Canada Day

Canada: 3 things I didn’t know before

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Canada stands for…?

Canada.  What do you think of when you hear the word Canada?  This question was asked to Canadians and tourists on a TV show on Canada Day.  We had just arrived in Vancouver, and I hadn’t really been out and about yet so still only had my preconceived ideas. What do you think of?  My answers were typical to the other tourists in the news report: maple syrup, bacon, bears, red checked shirts, mountains, and trees.  The Canadians mainly answered on what a friendly, welcoming nation they are.  A little presumptuous, I thought.  Well, all the above is true.  However, Canada, of course, is so much more than maple syrup as we were to find out.

Canada welcomes you

Firstly, they are indeed a welcoming nation.  Canada is the 20th country we’ve visited on this around the world trip and hands down; they are the friendliest people we have met.  So much so I was taken aback at first. People in London – do not – talk to each other.  Woe betide you accidentally even make eye contact with someone you don’t know.  You are immediately branded as some weirdo.  Not so in Canada.  Canadians seem to talk to everyone, including you!

From simple smiles and good mornings to striking up conversations in the grocery store.

For example, I have been asked my opinion on washing powder, soup, bananas, anything, everything.  Standing in line to pay for some camping equipment the woman behind us spontaneously burst into song “a camping we will go, a camping we will go hey hey heyde ho, a camping we will go!” Within seconds we had discussed the previous night’s rain, her recent trip to Calgary and she wished us a happy trip and a great welcome to Canada.  And it’s all genuine.

C is for cannabis

Canada cannabis dispensarySecondly, and now I’m not putting two and two together or anything, I’m jus’ sayin’.  Canada has an abundance of cannabis dispensaries. I’m not making any correlation here, nope… I’m just saying it’s notable.  Possession of cannabis in the UK can still get you five years in jail; we definitely cannot pick some up next to the local shops.  So like the drive-through bottle shops in Western Australia, this was a new sight to me.

So, subsequently, while watching the fireworks on Canada Day, there was what I would call the cannabis effect. We’ve visited the USA many times and many times on the 4th of July. It’s a pretty loud affair.  A lot of beer drinking, a lot of whooping and hollering, hands on hearts blessing god and the great US of A as loudly as possible.  So I expected a similar scenario from their Canadian neighbours.  Not so again.

Canada Oh Canada

Hoards of locals and tourists alike marched, pretty quietly, into Stanley Park in Vancouver ahead of the fireworks, setting up in their spaces on the grass by the side along the way.  Knowingly smiling to each other yes there is room for everyone no need to panic. It’s not 4th of July in Disney World we do not need to stand on each other’s children to get a better view.  Then, as darkness descended the fireworks began, with, an accompanying surge of cannabis fumes.

Consequently, there then came less of an American frenzied ‘ohh my gauuud’ and more of a ‘woaaaa’ ‘oooooo’ ‘look at the colours’ ‘cooooooooool’.  It ended with an appropriate amounting of cheering and clapping, and everyone got up and marched out again. Well, nearly everyone.  Some people appeared to be just happily lying around on the grass.  I say Hurrah well done those Canadians; I like your style.

Canada Day in Vancouver
Iain’s photograph of the fireworks on Canada Day


Subsequently, I wondered where on the scale of independence celebrating, Scotland would lie if we became independent.  I feel it would be a day of drunken BBQs in the inevitable rain, ending in a lot of singing and probably one or two arrests for public disorder.  Scottish people seem to have an innate ability just to, never, stop drinking until either they fall asleep, throw up or end up in the back of a police car.  Okay okay calm down Scotland this does not apply to everyone, I’m just generalising on my usual Friday night out.  Anyway, back to Canada.

Canada is a warm hug

So third.  Well, the third and most striking impression of Canada is its calming unassuming beauty.  Now I can’t speak for the whole of Canada, we are visiting British Columbia and Alberta but from what we have seen – wow.

In Africa, there feels a stripped back rawness to nature, which I loved. New Zealand was a constant ‘Woah’ moment with ever-changing diversity.  In Canada, nature wraps its arms around you.  The views are awesome, above you, below you, all around you.  Whether camping in a Tipi or checking out the world-famous Calgary rodeo, Canada is a warm Tim Hortons hot chocolate hug.

(And you will need that warm hug if you come during the cold weather like we seem to be!)

But for now, here is some of that awesome scenery – and be sure to check out more in our Gallery.

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