history, People, Poetry Friday

Dominion Dreams

Tomorrow (July 1st) is a very special day in Canada. For not only is it our nation’s national holiday—Canada Day—(like the U.S’s 4th of July), but this year we celebrate Canada’s 150th birthday on this day.

I have been well aware of the specialness of this year for quite some time. Eighteen months ago our Fraser Valley Poets Society began working on an anthology focusing on Canada and timed to release just before July 1st. As associate editor some of the weight of that 208-page, 18-contributing poets book fell on my shoulders and so it was with great joy and relief that I saw the book launched just last Monday.

O Canada: Celebrating 150 Years – back, spine, front cover.

At the launch, the editor and I explained some of the processes of putting it together, and several of us read selections from it. At the the break all contributors present assembled around a specially designed cake for a group photograph. Then we celebrated with cake and other goodies before an open mic time.


I wrote several Canada-themed poems for the book. The one I share, below, was based on an article I came across on the website of the gold rush town Barkerville (a very interesting place to visit if you love history).

The article, written from the British perspective, attempts to dispel the gloom of naysayers and convince Brits of the wisdom of colonizing this newly discovered land—which had monetary value too (and that should convince them, if nothing else did!).

Of course the fact that this wasn’t really their land to claim is a matter to explore another day. You could say that, to some degree, their confident assumptions still haunt us.

This mural on the side of the Fort Langley Historic Site depicts the Hudson’s Bay Trading Post built on the Fraser River near the current site in 1827. Local First Nations Stò:lō people traded salmon, and furs for metals, ropes, and Hudson Bay Blankets, with guns being a relatively unimportant item.  (Photo © 2017 by V. Nesdoly, Information from Wikipedia Langley National Historic Site and Fort Langley.)

Dominion Dreams

Based on an article published in the British newspaper The Cosmopolitan – June 10, 1867

The amount of earth’s crust to be ruled by our queen
defies European analogies!
No matter that more than half this vast land
is in a perpetual perma-freeze.

That all that grows there is pale reindeer moss
roam the musk-ox and wild caribou.
There’s still much land left not in barrenness’ grip
to claim on this land mass so new.

The climate and earth are not what you’ve heard
why, the song-sparrow sings first of April.
While the melons and grapes and peaches so plump
are ripe long before the first snowfall.

Now speaking of snow, you likely don’t know
it covers the land—a warm mantle.
So the Red River farmer welcomes early flakes
to blanket fall’s spring wheat so gentle.

And Isle of Orleans just below Quebec
navigators have dubbed Isle of Bacchus.
While cows overwinter to Fort Edmonton
—very bearable, that’s what the fact is.

A Governor General under our queen
will rule this vast new Dominion.
We’ve tallied the value of stocks, goods, and land
it comes to over $1 billion!

© 2017 by Violet Nesdoly (All Rights Reserved)

Happy Canada Day to all Canadians reading here. And to those in the U.S., Happy 4th of July (in a few days)!

poetryfridayThis post is linked to Poetry Friday, hosted today by Diane at Random Noodling.


33 thoughts on “Dominion Dreams”

  1. You are a mistress of rhyme! I love your pairs, especially analogies/perma-freeze! Have a festive tomorrow, neighbor!


  2. Someday, I’d like to see the pale reindeer moss, the musk-ox and wild caribou. Your poem sounds exotic and gorgeous. Congrats on the anniversary. Have fun celebrating and congrats on the book, too.


  3. I haven’t been to the far north of Canada, hoping someday to see the wonders there that you write of. It’s fun to read a poem that’s really a praise letter, Violet. How wonderful that you were part of this book to celebrate Canada’s 150 years, and I imagine that you are also happy it’s done! Happy Canada Day!


    1. Thanks, Linda. Yes, putting that book together was a good experience. It helped me see Canada from many different viewpoints. I was especially moved by contributions of some of our new Canadian poets.



  4. Sign me up! I’m ready to stake a claim and come farm…..enjoying that warm mantle of snow and the beauty of Canada! Many, many congratulations on the book launch and your contributions. What a work of love for a beautiful nation. I am inspired!


  5. Congratulations on the publication of the book, Violet. I know that a great deal of effort went into this work. Happy Canada Day. Reading the article from the 1860s was a great backdrop for you poem and now I understand your last line.


    1. Thanks, Carol. Glad you took the time to read the article. The last line is probably a little unclear without it, so I’m glad that helped. And Happy 4th of July on Tuesday!



    1. Thanks, Michelle. Yes, the “Isle of Bacchus” was an interesting mention in the article that I referred to. I think the original writers were trying to make this new and somewhat harsh land sound as inviting as possible.



    1. Thank you, Jane. Don’t know if our little Society will ever hit your big city radar, but we enjoy our pastoral poetry (along with patriotic, political and other themes. 🙂



  6. Travel has made me late in commenting, Violet (not that I’m ever early!), but I do wish you a happy milestone Canada Day and I congratulate you on your part in creating what look like a wonderful book! Your poem is so chock full of details I feel I know Canada twice as well as before I read it, in one swell foop!


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