Monday, July 17, 2006

All "A-boot" My Trip to Canada

I've been away from my computer the past few weeks and, quite frankly, it felt good to temporarily disentangle myself from the Web. My wife and I spent the week of the 4th of July on a lake in Northern Wisconsin, relaxing and fishing with family. And then we embarked for Canada, driving through vast stretches of wilderness en route to Ottawa and Montreal. In Ottawa, we toured the stately Canadian Parliament, and in Montreal we dined on local and French cuisine and took in the sites. In one restaurant, we enjoyed a tasty Quebecois dish call poutine, which involves french fries topped with gravy and cheese curds (not recommended by the American Heart Association), and I had my first experience with escargot, which tasted surprisingly good.

One of the pleasures of being North of the border was reading and listening to the Canadian media. Much was made of the fact that, in a joint new conference, President Bush repeatedly referred to Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper as "Steve", which was interpreted as either a sign of chumminess or of total disrespect. And there appears to be no end to the Canadian obsession with softwood lumber tariffs, despite a recent deal with the U.S. to resolve the conflict. Finally, it appears that Canada is considering changing its motto, "From Sea to Sea", to "From Sea to Sea to Sea", in order to properly acknowledge the existence of the Arctic Ocean. But I prefer the motto suggested by The Globe and Mail: "We came, we saw, we spoke out on many Third World issues." That seems to better accord with Canada's smug self-image as a peacemaker, not a fighter. However, it's hard to imagine how a nation can be an effective peacekeeper when it is unwilling to suffer casualties. The death of a single Canadian soldier in Afghanistan, which dominated the news during our entire visit, has caused many Canadians to question the value of the mission itself.

Yet despite their poorly-concealed sense of cultural superiority, the Canadians were very friendly and welcoming to us. And in Quebec, the locals even tolerated our pathetic attempts to speak French (usually, after a few sentences of confusion, we would all revert to speaking English). All in all, a very enjoyable trip.

1 comment:

Clint said...

So what were your top sites visited? We're going to Montreal next summer for the conclusion of the Pastor-Theologian program (www.ctinquiry.org).