three hundredths

A hundred days changed Canada, according to a new book, 100 Days That Changed Canada (HarperCollins), edited by Mark Reid from Canada’s History magazine. Is this a flip-flop? It was just two years ago that Reid had a whole other book out to tell us that it was 100 Photos That Changed Canada. Which is it, Days or Photos? We deserve an answer.

Some quick stats, while we wait: most of the days (17) have been Thursdays in June (13), while relatively few have been Sundays (9) in August (4). 1967 had the most catalytic days, with five, bettering 19s 44 and 64 by one. Some years — 1966, for instance, and 2007 — nothing changed at all.

Prime Ministers would seem to have had the most influence over our days, figuring in nine of the chosen here. That sounds about right, no? Next are Soldiers, with seven. Although — maybe they deserve a share in October 16, 1970, Day 62, Trudeau invokes the War Measures Act, which would bring them up to eight. It’s pretty much a free-for-all after that, with Acts of God (4) and Hockey (3) barely holding heads up above a throng that includes Folk Musicians and Scientists (both with 2) and singletons ranging from the Northwest Passage, Anne of Green Gables, and the National Energy Program to Pablum, Coffee, and Mr. Dressup.

Three isn’t bad. That’s almost, what — three per cent. That’s one better than Baseball, and three times more influence than Football, Track and Field, or Golf can claim. Lacrosse and Curling don’t even have one day between them, so three — three is great. Hockey will take three days, any day.

Although — four would have been nice. Not to quibble, but Day 79, August 31, 1984, MuchMusic takes over the tube — honestly? The day they rolled out the Rush video for “The Enemy Within” gets in ahead of — oh, I don’t know, what about March 3, 1875, when the first organized hockey game put to the ice in Montreal? Without which Hockey would have no other days? Days like March 22, 1923, Foster Hewitt calls his first hockey game? There is the argument that ours is a game didn’t really start on any one specific day — you hear this a lot from the hockey historians — it was more of an organic evolution, and so to give it a day wouldn’t be appropriate, even if didn’t threaten to displace the day (#46) Elvis Presley came to Canada in a gold lamé suit.

Foster Hewitt gets in at number 24 here, for the first of the Hockey days. It’s a pretty good one, too. In the accompanying essay, IOC and former World Anti-Doping honcho Dick Pound says that Hewitt was such a Leafs’ fan that during one of his broadcasts a rush by the visiting team ended with an involuntary swerve from the norm: “He shoots … oh, shit, he scored.”

Two is Day 48, November 1, 1959, Jacques Plante and his introduction of the mask. No argument here — though maybe CBC newsman Don Newman might have included a nod to Elizabeth Graham, goalie for the Queen’s University women’s team in 1927, who’s generally acknowledged to have been first to try to save face by putting on a mask in competitive hockey.

Hockey’s third day elect, number 64 overall, is, of course, from September of 1972. Though it’s not Paul Henderson’s best day, the 28th, that makes the cut, but rather the 2nd of the month — the day we were bewildered by the Soviets nudges out the day we barely beat them. That it’s Ken Dryden making the point makes sense, because it’s the same one he’s been making for almost 40 years now: “You don’t learn when you win. You learn when you lose. … On September 2, we lost and began to learn, and learned that we could learn. September 28 didn’t change Canada. September 2 did.”