You wondered why we turned our backs on all the usual place and went to Canada last year.
Easy. We wanted a hell of a lot more than just a sun tan out of our vacation. We wanted to sample new people, new points of view, a new environment. We wanted to soak up ideas as well as sunshine. (We figure their effect as longer!)
About a third of the country (numerically, not geographically) is French-speaking. city in the world. English is very much a second language there - and in some small towns in Quebec, it’s virtually non-existent. No problem. They’re very patient and each other as well as with each other as well as with visitors.
We found, incidentally, that people living in other s of the country have been just as tenacious as French-speaking Canadians in hanging on to their own identities.
Lunenburg ship-builders still practice the same crafts and sing the same songs their ancestors brought from Germany. And the city of Victoria ( on the west coast) is surely the only place outside England where afternoon tea is still a formal and rather gracious occasion. Even Toronto a for all its bustling North American airs - is ha me to a dozen different ethnic groups , all of them politely determined not to be absorbed.
We found, too, that Canadians have a deep sense of history. (Some-thing they brought from Europe?) They respect it and (more to the point) they resist the temptation to pull bits of it down to make way for new expressways. It hard to travel through Canada with-out being constantly reminded of the past. Old traditions as well as old buildings are still intact.
In the fishing villages of Newfoundland, for instance, we hears accents and a vernacular that has more in an:xi century Ireland with 20th century North America. At the Highland Games in Nova Scotia, we saw a festival changed in form in hundreds of years. And at Upper Canada Village (in Ontario) we found a beautiful piece of 150 year old history a authentic right down to the sassafras candy on sale in the village store.
Canada showed us the world from a different vantage point. And you know something, Paul I’ll swear it was turning a little more slowly.