn't have any issues with the oath.  There were about thirty-five people at the ceremony from 17 different countries.  I got a tear in my eye thinking about all the stories and journeys people had taken to get into that room. It's humbling.  
Our journey is nothing spectacular.  We spent 3 years in Ontario in the 90s as post-docs at the University of Waterloo.  It was fun but DH's dad wasn't well and we decided to head back to Scotland where DH took up a post-doc with his old Ph.D. supervisor.  That's when I started writing and we started a family.  After 6 years DH was looking for a lectureship and nothing was coming up in the UK.  He spotted an ad for a lecturer in comparative physiology (his thing) at the University of Manitoba.  We knew two things about Manitoba.  1) People in Ontario looked down their noses at the lousy winters and horrendous bugs, 2) We had a two friends there.  

Looking back it is a strange thing to decide to up-roots with two babies.  But because we'd already done it before, the fact we had kids and dogs didn't seem like a big deal, plus we'd been back and forth to Australia a few times for DH's work and a ten hour flight didn't seem that far anymore.  So he applied and got the job and less than 6 months after we'd seen the ad we'd bought our home in Winnipeg.  

In another weird coincidence the two people who came to help us celebrate our oath were people I'd first met in St. Andrews.  I met Ted when I was a lowly Ph.D. student and he was a visiting professor on sabbatical (he fixed my bike puncture, which he's forgotten, but I'll never forget :).  In an even stranger twist of fate, the two friends of ours from Waterloo who now lived in Winnipeg were also close friends with Ted and his wife Deanna.  Proving the world really is a small place.  

After the ceremony the Lieutenant Governor laid on a delicious buffet of cheese and crackers and handmade sweets.  My son ate so many he got pretty hyper so we decided we'd better head.  On our way out we got our chance to chat to Philip Lee.  He's a really nice man who also came to Canada on a British passport in the 1960s.  His passport was from Hong Kong and he was very amused that when he arrived he could vote but other Canadians of Asian origin could not.  That has thankfully changed.  We started talking about Wayne Rooney and soccer while I tried to mentally keep our son away from the 5' Crystal Jardiniere.  My psychic powers failed and I had to go over and snap him out of his sugar fugue state and threaten removal of DS privileges which finally did the trick.  
I looked up what he was playing with...

Crystal Jardiniere - Donated to Government House in 1992 by Miss Phyllis Miller (and two grandsons - Gordon and Douglass Miller) of Vancouver, B.C., in memory of her parents and their grandparents, Jabez and Mary Miller. Jabez Miller came to Winnipeg in 1882 with D. R. Dingwall, founder of Dingwall Jewellers. The company later amalgamated with Birks. The jardiniere was cut by the Gundy Clapperton Company of Toronto sometime between 1905 and 1920, and was presented to Mr. Miller on his 40th anniversary with the company. 

So, thankfully when we left it was still standing. Honest Gov'nr. 

Canadians are all very excited on our behalf.  People keep coming over and congratulating us.  It is a big deal. But it was an easy decision to make. We don't give up our British Citizenship so we are fortunate enough to claim the UK and Canada as our nations.  It's a nice feeling, like having a wonderful massive security blanket.  DH can get a Canadian passport so hopefully he isn't always picked on when going to the US (it doesn't help he has no fingerprints and that Irish accent).

A large slice of our hearts belong to the UK but Canada is such a special place, the people as warm and friendly as the winters are cold and brutal.  After 6 years we feel very much part of the community.  I'm looking forward to fulfilling my oath and watching my kids grow up to be Canucks.    

Thanks, Canada!!!


  1. Congratulations, Toni. As the only one in my family born on Canadian soil, I got to watch my family take their oaths. They didn't get the ceremony you do, but they were equally as proud.

    Glad to have you all as fellow Canucks!

  2. So very proud to call you a fellow Canadian! Congratulations Andersons!

    p.s. thanks for sharing the experience. It was very nice to hear. :)

  3. Thanks, Meretta. I could have gone on and on and on... it was a lovely day. Haven't gor used to saying I'm a Canadian yet :D

  4. Congratulations to you and your family, Toni! Thanks for the fascinating account!