Oh Canada


Today I’m boarding a plane and going home. While the Canada Goose is turning her beak to the south, I’m turning mine to the north. I’m off to Canada!

Canada is where my story started. There’s a warm and weird nostalgia that comes over me when I think about Canada and all things Canadian: Coffee Crisp chocolate bars, Shreddies cereal, Swedish fish, Tim Hortons coffee and donuts, Canadian Tire, London Drugs, Cheez Whiz, Nanaimo bars, Nuts and Bolts, Aero chocolate, homo milk, Beaver Tails, poutine, ordering French fries with a side of gravy, Kraft Dinner, the loonie and the twoonie, the Canadian flag, klicks.

I suppose my attachment to the Great White North is a little suspect. I’ve really only lived 15 of my 46 years there. But Canada served as a pivot place for my childhood. Although we left when I was 8 years old, Canada was where we always went back to. Canada housed my grandparents, most of our aunts and uncles, our cousins. Canada was the place of my parent’s childhoods, their stories, their romance and marriage.

Later, when mom and dad were back from Pakistan, Lowell and I would marry in a tiny church in a small town on the vast Canadian prairies. We honeymooned in the Canadian Rockies between Banff and Lake Louise. Come to think of it, those months leading up to our wedding was really the last time I lived in Canada. We’ve been married 22 years ago. That’s a very long time ago.

Although I self-identify as Canadian, and have a Canadian passport to prove it, I’m quite likely the most unCanadian Canadian you’ll ever meet. My connections are weak at best, based largely on sentiment and maple syrup. I know very little about Canadian history or folklore. Canadian politics still perplex me on occasion. I’m hardly fluent in the Canadian vernacular. My vowels are now too relaxed, my consonants too indistinct, my syllables too lazy. When I talk no one suspects that I’m from north of the 49th parallel.

I know it makes no sense but I suppose this is the crux of the TCK tale. There’s no accounting for how and when the heart feels momentarily at home. The math doesn’t make sense. Only 1/3 of my life has been lived in the True North strong and free. On the other hand I’ve lived 22 years in Pakistan and India. Only nine years have been spent here among the sunflowers in Kansas.

And yet Canada still represents something to my soul that really defies logic. For reasons I can’t explain there’s a part of me that still sighs with relief when I enter her borders. I exhale and relax just a little bit more when I arrive. This time tomorrow morning I’ll be sipping tea at my parent’s dining room table. I’ll take a deep breath and let it out slowly. I’ll set down my foreignness for a bit. I’ll be among my people and somehow that brings me a measure of consolation.

O Canada!

Our home and native land!

True patriot love in all thy sons command.

With glowing hearts we see thee rise,

The True North strong and free!

From far and wide,

O Canada, we stand on guard for thee.

God keep our land glorious and free!

O Canada, we stand on guard for thee.

O Canada, we stand on guard for thee.

O Canada! Where pines and maples grow.

Great prairies spread and lordly rivers flow.

How dear to us thy broad domain,

From East to Western sea.

Thou land of hope for all who toil!

Thou True North, strong and free!

O Canada! Beneath thy shining skies

May stalwart sons, and gentle maidens rise,

To keep thee steadfast through the years

From East to Western sea.

Our own beloved native land!

Our True North, strong and free!


Ruler supreme, who hearest humble prayer,

Hold our Dominion in thy loving care;

Help us to find, O God, in thee

A lasting, rich reward,

As waiting for the better Day,

We ever stand on guard.

3 thoughts on “Oh Canada

  1. Oh wow, I totally understand what you mean. I haven’t live in Canada for 23 years but went back to my home town properly for the first time this summer and there was just that inexplicable feeling of nostalgia and ‘home’. It was a bit like putting on a jumper that you wore everyday for years but haven’t worn in ages – totally comfy and a little alien.

    Kendra, I’ve what most people would agree is a very dodgy accent but by the third week in Canada – you wouldn’t have known I’d lived anywhere else. Funny that.


  2. Sweet Robynn, I understand this on a very different and weird level. One wouldn’t think so since I have lived here in Manhattan, KS for 36 of my 45 years. And truly, this is my home. A few years ago, I attended my grandmother’s funeral just outside of Newcastle, WY. This is where both sets of my grandparents, all (but one set) of my aunt and uncles, and my parents lived back in the early to mid 60s. This is where my parents, and my aunts and uncles, romances started, and where they got married. They all knew each other-both sides. In my mind, this is where my family started. During childhood vacations my parents showed me all their personal landmarks, along with all that the Black Hills have to offer. Mom had more to share as this is where she grew up. Dad arrived there after he got out of the airforce only because that is where his parents lived at the time. (They moved A LOT.) But I digress…As we were driving to the Black Hills for the funeral I had a warm feeling, a connection that I couldn’t explain. We stayed about a week, and as we were leaving and the trees grew fewer, and the ground leveled off, there was a strong longing to stay. A belonging. I wanted to call my husband and have him move the family. I was traveling with my parents and expressed my feelings. My mom remembered me saying this as a child, as well. I can’t explain it, it doesn’t make sense.

    I thought I would have this same feeling when I went to New Mexico. I lived there K-2nd grade. We traveled back to that little town a couple of years ago. Though there was some nostalgia, I was ready to go back to Kansas. It wasn’t like Wyoming where it felt like home.

    I do have a question for you. While in Canada for a while, do you pick up the accent? I was born in Texas, and whenever we would visit with friends or family from there I pick that drawl back up quick as a snap! Stange, having not lived there for so long.


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