Tuesday, December 1, 2009

O Canada!



It's been 35 years and two weeks since my family emigrated to Canada. I was nine years old and my parents and I, after a few exciting years in the Middle East, were living in Cornwall, England, but apparently that was about to change. One morning my father said to me, "What about Canada? We might be moving there." I can remember as clear as day, looking out the window and thinking to myself, "I'll have to wear snow shoes to get to school, and my friends' fathers will be lumberjacks." That was my very distinct impression of the possibility of our move.

How wrong could I be? The reality was a new apartment building in Mississauga (a suburb of Toronto, and brown water from the taps). Nothing could have prepared us for the cold. We had lived in the Middle East for years, and then spent a damp few months in Cornwall before enjoying a record-breaking English heat wave. It was November when we arrived in Canada, and our newly-bought London winter coats were not up to the job. I had never experienced that nostril-freezing bite as I stepped outside the door.

I was unhappy and it took a while to get over that. As we supposedly spoke the same language, it was assumed I would fit into the school system smoothly. Unfortunately I didn't understand most of what my teacher said, and my upright, rounded English handwriting was unacceptable. I was forced to learn sloping cursive. A few years ago I looked back at my tortured workbooks, my writing straining to conform. It was too awful to remember and I threw them all out. When I left highschool, seven years after arriving in Canada, my handwriting reverted to its original upright, rounded shapes like a whiplash.

I hated school. But I began to love Canada and now I'm so proud to call it home. I enjoy dual citizenship, which is a rare blessing in world where many have a single citizenship in a place I'd rather not even visit. Canada is - relative to what's out there - as free, safe and tolerant a country you could live in. It suffers from a multitude of identity crises, a terror of not being considered "world class", and peculiar, slightly wimpy political divisions, and but I can't talk intelligently about that. What I can say is what I love about it: it has billions of trees; its lakes are deep and clean; it's a pot-smoking, gay-marrying liberal haven; it's constantly striving for cultural significance. I am so lucky to live where and when I do.

13 comments:

Hilary said...

What a great post. You'd have me convinced to live here.. if it wasn't already home. :)

Protege said...

I really loved this as I always like to hear the stories of other "emigrants". You being nine years is old enough to remember how it felt not to fit in.
I am so glad that you have found Canada to be your home, while still retaining your roots; that is such a blessing.
Lovely post!
xo
Zuzana

Blog Princess G said...

It's been a good home to me and my family, and for that I am very grateful.

Brian Miller said...

congrats on the POTW mention...sounds like you have found a home, which is always important. nicely done.

Sandi McBride said...

I have always loved Canada. Only been twice in my life, but loved it anyway. Congratulations for making Hilary's Post of the Week!
Sandi

Blog Princess G said...

Thanks for the visit Brian! I'll be over to visit your blog. :)

Blog Princess G said...

Thanks Sandy! I just came over and visited your blog. I see you're an Outlander fan too. Eeeeeexcellent... :)

LadyFi said...

Lovely post! I am a Brit living in Sweden, which is very much like Canada, but much cleaner, smaller and safer...

Shammickite said...

I've been here 40plus years now, originally from Devon.... not too far from Cornwall! And I agree, Canada's the best country in the world. I was in England last year, and it was truly lovely, but I'm always glad to get back to the Great White North!

Land of shimp said...

Hello :-) Hilary's POTW mentions brought me here.

I really enjoyed your post, and I envy you living in Canada, as a lot of Liberals in the U.S. envy the heck out of Canada!

But I don't envy you the cold, or the brown water ;-) I also wanted to say, I ADORE the picture that went with this post. It immediately had me grinning from ear-to-ear!

Blog Princess G said...

LadyFi: Wow... I've always wanted to visit Sweden and Norway... something about the mighty fjords. :)

Shammickite: That's very interesting. I miss England, but that's a typical immigrant push/pull emotion I think.

Land of Shimp: I'm so glad you noticed Moosey! He's so cute isn't he? Heyyyy... what's this about brown water? Is it an in-joke I've missed? :)

Thanks for the visits - I'll be over to see your blogs.

Dianne said...

congrats on POTW

I have always enjoyed visiting Canada, I'm in NJ, USA

and lately with all that is going on in my state and country Canada looks better and better all the time

gaelikaa said...

Sounds like a great place to live. Many people from India, where I live, are living there.

Congrats on POTW mention.