Episode 6 - O Canada

May 29, 2018

About the Episode

The lyrics to Canada’s national anthem have been made gender-neutral and, whether you agree with the change or not, history has shown that this is not a new phenomenon for our anthem. In fact, the lyrics have been changed multiple times over the years.

Our anthem is part of our identity.  School children sing it every day at school, we sing it at every sports game, we celebrate our victories with it.  But how many of us know its history?

In this episode, we explore the history of O Canada.  How did the anthem come to be written?  What were the old lyrics? When did the desire for a gender-neutral anthem come to be, or enter our national consciousness?

Listen as Keely, Nick, and Robin debate the role anthems play in social identity, politics, and protests. Join us is noticing the history of (and changes to) O Canada.


BBC News. “The woman who fought to make Canada’s national anthem gender-neutral.” February 9, 2018. Accessed April 10, 2018. http://www.bbc.com/news/stories-42977303.

Cerulo, Karen A. “Sociopolitical Control and the Structure of National Symbols: An Empirical Analysis of National Anthems.” Social Forces 68, 1 (September 1989): 76-99.

Cusack, Igor. “From Revolution to Reflection: The National Anthems of the New Lusophone Worlds.” Luso-Brazilian Review 45, 2 (2008): 45-67.

Government of Canada. “Full history of “O Canada.’” Government of Canada. 2018. https://www.canada.ca/en/canadian-heritage/services/anthems-canada/history-o-canada.html

Government of Canada. “The people behind the anthem.” Government of Canada. 2017. Accessed April 10, 2018. At https://www.canada.ca/en/canadian-heritage/services/anthems-canada/people-behind-anthem.html.

Hopper, Tristan, “Lyrics to French O Canada still a politically incorrect nightmare, but nobody cares.” June 16, 2016. Accessed April 10, 2018. At http://nationalpost.com/news/canada/lyrics-to-french-o-canada-still-a-politically-correct-nightmare-but-nobody-cares.

Vomiero, Jessica. “‘O Canada’ lyric change sparks debate, but the anthem was originally gender neutral.” February 2, 2018. Accessed April 10, 2018. At https://globalnews.ca/news/4002268/oh-canada-originally-gender-neutral/.


Producers: Robin Mullins and Emily Cuggy

Hosts: Robin Mullins, Keely McCavitt, Nick Bridges

Researchers: Stacey Devlin and Emma Green

Audio Editing: Stacey Devlin, Jessica Di Laurenzio, Robin Mullins, Emily Cuggy

Web Content: Casandra Masse

Image Credit: O Canada!, 1880-1980 : Calixa Lavallée, Adolphe-Basile Routhier, Robert Stanley Weir. Library and Archives Canada; Copyright: Canada Post Corporation.