Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘Canada’

There’s a lot of hoopla going on in Canada right now. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy good hoopla especially about this country I know and love. I am a proud Canadian. Born and bred. I have always been grateful that I was fortunate enough to be born in Canada. Everyone loves Canadians. By reputation we are friendly, polite, clean and relatively quiet. The kind of neighbour everybody wants. We do, however, stand on our moral high ground and make judgements about other more despicable countries. Unfortunately, just like every other neighbour we have our share of dirty little secrets behind closed doors.

So back to the hoopla…Canada is celebrating its 150th birthday and I confess that I have mixed feelings about it. I’ve been thinking about it a lot. In 1967 Canada celebrated its Centennial year. It was one of the best years of my life. I have nothing but fond memories of my great nation celebrating being 100. I was a child. My Mother was still alive. In fact, it was the last great year with my Mom. The next couple of years would be filled with hospitals, chemo and radiation, only to lose her in 1969.

Centennial year was filled with celebrations and endless activities across the country and we didn’t miss any of them when they were in our area. My two older sisters were able to actually visit Expo 67 which was Canada’s main celebration during its centennial year and was considered the pinnacle of the celebrations. It was a Category One World’s Fair held in Montreal, Quebec from April 27 to October 29, 1967. According to Wikipedia,

“it is considered to be the most successful World’s Fair of the 20th century with the most attendees to that date and 62 nations participating.”

My adventures were closer to home. As a family we saw saw the Canadian Armed Forces Tattoo performed by the members of the Canadian military comprised of 1,700 military personnel from all three branches of the armed forces — the largest peacetime event in Canadian military history at the time.

We went to air shows that featured two Avro 504K planes, Canada’s first military aircraft that had been restored by The royal Canadian Air Force. They were joined by an acrobatic flying team called the Golden Centennaires, the predecessors of the Canadian Snowbirds.

We were lucky enough to see the RCMP Musical Ride and Band which toured the country and actually made its first visit to the Canadian Arctic that year.

Perhaps my favourite thing was The Confederation Train, a diesel locomotive with specially designed coach cars filled with exhibits showcasing Canadian history and culture. Front and centre on the nose of the engine was the Centennial logo. In purple and white along the sides of the car was “CANADA 1867 1967”. The Centennial Train started out on the west coast in Victoria, BC, January 9th 1967 and worked its way out to the east coast, reaching Nova Scotia in October. It made its final stop in Montreal in December.

There were also Centennial Caravans, which were tractor-trailers, travelling throughout smaller areas carrying similar exhibits to the train.

Music also played a big part in the celebrations. On a personal note, I was part of a choir that performed “100 Years in Song”, something, over the years, my family has regretted as I still sing the song, “I Don’t Want To Play In Your Yard” (1894) that was my featured duet with my friend Susie.

My niece recently walked in on me singing it to her young daughter. The little one was sitting there with a horror struck look on her face and her hands over her ears. Her mother immediately said, “Oh, no! Not the song!

I always pictured the reaction to be more like this than one of horror.

Let’s just say that my voice did not improve with age. It was good enough then, though, to be one of the children chosen to sing with Bobby Gimby, The Pied Piper of Canada, when he came to town with his jewel encrusted trumpet to perform his composition, “Canada”. It was considered to be the official theme song of Canada’s centennial celebrations and was performed as a children’s marching song with English and French lyrics.

Bobby Gimby appearing as The Pied Piper during Canada’s Centennial celebrations in 1967. (courtesy Harper Stevens, Wikimedia Commons)

Many years later, when I went back to college as a 30+ year old, I was assigned along with my much younger classmates to do some PR work for a local museum. As we went through the museum there was a display from Centennial Year. My first reaction was one of fond memories. Then I saw the photo of me with the “Pied Piper”. My next reaction was, “Oh, my gosh! I’m so old I’m in a museum!” Then my classmates began asking me what it was all about. They didn’t know anything about Centennial Year. I was stunned that something that had been so important to me had faded in history.

