At the border of Surrey, British Columbia, Canada, and Blaine, Washington, U.S.A., lies the famous Peace Arch, built by Sam Hill. It marks the spot known as the “Peace Arch Border Crossing”, one of the busiest border crossings between Canada and the United States.
The arch also commemorates the Treaty of Ghent, which ended the War of 1812 between the United States and Great Britain. Mounted on the arch’s crown are the flags of the U.S. and Canada. On both sides of its frieze are inscriptions. The inscription on the U.S. side reads “Children of a common mother.” The words on the Canadian side read “Brethren dwelling together in unity”.
Within the arch, there is an iron gate hinged on either side of the border. Above the gate are the words, “May these gates never be closed”.
Why Canada Again?
Last week, my post was on Newfoundland, told by Wanda, a woman who lives in Canada’s far eastern province. For balance, this week’s post focuses on Annemarie, who lives in British Columbia (BC), Canada’s far western province.
Obviously, Wanda and Annemarie are both Canadian. But because they live in very different provinces with very different climates, I thought it would be interesting to talk to both of them.
Thanks to Annemarie in BC for the photos (the featured photo is a free stock image). And thanks again to my Chicagoan friend, Anne Marie, for putting me in contact with Annemarie (and Wanda).
Annemarie is a physiotherapist. She lives with her husband and two small children on Canada’s Vancouver Island, located in British Columbia. Vancouver Island is the largest Pacific island east of New Zealand.
My Conversation with Annemarie
Please look out a window and tell me what you see.
I am riding the ferry heading to the mainland from Vancouver Island. There are islands, blue sky, lots of rocks and trees and a few fishing boats closer to the shore. It is a 90-minute-ride to get to the mainland of BC.
What would you cook for me if I came to your house for dinner?
I would cook a family meal likely, as I have two smallish kids. It would likely be Chicken Parmesan and salad because I could prepare it ahead of time. Some wine and time, and I would make you a baked Pacific salmon dish.
What myth or stereotype about your country/culture would you like to set straight?
It is not always cold in Canada. Victoria, where I am from, is the most temperate climate of Canada. My son was in shorts all winter and we had just one centimeter of snow (less than half an inch).
What brings you joy?
Nature, going hiking, having relaxed family time in the outdoors. Day trips from Victoria to the wild beaches of the west coast of Vancouver Island are so refreshing and always make me happy.
What are your greatest fears?
Becoming too busy to stay grounded and enjoy the small, quiet moments in life.
What gives you hope?
My kids learning about caring for the earth, caring for each other, and putting it into practice.
What is the most unusual thing about where you live?
We are surrounded by the Olympic Mountains and are below the 49th Parallel (the border between Canada and the USA). There is still a unique Canadian influence that is affected, but not overwhelmed, by our large neighbors to the South.
What is your opinion of the United States? Chicago?
I have lived in San Francisco before and I noticed that Americans tend to be insular about what is going on in the world. When I lived in San Francisco, I found it difficult to find news that did not involve the Bay Area. I also blame the (short) two weeks off per year for vacation to explain this finding.
I also noticed another unusual trait in the US. People used to ask me where I went to school. I thought it was because they wanted to see if they knew of anyone that went to that school. I realized later, it was a class-based question. Was it a private school or state-funded school? That was much more prevalent in my conversations in the U.S.
I did not know much about Chicago before I went there. I have had three trips to Chicago. I was so surprised at its beautiful architecture, restaurants, and music scene. It is like an oasis in the middle of the country.
What is your favorite time of year in British Columbia?
Fall. There are amazing leaves changing colors and we can watch the salmon run.
What does your country do really well?
Hockey. Encouraging life balance with an average of four weeks off per year for many industries. Maternity leave is also one year off.
What do you wish your country did better?
Protecting our environment more than promoting pipelines and oil development. We have had a very conservative government in power for more than eight years.
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