Paddling Our Own Canoe

August 1989

The scenery in rural Ontario can be breathtaking. I once had the good fortune to be able to stay with a friend in the Ontario wilderness. I knew it was fairly rugged as he had already mentioned  in his letters that he lived in a house on stilts because of the bears.bear

He was also woken in the early hours of the morning, much to his dismay by a particularly persistent woodpecker (sounded great to me.)

The whole experience had been completely thrilling. The view from atop the house on stilts, was stunning. The woodpecker was not a problem.(long story) We were completely surrounded by trees.

However I think we became a little over ambitious, in our attempt to fit into our surroundings. We (my long-suffering travelling companion, not my Canadian friend, who I am sure is probably a much more experienced canoeist than either of us.) had made the mistake of attempting to canoe down the river. Well it went really well at first. I had wondered initially ( feeling false confidence) why I had not been snapped up by some Olympic team somewhere, as we had skimmed expertly through the water. We were however travelling downstream. We had then attempted to turn the canoe around and had  terrifyingly found ourselves, straddled across the river virtually unable to move.

Right on cue, a motorboat had appeared and had hurtled towards us. I remember looking at the beautiful scenery  which had  surrounded  us and accepting that this might be the last thing I would ever see. Miraculously (Thank you God.) just as I was saying my mental goodbye to Canada and this world, a  horrified face had peered from above the helm of the speeding boat. I can only imagine his words but fortunately the motor boat had been able to halt its progress towards our helpless craft just in time.

Moral of this story: I am going to stick to paddling downstream if I ever set foot in a canoe again.

Canada

Canoe

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Canada

One of the my very many interesting discoveries during my family research was the extent of my Canadian connections.

In fact it turned out there were people in Canada, who had all sorts of family history research on us and I had acquired photos from my father of cousins from Canada, I had never known existed. My father had nearly emigrated to Canada at one stage, I believe. It is possible I have ancestry in Canada from way back, although this is as yet unproven. I do know I have a GGG uncle who was killed building the railway in Saskatchewan.

I have always thoroughly enjoyed my visits to Canada. I have been all over Eastern Canada. I have yet to visit the West which looks truly beautiful, so Canada has a special place in my heart.

Therefore I have very fond memories of my visits to Canada, which I will recount later.

The America I Knew-Part Two

America was my second home. One of my most joyful memories was being caught in a huge snowfall. Yes this happens even in Virginia. The snow  had reached  some three feet up our patio doors.

snowSome of the people my father’s American colleagues had been on their way to visit us but had ended up abandoning their cars and trudging the rest of the way.

When they had arrived, they had played snowballs with us, managing to throw them over the roof of our house. Once the snow had subsided, it had been time to start digging each other out. First priority for everybody had been our neighbour from Ecuador who had been heavily pregnant at the time. I will always remember the men resting on their shovels and having a break for a Budweiser. I am not sure I have ever experienced quite such a close-knit community. I remember those times with great affection. One of our beautiful neighbours would periodically get irate at people allowing their dogs to use her lawn as a toilet. She would inform the owners, in a way we would hear from across the street, to stop the dog relieving itself (using slightly more colourful language) or there would be trouble. Many a dog and owner had skulked away unsatisfied.

We were a diverse little community but on the whole a happy and harmonious one.

man with shovel

The America I Know

We arrived in America with a few boxes of possessions. We had to hire furniture, which was going to take a week to arrive. One of our new neighbours asked if we were going to be in on a particular night when they planned to all cook us a meal. Several neighbours also turned up with various bits and pieces of furniture for us to borrow.

I will never forget the kindness which was shown to us. Thirty years later one of my American neighbours is still one of my dearest friends.

America has always held a special place in my heart and when you are sad, I am sad with you.