- Kristan Higgins
Updated: May 4, 2022
I’m leaving Alberta today after five lovely days here...three on my own in Banff National Park, and two with the Calgary Romance Writers.
I love Canada. I’d move here, I think, though I’m attached to the US in all its messy glory.
But Canada feels easier, and more relaxed. People are happier, it seems. There’s less overt racism. National health care, which saves households a lot of money. It’s a cleaner nation, and Canadians take a civic pride in making sure it’s that way. Today, for example, schoolchildren were picking up trash along the highways in Alberta. People don’t speed, because fines are whopping huge. We should do that in the U.S., I think. Really enforce those speed limits. It’s much nicer driving in Canada without maniacs and trash on the road.
Canadians are really proud of being Canadian, whether they immigrated or were born here. All are delighted that I was visiting. I imagine tourism is a huge economic contributor, but even more than that, it felt like every Canadian was saying, “It’s great here, eh?”
I did love the accent, and found myself sounding more and more Canadian as the days passed. My vowel sounds rounded, and yes, I said aboot a couple of times.
The natural beauty is utterly glorious, and something that Canadians might take for granted. When I told one woman about my love of elk, she said, “They’re like mice to us…everywhere and kind of a nuisance.” When I admired the Rockies, another said, “Oh, yeah, if you like white, they’re beautiful.” But she smiled and winked, almost as if she knew how lucky she was to live in such an area, but it would unCanadian to brag about it.
Canadians these days view us Americans as unfortunate, with our political division, gun violence and racism issues. A lot of people asked me how I voted in the last election. Not all of them are thrilled with their Mr. Trudeau, but there’s not the polarity and anger we see in America. (Everyone agrees that Justin is super handsome.)
There are so many Aussies in Canada! Being part of the British Commonwealth, they have an easy time getting a two-year work visa. You’re just as likely to hear an Oz accent as you are a Canadian. Irish, too. No complaints here! At my hotel, the staff wore kilts. I liked that a lot.
The air was so clean and pure in the mountains, and I filled my lungs as much as possible, feeling like it would make me healthier. When I finally saw my first elk, I got a little teary-eyed, and sat there, watching them for a good hour or so. They’re really big. Mellow at this time of year, but don’t get near them in October, I was told. More elk kill people than grizzly bears. If a black bear attacks you, it’s decided to kill you, whereas if a grizzly attacks you, it “might only want to maul you.” Moose are the most dangerous. Go figure. If you see a big footprint without claws, it’s a cat. Look up. Mountain lions like to pounce from above.
Everyone wanted to know how I liked their country. They were all pretty confident of the answer.