Fittingly, my first exposure to the now famous Canadian flag was at a hockey game. Oddly enough, it was in Oakland, California.
I grew up in the suburbs of San Francisco and always enjoyed sports. Once, perhaps as part of a school field trip, we went to a game at the Oakland Coliseum Arena to see the California Seals play. I remember, I think, the white skates. I definitely remember trying to figure out what icing meant.
The rules confused me and I didn’t really understand what was happening on the ice (something my kids will say has stuck with me all these years). But
I remember seeing the new Canadian flag, this being around 1968.
The arena had a fan blowing air around the flag, and I remember it rippling in the artificial breeze; all red and white and proud. And I remember thinking, “What a cool flag that is.”
I never expected to meet a Canadian girl after graduating from university and then falling in love and moving to Toronto. But that’s what happened. And here I am 35 years later, celebrating the national day in a country I’ve lived in a good deal longer than I did in the U.S.
I feel very Canadian now. I don’t understand the desire to own a gun. I don’t for the life of me understand the appeal of Donald Trump. In a family that drinks Starbucks, I prefer my coffee from Tim Horton’s. And I love this country.
From coast to coast, this is a magical, mystical and majestic place. I adore the spirit and playfulness of Newfoundland. I never get tired of driving the Cabot Trail in Nova Scotia or quiet, rural roads in any of the Maritime provinces. I love noshing on a smoked meat sandwich at Schwarz’s in Montreal and walking along Rue St. Paul in the old part of the city. I love an afternoon cruise on the Segwun on Lake Muskoka. I love visiting the Terry Fox monument outside Thunder Bay, where I was a couple weeks ago. I also love (who doesn’t) the Alberta Rockies and Ayden Kitchen and Bar in Saskatoon and the Bridge Drive-In in Winnipeg and just about anywhere in British Columbia.
So, as I get ready for my first-ever visit to Ottawa for the July 1 holiday, here’s a toast to my now home and native land. And here are a few of the Canadian flag photos I’ve gathered in the eight years I’ve been a full-time travel writer. I’m a very lucky guy to do what I do. And I’m even luckier to do it in what might be the greatest country on this wonderful earth of ours.
Happy Canada Day!
Be sure to check out my Canada 150 site (see the red and white icon at the top of my page) for a look at my first batch of entries for 150 great things to do in Canada.
Oh, and be sure to follow me on social media tomorrow in Ottawa as I take in the festivities. I’ll be catching concerts and watching the parades and posting on both Twitter (@jimbyerstravel) and Instagram (@jimbyerstravel1), as well as Periscope. I hope to catch the fireworks from the Fairmont Chateau Laurier, too!