Happy Canada Day! For the U.S. folks in the crowd, no, this is not the equivalent of our July 4. It’s the anniversary of Confederation, where the Canadian colonial provinces, including the province of Canada, came together to form Canada. It’s one of those weird little holidays you could only get from this weird bit of colonial history.
For my Canadian followers, I’d like to extend my sympathies. I just found out that Founders Hall in PEI has closed.
Anyone who knows me knows I love odd, local, and oddly local tourist museums. There’s the ball of twine, the Scotch Whisky Heritage Center, Woodleigh Miniatures, the Kensington Runestone Museum. (And I clearly need to write up some of these trips that I haven’t before.) If someone tells me PEI’s Potato Museum has closed, I’ll be heartbroken.
Founders Hall was very local, focusing much of its museum space on the role Charlottetown played in Confederation. It also focused outward, on the entrance of the other provinces, and forward in time to include particularly First Nations perspectives that weren’t well represented in all the decisions that built Canada.
However, Founders Hall wasn’t terribly odd, unless you find Canadian patriotism a bit odd in itself. You might. I’ve now written more posts about Canada’s founding than most Canadians. It displayed typical Canadian conservatism in talking about itself through most of museum. Mannequins in historical garb. Informational plaques. Video and audio available for depth.
Then, just about the time you thought you were done, along came the beaver. It was animatronic. Waving a British flag from atop a cake. Sitting in front of a wall with huge letters saying, “Dominion of/du Canada”, with fireworks animated in tiny LEDs.
I have never loved a museum installation as much as I loved that beaver. It’s one of the touchstones for the folks on that trip. Laura with her red braids at Green Gables. The tide going out below our house, leaving fields of mussels behind. The schoolgirls in the Halifax Public Gardens trying to discretely take a picture of James in his kilt. The debit cards not working properly in the ATMs, making us scramble for cash. The animatronic beaver.
And now it’s gone. I don’t even have good pictures, since we weren’t allowed to bring in cameras and camera phones were not the ubiquitous things they are now. (Of course, some people have visited more recently.)
It’s gone, Canada, and I’m so sorry. Never again may anything capture that combination of pride and humility that is Canadians talking about Canada like the ability to put an animatronic, flag-waving beaver at the end of your history lessons.
Frivolous Fridays are the Orbit bloggers’ excuse to post about fun things we care about that may not have serious implications for atheism or social justice. Any day is a good day to write about whatever the heck we’re interested in (hey, we put “culture” in our tagline for a reason), but we sometimes have a hard time giving ourselves permission to do that. This is our way of encouraging each other to take a break from serious topics and have some fun. Enjoy!