The feast day of Saint George, patron saint of England, is April 23. A provincial holiday is observed in Newfoundland and Labrador.
England has had a dominant influence in Ottawa. Over 95% of Ottawa’s residents speak English; England was the largest ethnic origin for Ottawa residents after Canada in the 2011 census. That is changing as Canada welcomes immigrants from many countries, notably East Asia and China.
There was an active St George’s Society in Ottawa from 1844 to 1956. Its objectives were uniting English people and their descendants for social and patriotic purposes and affording its members advice and pecuniary assistance in case of need. Also active were the Sons of England Benefit Society, Ladies’ Auxiliary of the St George’s Society; and Daughters and Maids of England. St George’s societies existed in Toronto and Montreal and likely many other communities.
April 23 is the assumed birth date of William Shakespeare, England’s greatest playwright. The exact date is not recorded; his baptism was on Wednesday, April 26, 1546 at Holy Trinity Church, Stratford-upon-Avon. Shakespeare died on April 23 in 1616.
Saint Patrick’s Day, March 17th is upon us again in this pandemic year. For many it means wearing green, drinking green beer, listening to jigs and reels, singing ‘The Black Velvet Band’ and having a party. In non-Covid times, annual Saint Patrick’s parades are de rigour and it is a national holiday in Ireland and a provincial one in Newfoundland.
Saint Patrick’s Day is an official Christian feast day as of the early 17th century and is observed by the Catholic Church, the Anglican Communion (especially the Church of Ireland), the Eastern Orthodox Church and the Lutheran Church. The day commemorates Saint Patrick and the arrival of Christianity in Ireland and celebrates the heritage and culture of the Irish in general.
According to historical records, Saint Patrick was a 5th-century Romano-British Christian missionary and bishop in Ireland. Patrick is believed to be responsible for converting the pagan Irish to Christianity. Patrick’s efforts against the druids were eventually turned into an allegory in which he drove “snakes” out of Ireland, despite the fact that snakes were not known to inhabit the region.
Tradition holds that he died on 17 March and was buried at Downpatrick. Over the following centuries, many legends grew up around Patrick and he became Ireland’s foremost saint.
We may be celebrating this year in socially distanced venues or in our own homes but raise a glass of cheer for Saint Patrick and all things Irish. It is also time to celebrate the advance of spring and warmer weather. Slainte!
To coincide with the International Day of the Francophonie on March 20 of every year.
March usually coincides with March Break for students in Canada in most provinces and territories. Schools choose a week in the month of March to celebrate the French language.
Why celebrate the French language?
Canada’s two official languages are an integral part of our identity.
Why celebrate any language? Because a language is a reflection of a people’s culture, a manifestation of the human spirit – a unique way of expressing how one perceives and experiences the world around them. As we learn to understand and appreciate each others’ cultures and languages, we grow closer together in the human family.
Canada’s Official Language Act is being modernized! See here for more information:
Let’s celebrate the francophonie together, its culture, its diversity and its inclusivity across Canada! Discover here the organized activities from coast to coast to coast as well as online games and contests that Les Rendez-vous de la Francophonie have planned for you: https://rvf.ca/en
Check out how the Ottawa Public Library is celebrating the month of the Francophonie this year:
March is the Mois de la francophonie at the University of Ottawa! It’s the perfect opportunity to get to know and enjoy French language and culture in all its forms. Activities will take place all over the campus — lots of concerts, exhibitions, talks, films and more! This March, let’s celebrate our own rich, dynamic francophone community!
How many Canadians are aware that in Western Canada there is an organized and dynamic minority group of over 100,000 people, who all speak French? This group is spread across three provinces: Alberta, Saskatachewan and Manitoba, that vast territory better known as ‘the prairies’. The documentatry ‘La Voix de la prairie’ introduces these men and women, survivors of a unique history, which they are trying to preserve. This French-speaking population lives in the natural environment of vast plains and takes us to the heart of North America of the early explorers and trappers, the ‘coureurs des bois”.
