Happy birthday eh!

Canada’s national day is July 1st every year. This day is known across the world as Canada Day, which I have persistently campaigned to be shortened to “Canaday”, though this has yet to catch on. The day commemorates the joining of the colonies Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Ontario and Quebec to form a “kingdom in its own right” within the British Empire known as the Dominion of Canada. This momentous event took place in 1867 – exactly 150 years ago today! If this isn’t worth celebrating, nothing is.

Canada is a huge country even if it’s not that old by global standards. Somehow those pesky Canadians, most of whom are of European descent, managed to grab, discover, buy or steal enough land to make it the second biggest country on Earth, only surpassed by Russia. If you were to fly from its eastern to its western edge, say from St. John’s in Newfoundland (airport code: YYT) to Victoria in British Columbia (airport code: YYJ), the distance would be just over 5000km. However, Canada’s population is relatively small – only about 35 million people call this massive chunk of land (and ice) home – which means that, in theory, each person has about 350,000 square metres (that’s 86 acres) for him or herself – yet almost 90% of the population lives within 100 miles of the US border, presumably because the rest of the country is pretty much uninhabitable due to cold, black flies or both.

The Yellow Belly Brewery in St. John's - worth a visit!
OK, that’s enough facts about Canada. This isn’t a history lesson, this is a blog about beer. What, then, could I write about to celebrate Canada’s birthday yet stay on topic? Well, one particular subject springs readily to mind: Canadian beer! I bet you didn’t see that one coming! I have written about Canada, beer and Canadian beer several times already in this blog, so in order to avoid repeating myself, I shall not read my previous posts to avoid repeating myself. This makes perfect sense, since nobody likes reading my blog posts when I repeat myself.

Beer was introduced to Canada by European settlers, the most famous being John Molson, who founded a brewery in Montreal in 1786. Others followed suit, including Alexander Keith and John Labatt – names that sound oddly familiar to anyone who’s ever tried to purchase beer in Canada. In fact, by the 1970s, the brewing industry was almost exclusively dominated by Molson and Labatt, both brewing the same tasteless industrial lager that we nowadays love to hate. Luckily, things began to change in the 80s and 90s when craft breweries started appearing, so if you wish to raise a glass of Canadian amber liquid to celebrate today’s anniversary, you have the choice of more than 500 breweries – most of which are small craft breweries that produce very tasty beer indeed.

Visiting one of the 500-odd breweries in Canada.
Sadly, I have yet to visit all 500 or so breweries, though I have had the pleasure of sampling quite a few on the Niagara peninsula, the area where my lovely wife was born and raised – to be precise, in Niagara Falls, which is both a well-known beautiful waterfall and a town that caters mainly to honeymooners who seem to think that watching billions of litres of water crashing down in a ravine whilst being surrounded by casinos, chain hotels and tacky museums is the perfect setting for consummating their marriage. Personally, I got married a few miles to the north, in Niagara-on-the-Lake – and, luckily, so did my wife. This town is the exact opposite of Niagara Falls – quaint, quiet and quaffing – the latter due to the presence of no less than three craft breweries, the best of which is simply called Oast House Brewers. I’ve been there twice now, the last time on a scorching hot summer’s day when I sat outside and found it very hard to stop having another one, something I sadly had to do if I was going to be able to cycle home without ending up in the river. Their beer range is extensive, so I’m just going to say that this place is well worth travelling a few thousand miles for – and you could always combine it with a pleasant stroll through downtown where you’ll find a very nice pub called The Olde Angel Inn.

Happy blogger!

I’m now sat at home in Germany. Since it’s more than a year since I last visited Canada, I’m starting to miss the place. My wife’s favourite sister recently went on a holiday with her husband to the Maritime Provinces – New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island. They sent us no less than four (4) postcards, only one of which mentioned anything other than beer (not quite sure why). It sounded like a fantastic trip. The agenda was simple, yet exceedingly clever: travel for a bit, find a craft brewery, order the sampler (anything between 4 and 12 small glasses containing the different beers and ales on offer), go to the next one, locate another one, pitch the tent within stumbling distance of the final one of the day…. and repeat this for two weeks. Do throw in a walk or two in some national park or other to build up thirst, though.

Celebrating Canada Day in Germany.
Anyway, time to start wrapping up here. Since it’s not just July 1st, but also Saturday, I’ve just cracked open a Canadian beer from the Hopcity brewery called “Barking Squirrel”. Suffice to say it’s nutty and delicious, and the fact that this great nation celebrates its 150th anniversary today simply adds to the pleasure of drinking this brew. There is no finer way to celebrate, unless you’re actually in Canada, in which case you can drink beer and watch some fireworks. On that note, I hope you will all raise a glass to this country, also known as The Great White North, Canuckia, Lumberjack Land and The Sensible Part (of America). Inuuhiqatsiaq!


  1. Happy Canaday ;) Glad you got to enjoy some great Canadian beer to celebrate! I'll be enjoying some Big Rig "Midnight Kissed My Cow" later on today - a yummy double chocolate milk stout.

    If you guys make it back up to Ottawa sometime, we will have to organize a Brew Donkey tour!

  2. An interesting and entertaining read Lasse, thank you. Next time you are over we need to get together at the Elora Brewing Company, a small, fairly new, brewery who brew and serve on site.