My best friend in college was Gilbert. Even though he now lives in Florida, I still consider him one of my best friends. Gilbert was younger than me but older than the rest of the class. As I lamented to him about this time in my life being forgotten, he pointed out that it wasn’t necessarily a wonderful year for everyone in Canada. Gilbert is one of the First Nation people. His talking to me about it was probably the first time that I, personally, became aware of the difference of opinion. In the years since then, a lot of things that we as Canadians can’t possibly be proud of have become more publicly discussed. Our treatment of the First Nations, probably most horrifically concerning the Indian Residential School Systemis a black mark against this country I love. In 1967 Chief Dan George very eloquently spoke his mind. His “Lament for Confederation” is one of the most heart wrenching, eye opening pieces I have ever listened to (sorry I couldn’t get it to embed but it is worth watching and listening to).

The thing is that at the time, I was a kid caught up in the excitement. I didn’t know about our dirty secrets. Now I do. Now I know how these things have affected friends and family that I care about. Is it any wonder that I am confused about how I should feel about all the celebrating? Many First Nations people have refused to take part in any of the events. Even Canadian actor Adam Beach, who has agreed to act as an ambassador, feels he is “walking a fine line“. The government is spending millions of dollars on this celebration of 150 years. Perhaps, the most embarrassing portion is being spent to bring  a 30,000 pound rubber duck replica to Toronto’s waterfront.  I do know there are a lot of better ways we could be spending that money.

This is not Canadian and in no way represents Canada.

As I said before, I love Canada and will always love Canada. I may not approve of or like the way we behave all the time, but I will always love Canada.

Now this is Canadian!                                                 Photo Credit- bc.rcmp-grc.gc.ca

Read Full Post »

It’s almost over. The end is near.
I am not predicting armageddon or the rapture. I’m talking about February. That’s right, the shortest month of the year is finally coming to an end. How is it, then, that February can feel like the longest month I have ever had to endure?

You may think that I am being a bit of a Drama Queen here but I am not alone on this one. In fact, here in Canada a few years back it was decided that there should be a long weekend somewhere in the middle of February. I say “somewhere”, because just like February gets confused about how many days it should have (28 or 29), Canadians can’t figure out which Monday should be a Holiday. Most provinces, including my own (Ontario), take the third Monday off. Others take the second Monday. Now, for my American friends, this meant that my February Holiday fell on your Presidents Day. Happy Birthday Mr. Washington. Our Holiday is called Family Day. I kid you not. Someone who was probably suffering from cabin fever and the winter blues combined, thought it would be a good idea to guilt people into spending time together as a family and give them a day to do it. I have always resented this Holiday. I don’t have kids and have always considered it as yet another slap in the face for being barren. I’m not alone in this one either folks. There are a lot of people out there that are childless and single. Speaking of single, guess what else happened on this long weekend? Think about it…you’re almost there…yep, you’ve got it. Valentine’s Day was on the Saturday.

bitch slap cupid

Talk about adding insult to injury. Seriously, I know people who just wanted to stay in bed all weekend with a pillow over their head. Fortunately, I have He-Who and we had a lovely evening out listening to Frank Sinatra Jr. (he said it was the longest two hours of his life but that’s another story). Quite frankly, I don’t know why a family, any family for that matter, has to be given a Holiday to spend time with each other and why any couple needs the pressure of a specific day to be “romantic”.  I think the writing was on the wall for this long weekend when it started on Friday the 13th. Unless you are this guy, that’s not the luckiest day.

Freddy Krueger

Photo: 7Themes.com

It didn’t stop there. Saturday, February 14th was International Book Giving Day and it also happened to be Hockey Day In Canada. As a people we Canadians tend to take our hockey pretty seriously (except in this house) but can you imagine some of the conversations between couples about how to spend Valentine’s Day when there were hockey games playing back to back to back all day long?

halifax.ca/hockeyday

Photo: halifax.ca/hockeyday

Sunday, February 15th was the 50th Anniversary of our Canadian Flag. That’s right 50 years ago we said good bye to the Union Jack and welcomed home the Maple Leaf Forever. 

Union Jack Maple Leaf

Tuesday, February 17th…Pancake Tuesday. OK, so it’s really called Shrove Tuesday and if you are Christian it is the last day before the long fast for lent. It doesn’t matter if you are Christian or not, if pancakes are being served Canadian’s will be there and they’ll bring the maple syrup. It’s a tradition!  This is also the day that kicks off most Winter Carnivals, our version of Mardi Gras.

Maple Syrup

Wednesday, February 18th is Ash Wednesday. Not being a Catholic, I can remember as a little kid telling all my little Catholic friends that they had dirt on their foreheads.

