Wednesday, September 11, 2019

When It Comes To Boring Nobody Does It Better Than Canada

A Group of Canadians Watching the Leaders Debate
Same as it ever was . . .
Same as it ever was . . .
(Once In A Lifetime, The Talking Heads)

It's a moody Manitoba mornin'
Nothing's really happening, it never does (Moody Manitoba Morning, The Bells)

Having lived for almost all my life in Canada, I am struck by the boring sameness of life in the Great White North.  Yes, there are some interesting places to visit and some interesting people to get to know, but, all in all, living here is like watching the snow melt.

I think it has something to do with the geography.  In a travel brochure you might see some appealing photos of Quebec City, Peggy's Cove, Niagara Falls and the Rocky Mountains, but what the brochures fail to mention is the vast distances separating our sights of interest and how excruciatingly boring it is to traverse those spaces of the big empty.

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I know.  I come from the prairies.  Living in Winnipeg was cool, but ask anyone what it is like to drive in or out of Winnipeg on the Trans Canada Highway.  The greatest danger comes from the fact that the land is incredibly flat and the road is incredibly straight.  It is so boring that people fall asleep at the wheel while driving, leading, of course, to tragic consequences.

A couple of years ago, I decided to drive from Ottawa to Winnipeg and traversed our largest province, Ontario.  Let me tell you, the Canadian Shield is interesting for about fifteen minutes of the two full days of seeing nothing but rocks and lakes and trees and the occasional Tim Horton's, Canada's favorite coffee and doughnut shop.  So boring that my two sons sucked me into an argument when leaving Thunder Bay about whether Terry Fox is a Canadian hero just to yank my chain in order to break up the monotony.

I can also attest that driving from Winnipeg northward to Thompson, Manitoba, and along Quebec's Lower North Shore are as boring if not more so than driving across Ontario.  Some would argue that the most boring drive is from Montreal to Toronto.  It's difficult to decide.  To do so would involve an extremely boring conversation I would rather avoid.

Regardless, if people are to survive and prosper in Canada, they need to be genetically endowed to be able endure long periods of time where nothing much happens and to fill those days, weeks, months, and years, with mind-numbing routines in order to pass the time.  Life in Canada is about exciting as paying down a 25 year mortgage.

My father, on the other hand, lived through some remarkable times.  He grew up during the Depression; went off to fight in the Second World War; played professional football; brought up two kids that saw a man walking on the moon.

Not me.

The only iconic moment that comes to mind thinking about the last fifty years in Canada was Paul Henderson scoring the winning goal with the time running out in the final game of the Canada-Russia Summit Series in 1972.  Not a lot has happened since.  Like what?  The Charter, NAFTA, Justin Bieber?  That's about it.  History is what happens outside of Canada. OK. The Raptors winning the NBA title was pretty awesome.

Which brings me to Canada's current General Election, which will go down in history as one of the most boring electoral campaigns ever held, as about exciting as driving across Ontario.

In fact, Canada's present social contract has been in place for more than 40 years.  All we do is tinker at the periphery.  Raise or lower taxes slightly.  Add on an additional social program here and there.  Nothing that would rock the boat.  Steady as she goes.

All in all, it comes down to which leader can do the least harm.  Four more years of the same, or four years of someone brand new that is trying to convince us that there are no big plans in the works?  These are the choices?

In any case, whoever forms the next government will probably not have a majority of seats in Parliament.  Nothing new there.

Stay tuned.  Given how the first-past-the-post voting system does not work very well with multi-party elections, I am sure that the either the Red Party or the Blue Party will be the recipient of an electoral distortion that will either one a majority of seats. Ho hum. Same as it ever was.

After all, if it ain't broke, don't fix it.  Let's keep on chugging along with what we got, and thank God we are not living in Central America, a place where you can't sit patiently and watch the snow melt.

1 comment:

  1. I know what you mean. Very well put.

    If you happen to like driving a responsive car and sightseeing as I do or just motoring around meandering aimlessly and relaxed, my semi-recent trip to Penticton reminded me that there wasn't much of interest there. One road south to the US border, the same road north to Kelowna, and a tiny network of roads going east and west. Boring. I mean two days of gawping at the mountains and looking at Lake Okanagan and fruit trees and grape vines sufficed. Nice place, now pass the carafe of local wine or craft beer and veg out for the rest of the vacay while planes continually come and go to the airport and interrupt your snooze in the shade.

    Back home in Nova Scotia, we have roads going into every nook and cranny all around the coast, dozens and dozens of little villages and towns set picturesquely in coves and on rivers. The landscape varies from rich farmland to craggy coast to miles of empty sandy beaches set with white or beige granules, to Bay of Fundy tidal bores and crazy tides to "mountains" in Cape Breton and around the inland sea of Bras d'Or, desert (bet you didn't know about that, well, it's not a dry desert but things don't grow). A day out is actually satisfying and stimulates the appetite. Looxury as the Brits would say. And you can have a different drive next weekend and the one after that ad nauseam.

    After almost 40 years of calling Central BC home, my brother decided enough and came back to a more interesting place with less wildfire smoke and more hurricanes. Had to drive back with some belongings and the truck itself - how was the drive? Boring. Now understand this is a one-time communique from a Nova Scotian to the rest of Canada that we have you beat when it comes to living in a place for pleasant day trips where you're never far from the next town. Wouldn't want to broadcast that too much and attract the rest of you in droves to clog up the roads! The fall season coming up with its riot of colours and thousands of miles of curvy highways and byways and back roads sees lots of local self-generated traffic and neck craners and veggie and apple stands to raid for next to no cost. Baked goods? Fill yer boots. Although, "traffic" is perhaps too bold a term. A car a mile instead of every ten minutes with a dozen vehicles concentrated at lookoffs perhaps. Yeah, it's pretty darn pleasant. Being bisected by the 45th parallel, NS is far south of the West and much more lush, but weather maps put us at the Arctic circle to fit the country on a page. Too bad. Your average Canuck calls us down home, but never realizes the truth of the matter!

    But along with South East Quebec and the Niagara Peninsular, it's about the closest we get to Europe, with Blighty having the Queen of roads to every little farm gatepost and village as Number One and sheep actually shuffling down and across the back roads interrupting your reverie on the moors.

    Like New England, NS is not just boring highways to get from one "big" place to another. Toronto to Montreal? Where's my NoDoz? The lake shore drive is more stimulating when the 401 satiates the mind with sameness.



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