Along the Trail: Discovery
Our recent jaunts across this great country of ours led me to realize, even discover, a couple of salient Facts.
Now, these are not discoveries like uncoiling the secret of DNA or Lewis and Clark’s treks to open up the West. No, they are much more modest than that, but for me, at least, noteworthy. The first less-than- earthshattering discovery is just how large and diverse Canada really is. I mean, on a rational level I knew that, but you still have to experience it to get a sense of it all. We jumped a red eye out of Victoria, flew all day at 6-700 MPH and never reached the end of the country before tucking into the sheets. Huge. It’s on a scale that astounds most Europeans and leaves them in awe and wonder. Me too. We started on one ocean and ended at another as the sun set and still never reached Newfoundland (which, of course, was a good thing as we weren’t going to Newfoundland).
The second thing I noticed is that, although Canada is geographically immense, the population is small enough (33 million or so), that no matter where you are, you always meet someone who knows someone you know. Always. For example, before we left on our voyage we had made e-mail contact with an old Baddeck acquaintance and agreed to meet up. As it turned out, the meeting up was a lot harder than the e-mail part. We drove up island and, although we knew we were close, we couldn’t find the place where our friend lived. So, I pulled into a driveway and asked directions.
The guy was friendlier than a pound puppy, going into great detail about how and where to find our spot. Of course he asked “where are you folks from?” When I told him that we were from Cape Breton, he said “Never been, but my neighbour two doors down is from there.” Not wanting to get into the proverbial ‘who’s your father’ kind of discussion, I thanked him and left, eventually finding my way.
Two weeks later we got another e-mail from another ex-pat Cape Bretoner wanting us to visit. After we got the directions we again motored up island and, you guessed it, landed at the doorstep of our friend who it turned out was the two-doors-down neighbour from two weeks before.
On our flight from Victoria, the AIRBUS 300 was jammed full, filled to the rafters, over 250 people. Ann and I ended up in separate rows so I chatted up my new seat mates and we had a grand gab fest for five hours. Of course I forgot that my ears tend to make me talk in a manner loud enough to cause static interference in the cockpit.
As we began to get up and move to the aisle, a head appeared over the headrest just ahead of me.
“Did I hear you say you are from Middle River?” No doubt, I thought. “Yes, I am, why?” The gentleman replied, “Do you know Kelsey Ellsworth; he’s a cousin of mine!”
And so it goes, complete strangers who know someone you know and want you to share that knowledge. It’s kind of neat. I’m not sure if that is what makes us Canadian but it surely is part of our culture.
** As everyone knows by now the ink stained baton has been passed from Jim Morrow to Andrew Brooks here at the Standard. I would be remiss if I did not take a moment to formally thank Jim for asking me to contribute to the Standard, over 21 years ago. He simply said, “You can talk, why not try writing?” The second column I wrote he rejected and I thought I was to have a career shorter than a sore arm pitcher. It never happened again and all this time he has encouraged, accepted, and mentored me in writing for the Standard. He has been a colleague, a neighbour, and at times, while sitting on a log near a trout pool, a confidante. “Thank you, Jim; it’s been a great run. See you behind K.R.’S.”