Tomorrow is a big day for Canada. Tomorrow, the second-biggest country in the world, the land of the jack pine and the maple leaf, will celebrate its 150th birthday. It’s been an eventful 150 years, a journey from the log cabin to the skyscraper and the cellphone. But we made it in one piece, and this weekend the whole country will mark the occasion with a huge party.
The epicentre will be Ottawa, the capital, with a giant show featuring everyone from Gordon Lightfoot to Cirque du Soleil to Canadian astronauts. But there will be celebrations all across the country, with picnics, performances, and fireworks. Here in Toronto, the festivities will include visits from a Canadian battleship and a giant floating rubber duck. The birthday has attracted some international attention, too. Earlier this year, it inspired Lonely Planet, the world travellers’ guru, to name Canada as its top destination for 2017.
That wasn’t something The Travelling Boomer could ignore. So next week, as the smoke from a thousand birthday candles begins to settle, I’ll be off with my friend Dennis for a rambling road trip to Canada’s east coast. We’ll be heading through Quebec to New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Newfoundland, the country’s youngest province and a place with a flavour all its own.
Unlike most of my trips, there’ll be no real itinerary — the mark of a good road trip. But there are a couple of goals: I want to see a moose, one symbol of Canada that I’ve yet to see in the flesh; I want to see an iceberg in a Newfoundland outport, to relive a treasured memory from my twenties; and I want to have an Atlantic lobster, fresh from the ocean.
There’s a lot to see along the way, like the mighty St. Lawrence River; the Bay of Fundy, with the world’s highest tides; the Annapolis Valley, with its wineries; the world-famous Cabot Trail; and if we’re lucky, L’Anse aux Meadows, the remote spot where the Norsemen made the first New World settlement 1,000 years ago.
Canada is a big, amazing country, and this trip will only scratch the surface. But it’s our 150th birthday, and time to pay a visit to places I haven’t seen in a long time. The sun is shining, there’s gas in the truck — we’re off to see Canada.