A Taste of the Cana­dian North

An ex-pat rem­i­nisces about leav­ing the sunny climes of Cal­i­for­nia with her fam­ily for a north­ern ad­ven­ture

Our Canada - - Features | Departments - By Sherri Re­gal­b­uto, for­merly of Ot­tawa

A Cana­dian ex-pat— now liv­ing in sunny Cal­i­for­nia—has fond mem­o­ries of one par­tic­u­larly frosty trip to Ot­tawa dur­ing Win­ter­lude.

It’s been nearly 19 years since we moved from Ot­tawa to South­ern Cal­i­for­nia—time sure flies. We’ve been back “home” many times over the years and it’s al­ways fun. I love go­ing over the var­i­ous trips we’ve taken back to Ot­tawa. We’ve done the frigid win­ter treks and warm sum­mer voy­ages, but one trip stands out as quite dif­fer­ent from the rest.

Eleven years ago, my hus­band Steve and I along with our kids de­cided to head home to en­joy the north. It had been three years since our pre­vi­ous trip. With our son Brad, 16 at the time, and two daugh­ters Ni­cole and Jamie, 19 and 20, we were well over­due. Our trip was planned for Fe­bru­ary and we were all ex­cited to be head­ing back to the real cold again.

Join­ing us were our daugh­ters’ boyfriends. Both boys were long­time Cal­i­for­ni­ans who had no idea what they were in for. I knew only too well that trav­el­ling in Fe­bru­ary meant we were sure to get some ice-cold tem­per­a­tures for the non-cana­di­ans to ex­pe­ri­ence and us to en­joy.

Our day be­gan early when the seven of us piled into the air­port shut­tle be­fore the sun was up. With a quick stopover in Chicago— a pre- cold tran­si­tion of sorts—we were headed for Canada. Dur­ing our short flight from Chicago to Ot­tawa, my daugh­ters tried to ex­plain to their boyfriends what mi­nus- de­gree tem­per­a­tures feel like. Try as they might, you re­ally have to ex­pe­ri­ence that kind of cold to fully un­der­stand it.

Af­ter clear­ing cus­toms, we waited for our lug­gage to come down the ramp be­fore con­tin­u­ing on to our fi­nal des­ti­na­tion. The guys were dy­ing to feel the cold to get some sort of idea what we’d all been talk­ing about, and Ot­tawa de­liv­ered as if we had or­dered it up just for the vis­i­tors. They headed out the re­volv­ing door and stood wait­ing in the cold. I could see their breath on the frigid air. The Cal­i­for­ni­ans

were only out in the cold for a mo­ment be­fore dash­ing back into the warmth. My kids, who had grown up in Canada, could not stop laugh­ing.

I waited in­side the build­ing, but the kids were out in the numb­ing weather. No, thank you, I’d been out there for many, many years. Our ride fi­nally pulled up, but the doors of the van were frozen shut—some­thing that our Cal­i­for­nia vis­i­tors had never seen be­fore. Even­tu­ally, we man­aged to get the doors open and of­fi­cially started our north­ern get­away.

Af­ter be­ing in Cal­i­for­nia for so long, you re­ally no­tice the won­der­ful open space in the Ot­tawa area: the vast stretches of fields; each cov­ered with a blan­ket of snow in Fe­bru­ary. We made a quick stop to eat while we went over the agenda for our trip. Skiing at Camp For­tune in Que­bec, an overnighter at the West­meath Cot­tages, beaver tails on the Rideau Canal and a tour of the Par­lia­ment build­ings were all dis­cussed and worked into the itin­er­ary. See­ing our Cal­i­for­nia guests ex­pe­ri­ence win­ter for the first time made our trip even more spe­cial. In one week, we were dealt the full range of win­ter weather; mild rain, sleet, heavy winds, snow and way-be­low-freez­ing tem­per­a­tures. We spent the most won­der­ful week en­joy­ing to­bog­gan­ing, shov­el­ling, scrap­ing ice off the car win­dow, freez­ing while run­ning from car to build­ing, driv­ing on icy roads and just plain en­joy­ing a very Cana­dian win­ter.

With Win­ter­lude in full swing, the Olympics show­ing true Cana- dian pride and win­ter weather of every type, it was the per­fect time and place to in­tro­duce vis­i­tors to Canada—it was truly a va­ca­tion to re­mem­ber. We got to in­tro­duce the guys to where the girls had grown up, and it was a much-needed re­con­nect for us.

As I look back at this very dif­fer­ent trip home, a few things oc­cur to me. Canada in the win­ter is breath­tak­ingly beau­ti­ful. Cana­di­ans are as friendly as ev­ery­one thinks they are. Cana­di­ans brave a mul­ti­tude of win­ter ac­tiv­i­ties de­spite the frigid tem­per­a­tures, and there’s that amaz­ing Cana­dian pride, which we bring back to Cal­i­for­nia with us af­ter each trip. n

Clock­wise from left: A then 19-year-old Ni­cole hav­ing fun to­bog­gan­ing; a great shot of Camp For­tune—a ski hill in Chelsea, Que., 15 min­utes from Ot­tawa; an ice sculp­ture in down­town Ot­tawa dur­ing Win­ter­lude.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada

© PressReader. All rights reserved.