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Celebrating Canada 150, in England, when you aren’t even Canadian…

by Clare Mansell
Celebrating Canada 150, in England, when you aren’t even Canadian…

Those who have followed this blog for a while, will know that after two years living near Calgary in Alberta we adopted Canada Day as our annual celebration and (almost) every year since, have marked July 1st with some misplaced patriotism, flag-flying and barbecuing. Whilst some old friends have now helped us celebrate in three countries an are old hands at it, others who are new friends, are often understandably a little confused when we explain our only real connection to Canada is our dog, who was born there. But we don’t let our tenuous connections get in the way of a good party…


This year was a particularly special Canada Day as it was the country’s 150th birthday and entirely coincidentally, our tenth wedding anniversary the day before. We’ve done Canada Day with various numbers of people and I think this year we might have got a little over-excited with numbers.

It’s evident from the lack of actual barbecuing photos, that I didn’t actually get out of the kitchen till after the food was eaten and unlike in previous years I didn’t get a chance to sit down… at all. We had about 45 in total and in all honesty I think we could have happily split that number in half, as it was a little overwhelming and we didn’t get to talk to everyone.

The day was livened up a little by Bella our Beagle going missing on the morning walk. She ducked into the field of rapeseed next to the house and was having a jolly old time running round chasing the wildlife in there. We kept getting updates from people who had heard her baying, but we were unable to actually get to her due to the density of the crop. It’s not unheard of for her to get a scent and disappear for a bit, but on this day she set a new record. Eventually bringing herself home six hours after we lost her. She looked half exhausted and half delighted with herself.

For the party the kids had some amazing specially made matching outfits for Canada Day created for us by Sophie from Huxter Kids. And we also had Canada 150 branded flags, badges and temporary tattoos thanks to Jim’s links at his multinational workplace!

I have a feeling that Theo in particular will have good memories of the year when he and Alice had matching outfits. It’s the kind of thing that sticks in a child’s mind as you grow up.

For the grown ups making an effort to wear red is mandatory. I always find this takes one element of preparation out of the equation as all I have to do is grab something from the wardrobe that complies at the last minute!

We spent a lot of time debating the correct quantities for 45 people, with me failing to take into account that Jim really does cook a mean barbecue (forget burnt sausages, it’s spare ribs, hot smoked salmon and chicken souvla!) and that my sister and mum always make the most amazing puddings. We probably slightly under-catered, but I don’t think anyone went home hungry.

This year we did an old favourite of fruit skewers, with watermelon cut into the shape of a maple leaf, best £3 I’ve spent for a while buying the cutter!

We followed our barbecue with marshmallow toasting and s’mores cooked over a barbecue in the middle of the lawn. I got in trouble for using too many marshmallows on the fruit skewers, so Jim had to make an emergency dash to the Co-op with one of our (non-drinking) guests for resupplies.

Being a lunchtime celebration everyone was gone by about 6:30pm leaving the clearing up to happen at a civilised hour of the day! Next year smaller guest list, more food and more marshmallows!

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