My fiancée is Canadian, a fact that I sometimes forget. It’s not because it’s not an amazing fact, but it’s just something that is so obvious I forget about it, like constantly remembering you're breathing air all day long. It’s an amazing thing too, a wonderous route to new family and experiences, and also extensive travelling, but culturally it’s an amazing thing too. Being with someone “foreign” is actually something I’ve seen people aspire to – looking for an American or French partner, as it seems like a luxurious or strange, or even different. I happened upon my fiancée by sheer luck on my part, her endeavours, and a dash of incredible chance, and the story is worth telling… but maybe another time. This post is not about her, per se, though she’d like it to be… it’s about my relationship with her home-country. My adopted second nation.
I can clearly remember being taught about Canada as a youngster when I was in primary school as part of Scottish History. We were taught about the highland clearances and the impact that they had on the children and families of the Scottish crofters. I remembered reading a book about it, but for about a decade I couldn’t remember what it was called, and after some furious Googling I am certain it was Kathleen Filder’s The Desperate Journey. In it the family are forced to move to Hudson Bay, in Canada. The detail doesn’t come back to me beyond that synopsis, but it also tied in directly to the cotton mills, and then a day trip to New Lanark. As it was, it was the first instance in which I’d been educated in Canada, and I imagined it to be this rolling, large place, a wilderness. Wild beyond control.
I rarely came across Canada in my youth after that. In my early teenage years, a memory that has stuck was when a hot Canadian English supply teacher came to the school and taught my class a few times. I don’t remember his name, but his accent and his face do stick out.
Later on, my father would surprise me by way of a tale that still makes me wonder. There was at one point a very slim chance I could’ve been brought up French-Canadian. Back when my mother and he were both young there was an offer of work across the water in Quebec. The times were hard for someone working in the shipyards on Govan, so the subject was partially considered as a serious option – my father went to the job interview and was offered the position. There were a few strange… Quebec based clauses in the contract of course – if you were to move out of Quebec to an English speaking province or job you’d have to pay back all the relocation expenses, and there was a requirement to learn French, of course. Maybe I’d have grown up Canadien and as I am now. It would have been a vastly different lifestyle – it rather boggles the mind to think how thing would have ended up if I’d lived there.
I’ve actually yet to go to Quebec, but it is on my list of plans to go and see the city and the province.
These ruminations have been aligned for Canadian Thanksgiving, which is a similar concept to that of the more famous “American Thanksgiving”. I am incredibly thankful for my Canadian family, the heritage that they have, the culture I am now excited to explore and consume. To celebrate Canada, I’ve made a special edition of my Wednesday Graveyard playlists, “Keep it Canadian”, a sequel of sorts to my Scottish one, “Keep it Scottish”. You can listen below.
Happy thanksgiving everyone.