Returning Home to ‘My Canada’

Last week, I returned to Canada after a seven-month stint living in Belgium. However, upon arrival, Canada threw me a curve ball. My first two full days at home were dominated by a windy and freezing -41 C and day two wasn’t much better at a cool -30 C. It was god damn freezing and I thinking ‘What have I gotten myself into coming back to this frozen land?!” Thankfully, things turned around by day three; the bright prairie sun came out, I grabbed my snowshoes and went to play out in the snow.

Now that it’s warmed up a bit and I’m feeling friendly towards Canada again, I jumped on the chance to participate in the Canadian blogger roulette game of sorts #MyCanada, where bloggers share what makes Canada special to them. It was started by Pamela MacNaughtan at Spunkygirl Monologues and judging by the twitter feed it has been a big success! I’ve been tagged by Natalia at Always Trekking, a cool Canadian blog to check out for those traveling cyclists and skiiers.

Canada is a very young nation, a mere 146 years old, and it’s history is mere chapter compared to that of China, India, or Belgium. As result, I think our people definitely have a bit of a wild west mentality. We are always forging ahead with new projects and initiatives; looking “push the envelope” if you will. We’re not afraid to sneak beyond the ‘Do not ski past this point” sign, all in the name of exploration and excitement. If you’ve been spontaneously chatted to by a Canadian, this enthusiasm has likely come though during a short interaction. We’re a nation of people full of stories to share and beers to cheers!

Vancouver Sushi

Don’t even get me started on our multicultural cuisine! We’ve built our nation on immigration and I’m proud how much it comes out in our food habits. Pho, curry, poutine, cabbage rolls, sushi, dim sum, lefsa… and then there’s the big, juicy chicken wings by the dozen in the pub. This is why everyone who visits us usually puts on a kilo (or two!) of body ‘insulation’.

Good thing there are oodles of outdoor activities to work off the calories. Since my return, I’ve turned into an avid snowshoer and it’s been a struggle not to plaster my blog and twitter feed with photos of my snowshoes and the prairie fields I get to trample all over. Don’t forget about cross-country skiing, hockey, hiking, and snowmobiling. No matter what the season, there is outdoor adventure to be found in wilderness of our spacious country.

But enough with the preamble, here is my top 5 list of what I love about Canada that keeps me coming back for more.

1. The Rocky Mountains

Rocky Mountains in Jasper

I absolutely love the Rocky Mountains and feel so spoiled that I’m to be able to drive 3 hours to see them. When I talk about Canada the mountains are first on my list. And they are stunning to visit during all of the seasons! Snowboarding in the winter, hiking & biking in the spring and fall, and swimming in the summer. I’m heading to Jasper this weekend and I’m completely jacked up for it!

2. Edmonton, Alberta

Edmonton Skyline, Summer Sunset

Possibly one of the most underrated and undiscovered cities of Canada. Edmonton is a busy festival city in the summer. Festival season starts in May and goes right through until late August. There’s a festival for everyone; the famous outdoor Folk Festival, Fringe festival for performing arts, the food festival on Churchill Square, and the Heritage festival in Hawrelak Park are just a few.

Folk Fest Edmonton during Van Morrison

Sure, in the winter it’s cold but it gives the residents a tough and wry edge that’s difficult to find anywhere else. Plus, Edmonton gets a lot of sunshine during the cold months so the winter blues don’t hit as hard. The arts scene keeps Edmonton cozy, with lots of indoor concerts, blues bars, theatre productions, and the occasional rodeo. For educational activities, my favourites are the Telus Space & Science Centre and the Alberta Art Gallery.

Don’t forget to check out the great food scene, hip diners on Whyte Ave or swanky Steakhouses on Jasper Ave, and food trucks galore! I love Edmonton and I don’t care who knows it.

3. Canada’s Art Scene

Inside the Alberta Art Gallery

We have so many fabulous artists in literature, fine art, and music. When I’m abroad I love to brag out them. Sometimes, one will come up in conversation and I get to pipe in “They’re Canadian ya know?”. It’s probably annoying but I can’t help myself.

Here are some great links to discover Canadian talent:
Canadian’s We’re Reading Right Now Pinterest Board
Douglas Coupland My favourite Canadian author
canadianartjunkie.com – An extensive blog dedicated to Canadian artists
CBC Radio 3 – for all the best Canadian Indie Music. Great podcasts!
Q with Jian Ghomeshi – Wonderful, smart, insightful interviews daily

4. Wine and The Okanogan Valley

It’s my dream to live in the Okanogan Valley. Beautiful lakes, warm weather, a world-class ski resort a short drive up the mountain, and earthy hippies. The Okanogan valley is the most northern wine region in the world and pumps out a world class variety focusing on grapes that thrive in a short growing season. There would be varietals such as Pinot Gris, Syrah, Merlot, and Gewürztraminer. So never fear; there’s no shortage of choice – white, red, rosé and ice wines for everyone!

Many of the vineyards are located next door to each other so it’s easy to fit in a mini wine tour when stopping through the city of Kelowna, as long as you have your own wheels (and drink responsibly!). My favourite areas to check out are on the Westbank which is home to Mt Boucherie, Little Straw Vineyards, and Mission Hill. I’m also a big fan of Quail’s Gate and Summerhill Pyramid Winery.

5. Curling

Reggae Curling Bonspiel (Team ‘I shot the Sheriff’)

Curling may not have been invented in Canada, but I think we’ve perfected it, with the help of the Scottish immigrants who brought the game over to us. We have the best teams in the world and the culture surrounding the sport is friendly, inviting, and sometimes pretty darn rowdy.

Everyone can curl after a little practice, and it’s super fun for Canadians to take visitors to their first curling bonspiel. I love watching newbies slip, slide, and fall all over the ice, the big smile on their face after making a shot, and afterwards drinking a couple beer in the lounge to talk about the game. Magical!

I’ve tagged Ellen of La Viajera, Adriana of History and Such, and Jacquie of Garneau Home Kitchen for the next round of #MyCanada.

7 responses to “Returning Home to ‘My Canada’”

  1. Ilvy says:

    I love the roulette thing & I loved reading your post :) It really really really makes me want to go to Vancouver even more though. I would love to be able to talk along and see the sights.

    • Did reading this post break your pact with Laurens?! ;) Once you get here we’ll have to do some sightseeing! I’ve never been to Tofino? Any chance you would be into surfing in some cold Canadian water?

  2. Denise says:

    Well done! You have covered a broad range of the most appealing characteristics of Canada. Although, I am sure some of your readers could come up with many, many more. I am reminded of what is out there for all of us to enjoy and we should do it!

  3. Ellen Keith says:

    I like this Meredith :) I’ll have to check out those lists of Canadian writers. Hmm.. now it’s my turn, eh?

  4. Wow, Meredith! First, I’m in awe of how well you write. Second, you’re going to Jasper! I’m incredibly jealous. Hopefully I will be able to move closer to the Rockies soon. I haven’t had a chance to explore much of Western Canada yet.

    • Thanks for the kind words Natalia! Jasper was lovely last weekend. The snow was a bit less than last year, but 2012 also had record snowfall so we were VERY spoiled! By the looks of your blog, I think you were made for Western Canada ;)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *