By Danny Kingsbury
Dawn and I travelled by train this weekend from Ottawa to London for our youngest grand daughter’s first Birthday. I’ve made this trek by automobile at least bi-monthly for over 3 years. I enjoy driving so it’s never been a burden but this is a nice change……..and a first. As it turned out, the weather was dicey for driving Friday so it’s worked out well. Via has its fans and its critics. No complaints from me, but I don’t like the rear facing seats.
Whether I’m driving or riding, I reminisce and wander when I’m travelling in this part of the world. I love Ontario.
I have lived in Alberta, Saskatchewan, Northwest Territories, Manitoba and Nova Scotia. I find value in most things and appreciate all Canada has to offer. I can itemize many great things about everywhere I’ve lived. Rocky Mountains of Alberta, the wheat fields of Saskatchewan, The Beaufort Sea and being north of the Arctic circle in NWT, the Red and Assiniboin Rivers colliding at the forks in Winnipeg and that wonderful East coast with ocean, seafood and wonderful people.
But I really like Eastern/Southern Ontario. It offers a lot. Farmlands that produce bounties of fresh produce and eggs and cheese, cattle ranches for our meat supply, beautiful forests with Trillium, Maple and Oak trees the stars, rolling hills, clean and healthy lakes, cottage country in muskoka, rivers, historic destinations, vineyards, points of interest, (ever stopped at the Big Apple), the Great Lakes, the St. Lawrence seaway, Niagara Falls and the Niagara escarpment where apples, peaches, pears and grapes grow in some of the most unique soil and landscape geography on earth, a great transportation infrastructure to get around to all the small towns and hamlets and of course, the largest city in Canada, which is nearby. There is downside to Toronto but the positive far outweighs the negative. It’s a great place to visit. In Ontario, we enjoy 4 unique seasons. Winter is cold and snowy but manageable, spring brings new life and renewable vegetation, summers are warm and long and fall brings the most brilliant display of colour anywhere on earth. The changing leaves can be seen from space.
Our license plate slogan should read;
“Ontario, we could do worse”.
Yes we have some pretty big problems but I leave that to others to opine and discuss on different platforms.
From a more holistic view, although I was born and raised in Edmonton, along with 3 sisters and 2 brothers, my first generation lineage begins in Kingston and Belleville where my Dad and Mom grew up respectively. My Dad was the youngest of 11. He was a member of Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry and served in Korea. He and his future wife met when he returned. Mom was born and raised in Bellville. She was a nurse and studied at Hotel Dieu Hospital St Josephs school of nursing in Kingston. She still attends the reunions but as she says, the ranks are dwindling.
My parents decided to leave Ontario in 1954-55 and move to boomtown Edmonton after the Leduc oil discovery. “There’s gold in dem dar hills”. Neither would ever return to live here. Lots of visits. My Dad worked in Alberta, but not on oil rigs. He got a job with Alberta Government Telephones (now Telus) and laboured and apprenticed to become a journeyman cable splicer in a career lasting 33 years. He enjoyed his work for the most part. The only time I think he was unhappy was after he was promoted to desk job. There’s a lesson there. He took early retirement. He worked hard and played hard all his life and was able to literally turn off from the noise and confusion in his house by turning off his hearing aids. This was particularly helpful later in his life with the enormously loud family and grand kids around him. He was hurt in Korea and damaged his hearing.
For me, it was fateful to move to Kingston a few years ago to be able to mentally process the city and what it means to our family that began so long ago. I often would visit the family grave site in Cataraqui cemetery, where my Grand Parents who I never knew, and some (certainly not all) Uncles and Aunts are buried.
(Along with Sir John A. McDonald in a surprisingly innocuous setting for Canada’s first PM.)
That entire resting ground is an interesting place as it was originally used to bury mostly immigrant workers who came to Canada to build the Rideau Canal. Its huge. Thousands would perish over the years from cholera and diphtheria and other mosquito borne diseases that took many lives. In fact we had an aunt who died as a baby in 1925 from illness and is buried in the family plot. The cemetery was out of town to the west of Kingston back then. Lots and lots of history associated with Kingston. Did you know it was Canada’s first capital?
These memories and musings seem to come up mostly when I’m in the area like this weekend and they bring me great comfort knowing about my past. And where I began. At least the last 100 years or so. Truthfully, I’m not overly interested in much more than that. I wonder why?
Case in point, I have a cousin who put together a family tree recently through ancestry.ca and it’s interesting, he did a great job but it didn’t capture my imagination the way the stories of my parents upbringing have over the years. I am interested in my heritage but more time these days is devoted to my legacy. That’s not complete and I can still affect the outcome. Do you think about where you began?
So it was off to London to visit as always and celebrate the first birthday of Louise (Lulu). She was born April 1st. That’ll be fun for the rest of her life with the April Fools references. Great job as always by the Mom and Dad. Brady and Abbie. Raising 2 kids under 3 isn’t all roses but they are amazing parents. Doing their best, seems to be just fine.
Well, this will be my last post about Women’s Curling. But it’s a good one. I have lived on the edge the last 2 months checking the status of various tournaments. Ontario Championships, Canadian Championships and World Championships. Rachel Homan and her team of Emma Miskew, Joanne Courtney, Lisa Weagle, Cheryl Kraviazuk and Coach Adam Kingsbury won the Gold Medal last weekend in Beijing. I awoke at 3am to watch it live on TSN. It was stressful and fun to be in contact with friends and relatives at that time of the morning……..it didn’t count as drunk texting. Everyone was watching and hoping and cheering. Team Canada went on to win, going undefeated and are 2017 World Champs. That’s a nice experience mention on a resume.
The next big challenge is qualifying for the 2018 Winter Olympics in Korea. That happens in Ottawa coincidentally in December. Can’t wait. Congrats guys. It was fun to watch.