Most people might think that what you remember most after living in Canada is the snow. Not surprisingly I remember lots of snow from our time in Canada, but what I treasure most are the people of Canada.
My first trip to Canada was in the late sixties. One of the things that struck me from those early trips was how quiet restaurants were in Canada.
At the time I was college student so perhaps I was accustomed to more noise than the average adult, but still the restaurants we visited in Nova Scotia on those first trips were stunning quiet.
It was obvious that people were actually listening to each other instead of trying to talk over one another. Listening and debating with each other was one of the Canadian traits that I grew to love.
If you lived through the debates on Canada getting its constitution and on Quebec independence, there is no question that Canadians are willing to talk and debate issues in order to settle them in a civilized manner no matter how long the debate takes. Sometimes it did seem like a good idea that maybe the talk should stop and the action begin, but somehow the issues seem to get resolved.
Over the years, our family has moved a lot. Yet we still stay in touch with a few Canadian families. I love to hear their views on what is happening in the United States. I like the way that Canadians can talk about an issue without getting angry. I find it is rare that Canadians turn a political issue into a personal issue.
In my mind the three day attack by Rush Limbaugh on Sandra Fluke would have caused national revulsion in Canada. While many people in the United States are appalled at the attack, there are plenty who still listen to Rush Limbaugh.
Perhaps the best word to describe Canadians that I know is "civilized." They go about their jobs, realize that politicians are politicians, and make the best of a situation that they know will probably not change.
It is not that Canadians don't complain about their government, they just seem to better understand than most Americans that a change of government really isn't going to change very much.
One of the reasons that I fell in love with Canada in the first place was that living in Canada in the seventies and eighties was like living in the United States in the fifties and sixties. I don't mean that from a sense that Canada was behind life in the states when it came to modern conveniences. What was great about Canada was the basic trust in human nature that seemed to remind me of my days growing up in rural North Carolina.
When we moved off our farm in New Brunswick in 1984, I had to go to town and buy a padlock which I installed on the front door. We didn't lock our front door for the eleven years that we lived on the farm. I had a hard time getting the key out of the ignition of my farm truck because it had rarely been taken out.
We also found Canadian people to be some of the friendliest and most supportive people that we have ever met. We have friends in New Brunswick and Nova Scotia whom we have never really been able to replace. It always seems that many American friends are too busy to take the time to be friendly. Perhaps we Americans could learn something from Canadians by slowing down our lives a little.
People dropping by just to visit when we were on the farm in Canada reminded me of those Sunday afternoon visitors in my youth in rural North Carolina. Even after moving to the city, I remember neighbors in Canada stopping by for visits. One such visit ended up in an impromptu pizza party for our two familes. I always felt our children were safe in Canada. In Halifax they even walked to school and came home for lunch.
I am proud to count my Canadian friends among the best that I have made over my lifetime. Some that I haven't seen in years are still the same friendly people that I knew when we lived in the same province.
There are places that I have lived which are no longer on my list of places where I might consider living, but Canada is not one of them, and it is because of the people.
With the cold, snowy weather that Canada gets in the wintertime and the great weather in our current Coastal Paradise, you know the Canadian people have to be mighty nice to keep Canada on my list of places that I would live.