Jul. 2nd, 2006

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Yesterday was Canada Day, commemorating the formation of the Dominion of Canada 139 years ago.

My Canada Day was fairly low-key, most of it spent on the Toronto Islands with J. I didn't even get to the fireworks at Ontario Place. This was fine.

People might be interested in the website Canada in 2020, home page for a project run jointly by the Toronto Star La Presse of Montréal, the CBC, and the Dominion Institute aimed at examining Canada's medium-term prospects. Currently featuring is an Andrew Coyne essay ("Imagining Canada's 153rd Birthday") printed in the Saturday Star that imagines a future Canada that's populous and prosperous without being much of a nation-state at all.
rfmcdonald: (Default)
[livejournal.com profile] imomus writes here about the similarities between the Germans and the Japanese.
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The Post-Chronicle was one of many news sources that carried this happy news.

Montenegro says Japan has recognized the Balkan country as an independent state, ending more than 100 years of a state of war.

Akiko Yamanaka, Japan's deputy foreign minister and the prime minister's special envoy is scheduled to arrive in Podgorica next week to deliver a letter to Montenegrin officials declaring the war is over and Tokyo recognizes Montenegro as an independent state, Belgrade's B92 radio reported Friday.

The countries have been in a technical state of war since the 1904-05 Russo-Japan War and Montenegro sided with Russia. A local historian told B92 that Montenegro's participation in the war was symbolic.

On May 21, Montenegro voted to secede from its union with Serbia and since then has been recognized as independent state by the United States, Russia, China and many other countries.

Montenegro's declaration of war against Japan was one product of this country's long tradition of Russophilia, this Russophilia stemming from tsarist Russia's support of the Orthodox Christian Slavs of the Balkans--particularly the Serbs--against the declining Ottoman Empire. Montenegro's final emergence as a sovereign state during the belle époque owed much to Russian financial and military support.

After some reluctance to support Montenegro's separation from post-Yugoslav Serbia several years ago, Russia since came around to support an independent Montenegro as a state that provided useful opportunities for Russians, particularly from the perspectives of tourism and banking. It might not be too inaccurate to say that, in the Russian imagination, Montenegro is not entirely dissimilar from Cyprus. (As an aside, it's worth noting that Montenegro's relationship with Japan has a chance to develop de novo from an interesting start.)
rfmcdonald: (Default)
it was only when I when ransacking my archives that I discovered that I had last written about the Toronto Islands a year less two days before my Canada Day visit. This visit did nothing to convince me that the Islands are not, in fact, well-managed and nicely packaged. The manicured lawns and well-tended pavement roads of the Toronto Island Park definitely attracted a tourist population from the Toronto mainland at least a hundred times that of the Island's permanent population of several hundred. The Toronto Islands exist in their current form only because of tourism, as evidenced by the fact that the south shore of Ward's Island, facing Lake Ontario, is delimited by concrete and other breakwaters.

That said, there's still plenty of nature in the Islands. Moss and even some seedlings were growing on the surface of the conglomerate piers jutting south into Lake Ontario. Too, on the protected waterways of the Islands' interior, J. and I could see plenty of wildlife with nary a soul around: a mated pair of blue herons flying down the shallow waterways, swans, the cygnets looking bedraggled as the muscular adults honked their threat calls, families of mallards hugging the shores.

The Islands are artificial, but they're living nonetheless. This is a beautiful accomplishment that I rather like having the chance to appreciate. Imagine if, as I wrote in last year's post, that for whatever reason the Toronto Islands had been left to blur back into Lake Ontario. Something nice would have been lost; I'm glad it wasn't.
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