Order of Canada marking 50-year anniversary

Quintessential Canadian additions to this year’s Order of Canada

Peter McAuslan was 21 in 1967 when he took three weeks to hitchhike from Vancouver to Montreal, stopping in local pubs to watch the Stanley Cup final along the way.

The trip across the country tied together hockey, beer and Canada’s centennial.

Five decades later, McAuslan will be recognized for his efforts to grow the Canadian beer industry as his name is added to the cornerstone of the Canadian honours system, one that’s celebrating a milestone anniversary of its own on Saturday.

It was on July 1, 1967, that the Order of Canada received its first members.

This Canada Day, the list of appointees will grow by 99, including the Prince of Wales, soccer star Christine Sinclair, hockey legend Mark Messier, actor Mike Myers, actress Catherine O’Hara, musician Alan Doyle, and TV host Alex Trebek, making some 7,000 people who will have their names on the rolls of the decades-old honours program.

There are actors and athletes, community and business leaders, and innovators and entrepreneurs, including the beer man McAuslan.

“The whole Canadian-and-beer thing, it’s a romance that goes back a really long way,” the 71-year-old founder of McAuslan Brewery said in an interview.

“They are a reflection of not only who we are, but where we’ve come from.”

While the Order of Canada turns 50 this year, it could have easily been turning 150 if not for decades of political unease about creating a distinctly Canadian honours system, worried it would be seen as another symbol of political patronage.

A royal commission headed by former Governor General Vincent Massey, which provided the foundation for modern arts and culture funding, recommended creating a Canadian honours system like the Order of Canada.

Louis St-Laurent, the prime minister at the time, was adamantly opposed. That portion of the commission’s report was suppressed — technically a violation of parliamentary rules, said Christopher McCreery, who has studied the history of the Order of Canada.

In the lead-up to Canada’s centennial in 1967, Lester Pearson’s government decided to move on the idea and quickly cobbled together everything needed to create the Order of Canada, including an insignia.

Over the past half-century, Canada has gone from having no honours system to having one of the largest and most complicated in the world, McCreery said. Countries like New Zealand and Australia have tried to replicate the Canadian model in their own systems, he said.

“That speaks to the success of the present system.”

The list released Friday by Rideau Hall bears some similarities to the one from 50 years ago.

In place of international renowned soprano Pierette Alaire, today there is opera star Tracy Dahl.

In place of Massey and Laurent are former Supreme Court justice Marshall Rothstein, former Liberal heritage minister Liza Frulla and the country’s top bureaucrat, Wayne Wouters.

Street nurse Catherine Crowe, Me to We founder Roxanne Joyal and Catherine Latimer, executive director of the John Howard Society of Canada, are being honoured, much as social advocates were in the first list released in 1967.

And in place of David Bauer — instrumental in Canada’s national hockey program — and Montreal Canadiens great Maurice Richard, there is Messier, the ex-Edmonton Oiler forward with the quintessentially Canadian nickname, “Moose.”

“I’ve always felt being a Canadian really meant something to me, and being able to represent Canada in the international competitions like I did was something that I’ll never forget,” Messier said in an interview.

“This takes it to another level where it goes beyond the game of hockey, because (of what) the players that have been elected to this honour have done outside the game of hockey as well, which I think was a huge responsibility for all us and one not to be taken lightly.”

“Humbling” is how recipients describe being named to the order. Just ask Alan Doyle, best known as the former lead singer of Newfoundland and Labrador folk-rock stalwarts Great Big Sea.

“If you look into the list of people who get this award, are all exceptional people in their own work life and in their own artistic life or political life or business life or whatever, but then they’re almost always very com

Just Posted

Mismanaged salmon farms unacceptable: Cullen

Commissioner suggests Ottawa favouring aquaculture over wild salmon management

Snowy winter meant high costs: LDM

Rapid melting could cause floods

Houston Fire Department working harder

The Houston Volunteer Fire Department has seen a significant increase in the… Continue reading

Houston athlete trying out for regional girls’ team

Zone 7 girls’ team is first in eight years

HVAC overhaul to continue this summer

Upgrades at Houston Secondary School (HSS) are a long-time coming, according to… Continue reading

VIDEO: B.C. ‘escapologist’ stuns judges on Britain’s Got Talent

Matt Johnson says televised water stunt was closest he’s come to death

How to keep local news visible in your Facebook feed

Facebook has changed the news feed to emphasize personal connections. You might see less news.

Been a long day? Here’s cute puppies in training

Group is training next batch of assistance dogs at Vancouver International Airport

B.C. skydiver lands safely after cutting away main chute

Greater Victoria emergency services called after witnesses saw spiralling chute

78 Mexican farmworkers displaced after fire tears through building on B.C. farm

Flames broke out Thursday morning in building that housed up to 80 workers at Abbotsford farm

Cartoonist captures public mood following Toronto, Humboldt tragedies

Cartoonist said he was trying to find a bit of positivity with an image that has garnered attention

Whitecaps host against Real Salt Lake looking to snap 3-game losing streak

Ending their losing streak is all the Whitecaps care about when they host Salt Lake in Vancouver

Montreal Habs goalie Carey Price stops by B.C. hometown for rodeo

Famous goaltender tries to blend in with the crowd at first BCRA-santioned event of the season

B.C. hires 20 more conservation officers

The province announces 12 new locations for conservation officer services this year

Most Read