Ash Wednesday

Thursday, February 19th. Happy Ewe Year!!! It’s the year of the sheep. Everyone celebrates Chinese New Year, usually by overeating at a buffet and figuring out what animal they are in the Chinese horoscopes.

Chinese New Year

I ate so much I couldn’t focus!

On Friday, February 20th you can celebrate Yukon Heritage Day. You get a day off work and you can join in on the annual winter celebration known as the Yukon Sourdough Rendezvous.

Are you exhausted yet? I haven’t even mentioned that we started out on February 1st with Superbowl Sunday (congratulations to the New England Patriots)  followed by February 2nd, Groundhog Day. If I were a groundhog I would never come out. If you happen to be Jewish you may also have celebrated Tu B’Shevat which is known as the “New Year for Trees”, on February 4th. Have I mentioned that the entire month of February is Black History Month?

Black History Month

Photo: thelegacyposter.com

Now let’s talk about the iceberg in the room. Quite literally. Almost daily, for the entire month of February we have woken up and gone to sleep under extreme cold weather alerts and record breaking below normal temperatures.  Blinding snow, gale force winds and bitter cold have been never ending. I know we are Canadian and supposed to be used to this weather, but enough is enough!

Hoar Frost

I like the name of this. We have all been Winter’s whore this year.

I can’t tell you how grateful I am that this is not a leap year. I don’t think I would make it through another day of February. Now excuse me, I have to go find something pink to wear because today is National Pink Shirt Day.

Read Full Post »

Canadians have been celebrating a lot this year. It’s not that we need an excuse to celebrate, but this year is special. “What are we celebrating? “ you might ask. Well, we are celebrating the very fact that we are Canadian! Some might say we are celebrating that we are not American. Yes, 200 years ago The War of 1812 sorted out who was who. Just this past weekend my home town had a huge re-enactment.

Every One Participates at The Battle of Queenston Heights Re-enactment Photo by Robin Biggar Argenta

Every One Participates at The Battle of Queenston Heights Re-enactment
Photo by Robin Biggar Argenta

A Colourful Day at The Battle of Queenston Heights Re-enactment Photo by Robin Biggar Argenta

A Colourful Day at The Battle of Queenston Heights Re-enactment
Photo by Robin Biggar Argenta

One of the other things the War of 1812 created was the Canada/United States border – the longest undefended border in the world. In many ways this border bonds us together far more than it separates us.

Canada Us Pipeline Border

Canada/United States Border – It looks a little different than this today.
Credit: National Film Board of Canada. Photothèque / Library and Archives Canada

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve crossed this border. I was born and raised in Niagara Falls, Ontario. There are four bridges that cross over the Niagara River linking our two countries – The Peace Bridge, The Rainbow Bridge, The Whirlpool (Lower) Bridge and the Queenston/Lewiston Bridge. I’m a “border kid”. This means I have spent my entire life crossing the border to the US, back and forth. Border kids have the distinction of being dragged half-naked “over the river” by their mothers since birth, then returning home wearing so many clothes we could play Ralphie’s little brother Randy in A Christmas Story. He was the kid who couldn’t put his arms down or get up when he fell, because his mom had him dressed like the Michelin Man. Yes, we were born and raised smugglers!

A Christmas Story

Do not fall down when dressed like this!

By the time I was in high school I was a pro. No, NOT a professional smuggler! But, by then it was second nature to cross over to the US on my own. I didn’t drive. I walked. In fact, it was a favourite activity for kids my age to skip school and take off over the river. They had really cool stores and the chances of getting caught by our parents were pretty much slim to none. We were always polite and never lied to the border guards, (Our parents were another story.) After all, the border guards had no sense of humour and carried guns. On one particular excursion we walked across the bridge, arm and arm and singing, “We’re off to see the wizard …” We were asked to stop singing but they let us continue into the US.

The Yellow Brick Road

Me (2nd from the left) and my buddies headed “Over the River”

On our way back to Canada, when they asked if we had anything to declare, I held my bag up and said, “just this pot”. We were immediately surrounded and I was relieved of my purchase. It was a little ceramic pot I had bought for 50¢ at a thrift store and still have to this day. I’m not sure who was more embarrassed, the Border Patrol or me.

My Wee Pot

My wee pot – 40 years later.

As a young adult, going over the river was a must. In the 70’s, the drinking age was 21 in Ontario and the bars closed at midnight or 1:00 am. Over the river, the drinking age was 18 and the bars were open until 2:00 am in one county and 4:00 am in another just minutes away. At some point the rules changed. Now, the drinking age in Ontario is 19 and the drinking age over the river is 21 – so the drinking crossovers have changed direction.

