Monday, December 16, 2013

Canada Dreams

Since coming back from the North, back from across the Ottawa River and the Great Lakes, one has engorged himself with all things Canadian, hungry for new knowledge after the visit. I watched movies like ‘Anne of the Green Gables’, ‘Tales of Avonlea’, and ‘Let Sleeping Dog Lie’ plus many travel videos on places like Nova Scotia, Newfoundland, Prince Edward Island and of course the great cities of Toronto, Montreal, Ottawa and Quebec. It does seem like a fabled land despite the ridicule and contempt felt by most Americans about the giant across its northern borders, a land of cold and a dull but civilized people, with incredible mountain vistas, giant rivers and lakes, wooded forest; like a kinder and gentler version of the union of states, albeit a socialist version like some Europe implant in the new world, an aberration in the Western Hemisphere, preserving old world customs of French and English gentility. Its history does not have the scars of slavery or the brutal Indian wars or the civil rights struggle but a well-organized behemoth fashioned by Oxford scholars with experience managing the far-flung colonies of the British Empire.

Perhaps one has migrated to the wrong country, although one does face high taxes, he or she is protected from medical emergencies, the bane of life in the USA, with the mean partisan squabbles against Obamacare, a legitimate attempt to make health care affordable to all. This is the main attraction as one faces rising medical bills, the recent episode bringing into sharper focus, when one’s past decision results in a heart attack and exorbitant cost driven by a materialistic lifestyle, hiding from the perils of resident problems unlike the open policy of Canada, a gift from the first world power that resulted in a cosmopolitan world view, away from the provincial and isolationist view of its powerful neighbor. The quaint stories of children growing up in Prince Edward Island, or the genteel traditions in the provinces, the fishing communities that line the Atlantic Ocean and even in the huge cities lining the St. Lawrence River give the heart a welcome feeling, a moderate society which some call a hypocrite by living within the powerful nuclear protection of it neighbor. 

One can live in his old age and disappear in the welcoming wilderness, in its small town of welcoming people, living among the old English, French and even the ancestors of the Loyalist who moved north after the defeat of Cornwallis. One wonders how two countries living close by can grow differently; one a rabid free-for all, capitalistic money loving society while the other a more communal social society where one is respected without the history of a brutal civil war. One can dream of walking the quaint streets of old Montreal, buying bagels for breakfast and eating sweet meats, going to church in grand Catholic cathedrals, enjoying the river fishing and boating, away from the dog eat dog of it southern cousin. Its feels like some enchanted land, like an English and French dream of long ago, a true new world built upon the lessons of the old, unlike its neighbor who grew of its self-aware (and arrogant) belief of its own exceptionalism, resulting in deceptive imperialism, hidden under the cloak of free trade and unrestrained markets.

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