Happy 150-Plus, Canada!

 Canada Day celebrations, Banff, Alberta, 2016.

Canada Day celebrations, Banff, Alberta, 2016.

To my Canadian friends: Happy more-than-150th!

Exactly one year ago today, I was celebrating Canada Day in Canada. Here's a bit of what I wrote then (and this was before The Election):

"At the parade down Banff Avenue, the mayor, civic groups, marching bands go by, and float after float of First Nations, as well as ethnic groups that form the tapestry of Banff, and Canada—Filipinos, Japanese, Polish, Indian, Chinese, Scottish, Irish, among others. Twenty percent of Canada’s population is foreign-born, compared with just 13 percent of the U.S.

".... Canada is calling me. I don’t know why, but it is. Last year I wintered in Winnipeg. Twice already this summer I’ve found myself north of the 48, first in Quebec, and now in Alberta. And before the year’s end I have three more trips, one to northern Labrador and two to British Columbia.

".... Canada clears my head. From the mountains of the Laurentians to the prairies of Manitoba to the oceans surrounding Newfoundland, our neighbor to the north is more spacious, more healthy, more accepting, less murderous, less self-centered, and less vituperative. To this American, it’s who we might be if we got outside more.


This land, Canada, isn’t my land, but it is a product of the same ideals, its tapestry both familiar and foreign, and its call compelling. In large tracts of wildness and small acts of kindness, Canada turns out to be the perfect place to escape without losing myself.


".... Don't get me wrong, I love my country and its rollicking, bootstrappy, go-for-broke spirit. And patriotic tears flow whenever I hear "America, The Beautiful." But as the good song says, may "God mend thine ev'ry flaw."

".... I think back to my family's immigrant story. In the ‘60s, my parents (a doctor and an engineer) first arrived in Philadelphia, where I was born. They returned to the Philippines, only to emigrate again, in the ‘70s, to Washington, DC, three children in tow. My sisters and I, their husbands, and our blended-race offspring are a thoroughly American melting pot. Around the same time, my father’s brother and his family immigrated to Toronto. My cousins live there still, Canadian down to the ketchup chips.

"This land, Canada, isn’t my land, but it is a product of the same ideals, its tapestry both familiar and foreign, and its call compelling. In large tracts of wildness and small acts of kindness, Canada turns out to be the perfect place to escape without losing myself."

Some of these thoughts are in the feature I wrote for National Geographic Traveler, published in January, 2017. Read it here.

Photos © Norie Quintos