RAINBOW BRIDGE

Yes, it is that close

There was also a time when I had a business In Niagara Falls, New York and crossed back and forth over the border every day. In the summer the lineups on the bridge could be brutal and it was difficult to keep to a schedule. So, I hooked a crate to the back of my bicycle, loaded it with my briefcase, purse and heels, and rode to and from work every day. One day, one of the Customs Officials shared a story with me (one I am sure is an urban legend).

There was this fellow who crossed the bridge each day on a bicycle. He made the trip every day for many, many years. All the Customs Officials were sure he was smuggling something but never found anything on him. The man grew old and it came time for him to retire. He told the Customs Officials it was his last day, said good-bye and wished them well. One of the officials asked, “Please tell us before you go? “You’re free and clear now. “We’ve always suspected that you were smuggling something. “What was it?”

The man smiled and simply stated, “the bicycles.”

The Border

Almost there

We shared a piece of history that brought us together for a while. For 79 days during the 444 days of the Iran Hostage Crisis, former Canadian Ambassador, Ken Taylor and other Canadian Embassy staff, hid, protected and arranged for the escape of five Americans who had escaped from their Embassy when it was overrun. (President Reagan’s account of what happened.)
When it was finally made known to the public that the Americans were safely out of the country and that the Canadians were responsible, there appeared on the front page of our local paper a picture looking out across the Niagara Gorge to the escarpment on the other side. There was a giant banner hanging on the American side that was big enough you could read it while standing in Canada. It simply said, “THANK YOU CANADA”. I will never forget that sight. It could be because it appeared over night, or just knowing the manpower it would have taken to do such a thing. Or, could it be that it was the last time I remember an American saying “thank you”?

Thank You Canada

It was like this only really, really, really big

There was a Canadian movie made in 1981 about this called Escape from Iran: The Canadian Caper starring our very own Gordon Pinsent.
You won’t remember it. I’m sure it never even played in the US. You may, however, be aware of a little film called Argo that’s making the rounds right now. This version of the story, directed by Ben Affleck, stars Affleck and is a dramatization of the joint CIA-Canadian secret operation. Of course the emphasis is on the CIA’s part in it. I suppose we should be grateful that Canadians were even acknowledged.

Argo

The big attraction for people visiting Niagara Falls is, of course, the Falls. There are actually two sets of falls. The Canadian falls are called the Horseshoe Falls and are conveniently located in all their splendor to be enjoyed by anyone who comes to Niagara Falls, Ontario.

Canadian Horseshoe Falls

Canadian Horseshoe Falls

The American falls are called the American Falls (clever). Right beside it is a smaller waterfall called the Bridal Veil Falls. Both of these are also conveniently located in all their glory to be enjoyed by anyone who comes to Niagara Falls, Ontario. That’s right! You have to leave Niagara Falls, New York and cross over to Niagara Falls, Ontario to see the American Falls. I think this is where someone says “location, location, location”.

American Falls

American Falls & Bridal Veil Falls
(Maybe I should have stopped my car to take this one)

I still head over the river on a regular basis, even though these days I live much further away. No, there is no smuggling involved. You can’t live that close to the border and not have someone in the family marry the opposition. Now my sister lives there, my niece lives there and my grandniece lives there. That little girl is worth a trip over the river .

My Grandniece, Ellee

My Grandniece, Ellee

-30-

Silk Purse Productions

This post was originally written for a social experiment called “Canadica” and posted on October 23, 2012.  Canadica was the brainchild of Rebecca Donahue and was created as a joint project between Canadian and American writers. We had a lot of fun poking fun at each other. As you know I love our American neighbours very much, especially my American friends and family. Yes, that even means my brother-in-law, Bruce, who is a great source of amusement for me and helped me remember the drinking bits.  I have written other pieces for various blogs and recently discovered that some of those were lost because the owner of the site closed it down. This particular post was the first time (and so far…only time) I was “Freshly Pressed” so I did not want to risk losing it.

