Monday, February 23, 2009

Canada 2006 - Leaving Ontario

Thunder Bay. The sun will warm your back, only to turn away from you as the wind kicks you to the ground, beating you senseless. A moment later it will return, and act surprised to see you broken and bruised. What are you doing down there, it will seem to ask, a sheepish grin unfolding across its face. But you know, you’d always known, that the two were in it together from the start.

As I peered out at the Sleeping Giant, resting atop the horizon, my car door was ripped open by a might gust. With all my strength, I pulled it closed and attempted to appreciate my surroundings from within. There would be no outside. Not so long as trees remained double bent, and flags held, near motionless, fully extended. This was no time to explore.

I was, once again, off to see family. Family I had few memories of, but who welcomed me into their home with open arms.

Aside from the vast enjoyment of connecting with family, mostly unknown, Thunder Bay offered two stops for me. The first? Fort William. Form William is a historial recreation where all employees dress and act in period wear. I was greeted by a young man proclaiming, “it must have been a long cold winter, mustn’t it sir? You beard. Must keep you quite warm. I just shaved my own off recently.”

A delightful girl gave me a personal tour through the landscape, and buildings. No other tourists were willing to brave the rain, I imagined. And while she did a wonderful job for a solid two hours, all I could think was, “would people really have had bright orange bras back then?” A trivial concern, true, but when I had to learn to phrase all my questions as “what would you cook for your husband,” rather than, “what type of meals would wives have had to cook back then,” I feel a little attention to detail on their part was to be expected.

It was a fantastic experience, and I would actually recommend it to anyone with the slightest interest in the fur trade, Canadian geography, or history.

From there it was off to my second, and final stop. Terry Fox’s memorial.

As a man, he was great; as Canadian mythology he is so much more. I can’t count the years of school during which classes were cancelled so we could run, walk, or jog in his honour, earning a seal upon or school certificate. Almost all Canadian’s know his name, and most know his legend. Now – here I was – standing beside a statue of the man who, in an effort to raise awareness for cancer, ran across the country with only one leg.

Did he make it? No. Did that matter? The point was that he set out to do something that few would have considered possible. Even if he ran only to prove it to himself, there would have been great worth. I thought of myself at this moment. This trip was something that few believed I would undertake, causing me to even doubt myself.

Was I running to raise awareness? Was I affected by some great tragedy? Did I consider myself a local hero? No. But, like I said – that doesn’t matter. I was pushing myself beyond my personal boundaries, and what others though would be possible for me to accomplish. I was making a difference in someone’s life, even if it was only mine. This journey would lay the foundation for everything which was to follow. And I was actively working to make the possible.

As night fell that day, I would find myself staring down at the Ontario / Manitoba border. That next moment would be the furthest away from home, I’d ever been. At last, I was ready to cross over.

1 comment:

  1. This blog reminded me of how I tagged along with my Mom who was working for a salesperson for a company for a few weeks one summer during elementary school. This trip took us between the Soo to Thunder Bay and to the many small towns in between the two cities. The most memorable thing about this trip is the stop at the memorial for Terry Fox. It's such a great spot.


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