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BEECHEY: Joseph Mathias Sanders shares his thoughts on Canada

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Like a big jigsaw puzzle our nation has been slowly put together and in 1867 glue was added to try and hold some of the piece together.

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One hundred and fifty-four years later we are still working on getting the colours to match and pieces to fit so a beautiful and great country will be the result. Some pieces still could be in the wrong spot, but we can change and move them to fit properly.

While pondering Canada’s past I wondered what my Burtch family branch felt about living in Canada. I suspect it would be similar to my friend’s Jane Smith’s Sanders family branch. Like the Burtch family the Sanders fought in the War of 1812, mine then settled near Brantford and hers in York.

The children had to move westward to get their own land to develop. Zacharia Burtch built the first home in Woodstock and Joseph Mathias Sanders came to Tillsonburg. Joseph was a poet and wrote what Canada meant to him before his death in 1881. He was a notable citizen in Tillsonburg – his second marriage was to Nancy Tillson VanNorman from two of our town’s movers and shakers.

You might be surprised at the differences and similarities between Joseph’s time and our world today, and I hope you will ponder how Joseph’s thoughts affect you.

“Dear Canada, our happy home, thou art ever dear to me. I have breathed thy free pure air for two-thirds of a century. And may thou be the blest abode of millions brave and free to rally round our Country’s flag, leaf of the maple tree.

“Thou art the land of the maple and the pine where we spent our youthful days and prime. We have wandered through thy pleasant woods and by thy crystal streams and floods. We have seen the stately deer at play, the speckled trout so happy lay, and picked along thy banks so dear. The sweet spring flowers year after year.

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“But now our youther days are o’er, the trout are scarce, the deer is not more. Ontario’s streams are not as once they were, clear and pure most of the year. These changes we have helped to make for our own and for our Country’s sake. The pine and forest had to go and there our sons now plow and sow to get the grain we so much need to supply us with our daily bread.

“And all these changes are best we know, yet our minds linger over the long ago. A way further back than the days of our youth when our fathers brought Canada wisdom and truth. And may we be ruled by the principle still to be guided and be governed by God’s holy will.

“Then let us love our country still, though scenes have changed and changed they will. For dear to us and dear thou art, yet changes need not change our heart. True to our noble Queen we stand to help her guard our native land. Defend her rights from shore to shore as our forefathers done before.

“Nor will we stoop to bow a slavish knee or yet so base as servile be, but like the noble and the great stand firm and true what e’er our fate. And shun all wrong and guard all right with all our powers of will and might. Learn to submit to wait and bear by every means that is most fair.

“That we may be as free and pure as the air on Lake Superior’s shore, our hearts be filled with precious love free from the fountain head above. Then God will be our country’s shield if only to his will we yield. Yes, save our souls forever more and land us on that better shore.

God bless you when you read these lines with faithful perfect Christian minds, that when your days and mine are one we may meet in heaven to part no more.

“To the York and Ontario pioneers a humble expression of loyalty and love to home country, God and Queen please join me in it.”

Yours most affectionately, Joseph M. Sanders, Tillsonburg.

Canada Day is an excellent day to contemplate where we have been and where we want to go.

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