I believe Mike Myers, well-known entertainer and fellow Canadian, said it best when he said:
“There’s no one more Canadian than a Canadian who no longer lives in Canada.”
I feel like Mike Myers and I could be related – our paths through life are so similar. We both spent our formative years growing up and living in and around Metropolitan Toronto.
We both had English parents and we now reside in the USA. We also share a great affection for Canada and our Canadian roots. Like Mike, I exploit every chance I get to show how much Canada means to me.
It was the summer of 1998 during a trip to Toronto when a revelation hit me. I was at a friend’s house – lounging on the couch, when I happened to spy a travel booklet resting on the coffee table. “Hmm,” I mused to myself, “What is this?” My curiosity got the better of me, so I picked up the brochure entitled “Doers and Dreamers – A Traveler’s Guide to Nova Scotia” and thumbed through its pages.
Wow! It all looked so inviting. Every page contained detailed information about the different tourist areas in Nova Scotia and displayed some of the most stunning scenery I had ever seen. I had no idea Nova Scotia was this beautiful!
That is when the revelation hit me – as powerful as the waves that pound the rocks protecting Peggy’s Cove!
“Why had I never visited any of the provinces in Canada?” Shame on me! In my thirty years of residing in Canada I had never ventured outside of my home province of Ontario. How could I claim to be such a devoted Canadian when I had never traveled across this great land? From that time on I vowed to make it my mission to visit all the provinces in Canada. First up on my list would be the far eastern province known as “Canada’s ocean playground” – Nova Scotia.
I set out to systematically check off each province on my bucket list. Each trip was very special to me. I learned so much history about each province. I learned that Prince Edward Island was where the birth of Confederation began; Newfoundland was the last province to join Confederation in 1949; and Quebec City is the oldest city in Canada – discovered by Samuel D. Champlain on July 3, 1608.
I experienced unbelievable adventures everywhere I traveled. I drove down a country lane in New Brunswick in a “pea soup” fog – I could barely see a foot in front of me. I took the Peak2Peak ride high atop Whistler Mountain across to Blackcomb Mountain. I sat in the co-pilot’s seat in a seaplane from Victoria to Vancouver Airport. And, one of my most unforgettable experiences of all time was witnessing the polar bears in their natural habitat in Churchill, Manitoba.
I met the most incredibly friendly people all across Canada, but none more so than those I happened upon in Newfoundland. One lady even went so far as to invite me to dinner with her family when she heard I had never eaten capelin before. She said: “You can’t come to Newfoundland and not have capelin!” Capelin is a little sardine-like fish that comes ashore in Newfoundland to spawn.
Thousands of these fish saturate the seawater attempting to make land and Newfoundlanders are only too happy to scoop the males up for a tasty dinner. You might wonder how they tell the males from the females. It’s actually quite easy as the females are bloated with eggs!
I witnessed breathtaking scenery all across this expansive land from the reddish sandy beaches of PEI to the majestic snow-capped mountains of the Canadian Rockies.
I trekked around the Avalon Peninsula in Newfoundland. I took the ferry across to PEI and traversed from Wood Islands to the Confederation Bridge. I traveled along the Fundy coastal drive where I visited the Hopewell Rocks in New Brunswick. I drove around Nova Scotia crisscrossing from town to town as well as touring Cape Breton Island. I explored Regina, Saskatchewan in both east and west directions. I visited Calgary, Alberta and from there hiked many trails surrounding Lake Louise. My longest drive of all took me from Vancouver to Whistler Mountain and then on to Victoria on Vancouver Island.
Saskatchewan remained my last province to visit. I told a friend who worked at the Canadian Consulate office in Chicago that “I was saving the best for last!” When he learned that I was indeed serious about visiting Regina, Saskatchewan’s capital, he very kindly arranged for me to receive an invitation to attend the Lieutenant Governor’s Garden Party on Canada Day, July 1, 2013.
It was a glorious day – the sun was shining bright and the great northern sky was a brilliant sapphire blue.
The event took place on the grounds surrounding the Government House. As soon as Vaughn Solomon Schofield, the Lieutenant Governor, and her husband arrived, the program commenced with the singing of “God Save the Queen” and “O Canada”.
A rush of emotion came over me at hearing our national songs. Once the program ended I was introduced to the Lieutenant Governor. We had a nice chat and she thanked me for traveling so far to attend the ceremony. Little did she know that it was I who was so grateful for the opportunity to celebrate Canada Day in Canada.
If you’d like to read more of these Canadian stories or you’re planning a summer vacation, Susanna has collected some super information in her first publication entitled, Personal Reflections: My Book of Stories by Susanna Doolin. She is already working on her second collection and would love to hear from you if you have questions or stories of your own to add.
Looking back, I will forever remember that coffee book that sparked life and energy in my storytelling journey. Happy Canada Day!