I am about as Canadian as a person comes; namely, I was born somewhere else (the States), my parents are immigrants from yet another country (England), I have both worked at and enjoyed many a good 2am conversation at Tim Hortons, and (if I am remembering correctly), Sarah Koury once described me as the most inoffensive person she knows. Or hardest to dislike, anyway. I listen to Stuart McLean’s CBC Radio podcasts every week, I am supposed to be French/English bilingual thanks to my entry into Late French Immersion, I once based a theatrical character on Harold from The Red Green Show, and, heck, I’ve even sung our national anthem on the ice at a hockey game.
And yet, despite all my innate Canadian-ness, I have a confession to make – I’ve never travelled the country. Never been anywhere east of Chiliwack for more than an hour or two, to be honest. Well, except for the dullest five hours of my life – the amount of time I spent locked in a room at the Toronto International Airport. On my way to somewhere else, of course.
Oh, alright, I’ll explain that one.
Waaaaay back when, my older brother and I went to visit my granddad in Florida, where he spent half of each year, minus a day. (Later, he would manage to get himself adopted by an couple in the 90’s – why not! His parents are dead! – in order to get American citizenship so he could stay for longer. He lives in the south of France now.) Anyway, as I was (…I believe…) only ten at the time, and my brother only twelve, we were declared ‘unaccompanied minors’ on the plane trip from Vancouver to Florida, with a transfer in Toronto. This meant that the flight staff were all very nice to us, lead us about… and locked us in a room in the Toronto airport for five hours, between flights.
The room contained a couch (which my brother promptly fell asleep on), a small table, a chair, and a television that would for some reason only pick up one channel, which happened to be showing – I kid you not – STAGECOACH RACING. Which sounds interesting! For about two minutes. And all I had with me was a substandard quality R. L. Stine book, The Beast, WHICH I HAD JUST FINISHED READING ON THE PLANE RIDE THERE. Not to great to start up again from the beginning. So, my impressions of Toronto have thus far been spoiled for life.
But yes, in my life I have visited Seattle, New York, Florida, Paris (for a day), and England on many, many occasions, but not once have I stepped outside an airport in any other Canadian province. Not even our neighbouring Alberta, though I did go to UVic, so I’ve met thousands of (former) Calgarians.