A Candle for Canada’s 150th Birthday

This blog post is light and small like a cupcake.

Cowichan Bay, Vancouver Island 2012. Photo by J.Chong.

2017 is Canada’s 150th year as a country.

Sure, the country did exist centuries before, as a collection of different nations of native Indian and Inuit peoples.  That memory and consciousness is still with us today alongside with Canada – in their voices, in names of some cities or towns –Mississauga or Ottawa in province of Ontario,  Medicine Hat in Alberta, Haida Gwai’i in British Columbia and some road names –Blackfoot Trail, Metis Trail and Shaganappi Trail in city of Calgary.  “Canada” is derived from Iroquois Indian word for village or settlement.

Bilingual Inscription on glass wall of Musqueam First Nations Museum on Musqueam native Indian reserve land adjacent to University of British Columbia. Vancouver, BC 2015.
By Vermillion Lake, Banff National Park, Alberta. 2016. Small logo to left of Banff Legacy Trail signifies this tiny piece is part of national cycling route, TransCanada Trail –over 24,000 km. long. It spans across Canada and goes north through Yukon Territory . Photo by J.Chong
Another Trans Canada trail sign –by Lake Ontario near Beaches, East Toronto by bike path. 2014. Photo by J. Chong
Trans Canada Trail winds under historic Inglewood 9th St. bridge near Fort Calgary. Calgary, AB 2017. Background is Canadian Pacific Rail train.
Bilingual language signs on Musqueam First Nations land by University of British Columbia. Vancouver BC 2015. Photo by J. Chong

Local History Footprint in Older Canadian Street Names
In many cities and towns across Canada you are also bound to find  older Anglo-named streets -with names of King Street,  Edward, George –reflections of Canada as bygone British colony.

In Quebec and other francophone communities, –Saint Denis and most likely a rue l’Eglise de xxx etc., named after a local church.   I certainly can vouch after cycling in various southern edges along provinces over the years –even if I only touched  tiny geographic patches of Canada’s overstretched size.

Canada’s history has borne struggles among contesting parties over land, resources of gold, fur, oil, fish (salmon, cod), lumber.  There have been  linguistic battles over English, French and all other mother tongues (allophones),  provincial regional brawls over money and wrestling our position on the global stage as  equal player in diplomacy, trade and multicultural harmony.

Northwest coast aboriginal imagery in outdoor mural art located in Chinatown. Vancouver BC 2015. Photo by J. Chong. There has been some early links between the local Indians and Chinese –though many don’t know this history.
Trans Canada Trail spot by False Creek Community Centre on Granville Island. Vancouver BC. Photo by J. Chong. Distance between Vancouver and Toronto is 4,800 km.

Cycle Write blog  reflects my narrow Canadian viewpoint –of a minion who has travelled abroad several times but who has never lived in any other country.  Several decades ago, I did apply for jobs in the United States.  I even had a job interview in California.

Saffron shrimp handmade spaetzle dish –fusion Indian-German cuisine restaurant in mountain town of Revelestoke, British Columbia 2016, Exemplifies best transformation of 2 cultures for something new: Photo by J.Chong

Most likely, by now, I never will live anywhere else except in Canada.   Sure I lack adventure –maybe.  I’ll become an old, soaring Douglas fir tree –so deeply rooted and weathered in loveliness against all four seasons of weather.  These old growth trees in rainforests of British Columbia, fling out a broad protective shady leaf canopy while at its feet, is a rich ground life of plants, fungus, insects and snails.   I’m hoping my enthusiasm also feeds the interest of others.

Chinese-Canadian dual memorial dedicated to: Chinese-Canadians who fought in WW II overseas who lost their lives which later, Parliament granted all Chinese-Canadians right to vote in 1947. Other is for Chinese railway workers in late 1800’s who built and of many who lost their lives in the most dangerous mountainous areas of British Columbia before the cross-country railroad was finished. Chinatown, Vancouver BC 2016. Photo by J. Chong

2017 Global Politics-  Cocooning This Year For National Birthday Bash
I  value our freedom, attempts to respect each other’s ancestral family backgrounds (despite a few insulting Canadian yahoos and trolls), our clean air, water and quality of life.   Now south of us, a U.S. presidential rule, willfully disinterested in health and economic stability for millions of its own low income citizens, it’s just not attractive for me to spend many years below the 49th parallel  –the Canada-U.S. border.

