In Honour of Canada Day

Just in time for Canada Day, The Historica-Dominion Institute’s President Anthony Wilson-Smith shares his memories of being a Canadian overseas:


In 1988 I had just moved to what was still then the USSR for the start of a three year journalism posting in Moscow.  When the time arrived for my first visit to the Kremlin, I was excited – and suitably nervous.  On the appointed day, I joined a scraggly line of other reporters waiting to get in from the January cold.  The stone-faced guards waved some colleagues through with barely a look; those were the ones from fellow Communist-run East Bloc countries, or Cuba, or the odd Westerner from a socialist paper.  Then there were the Americans – and me.  The guards flipped through the Americans’ press cards dismissively and motioned them to the side for a longer wait.  When it came my turn, the guard had already started the same ‘you-go-there’ gesture when he suddenly stopped and took a closer look.

‘Kanadietz?’ he asked, looking at the maple leaf pin on my coat.

Konieshno’ (of course), I nodded.

Vooee igraete xokee?’ (You play hockey ?), he asked, and I suddenly felt a pang of hope.

Ploxa’ (badly), I answered.

Vooee znaetze Gretzky?’ (You know Gretzky?), he asked, now starting to smile.

‘I have met him,’ I nodded – not mentioning that it had been in the same rink as 19,000 other people.

He patted my back, scowled simultaneously at those ‘other’ North Americans with their long wait still ahead – and waved me through. As a Hab fan, it marked one of the few times in his career that I was ever grateful to Wayne Gretzky.


Visit us again for more memories in honour of Canada Day from The Historica-Dominion Institute staff!