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Kiss me, I’m (part) Irish! – The Importance of St. Patrick’s Day

March 17, 2012 Leave a comment

Here’s to St. Patrick’s Day! To the celebration of all things Irish, the beer, the food, the music, the green clothes, the accents (even the cheesy fake ones). Here’s to how people are proud of even the slightest drop of Celtic tiger blood flowing through their veins, myself included!  I’ll be the first to say that being 1/4 Irish is pretty damn significant. If you don’t have any Irish ancestry, don’t worry, I forgive you. Not everyone can be perfect!

As I’ve grown older, the day has slowly began to take on more significance and it has become personal as well. On one hand, St. Patrick’s Day is a decidedly fun day, but it is also a nostalgic one. For myself it’s a bit of a self reflective day. St. Patrick’s Day reminds me of my own Irish roots, particularly grandfather, and the day reminds me why his memories and legacy are important to me. My Grandpa has been gone since April of 1993, but goddamn, do I miss him.

St. Patrick’s Day is more than just wearing a bit of green here and there or drinking green colored beers. I’ll tell you what it’s about, at least what it is for me. St. Patrick’s day has so much meaning, and on many different levels. Firstly, the day has religious significance. Nothing says Roman Catholic than a day of drinking Guinness and Kilkenny! In the Roman Catholic and Anglican traditions, St. Patrick is the Patron Saint of Ireland and is credited with bringing the Christian faith to the Emerald Isle. They say that St. Patrick used the three leaf clover to explain the doctrinal significance of the Trinity which is a foundational tenet of Christianity.

It’s also a cultural holiday, and a reason to celebrate the traditions that make the Irish people unique, including great music, food (my Mom makes the best Irish stew, pair that stew with a nice cold Guinness and you’re in heaven!). Man, I could go for a bit of that stew right about now.

Thirdly, St. Patrick’s day is historic. The Irish had a pivotal role to play in the history of Canada, and the United States. They were some of the first immigrants to come to the New World, and one can only imagine the hardships the early Irish settlers faced in the cold and barren Canadian hinterland in the 1700s. Not to say that it was any easier settling on the East Coast of the United States, but try spending a winter in Quebec as compared to Boston and you’ll understand very quickly that the Irish experience in Canada was filled with different challenges. The Irish had a huge influence in America, cities like Boston, Chicago and Providence still have large Irish American populations. Presidents Andrew Jackson, Ronald Reagan and JFK all have Irish roots.

A lot of emphasis is placed on Canada’s English, Scottish and French roots – but not so much on the Irish influence. There’s a line in the famous song the “Maple Leaf Forever” that will resonate with Irish Canadians. It goes something like this – the Scottish thistle, the English rose and the Irish shamrock entwine – all important elements to early Canada. Look below at the Canadian Red Ensign, there is an Irish harp in the shield.

The thistle, shamrock, rose entwine

There is a significant Irish Canadian population in Quebec, many Francophone Quebeckers still carry Irish names with them today as thousands young Irish orphans were allowed to keep their ancestral names upon arriving in Canada and adopted by French speaking Canadians in the 1850s.

The Irish were very involved in the history of Canada. Look at the flag of the City of Montréal, one of the oldest cities in North America – a historically francophone city with predominantly French European roots. Do you see the shamrock? It’s a testament to the Irish influence in Montréal as well.

My favorite hockey team, the Toronto Maple Leafs, were originally known as the Toronto St. Patrick’s for a few decades. The Toronto St. Pat’s had these really cool jerseys in the 1920s, they were green and white. The Leafs actually wore St. Pats uniforms as a retro throwback heritage jersey on one St. Patrick’s Day hockey game. You can still buy vintage St. Pat’s gear today. Check out Mats Sundin in a Toronto St. Patricks uniform. If Toronto should ever get a second NHL team – it will have to be named the Toronto St. Patricks. Like Boston and Chicago, there are a lot of Irish in Toronto.

It was difficult being Irish and living in Toronto in the early days of the 19th Century. At that time Toronto was overwhelmingly Protestant and there was blatant discrimination against the poor Irish Catholic immigrants who were new comers to the city. As my grandmother told me years ago – the Irish could barely even get jobs. This all changed towards the 20th century as the Irish began to gain socioeconomic status and power.

