A couple of years ago I desperately wanted to see a piece of Canada. I was sure of the fact that being surrounded by nature is something that would calm my mind.
As the years passed by, I realized Canada was out of reach (something with ‘too expensive’) and I grew attached to the idea that it was okay and there were plenty of other beautiful cheaper places to see in this world.
Then suddenly, when we were on vacation in Thailand, I got an email from a woman named Sita, who wanted to get married to a man named Rob. In, that’s right: Canada. A couple of months later, Janice and I boarded a plane that took us right to Toronto in 8 beautiful hours. It was a hectic time back then and we were so busy we kept delaying planning our route and our places to stay after the wedding. When we sat on the plane it suddenly hit me we had no plan whatsoever. In Asia those things work. I figured that in Canada that wouldn’t be the case (that was the moment I got cold feet). After some delay in the airport at the car rental company, we had a good night sleep and drove our car to the ferry to get to Manitoulin Island. The wedding was beautiful, laid-back and everything we could have dreamed of (Check it out right here).
If there’s one thing I was amazed by, it maybe wasn’t the nature Canada has to offer. It was the people that lived there. With their enthusiastic faces, kind words and genuine soul. At the wedding we met Rob’s family, who all came down to Manitoulin Island for the wedding. While I was photographing, Janice was talking to everyone and before I knew it, people gave us their phone numbers and tiny papers with a route to their homes and addresses. They kept assuring us; ‘come to this adress, we’ll show you around and you can stay with us!‘ – I was amazed. Someday around Tobermory? Be sure to pay them a visit and so ‘hi’ from the two girls from Belgium with an empty gas tank and a birthday on the 25th of July.
We took some sightseeing and hikes the next couple of days after the wedding to enjoy the nature of Canada. We drove for hours and I saw trees sneering by. Horizons as far as the eye could reach and houses that seemed to be dropped from the sky in the middle of nowhere. Everything in Canada is so spacious. You can actually take in the air and breathe, without being surrounded by a million people in a two foot room or forest. Janice got addicted to Tim Horton’s and along the way there was this guy at a bakery who wanted to pay for our breakfast out of nowhere. After some talking we figured out it was Jimmy Pappin. (We didn’t knew him, but apparently he was a famous ice hockey right winger who won the Stanley Cup). A day before my birthday, there was a blackout around Tobermory. We drove so long with an almost empty gas tank to find a gas station that actually worked (cold feet again!). They tipped us a great place to stay, which was the ‘Lion’s Head Beach Motel’. All of the rooms were full, but the owner just offered us their private guest room (what?!). Again; those Canadians. Hospitality. Amazed.
The days after our sightseeing we met up with people from the wedding and we actually did stay at their houses. We went to the most beautiful tranquil place by the water named ‘Kincardine’ and had our own basement with bathroom (so cool!) with Carolyn, Bob and Jordyn. It was my birthday so the family took me to the ice cream shack. And we had popcorn. Popcorn and Chinese. We went to the Amish and bought a beautiful children’s book and delicious maple syrup. And after that, we left this place and my heart broke just a little.
Next stop was a brief visit to London before we drove to Christa, Jef and their kids. They live in a farm and the weather was so warm we attended a base ball practice. As the sun went down, we helped with harvesting (and eating, oops) beans while listening to Christa’s enthusiastic smile and Jef’s talking. The day after we learned about maple trees and picked blueberries and they were de-li-ci-ous.
Before we headed back on the plane, we visited Toronto and stayed with another family. Andrew, Leanne, Charlotte and Kate were so kind. They showed us around Toronto and we had the best dumplings for lunch. We stopped at a small yard sale and I fell in love instantly. In the evening we sat inside and enjoyed big, fat raccoons, sitting on their deck. I loved them. Their house. The endless conversations. Their hospitality. Everything was so at ease. It made me feel humble and small at the same time.
Canada. It has my heart.