On Monday, 1 March, St David’s Day, we celebrate Welsh heritage. In the most recent census, a little under two percent of Ottawa’s population claimed Welsh ancestry, those of Welsh origin have made a notable contribution to Canada.
Terry Matthews, born and educated in Wales came to Ottawa and as a serial entrepreneur stimulated the local hi-tech industry, founding Mitel and Newbridge Networks while becoming a billionaire.
Mabel Elizabeth (née Davies), an immigrant from Wales, was the mother of Erik Neilson, former Deputy Prime Minister in the Mulroney government from 1984 to 1986, and his better know brother, actor Leslie Neilson — “surely” you know that!
Much earlier, mapmaker David Thompson was one of the great explorers of the North West Company.
Others of Welsh origin include Leonard Brockington, first head of the CBC, novelist Robertson Davies, Powys Thomas, co-founder of the national theatre school, and Robert Harris, painter of the Fathers of Confederation.
If any of your ancestors had last name Jones, Davies, Williams, Evans, Thomas, Roberts, Lewis, Hughes, Morgan or Griffiths there’s a good chance you have Welsh heritage. Join in singing the Welsh National Anthem.
Do you ever stop and think what it means to be Black in Canada? If you are curious to learn about this and what you can do to break the complacency, tune in on Thursday, Feb 18 at 7 pm to hear about experiences of Black Canadians.
The Canadian Museum of History is hosting a virtual discussion with Desmond Cole, an eye-opening conversation that pokes at the heart of racism. Growing up in Toronto, Desmond Cole Is no stranger to face-to-face intolerance and racist verbiage and encounters.
This foremost Canadian activist is also the author of the book The Skin We’re In: A Year of Black Resistance and Power. The book was a national bestseller and the winner of the 2020 Toronto Book Award.
The Hunt Club Community Association wishes to help you celebrate Black History Month by recognizing the accomplishments and legacies of notable Black Canadians. Canada’s theme for Black History Month in 2021 is “The Future is Now’, a chance to celebrate the transformative work that Black Canadians and their communities are doing now.
Members of our Hunt Club community have compiled a list of several notable black Canadians. These individuals have helped contribute to the movement and progress of equal rights, or have inspired many others, through their accomplishments or expression. Below you will find a quick summary of each person, but we encourage you to click the links and explore their lives even further. Their struggles and experiences are the stories that inspire, and help create a better understanding as we move forward.
Mary Ann Shadd Cary: 1823–1893
Mary Ann Shadd Cary (October 9, 1823 – June 5, 1893) was an American-Canadian anti-slavery activist, journalist, publisher, teacher, and lawyer. She was the first black woman publisher in North America and the first woman publisher in Canada. Shadd Cary edited The Provincial Freeman, established in 1853. Published weekly in southern Ontario, it advocated equality, integration and self-education for black people in Canada and the United States. Read more (wikipedia.org)
Anderson Ruffin Abbott: 1837-1913
Anderson Ruffin Abbott, doctor, surgeon (born 7 April 1837 in Toronto, Upper Canada; died 29 December 1913 in Toronto, ON). Abbott was the first Canadian-born Black person to graduate from medical school. He served the Union army as a civilian surgeon during the American Civil War. Read more (thecanadianencyclopedia.ca)
Elijah McCoy: 1844-1929
Born in Colchester, Ontario, to parents who had escaped from slavery in Kentucky and arrived in Canada via the Underground Railroad, Elijah McCoy showed an early interest in machines and tools and an aptitude for mechanics. At a time when it was difficult for Black people to obtain training in the United States, his parents sent him to Edinburgh, Scotland to study mechanical engineering. Read more (canadianencyclopedia.ca)
Delos Davis: 1846-1915
Delos Rogest Davis, KC, teacher and lawyer (born 4 August 1846 in Maryland, died 13 April 1915 in Anderdon Township, ON). Davis was the second Black lawyer in Canada and the first Black person appointed to the King’s Counsel in all of the British Empire.