The Irish also have a significant military tradition in Canada and the U.K. (Not sure about the States if they have Irish Regiments but there are many, many Irish American veterans). There are several units bearing the historical ‘Irish’ name. Some of these units have since been stood down, and some have merged into larger battalions but their fighting history and tradition continues with them. In Britain, only the Royal Irish Guards and the Royal Irish Regiment remain as first order units. Here are some famous Canadian units:

  • The Irish Canadian Rangers
  • The Irish Fusiliers of Canada (Vancouver Regiment)
  • 121st (Western Irish) Battalion
  • 121st (Western Irish) Battalion, Canadian Expeditionary Force
  • 199th (Duchess of Connaught’s Own Irish Rangers) Battalion, Canadian Expeditionary Force
  • 208th (Canadian Irish) Battalion, Canadian Expeditionary Force
  • 218th (Edmonton Irish Guards) Battalion, Canadian Expeditionary Force

So as you can see, St. Patrick’s Day is much more than simply drinking beer (even though that’s a big part of it). It’s more than a break in Lent. But hey, celebrate the day how you like  – Guinness’ and Kilkenny’s for all! Go all out today – have a beer, wear some green, and talk with a cheesy accent, but just remember that there is a lot more meaning to the St. Patrick’s Day than might meet the eye.

— DWA

Categories: DC in DC, Hockey, Useless Dicta

Support the Red, White, and Blue! American University Hockey Re-Brand

March 12, 2012 Leave a comment

American University Hockey (c) Austin Short. (Non-official concept designs and fan enjoyment only)

AMERICAN UNIVERSITY EAGLES ICE HOCKEY

How about that! Check out AU Hockey’s fresh new look! These cool series of logos were designed by our own Austin Short, one of our team’s goaltenders. We hope to have gear produced shortly. Enjoy, folks!

Categories: DC in DC, Hockey

Lest We Forget: 25835 Officer Cadet Mathieu LeClair

March 5, 2012 Leave a comment

The death of an RMC cadet touches everyone in the RMC family and reverberates across the nation. OCdt LeClair passed away unexpectedly on 28 Feb 2012. Mathieu LeClair was a stand-out cadet. He was driven, motivated, athletic, intelligent and popular. He was beloved by his friends and peers, always willing to help, with a ready smile and a love for life. He will be sorely missed. Toutes mes sympathies à la famille.

The unexpected death of Mathieu Robert LeClair occurred in Kingston, Ontario on Tuesday, February 28, 2012. He was born on June 16, 1991 in Saint John, NB to Mireille Basque and Danny (Gladys) LeClair. At the time of his death, Mathieu was attending the Royal Military College of Canada and was a member of the college’s collegiate basketball team.

Mathieu loved life. He was disciplined, ambitious and organized from a young age. He had eyes that sparkled brightly and a big beautiful smile. He was kind and generous to all. Many were aware of this young man’s presence. He was an extremely social person and a gifted athlete. He loved his family and always enjoyed any special holiday spent at Mémére’s house. From the age of 12 to18, he was enrolled as an Air Cadet for the Royal Canadian Air Cadets Simonds Squadron #527 rising to the title of Warrant Officer II Band Leader and was selected for an International Cadet Exchange Program where he had the pleasure to travel to Washington DC and to Texas. A 2009 graduate from Simonds High School, he was awarded an outstanding $80,000 Cadet Scholarship from the Royal Military College in Kingston ON. The Regular Officer Training Program is a fully subsidized degree program and Mathieu was in the process of completing his 3rd year in the Engineering program. In his senior year at Simonds High School, he traveled with his classmates on an educational trip to Greece and Italy. He played on both the Junior Varsity and the Varsity Basketball Teams.  He was a member of the School Band and a member of the Drama Club. As a drama club member he had parts in both the Guys and Dolls and Foot Loose plays. As an Air Cadet he favored the Air Forces Division of  the Armed Forces. Mathieu was a dedicated and an extremely hard worker who would always go the extra mile for an employer. Mathieu was a tremendously bright and gifted young man who touched many lives. A life that touches others is a life that will go on forever. Mathieu will live on in us and in our memories with great love and much fondness. Mathieu was a very, very special young Man.

— Obituary from http://www.brenansfh.com/obituaries/69003

Categories: Truth Duty Valour

The Difference Between Toronto and DC.

March 2, 2012 Leave a comment

What’s the difference between Washington, DC and Toronto? ’bout a foot of snow! ahaha.. No really, having been born and raised in the northern suburbs of Torontoland, and after living for the past two-odd years in Washington, DC, I’ve noticed a lot of similarities between these two seemingly different cities. Both are home to me now.  Both are vibrant, interesting and fun places to live.  Here’s my take on these two metropolises.

