You may have sung it in grade school and still hear it before hockey games, but what do you really know about “O Canada?” Here are some fun facts about our national anthem:
It was originally written in Quebec
“O Canada” was first commissioned in 1880 by the Lieutenant Governor of Quebec for Saint-Jean-Baptiste Day. The song’s music was composed by Calixa Lavallée and the lyrics were written by poet and judge Sir Adolphe-Basile Routhier.
It wasn’t translated until 1908
The English version was originally written by the Honourable Robert Stanley Weir. Since then, it’s undergone a few changes, including the addition of a fourth, more religious verse in 1926 and another change to make the anthem gender neutral in 2018.
It wasn’t official until 1980
“O Canada” didn’t officially become the national anthem until 1980. Before then, “God Save the Queen” was sung at important events and it remains the royal anthem of Canada.
The English and French versions are nothing alike
Aside from the words “O Canada,” the lyrics to the English and French versions of the anthem are completely different. The French lyrics make reference to the Catholic religion and refer to Canada as a land of ancestors. The English version is a simpler affirmation of love and service to the nation.
Which version do you plan to sing today?