The Canadian alternative

The COVID pandemic and its incremental variations have not disappeared and there is now popular speculation that we’re in for a long haul.  The anxious possibility of a relentless plague is also percolating. All this means that staying at home and living exclusively within Canada is something to be revitalized in the short run.

As we approach the end of April the annual cycle of seasons is more convincing.  Already I am wearing short pants and driving with the windows down and the landau roof open.  Summer is near.

But it is a speedy cycle. The advent of Cinco de Mayo and July 1st are but blinks into the future. The Canadian winter is harsh and unforgiving. And it always returns too soon! What we Canadians traditionally do in the summer is travel, often whetting our appetite for the primal aquatic nourishment by venturing as far abroad as the Atlantic or Pacific Oceans.

By coincidence today I received an email from a woman who is embarking on a 20-hour drive to the northern reaches of the Province of Ontario to Nestor Falls:

Nestor Falls is located along Highway 71 North, midway between Kenora and the border town of Fort Frances. When you visit this scenic Northwestern Ontario community, you will find it no surprise that hospitality and tourism are the main industries. Once a thriving gateway to the historic fur-trading water routes of the voyageurs, this quant community now serves outdoor tourists and adventure seekers. Visitors enjoy our many lakes (Kakagi (Crow) Lake, Kakabikitchiwan Lake, Lake of the Woods, Pinus (Big Pine) Lake, Rowan Lake, and Caliper Lake – to name a few) and all they have to offer. Whether your interests are fishing (a variety of species inhabit our waters), boating, canoeing, swimming, water skiing or paddle boarding, the waters of Nestor Falls offer a great outdoor playground.

This in an incomparable venture for most people.  My recollection is that in fulfillment of our winter hibernation we have normally made it from here to the Gulf of Mexico in about the same time! It is however a reminder of the glory that awaits in our own back yard. Too often venturers distort the novelty of travel by assuming one needs to get on a horse and ride off in all directions!  It can prove to be an unnecessarily excessive response to a perfectly manageable and gratifying alternative.

As vast as is the Canadian landscape the sense of belonging throughout its dichotomous tendrils of urban and rural narratives is both endearing and improving. The uplifting feeling of being “at home” insinuates the entirety of Canadian nationality. We’re a nation that is geographically huge but with a down-home feel. As much as we have relished our time in the United States of America there is simply nothing there that competes with the narcotic effect of being home. It is an instinctive bearing which loosens the social moorings of an interloper. I recall for example one evening after dinner having played a grand piano in the drawing room of the Algonquin Resort at St. Andrews-by-the-Sea; the familial sense was unsurpassable.  It is not an amateur exposition I would as readily undertake beyond our borders!

Currently the entitlement of trespass from one province to another is not to be taken for granted. I believe that between Ontario and Québec there is no problem.  But I am not certain the New Brunswick border is open for non-native inhabitants. In any event the whole idea of travel is eclipsed by these uncertain restrictions quite apart from social distancing, masks and retail lock-downs. Frankly my enthusiasm for extended travel is muted by the pandemic. This does not however quell my delight in remaining an unadventurous  homebody for the foreseeable future. The litmus test of my thesis is found in the exploration of what is at hand. Perhaps it ultimately speaks to the openness of thinking or the intent to savour.