Monday, February 22, 2010

Vancouver and the Canadians

When I was 17, newly graduated from high school, my father took the family on a three week driving trip from L.A. up the coast of California into Oregon and Washington, onto the ferry from  Port Angeles to Vancouver Island, into Victoria, over to Vancouver, up to Jasper National Park, then Banff, Lake Louise, over to Calgary, down through the Tetons and Glacier National Park, down the Salmon River route of Idaho, over the Continental Divide and onward home. It was an incredible trip. Dad worked with alot of Canadian broadcasters and we stayed in the best hotels and enjoyed side trips and perks courtesy of his many broadcast clients.  It was an insider trip of the best kind.  It was also was my first experience with Canadians and I was enchanted.

"What a beautiful country and what wonderful, friendly people,"  I thought, "Some day, I'll live there."

Some day never came.  In spite of all the places I have lived, I never lived in Canada.  I still love it though.  I think the people are welcoming, love visitors and, most of all, are just plain nice.  The parts of the country I've seen are breathtaking:  scenic, uncrowded and filled with promise.  They have national health care.  They have great fishing.  Their lakes are a color I cannot describe.  Their salmon are huge.  The mountains rock!  Their national parks are to die for. 

There are only 9 Canadians per square mile yet they produced 206  Winter Olympic contenders.  The U.S. has 84 citizens per square mile and produced 216 Winter Olympians.  Contrast this with tiny Monaco which has 42,143 persons per square mile but only produced 1 Winter Olympian.  Density of persons does not necessarily guarantee talent.

Living on the East Coast, we have visited Montreal and it too is wonderful.  We've discussed living there.  It's a gorgeous city, very French, very cosmopolitan with some of the most beautiful women I've seen outside of L.A.  My husband was getting a whiplash from turning his head so quickly as they'd pass us walking.  We still want to visit the Eastern Provinces, Nova Scotia, Newfoundland, P.E.I., New Brunswick. I only hear accolades for them all.

For now, I'm content to enjoy the rest of the Olympics and watch the beautiful scenery they televise.  My close friend just texted me with a photo of the ski jump.  She's in Vancouver, now, for the first time, at the Olympics.

I asked what she likes best and she said "It's beautiful and the people are great."  What fun!


Deborah said...

California Girl, this just chokes me up. I am so proud of my country and have been glued to the Olympics from over here in France. I love to hear the name 'Canada' so often on the TV and on people's lips.

I'm so glad that your Canadian experience was such a good one. Everything you said - well, I agree with it all. It IS a wonderful place, and we do try to be welcoming.

Thanks so much for your tribute to my land. It was absolutely wonderful to read this. And I'm so damn homesick now.

Minka said...

As for the country itself and its people - I absolutely believe you. I'll remember the Olympics with mixed feelings, though. It's also true that I don't watch them as much as I used to years ago, and only follow the news, more or less. Great athletes always impress me, but I will also remember other things this time.

Nancy said...

We spend two weeks in BC and Alberta and feel exactly the same way. Wonderful people and a beautiful country. I could easily live there.

Ruth said...

I've never spent a single night in Canada though it is so close. I've driven over the Ambassador Bridge from Detroit to Windsor, and driven across bleak highways to New York. But I've longed to visit Banff and Vancouver, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick. We'd love to take a cross country road trip one day. Your family trip sounds like a fabulous dream.

maggie's garden said...

I've only been to Alberta. It was outstanding...a lasting memory. We stayed with a family there, and they actually gave up their home to us. The nicest people I'd had the pleasure of staying with.

e said...

I've felt the same, but it seems that Canada, like many other countries, makes it difficult for people with disabilities to immigrate, fearing too much depletion of social services and health resources, even when such is not actually the case.

The fact that the U.S. won't fund national health care is a disgrace.

If you do move, let us know about the process.

Stephanie said...

I spent a summer in Gervais Inlet in BC - it was absolutely beautiful. And wild. We had bears running through camp!

Errant Aesthete said...

I've been on respite of late, but happened upon this after watching the Canadians win the gold medal last night in ice dancing. I, too, have always loved Canada and am inching my way up the west coast in hopes of living there one day. Vancouver is a particular favorite.

ArtSparker said...

It'shard not to think of it as a potential escape hatch at times.

California Girl said...

Deborah: I don't blame you for being proud. Canadians are super nice and the country is amazing. My father pioneered in Canadian broadcasting, working with some of the original broadcast families of Vancouver & Edmonton. He had such a history with both the radio industry and the television industry. He was extremely proud of that relationship.

Minka: not sure to what you refer but perhaps it is the sad way the Olympics began with the untimely death of the Georgian luge contender? That was quite horrible. They paid him tribute but it certainly put a damper on things. That poor kid.

Nancy: It would be a great experience.

Ruth: You would not be disappointed. I'd love to see the Canadian side of Niagara. I've heard it's the pretty side.

Maggie: the fact they would give up their home sounds extremely kind. What a great experience.

e: I don't know much about their immigration policies. I believe it is no longer as easy to move there as it once was. I grew up in the Sixties and they welcomed all those who refused to be drafted. I always thought that was amazing and still do.

Stephanie: That sounds like fun. I live iin the White Mtns of N.H. and we have wild bears in and around our homes and neighborhoods. It's jaw dropping to see one.

Errant: So happy to hear from you. Glad you enjoyed the post. The Canadian couple were superb. You are working you way up the West Coast? Are you in LA,SF or farther north?

Art Spark: Yes. I will always think of Canada as a refuge, particularly for disaffected Americans.

Baino said...

I've never been but my daughter has been to Montreal and toronto and is planning a BIG trip in 2011 on the east coast. Have a few commenters from Canada . . .I think they're very like us, trusting, easy going but they also have snow and Lake Louise and . . .I'd love to go, just love to. The world is an amazing place.

California Girl said...

Baino: Never having been to Australia but hoping SO MUCH to do so one day, I'd love to make that comparison. The word IS an amazing place. I hope to see more of it some day.

Noni at The Brick Street Bungalow said...

CG: Between you and watching the Olympics, I am ready to see Canada for myself! It is amazingly beautiful! I like the idea of the fat salmon, too! LOL! Aren't the Olympics just grand?

Captain Dumbass said...

Talk about nice? What a great post and fantastic comments! You're all invited to come stay at my house in Vancouver this summer.

California Girl said...

Tanna: Go and enjoy. Salmon, yummmm.

Capt: You're on!


by Cole Scott