Friday, September 02, 2011


Dateline: Near Montreal.

There's something about a long road trip. As if one lives in a bubble, a balloon, floating above one's normal life, detached.

It's even more enhanced when accompanied by a beloved companion who shares her quirks and eccentricities and her rich imagination and who is also extraordinarily well read and informed.

We toss around all sorts of ideas, comment on the ridiculousness of human existence and this insatiable want that seems to overcome so many people, this desire for "more" that drives unjust wars and extreme poverty all over this tiny planet. The sad materialism of so many evidenced by ridiculously large vehicles speeding past us, Hummers, SUVs and their ilk, often with just one driver. Usually miserable too, if the face is the mirror of the soul. Nobody sings, we observe, except us. What is a road trip without singing?

I talk to the waitress at the wonderful bistro where we had lunch today, a wee bit off the road just before Quebec City. Turns out she owned the restaurant that served a heavenly beef bourginonne. And the menu was handwritten at the beginning of every week featuring 3 daily choices each day (soup, entree, dessert and coffee all for $9.99). She asked where we were from and where we were going.

She said: "When my last baby left home, for a whole year I accompanied my husband, a long haul driver, across the entire country, from coast to coast and my favourite place was Newfoundland!"

I said to her, "It's a shock how beautiful Newfoundland is, it is Canada's best kept secret!"

"My dear," she said,"We live in the most beautiful country in the world, don't we?"

And I nodded, feeling quite emotional at sharing this brief and wonderful moment with a Quebecois.

Afterwards, Grandgirl said to me that she finds this type of understated patriotism so much more meaningful than flag waving and anthem singing and hands on hearts and swearing allegiance and pledges.

"It's so heartfelt, so real, it makes me so proud to be a Canadian!"

Amen baby!


  1. what's the bistro? You never know when you'll be in need of a good place to eat.
    I love Quebec City. And Canada. We often think that when we moved north we should have kept going across the border. I lived in Montreal and Halifax for a couple of years each and loved both, even though I was piss poor at the time.

  2. Don't like this nationalism.
    The world is beautiful. Celebrate this.
    Don't turn it into this "our bit is better than your bit" stuff. There is glory all over: not confined to Canada.

  3. Contrary to Frances I see no harm in being particularly fond of one's own patch. Of course I agree with her that nationalism is wrong, but if you love your bit of land and feel at home, why not admit it.

    The whole world is beautiful; I now live in a very pretty rural backwater; but it's not a patch on the beauty of the land where I come from. But that's for another reason altogether. It's home.

  4. "Grandgirl said to me that she finds this type of understated patriotism so much more meaningful than flag waving and anthem singing and hands on hearts and swearing allegiance and pledges." Hear hear. What on earth does all that vacuous pomp and ceremony achieve?

    And what is a road trip without singing, indeed. I always sing to myself in the car, so does Jenny.

  5. The wife and I hope to see "Canada's best kept secret" in the next year or so. My Dad was there many years ago and loved the place and the people. Ha Quebec City another favourite place of ours.

  6. Friko, I didn't say that nationalism is wrong, just that I don't like it. "Most" and "best" statements, actually.
    But I think that my comment was carping, and would withdraw it if I could.
    Canadians are v patriotic, it seems to me. Once in UK I rented a car for some weeks. The previous renters had been Canadian, and there were giant maple leaf decals stuck all over interesting experience to drive around in it.

  7. Most lands are beautiful for those with eyes to notice. It's the human inhabitants (or some of them) who spoil things. I'll always agree with anyone who says that the USA is beautiful - but the land only. What goes on inside it and in its name can be very, very ugly.

  8. If there had been stars and stripes decals on the car, I might have declined it.
    Do other countries do this?

  9. It's been delightful reading about your adventures with your grandgirl. Having a land be "home" helps make it beautiful but I have been in many parts of Canada (my immediate families were from Montreal and Quebec and St. Bruno) and I agree - it is a grand bit of land!

  10. Nice story - makes me want to visit.
    I agree a bit with both you and Frances. One could say that all nationalism is pernicious, I can see that argument. But it's so resilient and endures as other ideologies rise and fall.

    And I confess I like being the nationality I am. It's not entirely an accident of birth - coming from a disputed territory I had the chance to choose.

    But I entirely agree that understated is the way to go - quietly content rather than shoving it down other people's throats.


Comments are welcome. Anonymous comments will be deleted unread.

Email me at wisewebwomanatgmaildotcom if you're having trouble.