Read Full Post »

Perhaps, I have mentioned this a time or two but, for those who are new here, I’m a “border kid”, born and raised in Niagara Falls, Ontario.  The only thing separating us from Niagara Falls, New York was a river and a few bridges.  There was a time when going from one Niagara to the other wasn’t given a second thought. It was equal to walking around the corner to a friend’s house.  Things change and now you had better be ready to invest a a fairly hefty piece of time just waiting in line to cross that bridge never mind contemplating what might happen when it is “your turn” to face the border agents.  As I said, that is now.

Then, things were different. We came and went freely. Parents were never concerned if their children walked across to another country just to hang out downtown.  Can you imagine? I said “ANOTHER COUNTRY”!  It never felt like that. We all had friends on both sides. We all had relatives on both sides.  We studied the same things in school. OK, we were led to believe we studied the same things in school.  The reality was quite different.  Once a Canadian child was of certain age you started to ask questions.  Most families took turns hosting Holiday dinners. If we spent Christmas at Aunt Maude’s in Buffalo then we would spend Easter at our home in Niagara Falls.  The Fourth of July was always spent in the US.  Dominion Day (now Canada Day) was always spent in Canada.  One Holiday was always a great source of confusion, Thanksgiving Day.

Turkey

Pretty standard Thanksgiving artwork done by kids on both sides of the border…except I just made this one this afternoon…not when I was five.

We celebrate Thanksgiving on the second Monday in October. Our American friends celebrate on the fourth Thursday of November.  Granted it made the who ate where part easy to figure out but we had questions.  We all learned about Thanksgiving in school. You know, the Pilgrims, Plymouth Rock, Natives, corn, turkey dinner…wait a minute.

corn

Random shot of corn just because I like it. There was no corn.

Right about now is when you start to realize things may not be the same in the classroom on both sides of the border.  As a Canadian child I was taught a great deal of American history. In fact, I would venture to say that the influence of American History was quite heavy in my classroom.  With family on both sides of the border it is easy to compare notes and find that Americans know very little about Canadian History.  Canadian TV Producers have actually made extremely amusing programming asking Americans to answer questions about Canada.  Funny? Yes, but, also a little sad, don’t you think?

The History section on The Weather Network explains it the simplest:

The history of Thanksgiving in Canada goes back to an English explorer, Martin Frobisher, who had been futilely attempting to find a northern passage to the Orient. He did, however, establish a settlement in Canada. In the year 1578, Frobisher held a formal ceremony in what is now the province of Newfoundland and Labrador, to give thanks for surviving the long journey. This event is widely considered to be the first Canadian Thanksgiving, and the first official Thanksgiving to occur in North America.

The reality is that Canadians celebrated Thanksgiving 43 years before the Pilgrims reached Plymouth. There wasn’t even turkey served. The first Thanksgiving meal was salt beef, crackers and mushy peas. It was all they had. I will give thanks that the Americans changed the menu, although I can think of some turkeys who wouldn’t.

Cousin Susie with turkey

Cousin Susie with “Betty”, who will never be Thanksgiving dinner.

Last year folks on both sides of the border celebrated and continue to celebrate the 200th anniversary of the “War of 1812“.   Yes, we have spent a couple of years celebrating us becoming not American.  I am not sure why the Americans were celebrating. Oh, that’s right, they still think they won that one (according to my much beloved American brother-in-law).  Here Laura Secord is considered a hero. In the US…not so much.  There are a lot of discrepancies when it comes to Canadian/American history most recently would be Ben Affleck’s depiction of what happened during the Iran Hostage Crisis. I prefer President Reagan’s account.

We will probably always have these inconsistencies in our history together.  We will probably always disagree on how to spell color/colour.  We will bang our heads together trying to figure out how many kilometers per hour is equal to how many miles per hour so we don’t get a speeding ticket in either country.

400000

I am celebrating my Canadian Thanksgiving on the second Monday in October but on the fourth Thursday in November  I will also give thanks for all my American friends and family.

Happy Thanksgiving

Read Full Post »

A long weekend always always brings to mind endless eating, lots of family and some down time. I understand it is Columbus Day in the US today. It is Thanksgiving here in Canada.

Unfortunately, He-Who has to work this Holiday weekend so there will be no festive feast (although we pretty much have the whole endless eating thing down). We don’t live near any family any more so any visiting I do is via Skype and as for “down time”, did I mention He-Who is working?

Now, before you start thinking this is a pity party let me say, it is not.  I am a very fortunate person and have an endless list of things to be grateful for.