Delos Davis was born to enslaved African parents in Maryland. In 1850, his family escaped to Canada by way of the Underground Railroad and settled in Colchester Township, near Windsor, Ontario. Read more (canadianencyclopedia.ca)
Albert Jackson: 1857–1918
Albert Jackson, letter carrier (born c. 1857–58 in Delaware; died 14 January 1918 in Toronto , ON). Albert Jackson is thought to be the first Black letter carrier in Canada (see Postal System). Jackson was born into enslavement in the United States, and escaped to Canada with his mother and siblings when he was a toddler in 1858. In 1882, Jackson was hired as a letter carrier in Toronto, but his co-workers refused to train him on the job. While his story was debated in the press for weeks, the Black community in Toronto organized in support of Jackson, meeting with Prime Minister Sir John A. Macdonald to have Jackson reinstated. Jackson returned to his post days later and served as a letter carrier for almost 36 years. Read more (canadianencyclopedia.ca)
Carrie Best: 1903-2001
Poet, writer, journalist and activist. Founded The Clarion, the province’s first black-owned and published newspaper in Nova Scotia in 1946. In 1952 she began hosting The Quiet Corner radio program. Carrie was made an Officer of the Order of Canada in 1979. Read more (thecanadianencyclopedia.ca)
Portia White: 1911-1968
Truro, Nova Scotia
Portia White embarked on her stellar singing career at her father’s Baptist Church in Halifax. Before she began singing professionally, she supported her musical career by teaching in rural Back schools in Halifax County, and eventually made her professional debut in Toronto. Soon afterwards, she performed in New York City to rave reviews.
Portia White went on to international success, performing more than 100 concerts, including a command performance before Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. Read more (canada.ca)
Viola Desmond: 1914-1965
Canadian businesswoman of Black Nova Scotian descent. In 1946 she challenged racial segregation at a cinema in New Glasgow, Nova Scotia by refusing to leave a whites-only area of the Roseland Theatre. Read more (thecanadianencyclopedia.ca)
Kathleen “Kay” Livingstone (1918-1975) was born in London, Ontario, in 1918. Her parents, James and Christina Jenkins founded the Dawn of Tomorrow, a pioneering publication for Canada’s Black community in 1921. From a young age, she was interested in the performing arts, studying music in Toronto and Ottawa. Read more (canada.ca)
Lincoln Alexander: 1922-2012
The Honourable Lincoln M. Alexander was born in 1922 in Toronto. He served with the Royal Canadian Air Force during the Second World War, between 1942 and 1945. He was educated at Hamilton’s McMaster University where he graduated in Arts, and Toronto’s Osgoode Hall School of Law where he passed the bar examination in 1965. Mr. Alexander was appointed a Queen’s Counsel and became a partner in a Hamilton law firm from 1963 to 1979. He was the first Black person to become a Member of Parliament in 1968 and served in the House of Commons until 1980. He was also federal Minister of Labour in 1979–1980. Read more (canada.ca)
Oscar Peterson: 1925-2007
Oscar Emmanuel Peterson, CC, CQ, OOnt, jazz pianist, composer, educator (born 15 August 1925 in Montréal, QC; died 23 December 2007 in Mississauga, ON). Oscar Peterson is one of Canada’s most honoured musicians. He is widely regarded as one of the greatest jazz pianists of all time. He was renowned for his remarkable speed and dexterity, meticulous and ornate technique, and dazzling, swinging style. Read more (thecanadianencyclopedia.ca)
Rosemary Brown: 1930-2003
Rosemary Brown came to Canada from her native Jamaica in 1950 to attend McGill University in Montreal. First elected to the British Columbia legislature in 1972, she served until her retirement in 1986. She also ran for the leadership of the federal New Democratic Party in 1974. Read more (canada.ca)
Zanana Lorraine Akande
Zanana Lorraine Akande (born c. 1937) is a former politician in Ontario, Canada. She was a New Democratic member of the Legislative Assembly of Ontario from 1990 to 1994 who represented the downtown Toronto riding of St. Andrew—St. Patrick. She served as a cabinet minister in the government of Bob Rae. She was the first woman from the African Diaspora elected to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario, and the first woman from the African Diaspora to serve as a cabinet minister in Canada. Read more (wikipedia.org)
The Honorable Jean Augustine
Jean Augustine (1937) is a trailblazing politician, social activist, and educator. She was the first African-Canadian woman to be elected to the House of Commons, the first African-Canadian woman to be appointed to the federal Cabinet, and the first Fairness Commissioner of the Government of Ontario. Read More (canada.ca)
The Right Honorable Michaëlle Jean
Michaëlle Jean (French pronunciation: [mika.ɛl ʒɑ̃]; born September 6, 1957) is a Canadian stateswoman and former journalist who served as Governor General of Canada from 2005 to 2010, the 27th since Canadian Confederation. She is the first Haitian Canadian to hold this office.
