Letter From Away

by Greg Todd from Sydney, Australia

My wife and I, and out two boys arrived in Canada in January of 2006. My wife had accepted an exchange teaching position in Edmonton AB. We knew that we would only have a year to experience as much of Canadian life as we could, so we tried to make sure that we used every weekend to travel and explore. We immediately fell in love with the small towns of Jasper and Canmore in the Rockies. Our home country is so old and worn down that our mountains wouldn’t even rate as foothills here. We journeyed to Lac la Biche for a round dance, where our boys were invited to join the drumming circle –we only found out afterwards how rare an honour that was. We were billeted there with a Canadian family –A park ranger, his wife and son. They took us for adventures that we’d never even dreamed of. Ski-dooing, ice-fishing, sledding, curling, and a barbeque featuring moose smokies and s’mores. Back in southern Alberta we tried dog-sledding, snow-shoeing, and Nordic skiing. We went to a play at the amazing Rosebud theatre, and hunting for dinosaurs in Drumheller. During the summer holidays, when we could travel further afield, we visited Revelstoke, celebrated Canada day with free cake and cordial at Chemainus on Vancouver Island. We whooped it up at the Calgary Stampede, cheered on the Chuck Wagons at Ponoka, explored the tunnels in Moose Jaw, and the RCMP academy at Regina. We patted the statue of Winnie the Pooh at the zoo in Winnipeg, and added one more Inukshuk to the thousands lining highway 17 running over the top of Lake Superior. We looked up from the base of Niagara, looked down from the top of the Peace Tower, and out seaward from the lighthouse at Peggy’s Cove. We saw beavers and elk, bison and grey-jays, were on the edge of ours seats as the Oiler’s very nearly brought home the Stanley cup, and watched with some confusion as CFL was explained to us during a Grey Cup party. We were lucky enough to attend a Corb Lund concert in Edmondton, and were so impressed that we went to a second one in Vermillion. We decorated our house as best we could to get into the spirit of Halloween and Thanksgiving –holidays we don’t celebrate back home. And we were stunned when the temperature dropped to 41 below in November. In the last few weeks of our year, we were invited as part of the exchange teachers group to a soirée with the Lt Governor of Alberta, Norman Kwong. During that evening we were asked what we would miss most about Canada. People gave to answers that you would expect on such occasions –they would miss the people, the places, the skiing…. While I will miss all of those things, I realised the thing that I would miss the most were our constant travelling companions on our long, long drives to and from Edmonton. Dave, Morely, Stephanie and Sam.  
It’s been nearly a year now since our last double-double and box of Tim-bits. I had nearly given up hearing of Dave’s adventures again –I can listen to CBC on the web, but the Vinyl Café goes out in the wee small hours of my day, or when I’m at work. But two weeks ago I discovered that you are now podcasting –I download them and listen as I drive through my wide brown land, and remember my wonderful year in your fantastic country.