Today is Canada Day.
O Canada our home in native land….
Some people refer to Scotland as ‘Little Canada’. I can see why. It sort of has the physical makeup of Canada in condensed form, and the links between Scotland and Canada both historically and currently, are strong. Maybe that’s why I’ve been drawn to Scotland as my ‘other home’, though I still think of Canada as home, in many ways. It’s in my blood, along with the country of my ancestors (the Netherlands), and I miss it. Funny how places can be so engrained in your blood - the association with them, the sense of belonging.
My parents emigrated from the Netherlands to Canada in the late 60s/early 70s, before I was born. At that stage it was a pure adventure to be moving from the safe and small country of ‘Holland’ to a place so vast and ‘wild’.
Once in Canada, they moved around a little bit - London, Ontario to Toronto to Orangeville - finally settling in St. Catharines, Ontario where I mainly grew up. When it came to holidays, we didn’t need to go far. Just exploring the province of Ontario was adventurous and thrilling enough.
The north of Ontario was one of my favourite places to go. We even had a small plot of land in Gravenhurst for a while when I was very young, where Dad built a teepee-like structure and where we pitched our tent to stay for a week or two. Eventually the swamps and mosquitos infringed on the space, and we sold it, but that ‘escape’, followed by many other trips to the north, certainly gave a strong taste for the wildlife and beauty of Canada, not least where we lived in Niagara.
I miss it.
I miss the brightness and positivity of the people, the open spaces, the newness and room for possibilities, the innovation, and down-to-earthness of the people. I miss my friends, and my family. I miss huge forests and rivers and lakes.
Thankfully, my job here in Scotland includes and encourages links to Canada and within the last number of years my connection to the land of my birth has got stronger.
They say that the children of immigrant parents tend to move around and explore other places themselves. That was certainly true for me, and in many ways, it’s how I ended up in the far north of Scotland and Edinburgh. The sense of adventure was passed on from my parents and still remains strong.
I don’t know when I’ll next be able to go back to Canada due to the current Covid-19 crisis. That’s a strange feeling, though a familiar one, as it’s something that has previously happened under different circumstances when I had a DVT in my arm and was not able to fly. However, the limit to flying right now makes me appreciate even more the land of my birth and the many opportunities I have had to visit in recent years. The lock-down, on this day, stirs a great longing to visit my home again when I can.
So - Canada - you’re 152 years old - at least from the time of confederation.
And Happy Canada Day to all!
God keep our lands, glorious and free.