Jean was the third secretary-general of the Organisation internationale de la Francophonie from 2015 until 2019. She was the first woman to hold the position and held the position until the end of 2018. Read more (canada.ca)
First Black Chief of Police in Canada
Devon Clunis moved to Winnipeg from Jamaica at age 12. Wanting to make a difference, he joined the Winnipeg Police Service in 1987, where he has performed all manner of duties over the course of 25 years, including: patrols, traffic duty, investigations and community relations.
In November 2012, Clunis was sworn in as Chief of Police of the Winnipeg Police Service, becoming the first Black Canadian to hold the position.
Read a speech delivered by Devon Clunis, Chief of the Winnipeg Police Service, at the Black History Month 2013 launch reception. Read more (canada.ca)
Janaya Khan is a social activist from Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Khan is a co-founder of Black Lives Matter Toronto as well as an international ambassador for the Black Lives Matter Network. Khan identifies as black, queer, and gender-nonconforming. Much of their work analyzes intersectional topics including the Black Lives Matter movement, queer theory, Black feminism, and organized protest strategies. Read more (wikipedia.org)
Pernell-Karl Sylvester “P. K.” Subban MSC (/ˈsubæn/ SOO-ban; born May 13, 1989) is a Canadian professional ice hockey defenceman for the New Jersey Devils of the National Hockey League (NHL). Subban was drafted by the Montreal Canadiens in the second round, 43rd overall, of the 2007 NHL Entry Draft. In 2013, he won the Norris Trophy as the NHL’s top defenceman, and tied with Kris Letang as the leading scorer among defencemen. In the summer of 2014, he signed an eight-year, $72 million contract with the Canadiens, running through the 2021–22 season. After the 2015–16 season, Subban was traded to the Nashville Predators, where he spent three seasons before being traded to New Jersey in 2019. Read more (wikipedia.org)
Jully Black, born Jully Ann Inderia Gordon, is a singer, songwriter, actress, and TV personality. Known as Canada’s Queen of R&B, she is a Juno Award-winner and in 2013 CBC Music named her one of the “25 Greatest Canadian Singers Ever.” Read more (wikipedia.org)
Measha Brueggergosman is a Canadian Soprano born June 28, 1977 in Fredericton, New Brunswick. Brueggergosman began singing in the choir of her local Bapitist church, later taking lessons from Mabel Doak and spent summer scholarships at the Boston Conservatory. She got her Bachelors of Music at the University of Toronto in 1999, and a Master of Music at the Robert Schumann Hochschule in Düsseldorf, Germany.
She debuted at age 20 by playing a signature lead role in the opera Beatrice Chancy by James Rolfe. The opera portrayed the tale of an enslaved girl in 19th century rural Nova Scotia who murdered her abusive father and master.
