When I think of Canada Day, I am reminded of the time when our grade five class went to visit Canada’s Confederation Train. It was in 1967 and the train was stopping in Winnipeg for a few days on its cross-country tour. Eastern Canada got Expo 67 in Montreal. The west got a glimpse of a train. But that’s okay. I was eleven, and none of my friends’ families were lucky enough to be traveling all the way to Montreal to see Expo 67 either. We were going to see news reports on Expo on TV. Maybe even in colour over at Uncle George’s house. But, I digress.
Our class field trip to the Confederation Train was a very exciting event that had been arranged for us by our teacher, Miss Wasserman, who was very strict and proper. In addition to learning the CA-NA-DA song by Bobby Gimby, our preparations were primarily concerned with how we were expected to behave so as not bring any shame to Principal Sparling School or worse, to result in embarrassing our teacher.
Luckily, for me, celebrating Canada’s one hundredth birthday meant we had to learn a little about our history and complete a project or two. “You are so terribly fortunate to be in grade five this year, because Canadian history is on our curriculum,” Miss Wasserman enthused. Of course, she also went beyond the curriculum, as always, and made sure we understood how privileged we were to have this rich history to study. The other grades apparently were not going to have benefits we had. This might have been true. I don’t remember being overloaded with studying Canadian history at any time through my school years.
Miss Wasserman truly made it a very positive experience to visit the train. I really think she liked it more than any of us. Kathy, Linda, Reena, Craig, the two Ians, Wendy, me and of course Wayne, who was smarter than all of us, were neatly lined up with our classmates, shortest to tallest, the girls all in tunics. We were shuttled off to the train station in a huge bus with other classes. I was greatly impressed with the visit because the train station was so noisy and because the train was full of exhibits and stories about how Canada became Canada. There was much to be proud of. The train itself, was beautiful and incredibly huge, in my memory. It even had a special horn.
And as near as I can remember, we were not the cause of any new gray hairs sprouting on Miss Wasserman’s curly, bespectacled head.
How great would it be to recreate such a train to inspire children today to take an interest in their history. I do hope we don’t have to wait for Canada’s bicentennial for such an opportunity.
And finally, how could I share this story without also sharing a video that features that Bobby Gimby song, CA-NA-DA. Happy Canada Day.