July Ist, 1867 was a party up here. But the fireworks, poetry, and parties were hardly noticed in Britain, the United States or elsewhere. In her typical invisible way, Canada became the first British colony to transition into an independent nation state while remaining within the British Empire.
Our ancestors had to fire shots to keep republican invaders and Fenian terrorists from forcing their ideology on us. But, unlike other colonial nations, we never fired shots against an imperial master to gain our nationality. In fact, British North America survived because imperial links made its people less vulnerable to invaders.
On July 1st 1867, not many outsiders took the Canadian experiment seriously. Canadians celebrated, but the noise didn't wake up the neighbours. Lucky for us!
In the next few decades, Canada's success led to the creation of many nations. It also redefined what it meant to be loyal to the Sovereign. Colonials could build their own nations. They could redefine the role of parliament, classes, and the Crown without destroying relationships with their imperial cousins. (Deep study of Canadian history is the best way to understand why we choose the political and cultural institutions that have been rejected by our southern neighbour. It also helps explain the reasons Canadians often differ in their outlook from other nations.)
In 2008, Canada continues to be part of the Commonwealth of Nations, proving that interdependence is a valid path to Sovereignty! We continue to be a constitutional monarchy by order of our own parliament and provincial legislatures. Our system of government was entrenched in our Constitution in 1982 and cannot be changed without the consent of the federal parliament and every provincial legislature.
Our choices may bewilder our neighbours. But they are choices we have made. Canada's success proves independence can result from loyalty to old friends.
Happy Birthday Canada.