Toronto

Washington, DC

Size 6 million folks live in the Greater Toronto Area, an area also known as the Golden Horseshoe which extends around the southern rim of Lake Ontario. Located in  Southern Ontario, which geographically is a blend of the ‘Midwest’ and ‘Northeast’. Around 2.8 million people live in Metropolitan Toronto proper.Nearby cities: Buffalo, NY (1.5 hrs), Ottawa (4 hours), Detroit (4 hours), Cleveland (4 hours), Montreal (6 hours)  About the same number of people live in Greater DC, which extends into Northern Virginia and into Maryland. The District itself is small parcel of land sandwiched between the two above mentioned States, with a population of about 1 million including commuters. It kind of has Northeast feel but not really, more like a Mid-Atlantic southern feel. Nearby cities: Baltimore (1 hour), Philadelphia, (2 hrs), New York City (4 hours), Richmond, VA (3 hrs)
Transportation The best way to get around Toronto is the TTC system which includes streetcars, buses and a subway. There are two subway main lines, one running East-West and the other North-South throughout the city proper. The subway doesn’t run into many of the highly populated suburbs, and sadly, Torontoland outgrew its present subway infrastructure sometime in the 80s. There are major expansion plans but these are still tentative and probably won’t be implemented until 2016. It is also expensive, and there is no subway link to Toronto Pearson Airport.  The Washington DC Metro system is superior. With five or so subway lines crisscrossing the District, it is very easy to get around. The subway goes well into the suburbs of Maryland and Virginia making transportation quite easy and hassle free. Ronald Reagan Airport is even connected on the subway line. The bus system is good, too. You can check arrival times on a smart phone, and they are pretty reliable most of the time even though the Sunday schedule is a bit of a pain. Problems on the Red Line
Culture Toronto is probably one of the cultural capitals of the world, there are all sorts of different people in this town. Over 50% of Toronto is foreign born, and many different languages are spoken. Toronto is also the hockey capital of the world, located in a hockey crazed hotbed of Southern Ontario.There are large Italian, Greek, Jewish, South Asian, Eastern European, Caribbean, Chinese and Korean communities across the GTA. But don’t let this confuse you – Toronto has a uniquely Canadian feel to it regardless of where the people were born.One thing about Toronto is that people are generally mixed up pretty well around the city, people blend in pretty well. There aren’t too many ethnic enclaves, but even in those areas, you can find a pretty diverse group of people. It is a really good blend of folks, and going to N.Y.C. or even Miami and seeing the diversity there often reminds me of Toronto. Washington is diverse, but definately not as diverse as Toronto. There’s a good blend of people here, with a large Hispanic and Black population, as well as large Chinese and Korean communities in the suburbs of Rockville, MD and Annandale, VA respectively. There are way more Spanish speaking people here than in Toronto, and I also find that Toronto doesn’t have too much Latin culture.Washington does attract a lot of out of state folks, in fact most people seem to come from other parts of the country. There’s a sizeable Canadian community here, with lots of alumni from Canadian schools and also a lot of Torontonians (as evidenced by the large number of Maple Leafs jerseys I saw during a Caps. v. Leafs game at the Verizon Center). Washington’s diversity is found primarily in its out of state citizenry.Washington is very much a city of neighbourboods, and so is Toronto. Georgetown, Adams Morgan, Friendship Heights and Cleveland Park are pretty cool neighbourhoods. They are vibrant and interesting.
Sports NHL – Maple LeafsMLB – Blue JaysNBA – Raptors

MLS – Toronto FC

CFL – Argonauts

NHL – Buffalo Bills*

Toronto and DC have pretty similar sports stories, both cities haven’t won a major championship in quite some time, and the teams seem to constantly underperform.  Sure the Bills play in Buffalo, but let’s face it, they are Toronto’s and are probably are still in Buffalo mostly due to support from Toronto fans. Also, gotta love the Jays, 1992 and 1993 World Champions. The Blue Jays have a lot of loyal fans, and baseball is big in Toronto. We just can’t seem to get into the playoffs being in the same division as Boston and N.Y. and a well performing Tampa Bay team. Fingers crossed for the wildcard this season.

Unfortunately for the other Toronto teams, hockey is king here, and no matter how good they play, they will always take a backseat to the Maple Leafs. Leafs fans bleed blue through anything, even though the team has been perpetually underperforming for the last 8 years, the fans are still there and will support the team to the end. Can’t say that about a lot of other cities.

NHL – CapitalsMLB – NationalsNBA – Wizards

MLS – DC United

NHL – Redskins

Capitals fans are an interesting bunch, I have yet to meet a ‘die hard’ Caps fan. Hockey is big, but no where near the religion status it is given in Toronto.

Sure the Caps have Ovie, Semin and a lot of other talented players, but I’m hard pressed to find a true Caps fan who remembers the days of Peter Bondra and Olaf Kolzig.

