Tag Archives: Montreal

♥ Love Letter To Canada ♥

Happy Canada Day, all!  It’s our nation’s 146th birthday, and my 46th blog post (I’d like to claim I’d planned that).

When I was an elementary school student, one of my favourite assignments was geographic research.  I recall penning (penciling?) compositions on San Salvador, Florida and Rome, however the ones that gently squeezed my little Canuck heart were inevitably about Timmins, British Columbia and Toronto, among others.  I remember happily flipping through encyclopedias in the school library, eager to gaze upon grainy 1970s photographs like this one:

ontario-place-mr

Ontario Place, Toronto

or this…

St. John, New Brunswick

St. John, New Brunswick

or this…

Swartz Bay, Britisih Columbia

Swartz Bay, British Columbia

In the years since, I have travelled to the West Coast numerous times, and have spent time in Quebec, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island.  Six out of ten ain’t bad, but I do palpably feel the absence of the midwestern provinces, and what I wouldn’t do to get to Nunavut, NWT and the Yukon.
One day, I whisper to myself, one day.

I have fundamentally Canadian images burned forever into my brain, that give me a little tingle every time they rise, unbidden.   A photograph of a grain elevator in Qu’Appelle, Saskatchewan.  Nighttime pub crawling in Montreal with my friend Andy.  Sprinting down an eastern provincial park beach, tearing off my clothes (bathing suit conveniently underneath), and jumping into the salty Atlantic for the first time.  Strolling through Stanley Park in Vancouver, on a warm yet soggy March day, almost having the place to myself, and spotting an immature eagle, perched majestically in a tree, watching me.  Just missing my PEI friends as I arrived in Kensington, yet because of that, having the most beautiful night camping by the water.  Listening in awe as my cousin in Moore’s Mills, New Brunswich spoke fluent French and English to her children.  And, of course, years of memories from hometown Ontario, like watching the CN Tower being built (on my first visit I bought a pen, which had a picture of the tower and a little elevator that moved up and down as you tilted it).

Other memories from my Book Of Canadian Recollections include:

  • Getting all excited about traversing the then 5-year-old Confederation Bridge spanning NB and PEI, almost 13 kilometers long (that’s 8 miles for Americans, y’all).  Realizing immediately that they’ve built the barriers so that drivers can’t see over them and get distracted.
    Experience rating: meh.
  • Ordering a ‘Relic’ burger at Molly’s Reach restaurant in Gibson’s, British Columbia.  Bruno Gerussi, FTW.
  • Hearing Stan Rogers for the first time.  ‘Nuff said.
  • Buying a beautiful print of A.Y. Jackson’s Yellowknife, Northwest Territories from a woman who had originally purchased it because it brought to mind her days there as camp cook for a group of geologists. I sat contentedly for the next hour as she regaled me with stories.
  • Heading to the Canadian National Exhibition every year with my father, whose commitment to procuring a Shopsy’s corned beef sandwich each and every visit bordered on the religious.
  • Breaking down en route from Montreal to Lac-des-Seize-Îles in a torrential rainstorm, and proceeding to travel with the French CAA guy and his girlfriend, windows rolled up, them smoking cigarette after cigarette, as we communicated directions in Franglaise.  Good times.
  • Canada Vignettes.  ‘Nuff said.
  • Stepping into the narthex of Notre Dame cathedral in Montreal for the first time.  Words cannot express.
  • Living through ten (count ’em, ten) London, Ontario winters.
    Snow.  Oh God, the snow.
  • Meeting fascinating people:
    Gordie Tapp of Hee Haw fame in the waiting room of my optometrist’s office (circa 1978).
    Bill Lawrence, former host of Tiny Talent Time, who became the perpetually cheery weather guy at CBC.
    Guy Paul Morin (acquitted of murder in 1995), in a CBC elevator, where it took me about 30 seconds to connect the face to the name.  Suddenly overcome with the enormity of what he must have gone through, feeling  I had to say something, I turned and offered a simple ‘Congratulations,’ to which he humbly replied a quiet ‘Thank you.’
    Ken Bell, WWII photographer, at his home in Gibson’s Landing.  What an honour.
    There are more, but I don’t want to make you jealous.
  • Dating a Francophone separatist in the early 90s and realizing in my Ontarioan ignorance that we still have a long way to go in that department.
  • Each and every summer from time immemorial, having at least one opportunity to float on my back in one of our beautiful fresh water lakes, my heart filled to overflowing with gratitude.
  • Richard Condie.  ‘Nuff said.
  • 1992: The Tragically Hip releasing Looking For A Place To Happen, because any band that can somehow fit Jacques Cartier into a  tune is well, the coolest ever.
  • Having it slowly dawn on me that every other white clapboard Catholic church on the East Coast is named St. Peter’s.
  • Standing under two-hundred-foot trees in Capilano, British Columbia, and being reminded of my smallness in the world.

