Friday, 31 July 2015

Seeing Canada

I'm headed to Edmonton today, up Alberta's Highway 2 from Calgary, headed north, almost a beeline slicing the province in half. The drive will see Calgary quickly disappear behind us as we head up into the rolling prairie land that creeps its way eastward from the foothills of the Rocky Mountains. Far in the westward distance, the staggered peaks of the cordillera will slowly fall downward, behind the horizon, making their way westward as we make our way north.

Canada is a land of incredible beauty. I've seen almost all parts of it, except for the extreme north. There are only about 17 miles of paved road in Nunavit, most of it in a couple of key population centers. There are no roads to the true north; it is a land only accessible by air. Nunavut is bush pilot country. Where we have roads in Canada, I've pretty much been there.

What I find even more beautiful than the land is the people. The way we are seen in global eyes is pretty close to the truth. Canadians, by and large, are a kind, helpful, generous people who always have a ready apology and even more ready laugh. My inability has seen me receive incredible help and support right from Tofino to Petty Harbour. All along that way, I have found the best of people, and the odd dud.

For those Canadians who seem to lose that core Canadian value of acceptance and toleration, I blame it on circumstance and the rush of city life. That's one of the reasons I like to get on the road. In Canada, the roads are connectors from city to city. When you are on the road, you are almost never in any sort of urban setting. Canada is vast, and vastly rural. It is a country of countryside, a land of mostly empty land. Yet most Canadians now live in large urban centres.

In a way it concerns me. I wonder if the core values that make us Canadian will change as we drift farther and farther away from our roots in the wilderness that makes up most of our home. I hope not. I remind myself on a regular basis that this is a country where deer, moose, bear, whatever, wander into major centres on a regular basis. It is that juxtaposition which perhaps best describes Canada, where a deer in the city is headline news, not because we haven't seen it before, but because we love to see it again and again.

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