• I am grateful that He-Who has a job that keeps us warm and full and that he is willing to spend endless hours in heavy traffic to get to and from that job

• I am grateful for Skype. It is difficult to be away from the people you love and Skype allows me to visit with them in their home almost like I am sitting there. My youngest niece knows how much I miss her and that I often feel that I am missing so much of her baby girl’s life. She will often just call me on Skype and then go about her business while chatting with me. Her little one will pop up and say “hi”, play games with me and show me her latest acquisitions. I believe that she thinks her Auntie and her Uncle He-Who live in the computer.

• I am grateful for my friends and family, although I seldom see them they are always in my heart.

• I am grateful that both my sister and I are “survivors”

• I am grateful that ,although my Mom did not “survive”, that I  had her in my life for the first 12 years and that she loved me unconditionally.

• I am grateful for all the people in my life that have come and gone, always leaving behind a memory, a lesson or love.

• I am grateful that I was given a strong foundation as a child and that my faith has never left me.

• I am grateful that I am Canadian. I was born in a country that has so many freedoms and advantages. I really like that we have Thanksgiving a month before the  US. It gives us a full extra month to get ready for that big turkey dinner at Christmas.

This weekend I am really grateful that I have my trail in all its glory to spend some time on. It reminds me of how grateful I am for all the things above and more. Please let me share some of this beauty with you as I am very grateful for you, Dear Reader, every time you stop by to have a look, a “like” or leave a comment.

Thank You.

Path

INTERESTING Fall Colours

Fall Colours

Fall Colours

Fall Colours

Fall Colours

Fall Colours

Fall Colours

Fall Colours

Fall Colours

Fall Colours

Fall Colours

Fall Colours

Fall Colours

Falls Colours

Falls Colours

Fall StripFall Clours

Fall Colours

Fall Colours

Fall Colours

Fall Colours

Fall Colours

Happy Thanksgiving

Read Full Post »

He-Who arrived home at 2:00 am Sunday morning, which I like to call “very late Saturday night”. He flew down to Florida last week for some R & R and to join a buddy on the drive back to Ontario. Unfortunately for them they had some car problems and ended up abandoning their vehicle  in Chattanooga Tennessee, renting a car and then completing their journey. There had been several phone calls marking their progress (in vivid detail) while still trying to continue the drive in the vehicle eventually left behind. As I listened, I was reminded of an adventureous road trip my sister Pat and I had years ago.

This is not a tale of some wild “bucket list” adventure, but of a simple road trip gone wrong, long before we were all tethered together via cell phone, computers and GPS.  Pat was moving from Barrie, Ontario to Calgary, Alberta. Her husband and a lot of their belongings were already there and she was driving their car and the remainder of their belongings to finish the move.  We started in Niagara Falls (where I lived at the time) on a beautiful, late August morning and after a couple of time-consuming side trips (Toronto) we arrived in Barrie at the storage unit holding her worldly goods. Our first challenge was staring us in the face. How do we get enough stuff that would fill a half-ton truck to fit into an already overloaded 1985 Mercury Lynx- something like this one.

For awhile it looked like I would be getting bungie corded to the roof along with various pieces of furniture. Instead, I promised not to complain as I was folded into the tiny space left in the front seat. I quickly lost  all feeling my lower extremities.  As we passed through Sudbury (home of the big Nickel) I had my eye on the gas gauge praying for a pit stop. Unfortunately for my legs and bladder, Pat went on to Whitefish (don’t ask I have no idea). When we got back on the road it started to rain. A lot. The tapedeck (yes, I said tapedeck) got a serious case of the munchies and started eating our tapes which meant we might be forced to sing to amuse ourselves.  My attempts at resurrecting the tape deck proved to be temporary fixes at best and dash damaging at worst. As we passed through Sault Ste Marie around 9:00 pm, the car stalled out in 4th gear. We started it up again and pressed on through vast areas of nothing to the next sign of civilization. Around 10:30 we were witness to a spectacular display of Northern Lights.  After many hills and many more “Moose Crossings” we arrived in Wawa (home of the giant goose). It was 1:00 am.

Just like Texas…Canadians like “big” stuff.

