07 February 2008

O Canada, Indeed

Nikki Yanofsky (above), a fourteen year-old jazz prodigy from Montreal, makes her Carnegie Hall debut this week. O Canada, one of the most riveting national anthems around (especially when it is sung in French and English), gives a hint of the complexity that seems to be Canada. Like most places non-American, we all seem to assume we know about this neighbor to the north. "Are you a hockey fan?" asked the room service guy as he brought my pot of coffee. "Tonight is Toronto-Montreal."

Precarious Plodding

What is this place I've traveled around this week? I haven't been to all of it, missing Fuel's Vancouver, but this week I've headed from the bitter cold of Edmonton to the cosmopolitan Toronto to the second city of Hamilton to the small towns of Ancaster and Thamesville to Montreal, a proud yet strange French enclave. I'm still not sure what makes all of these people Canadian, maybe other than the heartiness required to make it through the winters. Toronto-Montreal seems to make New York-Boston or Alabama-Auburn seem like Little League spats (I have to admit, I don't know if it's Toronto-Montreal or ROC/Rest of Canada-Montreal). Maybe the winters breed a friendliness into the DNA, where neighbors have to reach out to one another to pull through.

Frozen Boat

But Canada seems to also be a fractured country, much like most developed nations. Some of the signs are easy to spot: Quebec wanting to create their own country, the language police, the government dissolving every time they get mad at each other (the US would never have a government, would we?). Are there common values or history or sense of being that binds these folks? I'm not sure.


I know that the Canadians I've spent time with all seem to have a genuineness to them. Although the land I've seen often has a flatness like Phoenix, there is a beauty reminiscent of the sweeping farmlands and plains of great swaths of the America of yesterday. The silos, barns, and horse farms lining the highways may be invisible to the Canucks, but they've been a constant source of comfort to me.

Amidst the Ice

My Flickr obsession has made me continuously look for beauty everywhere. It's been everywhere here in Canada, but I can't wait to get back to my beauty, the true love of my life on her fortieth birthday tomorrow.

Spoiling a Child Part IV

Can't wait to get home


Blogger Fuel55 said...

Admit it. You cant wait to move to Canada!

12:31 PM  
Blogger Astin said...

A shame you didn't make it Calgary or Vancouver, or even a couple hours out of Montreal. The flatness is replaced with some of the most beautiful mountainscapes imagineable. Vancouver especially, where there's the Pacific on one side and the Rockies on the other.

As for Toronto-Montreal? The closest there is in the States is Yankees-Sox. 100 years of history between these two teams. Every single game between them is special. If they're both doing well, it can shut down the eastern side of the country, and a good chunk of the rest too.

3:06 PM  
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