Home is Where You Hang Your Hat
November 3, 2010 § 4 Comments
In January 2009, Bruce Springsteen released an uplifting song called Working on a Dream. I thought of it recently as I reached another milestone on my own wish list – to travel to every part of Canada.
I am getting there but there is much more to see and do in this vast land. After all, it is the second largest country in the world. There is no shortage of diversity from sea to sea to sea!
You could fit the United Kingdom into Canada almost 40 times! There are more than 100 languages spoken here.
I’ve travelled to six provinces, and lived in three, but have not ventured east of Quebec. I had yet to find my way north of the 60th parallel until just recently.
Thanks to having the opportunity to attend Prospects North, a business and trade conference, on behalf of the City of Grande Prairie, I travelled to Yellowknife, Northwest Territories in mid October. It was a wonderful experience though there was precious little time to explore as much as Brian Glavin, our Economic Development Officer, and I would’ve liked .
Still, Yellowknife reminded me in ways of Grande Prairie in that it has the bustle associated with a regional service centre and seems larger than it really is. Did you know that Yellowknife, with a population of 20,000, is the only city in the Northwest Territories?
I also couldn’t help but think of Northern Ontario and its rocky terrain and lakes.
Yellowknife is known as the Diamond Capital of North America.
I was taken by the warmth and friendliness of the locals and the sense of contentment people had living there and in other northern communities.
As with Grande Prairie, many residents hadn’t intended on staying long upon arrival in Yellowknife or Whitehorse, Yukon, but have become attached to these places.
Actually, 2010 has been a year of rediscovering old favourites and exploring new destinations.
It all started in April when I attended the Alberta Municipal Communicators’ Group meeting in High River, where I had never visited. It is located just south of Calgary.
Former Canadian Prime Minister Joe Clark hails from the town of 11,000. W.O. Mitchell, author of Who Has Seen the Wind? and other renowned Canadian literary gems also called the town home.
Joyce accompanied me on the trip and we enjoyed wonderful hospitality, including a recommendation we stay an extra day and hang out for the evening at Carlson’s on McLeod, a well-known local watering hole and entertainment spot.
That was well worth it.
We got to hear Bruce Innes of Original Caste fame play a variety of folk, blues and jazz tunes with support from local guitarist Julian Kerr. The Original Caste is known for two hits – One Tin Soldier and Mr. Monday.
The next day, it was off to Canmore to visit my brother, Bob, and family.
I’m always up for a suggestion for the road less travelled. Several people recommended we take the back roads through some lovely, breathtaking, rolling terrain.
So, off we went through Black Diamond, Bragg Creek and other small towns and villages surrounded by wide open spaces. I can see why artisans of all types are inspired and thrive in places like this.
Joyce had not been to Canmore in many years and it was an opportunity for us to enjoy the mountains on the way home via the Icefield Parkway, Jasper and Grande Cache.
In June, I attended the Canadian Public Relations Society Conference in Regina. I had never stopped in Saskatchewan’s capital on my way back and forth across the country.
On my way to the hotel on the day the event started, I couldn’t help but notice the legendary crazy Roughrider fans getting all whooped up. It was an exhibition game that afternoon. I can only imagine what it would be like during the regular season.
During the conference, I enjoyed a visit to the RCMP headquarters and was also pleased to see how the former train station had been transformed into the casino.
In August, we had a chance to visit Richmond, B.C., where I attended college. Seattle, Washington was new to me and Parksville, B.C., which is one of our favourite vacation destinations of all time.
Not far away is Englishman River Falls ↼a fabulous provincial campground where we stayed several days on our last trip to Vancouver Island, 23 years ago. This was far too long an absence, particularly, for people who had once talked about retiring to Vancouver Island.
We delighted in taking photos along the river and the many other spots for photo ops within the park ⇀only this time, they were all digital images, on Joyce’s camera and my Blackberry.
Next June, the Canadian Public Relations Society Conference is in Saint John, New Brunswick.
That will be my first foray into the East Coast.
My brother-in-law, Dave, has taught at the University of New Brunswick in Fredericton for many years and yet we never made it there while living in Ontario for 20 years. We will make it there faster by living in Alberta!
We plan to celebrate our 25th wedding anniversary while there.
When I reflect on these travels, I can’t help be struck by how different people view the country. Many will wonder how others would find themselves staying in places like Yellowknife, Whitehorse, Grande Prairie and other communities away from the bright lights and action.
The fact is, though, home is where you hang your hat. What attracts residents of Yellowknife may not appeal to those in Edmonton. Some will be content in Alberta’s capital city but not in Toronto.
I am eager to continue exploring my homeland. It really does have something for everyone. Should you be looking in from another country, come see what I mean.
If you are in Canada, join me in celebrating what we have!