We got on the road again, still in the pouring rain, only to have the car misbehave in White River (birth place of “Winnie” of The Pooh). Fortunately, they had a “24 hour mechanic on duty”. Unfortunately, he had gone to lunch and would be back in an hour. I ask you, does that not make him a 23 hour mechanic?  Upon his return he diagnosed our car to be terminal and said there was nothing he could do.  We decided to take our chances for now (famous last words). Somehow we survived “Hell on Highway 17”. All we had to do was follow the trail of mufflers on the road. We were told we would hit “a little construction”. I consider actual mine-sized holes quite a bit of construction! We reached Thunder Bay and the car simply could go no further. We literally rolled down a hill into a hotel parking lot. Needless to say, beverages were needed this night!

After waking up and finding I had been eaten alive by bedbugs, a plan was formulated.   The first thing we did was move to a new hotel for the 18 – 20 hour wait while my brother-in-law drove in from Calgary. A trip to the mall helped kill some time but not quite as much time as it took for me to get out of the cab upon our return.  The door in the back  was broken and somehow triggered the locking system. I was trapped in the back seat for quite a while. After calming down, we went for dinner, where I found a hair in my soup and I was served a hoagie without the steak. I gave up and went back to my room to put ointment on my bites.

Pat’s husband finally arrived to rescue us, a half-hour after the rental place for towing things closed, so we spent another night in Thunder Bay. Now remember that part about no GPS or google maps? We got lost trying to find the U-Haul place!  Wonder of wonders we finally made it out of Ontario and into “Friendly” Manitoba, my brother-in-law towing the car with his pickup. Only two more provinces to go. Sixty miles east of Winnipeg, smoke started billowing from the truck. The transmission was pooched. One of our delightful RCMPs came to our rescue and arranged for a tow truck. He was laughing the whole time as he watched the tow truck towing the pickup truck towing the car to the nearest service station. Hadishville, Manitoba (at the time) consisted of the Parkview Inn (four rooms)/Restaurant/Bar and a service station and we were stuck there until the parts could come from Winnipeg to fix the truck – Monday morning. We  had the run of the place for the weekend. The restaurant was closed on Sunday so the owners lent us their vehicle for the day to drive into Winnipeg (home of the author of Winnie The Pooh). By Monday morning we were clearing tables, doing dishes and peeling potatoes to keep ourselves amused. We were back on the road by 5:30 pm with me driving. An hour later there was a big clumping noise. We pulled onto the shoulder but found no problem. After another hour on the road people were waving at us as they passed, mouthing something. I finally made out the word “smoke” and stopped again. It appeared to be the muffler. Back on the road. As the sky darkened and the sun sank, we realized the headlights weren’t working. Off we went again to a service station to replace a fuse. The lights went off again before we left the parking lot. It appeared to be a short. When we reached Brandon (hometown of Amanda Stott, Pat’s hubby did a “MacGyver” with a paper clip. Voila, we had lights … until they started to flicker. Then the fuse board flashed! We were staying put for the night. Did I mention the freak snow storm that had enveloped us? As it turned out, they closed the highway because visibility was so bad, with or without headlights.

The next morning we rose with the sun. The rest of the trip had to be made in daylight. We made it through Saskatchewan without incident and limped into Calgary, white-knuckled and holding our breath. The “Road Trip from Hell” had ended. I was quite content walking around Calgary for days until boarding a plane for my return journey.

The Road Trip From Hell – 3,555 km

I love my sister and missed her a lot. I was really happy when years later she came back to Ontario.  And even happier she didn’t ask me to join her on the road trip back.

Read Full Post »

Margaret and Helen

Best Friends for Sixty Years and Counting...

I'll know it when I write it

I'm learning how to organize thoughts and words. Sometimes, that just looks like a hockey fight.

Problems With Infinity

Confessions of a Delusional Maniac

upside ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ sideways

embrace life :: explore design :: live simply :: laugh loud

julienoblog.wordpress.com/

The blog for those without a Blog

Wayne Paget

This blog is dedicated to my life as a photographer. I am a Denturist by trade, and a hobbyist photographer. I will be travelling to Nunavut to combine these aspects of my life. In 2015 I will document my travel experiences and the making of dentures for our Inuit communities.

You've Been Hooked!

Observations from the trenches....

Jenn's Trends

Understanding Trends in Social Media Management

Snap Crackle Watch!

A blog dedicated to television and movies

Blooms and Bubbles

(it's still East Meets Breast...)

Stories from home

Photography, family and friends (+ Oliver the dog!)

davelandryblog

Topics related to my photography business and life

Jumping From Cliffs

One Man's Adventures in Writerland

Frankly Speaking

We need to talk.

%d bloggers like this: