June 3, 2014
Prosser Brook New Brunswick – 1:17 p.m.
Well, here I am. I made it into New Brunswick in the afternoon of the 26th of May. After some meandering around Quebec (namely, Ste. Foy); and two more bus changes (Fredericton and Ste. Foy again), I was finally seeing the green grass and pothole-riddled roads of home. We arrived in New Brunswick four hours prior to my ETA in Moncton; so I had a bit of an anxious wait while we drove around the province before coming home. We pulled into Moncton around 8:00 p.m., my Dad picked me up at the bus depot; and I headed home to my Grannies’ for some much needed rest and stationary motion. Since then I’ve been eating and sleeping as much as possible and spending every spare minute in between literally swimming in the river and metaphorically swimming in King Cole tea (only available in the Maritimes). As no personal conclusions have been reached, this is largely a travel debrief, interspersed with some observations. This is a lot more about Canada and Canadians than my personal journey across Canada; but for now that’ll have to do.
It’s been a little over a week, and I’ve had enough time to sufficiently recuperate and reflect on the whole adventure, so I thought it was about time to write the prologue. It was definitely overwhelming at times; and I won’t pretend that I took the whole journey well. Day two specifically was spent submerging myself in ginger tea and promising I’d never eat chicken again. And I swear Ontario took days to cross. It was a really illustrative experience that I am very grateful for, and it gave me a new sense of Canada’s geographic and cultural landscape. And I will never do it again. Ever. You couldn’t pay me. Canada is huge.
So rant about the inconvenience of driving across the second largest country in the world aside, here comes the inspiring and soul-searching part of the article. Canada is big, and I have definitely revised my definition of the word since starting out. And vast in the sense that we have so many different kinds of landscape, crops, people, and experiences. The whole ways across no two sunsets or sunrises were even remotely similar, and high noon in Dryden is a far cry from high noon in Ste. Foy. The point is; Canada has such infinite diversity in so many ways that it really does have something for everyone. You like cowboys? We have cowboys. You like endless wheat fields? We have lots of that. Theatres, art galleries, and gastro pubs? No problem. Lobster? Boatfuls. Drumming circles? Take your pick. Farmer’s markets? More numerous than the Sobeys’s.
And I really like that. As I got older and went to University; there was a point in time when I was worried that maybe Canada just wasn’t for me, that perhaps it didn’t have what I liked or needed. And it’s a wonderful relief to see that is does have that, and a lot more. I’ll be one of the first to say that Canada’s funding and willingness to respect the arts as a viable profession is a little behind the times; but we are ahead in many other ways. And while I can’t foresee being able to pursue a lucrative career in big time acting under the red and white any time soon, I can reliably inform you that I’ll be back in the land of the maple leaf any chance I get. We have so much to be proud of as Canadians. I think we get so used the high standard of life here that we pick out the small (er) things. This isn’t to say Canada couldn’t be improved-I know we can come up with some amazing solutions to the housing difficulties faced by our lower income citizens, and the environmental threats that are posed – but we have the resources, the man power, and the heart to be better. And I believe all Canadians want the opportunity to make Canada the greatest it can be.
I love being Canadian; and one of the things I am most proud of is our ability as a people to help one another in times of need and our love for the land we live on. We are proud of our hockey, Olympic mischief (unintended as it was), our musical and theatrical artists, our crops, culture, and international relations (peace keeping and military missions included). And I could say all that before. But now I can say that I am proud of how connected we all are; of how much fun it can be when we get together for a common cause, and of how every Canadian I talked to along my way wanted a better Canada. Not necessarily a more profitable Canada (though I don’t think anyone would complain); but a Canada where all Canadians are comfortable being themselves (religiously, sexually, politically, etc.), feel connected to their fellow country persons, have access to the services they need, and feel that they can grow personally and professionally in whatever way they want to with the support of their country behind them. And you know, even if it’s years in coming, I’m proud to be part of a country that wants that future.
In traveling across the land, I learned far more about the people than I expected to. From bus friends who bought me water when I wasn’t feeling well, to drivers as tired as I was offering to help me with my luggage; be it midnight in Manitoba, or five a.m. in Montreal the Canadian spirit doesn’t take a break. I talked to people who were lost, and people who were very certain of their future; as well as a four year old learning to walk her fully-grown Rottweiler; and I never felt like I wasn’t welcome into the conversation or barking up the wrong tree (pardon the pun). Canada can be ruthless; as we experience every winter, and we’re not immune to other disasters, as illustrated by the floods in Calgary and on the East Coast. Nor are we exempt from other misfortunes such as homelessness, disease, and bereavement. But through it all, we would still pull together to help when a friends’ mother is in the hospital, or give a stranger directions. And despite how many thousand kilometres separate us, or how different our lives may be, Canadians are Canadians; and that spirit and pride is what connects us, what makes us the great country that we are.
The biggest change for me that was brought about by traveling (mostly) across Canada was this;
I no longer say I am proud to be from Canada, I say I am proud to be a part of Canada.