Here’s a great story from The State News about families hosting international students attending Michigan State University, for the Thanksgiving holiday.
Archive for December 5th, 2010
I have been fortunate enough to visit nine of the 10 provinces of Canada. Only the province of Newfoundland & Labrador and the three territories remain to be seen. I have also been fortunate enough to live the past 18+ years within earshot of Canada to enjoy their culture offerings in person and on both the radio or television. If you ever want to watch the Olympics the way they should be presented, watch them on CBC. The same is true with NHL games and curling matches.
But Canada is so much more than broadcasts across airwaves and cable. It is a diverse nation made up of millions of warm-hearted, friendly, and caring people. Some of the most unique things I recall about my visits to Canada include (from west to east):
• The unexpected surprise and utter amazement of Richmond, British Columbia; Canada’s version of a Chinese city. Talk about being totally caught off guard in a good way. Wow!
• Passing under the scenic Lion’s Gate Bridge on a cruise ship in Vancouver, British Columbia.
• The stunning visual beauty of Banff and Lake Louise, Alberta.
• Watching white water rafters float down the Bow River underneath the shadows of downtown Calgary skyscrapers.
• The subtle beauty and rolling fields of bluish flax and yellow canola across Saskatchewan. The colors seemed to be a enormous welcome tapestry paying homage to Wolverine fans.
• The seriously cute Burrowing Owls of Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan. Who ever heard of a bird living in a hole in the ground?
• Farmers and their families waiting for hours at lonesome and desolate highway intersections in western Manitoba and Saskatchewan just to wave to the passing solar cars in the North American Solar Challenge.
• The fascinating tour of the Royal Canadian Mint in Winnipeg, Manitoba.
• The gargantuan Algoma Steel mill in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario.
• The fabulous view of Lake Huron and Sarnia, Ontario from the Bluewater Bridge. The bridge’s name is spot on.
• The historic and sad legacy of sunken ships seen off the Lake Huron shoreline in Tobermory, Ontario.
• Driving south (yes south) from Detroit into Canada.
• Spring migration bird watching at Point Pelee National Park, Ontario.
•The unique geological majesty of the Niagara Escarpment cutting across Ontario.
• The unbelievable and undeniable vibe and pulse of Toronto – a drive on the 401 expressway will introduce you quickly, but perhaps not in the way you would prefer.
• The most beautiful library in the world in the Parliament Building in Ottawa.
• The steep descent of the Rideau Canal in order to link up with the Ottawa River in Ottawa, Ontario.
• The dramatic topographic settings for Montreal and Quebec City (photo).
• The impressive cathedrals and charming churches of Quebec.
• The whales of the St. Lawrence River outlet.
• Driving across the world’s longest covered bridge in Hartland, New Brunswick. It is so long (1,282 feet) , I could not get it all in one photo.
• The dramatic tidal fluctuations of the Bay of Fundy in New Brunswick and Nova Scotia.
• Watching the returning fishing and lobster boats at Digby, Nova Scotia.
• The reverberating echo of the noon cannon being fired at the Halifax Citadel. I always wondered if those workers in nearby downtown office buildings got used to that boom each day.
• The rugged seascape of Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia.
• The unique balancing basalt formation of Long, Island Nova Scotia.
• Fog so thick you could hardly see the Peggy’s Cove Lighthouse until you practically walked face first into its outer wall.
• The campground adjacent to Anne of Green Gables home on Prince Edward Island.
• Riding the ferry between Prince Edward Island and New Brunswick, knowing it would soon be replaced by the rising piers of the Confederation Bridge, under construction a few hundred yards away.
• And of course, one cannot mention Canada without noting that every town larger than an overgrown hamlet is occupied by a Tim Horton’s restaurant.
Someday, hopefully soon, I will make it Newfoundland & Labrador, as well as the territories. I am sure each will easily match the timeless beauty of their sister provinces.
While these images are priceless, Canada is much more than sights and sounds. It has long been a nation with a progressive vision of how governing can be compassionate, moral, and empathetic. It may not be perfect, but compared to the many alternatives on world’s landscape, Canada ranks at the top, in my humble opinion.
For those of you who think it is unpatriotic to say such things about another country, perhaps you need to remove your rose-colored glasses or stop watching Fox News.
Just because we, as Americans, like to brag does not mean we are always correct. There is a lot to be proud of in America too. The problem is that pride does not end devastating homelessness, long-term unemployment and underemployment, and poverty. Bravado does not pay enormous medical bills, end gun violence, or curb our dependence on fossil fuels. Patriotism and flag waving do not educate our children, cut pollution, or restrict excessive CEO salaries and Wall Street bonuses.
- Does Canada have problems? Yes. I dare anyone to name a nation on Earth that does not. But, instead of continuous political gridlock, there are attempts to resolve the nation’s problems.
- Does Canada make errors? Of course. Humans are not perfect. It would be irrational to think otherwise.
- Does Canada admit to failures or shortcomings? Yes, unlike some nations (you know who you are), Canada has tried to make amends for past mistakes. This is not always easy or successful, but an honest attempt is far better than invoking delusional theories like Dubya’s “signing statements” and Nixon’s “plausible deniability.”
Thank you Canada and all Canadians for so many terrific memories and future daydreams. Thank you also for providing the world with clear guidance on how progressive governance can be successful in the digital age. As far as I have been able to tell, there’s no other place on the planet that is doing it better, eh?