20080706123845_single red maple leaf

The ties I have to this place are not the silken, tenuous kind; no, these are most surely comprised of diamond-encrusted titanium links. And though enormously strong, they are neither awkward nor heavy, and provide a centering and stability I can’t imagine getting from anything (or anywhere) else.

And with that, I will leave you with Kate and Anna McGarrigle’s The Log Driver’s Waltz, 1979, Canada Vignettes.

Happy Birthday, Canada.  I love you.

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Filed under Music, Nostalgia, Uncategorized, Wanderings

Kristin Peterson: The Lost Tapes


Kristin Peterson, Toronto Bloggess Extraordinaire, Queen of LOL and author of mytorontoeh, acquiesced to play Twenty Questions with me – yay!  For the great unwashed, mytorontoeh is an hilarious and irreverent blog that celebrates all that is Toronto’s diverse and wonderful, with a healthy dose of blue humour and current events.Without any undue further ado, here’s Kristin:

What’s your inspiration for mytorontoeh?  What drives it?

KP: mytorontoeh was started as a real estate blog, to bring humanity into the service and to focus on the East end…but then it got personal and about other stuff.  I think a lot, and so it is a way to vent and let stuff seep out in a humourous way.

Walk me through your day.

KP: Wake up at 7:00, take dog out, make lunches, then go to gym…sometimes do open houses midday, do a chore, come home, do interwebz, pour wine, blog, make dinner, eat, drink wine, watch TV!

Tell me a bit about your first smooch (if you will).

KP: I dragged Bobby Pennefather to a dark spot in the backyard of a house party after having my first drunky time, we made out and my knees shook! Never saw him again because he went to a Catholic school.

Funniest drink-came-out-my-nose moment:

KP:  Drink out of nose moment: a train ride to Montreal where my friend and I were making fun of the French Canadian couple behind us…we were 45.

Joan Harris (née Holloway) or Peggy Olson?

KP: Duh, Joan Harris. I think about her all the time.

Favourite Toronto ‘hood and why?

KP: The beach; it’s where I live, I like the vibe.

What’s the most intriguing object in your home?

KP: My two curio cabinets that are filled with tchotchkes and were made by a cute Dutch man in the beach.

Best…TV show…ever:

KP: That’s a Sophie’s Choice question! “Take my little girl!”  I’m picking Sex and the City over Gilmore Girls because it came first.

Best self-absorbed, crazy celebrity religion:  Scientology or Kabbalah?

KP: Anything a celebrity does is crazy and self absorbed, it seems, but I’ll pick Kabbalah because Madonna and Demi Moore are into it.

Most memorable celebrity meet/sighting:

KP: Nick Nolte drunk in Yorkville at high noon.

Favourite cuss word or expression:

KP: Feck and shite – I like the way the Brits say it.

Past fad that should make a comeback:

KP: 1960s makeup with false lashes in the day and lots of eyeliner, bouffant hair, too, while we’re at it.

Past fad that should never again see the light of day:

KP: Women should never wear bra tops as tops in public – even at the gym – I don’t want to see your fat roll (or your spleen if you’re skinny).

What’s in the fridge?

KP: Lots of meat, duh, wild boar bacon and spicy salami. I have massive butcher crush. (Ed. note:  She really does.)

Fave vacuuming-naked-because-life-is-just-grand song:

KP: I like 70s soul, R&B: the Wedding Bell Blues is a good one to vacuum to.

Fave openly-weep-into-your-wine-coz-life-sucks-so-bad song:

KP: Major Tom – I’m scared of getting lost in space, and that song is just saaaaad.

Indie-chick cool factor nonpareil: Zoe Deschanel or Ellen Page?

KP: Can’t choose! (Ed. note:  I couldn’t either, I just wanted to know what Kristin thought.)

Words of wisdom for other single chicks in the city?

KP: Stop looking for Mr. Right, if you want a baby, have a baby, but don’t get married because you think a baby needs a father, or because all your friends are doing it.

I really just wanna say….:

KP: “Take care of each other.”

When are we gonna spend the day in our jammies again?

KP: We’re going to have to do it in November! (Ed. note:  It won’t come soon enough!)

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Git yourselves over to mytorontoeh dot com!

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