We can do this. We can celebrate Dominion/Canada Day not just by shunning office and computer for dock and cooler, but by committing ourselves to a positive vision of the country.

Rah-rah rhetoric about one’s nation is out of fashion these days, at least in nations worthy of it. “From the river to the sea” is chanted with passionate intensity, while “From sea to sea” lacks all conviction. But it would be a mistake, a kind of weird anti-nostalgia, to assume that in days of yore the First of July oratory was smug, facile, and indolent.

Well, undoubtedly some of it was. No one who has attended speeches will deny that they vary greatly in quality, with many apparently designed to fend off somnolence only through irritation. But the real stuff had substance to it.

In pointing to Canada’s glorious past achievements, our forebears were not inviting complacency or idleness. A certain degree of contentment and recreation, sure. But recreation is “re-creation,” restoring us for challenges to come physically, mentally, and morally. It is not, or should not be, a matter of becoming so intoxicated as to be obnoxious or too intoxicated even for that.

It also does not deny the challenges. Man is born to trouble as the sparks fly upward, and a nation and culture that have achieved great things must be determined both to preserve and enhance. As that line from “In Flanders Fields” goes, “To you from failing hands we throw/ The torch; be yours to hold it high.” And not only on the battlefield, although given current events we’d be well advised to keep our powder dry… if we had any.

One of my Canada Day projects is to memorize Joyce Kilmer’s “Trees.” You know, the one parodied nearly as often as Boris Karloff’s “Frankenstein’s Monster,” starting, “I think that I shall never see/ A poem lovely as a tree.” And I do not digress because one thing that shines from Canadian sea to sea as a gift to those of us living here now, and a mix of attainment and great good fortune to those departed, is trees. And lakes, wide open spaces, and wildlife.

So let us recall on Dominion Day, and afterwards, that the quintessentially Canadian cottage, cabin, or farmhouse, with its vital immersion in nature in its benign forms, is a blessing we must preserve and protect. To sit and contemplate, in Kilmer’s words, “A tree that looks at God all day,/ And lifts her leafy arms to pray” restores the soul in ways gazing at a high-rise or parking lot does not and cannot.

Oh, speaking of torches, you may not know as I didn’t that “Joyce” was a man born in New Brunswick. Albeit New Brunswick the New Jersey town, not New Brunswick the Canadian province. And that he was a Catholic convert killed in World War I.

Oh, speaking of Catholic converts, GK Chesterton cautions us against the complacent, inert conservative “assumption that if you leave things alone you leave them as they are.” In fact, “If you leave a thing alone you leave it to a torrent of change. If you leave a white post alone it will soon be a black post. If you particularly want it to be white you must be always painting it again; that is, you must always be having a revolution. Briefly, if you want the old white post you must have a new white post.”

Exactly. If people in charge denounce white posts as patriarchal and colonialist and hew them down like so many Dundas Squares, it’s the wrong kind of revolution. The right kind preserves our post, refreshes it, improves it, and where prudent reflection rather than angry impulse recommends, installs new ones or removes ones improperly sited or constructed, with reverent gratitude, not self-centered bitterness.

The Canada we inherited, or moved to, was not perfect and, again, no sensible Dominion Day oratory ever said it was. But it was worth cherishing, protecting, and improving in the Canadian spirit, not the Bolshevik or radical Islamist one.

Even our worst efforts on the immigration front will be hard put to pave or despoil our astounding natural endowment. But it can be done, as we could impoverish the free and prosperous economy we inherited, and squander the legacy of resolute defense of peace with justice, faith with honor, charity with truth, and knowledge with hope, a legacy at once profoundly conservative, profoundly dynamic, and profoundly precious.

Or we could take time on Dominion Day to express gratitude either that we were born here or that there was a Canada to move to, one whose maple leaf has recently and somewhat unexpectedly been refreshed as a symbol of liberty internationally, and resolve with quiet, fierce Canadian joy to stand on guard for it, and pass an even brighter torch.

Happy Dominion Day.

Views expressed in this article are opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.