Canadian Driftwood

The Acadians: The tale of the Acadians has its own history. The settlement was originally established by several French families near the Bay of Fundy (southern New Brunswick). They put up resistance to the arrival of the British military and helped support the French military in Nova Scotia. So, the British rounded them up and tossed them out in “The Great Expulsion” of 1755. Some went to New France, some hid in northern New Brunswick, some boarded ill-fated ships that sunk, and some went south to the New England colonies. Some went back to France and some of those ended up either back in Acadia or down in New Orleans, becoming “Cajuns”.

A tribute statue to Evangeline in St Martinville, Louisiana, eventual home of the displaced Acadians. Wikimedia Commons

One hundred years later, these woes and wanderings inspired Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s famous epic, Evangeline, (Henry Wadsworth Longfellow: Poems and Other Writings (Library of America)). Two hundred years later, the mostly Canadian rock group, The Band, recorded “Acadian Driftwood” on their Northern Lights Southern Cross Album.

The CP Railroad and the Grand Chateaux: The impact of railroads on the development of Canada was no less important than it was for America. Pierre Berton’s The Last Spike: The Great Railway, 1881-1885 tells the whole story. The string of CP hotels became one of the most famous hotel chains in the world, starting with the iconic Chateau Frontenac, towering over Quebec’s Old City.

Canadian Literature: For a loving, amusing look at Canada in the mid-20th Century, pick up a book by one of her most famous humorists, Stephen Leacock. Perhaps, his best known title is Sunshine Sketches of a Little Town.  For his whole collection, check out The Essential Works of Stephen Leacock. More recent fiction that showcases Canada comes from Mordecai Richler, either Solomon Gursky Was Here, or The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz. Of course,The Complete Anne of Green Gables Boxed Set (Anne of Green Gables, Anne of Avonlea, Anne of the Island, Anne of Windy Poplars, Anne’s House of Dreams, … Rainbow Valley, Rilla of Ingleside), a heartwarming story for all ages, is the pride and joy of Prince Edward Island.

Canadian Artistry: One of Canada’s bountiful treasures is its natural beauty. From its stunning Atlantic seascapes to its forbidding western mountains, and the forests, rivers, lakes, and prairies between, it is a heaven for artists of all kinds. In the 20’s and 30’s, a team of artists and friends living in Ontario decided to create a Canadian artistic aesthetic with landscape painting. They styled themselves the “Group of Seven” and their works are well known throughout Canada. (The Group of Seven and Tom Thomson)

Another opportunity for art collectors is the native art of the First Nations. You will find galleries in all ports that feature exquisite carvings from granite or wood from some of the Arctic regions.

Wayne Gretsky, “The Great One”, playing for the NY Rangers at the end of his incredible career. By Hakandahlstrom at en.wikipedia, from Wikimedia Commons

Hockey: There is another form of Canadian artistry that takes place on ice skating rinks across the country. Every young Canadian kid dreams of launching the decisive shot in game seven overtime to snag the Stanley Cup for fame and glory. When they get older, they think of the money. A recent collection of reminiscences of the game, from one of Canada’s top hockey sportswriters, is Wayne Gretzky’s Ghost: And Other Tales from a Lifetime in Hockey, by Roy MacGregor.

Spectacular Foliage: This part of North America, particularly the Maritime provinces and New England, is covered with deciduous forests. Prominent species include maple, oak, beech and elm trees. Depending on the advent of autumn frost, sometime in early October, the leaves turn to a stunning array of colors, accentuated by the reds and oranges of the maples. It is a glorious sight. As with all natural wonders, your chance to catch the “peak of color” cannot be planned or guaranteed. Pick a mid-October cruise date and hope the rain didn’t knock the leaves down already. That’s why these sailings are a little more expensive.

Had enough of America Politics? You won’t be the first to think life might be saner north of the border. Someone has even put together a how-to for wannabies: How to Move to Canada: A Primer for Americans. You might also pick up So, You Want to Be Canadian: All About the Most Fascinating People in the World and the Magical Place They Call Home, or Why I Hate Canadians.