Redskins fans are passionate, even though the team has been terrible for years. The Nationals have a beautiful stadium, but then again DC stole the Expos from Montreal. The Wizards and the Raptors both are terrible, so I’m not going to even bother with them. Also, very few ice rinks in DC. In Toronto, there are two or three within walking distance from my house. In DC, you gotta go across town just to find an arena. The AU Hockey team has late night practices in Anacostia, just because there’s no place closer. Kettler IcePlex (where the Capitals practice) is out in Virginia, but it’s a great facility. There’s also Cabin John Arena in Maryland, and the UMD facility which are great but too damn far.

Universities University of Toronto, York University and Ryerson are all great schools, but UofT is the only one with a truly international reputation. No NCAA sports here, and CIS/OUA Athletics haven’t really caught on even though they feature extremely talented student-athletes.Toronto has two law schools (UofT Law and Osgoode Hall Law School), for a metro area of six million people, there need to be more. Canada has the lowest proportion of lawyers per capita in the population of all the common law countries, but two law schools in one of North America’s biggest cities is ridiculous. That being said, UofT Law is easily comparable to a top-14 U.S. school and New York and Boston regularly recruit there. Toronto has a lot of lawyers too, mostly in private practice and the government. American University, Catholic University, Georgetown and George Washington University are the big ones, and there are countless others around the area. These schools are generally very well known.Law schools: There are tons, AU WCL, G’town, GW, Catholic, UMD, UDC, GMU (across the Potomac). DC has a lot of lawyers, in fact it may have the most proportionally of all the American cities.DC is a lawyers’ town, and a pretty cool place to be. WCL is a fantastic school, it’s a Tier 1 law school, and opens a lot of doors for law students. Corporate, public interest, government, whatever – students can find their niche here. I am partial to WCL.
Outdoors / Recreation  Toronto suffers from urban sprawl, it’s just a massive city. There are great ski hills two hours north of the city, and Cottage Country to the north is just spectacular. The lakes and forests north of the city are a popular retreat for those weary of the confines of Toronto’s concrete jungle. In the winter, you can find tons of outdoor rinks and frozen ponds to skate on. Good bike paths, and trails for running and walking. In the summer, the Beaches are great for Volleyball, walking around, but not that great for swimming. The Potomac river flows into the District of Columbia, and Rock Creek Park is a large forest with many bike trails and places to walk around. DC is more hilly than flat Toronto.There are great running route throughout the city, my personal favorites include the “Embassy Run” down Massachusetts Avenue, or a good 10-miler from the Maryland border where I live in Friendship Heights, down Connecticut Avenue to Dupont Circle. Running down the National Mall and around some of the monuments is also really freakin’ cool. Chesapeake Bay in Maryland and beautiful beaches are literally hours away and are spectacular.
Museums  Royal Ontario Museum, Art Gallery of Ontario and the Science Centre are all pretty amazing.  Smithsonian, Holocaust Museum, Spy Museum, Newseum.. so many flippin’ cool places!
Food Because Toronto is so diverse, there are many different food options and they’re all authentic. Toronto has great Italian, Greek and Asian food. Little Italy, Greektown have some places to eat, and don’t forget wicked places in Chinatown. And that’s only downtown. The food options in Toronto are comparable to New York – there’s simply everything here. There is only one Five Guys Burgers in Toronto… and no Chipolte! Fail! DC has great food too, lot’s of neat little joints to check out. More Hispanic/Latin American food than Toronto. Asian food is pretty good too. There are better burger places in DC. The suburbs have some great place to eat as well, but they’re harder to get to if you don’t have a car.
Weather Toronto is colder than DC, it’s weather is like Chicago, but maybe a few degrees colder on average. Hot summers, cold-ish winters. To be honest, it’s actually not that cold in Toronto. Four distinct seasons make the weather interesting.  It snows here, but not as much lake-effect snow as Buffalo (the eastern anchor of the Golden Horseshoe) Hot, humid, sticky summers, beautiful spring and autumn. Minimal winter. Mild. In fact, it doesn’t really get cold in DC, that’s what I love about the place, and when it snows, the whole city shuts down! More snow days than Toronto because the city and residents become paralyzed when the white stuff begins to fall. DC can’t deal with snow.
Function and Influence Toronto is a world financial center. It’s a fast paced business town. It is home to one of the largest stock exchanges in the G7. Toronto’s banks are the most safe and stable in the entire world. Functionally, Toronto compares more to like New York City even though it looks and feels a lot like Chicago  DC isn’t a financial center, but it is the capital city of the most powerful country in the world. It’s the capital city of the free world. It’s influence stems from it’s enormous political clout. It’s also a lawyers town and has more lawyers per capita than Toronto. Heck, Obama is here therefore DC is important. DC is also a large administrative center home to the headquarters of most of the federal agencies.
Categories: Uncategorized