Soon after, she won several prestigious competitions, including the Grand Prize at the 2002 Jeunesses Musicales Montreal International Competition and her career rose considerably. She appeared all across Canada and internationally, singing for Queen Elizabeth II (2002), in the US at Carnegie Hall’s Weill Recital Hall (2001), and in London at Royal Albert Hall (2003). She was one of the soloists featured in the 2005 Naxos recording of the multiple Grammy winning William Bolcom: Songs of Innocence and Experience. Additionally, she won a Juno Award in 2008 for the album Surprise. Today, Brueggergosman is recognized as one of the top sopranos in North America. Read more (canada.ca)
Quick! When you think of a day to commemorate our beloved Maple Leaf, what day comes to mind?
If you said “July 1st – Canada Day,” you’d be half-right. Because, dear readers, our beloved flag actually has its very own birthday, or inauguration day: February 15th.
Canada may be pushing 154 years old, but our flag is a spritely 56. From Confederation until February 14th 1965, the flag of the United Kingdom, the Royal Union Flag (a.k.a. the Union Jack) flew above Canada’s Parliament, though the Red Ensign, a combination of the Union Jack and the shield of Canada, had also been used since the 1870s, including on ships and government locations.
In 1960, then-leader of the opposition Lester B. Pearson said Canada needed its own flag separate from the United Kingdom’s to show we were an independent country. Upon his election in 1963, he made it a priority to resolve “the flag problem” in time for Canada’s 100th birthday celebrations in 1967.
“The Great Flag Debate” pitted those who wanted to retain something borrowed from our colonial history against those who wanted something new, and in case you’re curious, there was also something blue: one of the two unsuccessful designs, known as“the Pearson Pennant,” featured two blue stripes on either side of a white box and a sprig of three maple leaves in the centre. Sound familiar?
In the end, the winner was selected in a most Canadian fashion: by a 15-member committee, who narrowed down the thousands of submissions from Canadians to three finalists before landing upon a design proposed by George Stanley, Dean of Arts at Canada’s Royal Military College (RMC) in Kingston, Ontario.
Stanley’s design featured red stripes, which were modelled after those on RMC’s own flag, which itself was modelled after the Canada General Service Medal (1866-1870), predominantly awarded to those who fought against the Fenians.
The signature maple leaf sealed the deal, and the committee approved the design on October 22nd 1964. Approvals in the House of Commons and Senate followed, and finally Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II made it official on January 28th 1965.
A few weeks later, on February 15th, a public ceremony was held on Parliament Hill to raise the new flag at noon, and it’s flown there ever since.
Pearson’s words at the time were fitting: “May the land over which this new flag flies remain united in freedom and justice…sensitive, tolerant, and compassionate towards all.”
We should mention that the design of the Canadian flag we know and love is the product of many people, including Ontario M.P. John Matheson, who was a driving force behind the committee achieving consensus, heraldic artist Alan Beddoe, graphic designers Jacques St-Cyr and George Bist, Patrick Reid, whose team was responsible for designing the flag’s parameters, and Dr Günter Wyszecki, who determined the precise – and only – shade of red authorized to be used.
While Flag Day is not a statutory holiday, this year it falls on Family Day, so on Monday, let’s take a moment to celebrate the unifying symbol of our Canadian family, the Canadian flag.
As we pay tribute to Black Canadians who made significant contributions to Canadian society, we’d like to hear from you. Connect and tell us what you are doing to help create an inclusive neighbourhood – where all of us are valued and cherished.
Using your cell phone or camera, record a video (maximum 2 minutes) video of yourself or your friends, and share your thoughts. Record your video in either English or French. For better quality footage, please keep your cell phone in a horizontal position. When you press “Record” please provide 3 seconds of silence or a smile, before and after your message.
Please start your video:
My name is ________
This Black History Month, here is what I want to say to all my Hunt Club neighbours…
By sending your video you are giving us permission to post it on our social media platforms for the purpose of promoting and celebrating Black History Month, with this year’s theme “Future is Now”.
We will be posting videos on this page, and social media between Feb 16 and 28.
Keep coming back to this page, and like our page on Twitter and Facebook.
Join us and take part in this worthy initiative!