Patriotic Stink Bugs Celebrating the 4th of July as an Ameri-Canadian Child

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Patriotic Stink Bugs Celebrating the 4th of July as an Ameri-Canadian Child

 

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My mother’s side of the family is American, as most of them hailed from Laconia N.H. and the rest of the “ragamuffins” were born in Ireland. Both my mother and her mother had very short lives, but my grandmother always instilled American patriotism in her daughter.

Word had it, that Grandmother Reid had enough American flag toss pillows to supply everyone south of the border. Living in Cowansville, Quebec, 12 miles from the American border, she brought them all out once a year on July the 4th, refusing to celebrate Canada Day on the first of July.

The small Eastern Townships town also knew that she would march out to her back porch every morning to sing “The Star Spangled Banner.” My father’s side was from Great Britain and they were horrified as this was not considered proper Canadian behaviour.

 

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Me in January 1952 in front of the house

 

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1990s

 

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now 2017

Continuing her mother’s tradition every July the 4th at approximately 8am, my mother would herd my late sister Robin and me into the car.  Sometimes, even in record-breaking heat, we would sit impatiently for the next hour while my mother tapped her foot sitting in the front seat. My father was a golfer not a driver, and hated anything that meant he had to leave the town limits. My mother Bernice would get out of the car every 10 minutes, go into the house, and yell,

“Arthur Knight- are you coming?”

Arthur, who sat alone in his patio chair every Canada Day with a Molson Beer in his hand, really had no plans to drive us across the border to Vermont. Every July the 4th like clockwork he sat glued on the sofa until approximately 9:10 am and then would finally come out, start the car, and off we would go.

 

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Derby Line, Vermont, 1930s – The first Customs and Immigration border inspection station at this point of entry was located in the Derby Line Hotel.

 

Every year we stopped at every rock formation in the Smuggler’s Notch area. Then the car would be parked near the ski hill at Stowe, Vermont, and my mother would point to the barren green hill and tell us how wonderful it must be to ski there. The final stop would be the A&P store on the way home just before we crossed the border back into Canada.  There my father was allowed to buy his package of Wise Potatoe Chips and a pack of Winston cigarettes. Then and only then did he feel it was worth the trip.

As the years passed things got more elaborate for the 4th. One year we went to New York City, and my mother thought it was a good idea for my father to take me up to the top of Empire State Building. She stayed on the ground floor as she had vertigo but told him to lift me up and show me the American world. As he held me up high on his shoulders in the viewing area; I kept hearing him say,

“Linda, can you see the Statue of Liberty? Wave, as it would make your American Grandmother proud!”
Ladies and gentleman, the Statue of Liberty was not the only thing that was green that day. After my mother died, my grandfather thought my mother’s patriotic tradition should continue. Every year my sister and I, along with my grandparents piled into a taxi cab and crossed the border to Richford, Vermont. We would go to the same little restaurant and have a festive “American” turkey dinner and ice cream sundaes that were topped by little American flags.

On the way home someone would always point out the location where an ancient cousin from my mother’s side used to live. The same story would be told how she fought off the Fenian’s with a fork and a spoon in her door lock while the American Irish were trying to take over Canada during the *Fenian Raids. Knowing my mother’s side she probably invited them in to play cards and have a few pints.

I hope everyone had a great Canada Day and Happy July 4th to my friends because really; we are all just one and the same.

 

Information where you can buy all Linda Seccaspina’s books-You can also read Linda in The Townships Sun and Screamin’ Mamas (USA)

Come and visit the Lanark County Genealogical Society Facebook page– what’s there? Cool old photos–and lots of things interesting to read. Also check out The Tales of Carleton Place.

 

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relatedreading

Fenians OR Ballygiblins? Fighting Irish 101

 

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Images:

Vintage Folk Art picture of the Cowan house in Cowansville, Quebec.

(My grandfather George Crittenden owned the house from the 1930’s- 1960’s)

Picture of what it looks like now after being bought by the Rona Hardware chain.

 

Picture of an original captured Fenian Cannon near Cowansville, Quebec.

(Dominion Day is what Canada Day used to be called.)

 

The Toronto Globe says: “A fenian cannon, captured at the raid of 1870, will be employed to aid in the celebration of Dominion Day in Cowansville. It is a breech-loader, about six feet long, and mounted on wheels. It has not been used since the raid, on account of the difficulty to obtain suitable ammunition, and at the recent meeting of the Home Guards this gun was given in charge of Mr. Henry Cowan. We learn that a squad of men are now in training to man this gun on Dominion Day, and, perhaps, should the Fenians attempt another invasion of our peaceful borders, this relic of their foly in 1870 may do effective service in driving them back.”

 

About lindaseccaspina

Linda Knight Seccaspina was born in Cowansville, Quebec about the same time as the wheel was invented and the first time she realized she could tell a tale was when she got caught passing her smutty stories around in Grade 7 at CHS by Mrs. Blinn. When Derek "Wheels" Wheeler from Degrassi Jr. High died in 2010, Linda wrote her own obituary. Some people said she should think about a career in writing obituaries. Before she laid her fingers to a keyboard, Linda owned the eclectic store Flash Cadilac and Savannah Devilles in Ottawa from 1976-1996. After writing for years about things that she cared about or pissed her off she finally found her calling. Is it sex drugs and rock n' roll you might ask? No, it is history. Seeing that her very first boyfriend in Grade 5 (who she won a Twist contest with in the 60s) is the head of the Brome Misissiquoi Historical Society and also specializes in local history back in Quebec, she finds that quite funny. She writes every single day and is also a columnist for Hometown News and Screamin's Mamas. She is a volunteer for the Carleton Place and Beckwith Heritage Museum, an admin for the Lanark County Genealogical Society Facebook page, and a local guest speaker. She has been now labelled an historian by the locals which in her mind is wrong. You see she will never be like the iconic local Lanark County historian Howard Morton Brown, nor like famed local writer Mary Cook. She proudly calls herself The National Enquirer Historical writer of Lanark County, and that she can live with. Linda has been called the most stubborn woman in Lanark County, and has requested her ashes to be distributed in any Casino parking lot as close to any Wheel of Fortune machine as you can get. But since she wrote her obituary, most people assume she's already dead. Linda has published six books, "Menopausal Woman From the Corn," "Cowansville High Misremembered," "Naked Yoga, Twinkies and Celebrities," "Cancer Calls Collect," "The Tilted Kilt-Vintage Whispers of Carleton Place," and "Flashbacks of Little Miss Flash Cadilac." All are available at Amazon in paperback and Kindle. Linda's books are for sale on Amazon or at Wisteria · 62 Bridge Street · Carleton Place, Ottawa, Canada, and at the Carleton Place and Beckwith Heritage Museum · 267 Edmund Street · Carleton Place, Ottawa, Canada--Appleton Museum-Mississippi Textile Mill and Mill Street Books and Heritage House Museum and The Artists Loft in Smith Falls.

3 responses »

  1. Linda, you are one amazing woman! I thoroughly enjoyed this post. As it turns out I am leaving soon for a two week tour of Maine, Vermont, and New Hampshire. Any suggestions. I am going to contact you in August and take you out to lunch, OK?

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