As I think about Canada Day this year, I’m reminded of how upside-down life feels these days. Nearly everything about the past 4 months has looked a lot different than we’re used to. It’s been a time of adjusting to spring and summer expectations going out the window, uncertainty about what the next few days, weeks, and months will hold, and finding excitement in things we might never have noticed before.
As much as this time has come with difficulties and disappointments, it hasn’t been without its pleasant surprises every once in a while. When I’ve talked with people about how they’ve spent the extra time that comes along with staying at home, one thing that has often come up is that they have been spending more time outside. Canada has so much beautiful, outdoor variety to offer, and it has been neat to be able to take advantage of that more than usual!
Personally, Canada Day—and this whole summer—looks even more different than I’m used to. This will be the first Canada Day that I’m spending in BC! I’ve lived in Ontario for most of my life, just east of Toronto. Two years ago, I started attending Trinity Western University, and this year I decided to spend my summer out here in B.C.
If you’ve ever been to the Toronto area, you’ll know that it’s quite different than anywhere in British Columbia. If you’ve never ventured that far east, let me tell you a little bit about what life there looks like.
I live right on Lake Ontario, which is so big that it feels like the ocean—I like to call it the ocean, but only some people put up with that. Just like Vancouver is on the ocean, Toronto is on Lake Ontario; the two cities couldn’t be more different though. Vancouver moves at a much slower pace. People spend more time outside, and just generally seem to hurry less. Where Torontonians can be spotted by their vigorous walking, I can recognize Vancouverites by their leisurely strolling. As I continue to learn and experience more of Vancouver, I am becoming more and more fond of it. I definitely have a soft spot for Toronto though, especially in the summer.
In Ontario, believe it or not, we don’t have mountains, so hiking isn’t quite as familiar to us. After living here for nearly 2 years, I am almost certain that British Columbians are born with key hiking muscles that take much more effort for us Ontarians to acquire. You might be wondering, if there are no mountains in Ontario, what on earth is there to do in the summer?
As far-fetched as it may seem, a summer day over there probably isn’t too far off from what it would look like here. Although Toronto is right on Lake Ontario, those beaches probably wouldn’t be the top choice for a summer day. More likely, lots of people will spend their weekends, and days off, and really any time they can squeeze in, at the cottage somewhere up north. What you British Columbians refer to as cabins, we call cottages!
Picture this: a warm Friday evening, in the car for the 2 hour drive up to the cottage. Your bags packed with shorts, t-shirts, bathing suits, and a good book. The weekend will be spent floating on the lake and soaking up the sun while reading a book or taking a nap. Evenings will be filled with the smell of barbeque and campfire and watching the sun set. After what seems like way too many months of winter, summer is definitely embraced with open arms in Ontario, as I know it is in British Columbia, and all across Canada.
All this to say, no matter where you’re most familiar with in Canada, it is a wonderful place to spend time outside. One of the things I have been most thankful for throughout all the uncertainty of the last 4 months is the consistency of simply being able to go on a walk. I love finding patches of painted rocks around my neighbourhood or discovering a new place to explore. Even though many expectations for the summer have been crushed, there are still so many opportunities to be creative in spending time outside!
Thinking about Canada Day specifically, I’m curious what creative types of celebrations there will be. I’m sure there will be plenty of socially distanced barbeques, driveway parties with neighbours, and people taking advantage of a mid-week day-off to go to the beach, on a hike, or up to the cabin. I always look forward to falling asleep to the sound of fireworks—and since my birthday falls 2 days later, sometimes imagining the whole country is celebrating my birthday.
I have memories of spending some of my childhood Canada Days in Ottawa, in the big celebrations that are held at Parliament Hill every year. Last year there were 56,000 people at those celebrations! Needless to say, nothing like that will be happening this year. As special as it can be to celebrate our country with thousands of people you don’t know, I think this year may be even more special because of the restrictions meaning we can only celebrate with a few certain people who we are close to.
(And if you’re disappointed at not being able to watch fireworks in a big crowd, in replacement of the Parliament Hill fireworks, there will be virtual, interactive fireworks that I’m sure many people will be watching all across the country! They will be held at 7pm PST and can be found here.
I think Canada is always worth celebrating, but even more so this year. Especially in British Columbia, we have been so fortunate with the leadership that is guiding us through the pandemic. However you end up spending your Canada Day, consider spending some time praying for our country in a few different ways. Pray for our British Columbian government and health authorities, that they would continue to lead well. Pray for leadership, wisdom, and discernment for our prime minister and the entire federal government. Continue to pray for healthcare workers and facilities across the country. And finally, pray for Canadians in general, that we would be guided in how to graciously navigate our ever-changing country and world.
Written by Talia Scaiano
SouthRidge Intern and Trinity Western student