Canada celebrated its 150th birthday July 1, 2017. I am fortunate to have been able to celebrate both Canada’s 100th and 150th birthdays. In 1967, some staff at the high school I attended in Stettler, Alberta, made arrangements for a trip to Expo 67 in Montreal. I very much wanted to go, had some of the money saved, but my parents wouldn’t allow it. I never did know the exact reasons why as they had no difficulty letting me go to Ottawa on two trips: one sponsored by the Alberta Motor Association in May 1965 when I was only thirteen, and the Rotary-Sponsored Trip in May 1968. I still resent the fact that I didn’t get to experience Montreal in 1967. I vowed that when I could make my own decisions I would travel as much as possible.
I’ve really been a traveller since I was a young girl. When I was in elementary school, my trips were mainly to the homes of girl-friends for what is now called a sleep-over. I was particularly appreciative of the indoor toilets, and I can still close my eyes and see the fuzzy pink toilet cover at one home. Our toilet was outside until I was twelve, and there certainly wasn’t a fuzzy pink cover on either of those two outhouse holes!
I also learned that even in our relatively homogenous community other people ate different foods. And, several mothers—because it was the moms that packed lunches in those days—actually sent homemade goodies and store-bought gooey chocolate and marshmallow concoctions in lunches. My mom didn’t bake which has served me well in adulthood as I don’t crave sweets, but, as a child, I envied those treats.
Even with such limited travels, the experiences of visiting the homes of others taught me that I enjoyed seeing how other people lived—their homes, foods, and traditions. I’ve been travelling as often as I can since and wherever I go, my favorite part is learning about the history, cultures, wildlife, entertainment, and food in other countries. I’m always proud to be a Canadian and glad to return home—even to the minus 30 Celsius weather outside today!
The main thing that travelling has taught me is that diversity is a positive thing. There is no one right way to live. How we live depends on so many factors—traditions, beliefs, values, and, of course, the physical surroundings including the weather. But, underneath all those differences is the core of being human.
In 2018, I wish everyone good health and happiness, but, mainly, I hope for peace.