Stylized ice sculpture of a moose or elk, 2 iconic Canadian wildlife. Lake Louise. Banff National Park, Alberta 2017. Photo by J. Chong

To celebrate this year’s birthday, Parks Canada  provided free passes to all Canadian  national parks ( many gorgeous wilderness parks)  and heritage sights just for this year.  Over a million people worldwide as well as Canadians, stampeded to its web site and clogged it.

Same thing happened to website crashes when VIA Rail announced a cheap youth rail pass for those 12-25 yrs. old to explore and travel Canada for $150.00 during this July.  Cheap but alas tickets were snapped up within days.

Mount Rundle from Vermillion Lakes area. Banff National Park, 2016. Photo by J. Chong
Cherry blossoms against old growth Douglas fir trees. Stanley Park, Vancouver BC 2014. Photo by J.Chong
Beavers adorn mural surrounding a construction site. Toronto, ON 2015. Photo by J.Chong

Meanwhile Toronto School Board, the largest school board in Canada (over 300,000 students) and Girl Guides of Canada, announced this year, they were not planning any group student trips into the U.S. because of potential border crossing difficulties for children who were born or would have dual citizenship from the 6 banned countries listed by the U.S. government.  This is a reality check since Toronto probably has the most highly diverse racial and ethnic student population  in Canada.  So it looks like more stayvacations for some Canadians, to learn more about what we take for granted or don’t know yet.

So I’ll hold my tiny candle for Canada this year.  It’s an immense country where I still don’t know enough but learning every week, something new.  Since I only get to celebrate every 25 years or so:  A big shout out to Canada @ 150 years.

Mother duck with growing ducklings. Vancouver BC 2016. Photo by J.Chong

*Top banner photo features 2 male adult Canadian Geese with their flotilla of ducklings on a river in Revelstoke, British Columbia.   Canada Geese are frequently seen near water bodies in southern Canada, coast to coast. It is not Canada’s official bird (loon was selected last year) but familiar to Canadians when they fly in V-formation in a flock high in the skies –either just flying around or migrating on their journey.  It is illegal to shoot this bird.

Other Interesting Reading
The Trans Canada Trail will be 24,000 km long when it’s completed.  According to this map, year over 91% is connected. It winds a bit in various provinces for primarily cyclists, hikers and pedestrians. The length of southern Canada from west to east coast is 8,000 km. The objective to ensure the trail is within 30 min. where 80% of Canadians live.  It’s not clear if that’s within 80% by car or walking to the trail. The ground was struck to build the trail in 1992.

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10 Comments Add yours

  1. Mabel Kwong says:

    Not surprised you won’t live anywhere else, Jean. From what I’ve read and seen about Canada, it is a vast land with nature and architecture abound. The chesp tickets sound so affordable, and those who got them were very lucky. Of all the phrases you can travel too 😊

    Like

    1. Jean says:

      We look forward to exploring more. The distances can be a lot and not enough vacation time!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Sue Slaght says:

    Like you I believe Canada will be our home forever. So happy to be here. There is so much to explore in our beautiful country and we look forward to doing just that in the years ahead.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Jean says:

      🙂 We will be here in rain or shine or snow. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  3. TinLizzie72 says:

    I wouldn’t have called that a small or light blog post! Happy Anniversary to Canada! Seems like a lovely place to be – spoken as one of your many unhappy southern neighbors…

    Like

    1. Jean says:

      Admittedly the blog post evolved abit. 2017 will be an atypical year for many people in different ways. Since you are more on the eastern side of U.S., I would recommend cycling Velo Quebec’s bike routes in southern Quebec. Route Verte. You will for certain encounter French signage and French spoken often enough. And you’re not flying across the Atlantic Ocean.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. TinLizzie72 says:

        That sounds fun! Thanks for the suggestion – I’ll look it up!

        Like

        1. Jean says:

          If you need advice on Route Verte, contact me. I’ve cycled parts of it twice. My partner has done more routes on 2 additional trips on his own.

          Liked by 1 person

  4. livelytwist says:

    Congratulations to Canada at 150years! I visited Toronto once long ago, and although the temperature was freezing, -18 degrees Celsius, the people were very warm. You’ve lived in Canada all your life by your own admission, but you’ve also travelled far into Europe. That’s broad. At this stage, yes, it should be Canada for life. It’s a great country.

    The ice sculpture is gorgeous!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Jean says:

      That sure was a cold welcome weather-wise, lively. Toronto normally doesn’t get winters that cold. Calgary does and we consider -19C moderately cold!

      I haven’t visited any Asian country yet… which from my perspective, a bit limiting.

      At least you can simply read a blog about Canadian winters now. 😀

      Liked by 1 person

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