Monday, March 8, 2010

Canada, still cool

With the benefit of a week's perspective, it seems to me that the Vancouver Olympics, capped by the Canadian gold medal in hockey, may have been one of two seminal moments for the country in my lifetime.

It's been a while.

The last one was Expo 67, the Montreal world's fair that showed us we need not take a back seat to anyone, that Canadians were more than hewers of wood and drawers of water.

43 years ago, Expo provided a stage for Canada's creativity and optimism. It broke new ground in architecture, the graphic arts, cinematics. It showcased our technology. It demonstrated that we could strive for excellence, and pull it off. It excited us.

It showed that normally self-effacing Canadians could walk onto the world stage and, confidently, take a bow.

It provided a springboard to launch us into the future.

Canada grew up in 1967. It had a new sense of itself, a new sophistication, a pride in its accomplishments and, without swagger, a confidence in its ability to handle whatever might come down the road.

We had become cool.

I sensed that old Expo spirit in Vancouver. Beyond the setting of a new world record for gold medals won, beyond the amazing triumphs of our athletes, beyond the uncharacteristic spunkiness of "Own the Podium," there was an unabashed pride, a sense that we were putting on this show our way, and that we knew the world would like it.

All of that was evident in spectators' singing of the national anthem at events, in the sea of red in the stands, in the quirky flashmobs on the streets, in Wayne Gretsky's cross-town ride in the rain to light the permanent torch, in the inflatable moose.

The closing ceremony spoof of the opening ceremony technical glitch said it nicely. No embarrassment. No apologies. No hand-wringing. Shit happens. No biggie.

That's Canada now, making fun of ourselves in front of the world.

Takes confidence to do that.

1 comment:

  1. That's a great comparison, Doug. Expo 67 was an exhilarating time to be Canadian. I'm not a great fan of the Olympics, but something happened this time and i was caught up in that old 'spirit of 67', too.