March 15: MB Legislature's first session; "O Canada" recommended; James McGregor dies.

March 15, 1871 - The first session of the Manitoba Legislature begins. From 1871 – 73 the residence of Hon. A. G. B. Bannatyne was used as the chamber. For a list of all of Manitoba’s Legislatures. 

March 15, 1935 - Former Lieutenant-Governor James Duncan McGregor dies. A Brandon-area rancher, he won awards from around North America for his herd of Angus cattle. McGregor Street in Winnipeg is named for him.

March 15, 1967 - A government committee: 

"unanimously recommends that the government be authorized to adopt forthwith the music for 'O Canada' composed by Calixa Lavallée as the music of the National Anthem of Canada with the following notation added to the sheet music: With dignity, not too slowly”.

Interestingly, Lavallée later moved to the U.S. and at one point publicly declared himself in favour of the annexation of Canada by that country !

"O Canada's" origins date back to the 1870s. It was a French poem by Sir Adolphe-Basile Routhier and tune by Calixa Lavallée that were married in 1880. The tune and French lyrics have not changed much over the 130 years but the English version surely did. 

Like most songs, direct translation from one language to another doesn’t always work. As a result, numerous authors and poets over a period of decades took a stab at creating what might become the favoured English lyrics. 

It was a version written in 1908 by Robert Stanley Weir that eventually won the battle and became the most popular English version. There were a few changes to the wording in the  late 1960s when it was first proposed to be the national Anthem, relegating God Save the Queen to Canada’s Royal Anthem. 

The bill failed a couple of times and believe it or not, it wasn’t until July 1 1980 that it became our national anthem - 100 years after it was first sung in Quebec City !

For more about O Canada. To hear Muir's original lyrics, go here and choose the second option.

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