The Canada Trip

The Canada Trip

Book - 1997
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"We are back from three months on the highways of Canada, driving 24,863 kilometres, which is 15,539 miles to you old-timers." Clearly, after this beginning, The Canada Trip is not going to be a conventional travel guide. Nor is it a journalistic dissection of the mood of the land, because "the country has been analysed to death." Instead, Charles Gordon keeps what he calls Inner Journalist in check to give us a record of how a typical traveller sees the country, moseying along in the family car. This makes the book not so much a "Whither Canada?" as a "Whither the washroom?" book, and we are all grateful for it. It started out as a simple idea. Gordon and his wife, Nancy (also known, to her slight irritation, as the Business Manager), the drive across Canada. Starting from Ottawa they drove east through Quebec ("Lac St-Jean is where everybody votes separatist and nobody speaks English and we are making good time and what is this trip about but being spontaneous, right? -- so left we go"), through New Brunswick, P.E.I., Nova Scotia, and Newfoundland, where they learned about "soap for the moose." From St. John's they headed west on a different route through the Maritimes to Montreal, Toronto, and Lake of the Woods (scene of the famous cottage in At the Cottage). Then it was west along what used to be called the CPR route (with memorable side trips to places like Sharon Butala's Saskatchewan ranch, immortalised in The Perfection of Morning) all the way to Vancouver and Victoria. Then, via Prince Rupert, they followed the Yellowhead Trail back through Edmonton and Saskatoon, hitting Flin Flon and Northern Ontario on the way home. They had a wonderful time, rambling around without an agenda, arguing whether today's view (the Gaspé coast, or the Cabot Trail, or Lake Superior, or Banff, or Long Beach) deserved a place on their Top Ten list. Another list soon developed -- the small towns they somehow managed to get lost in -- and because Charles Gordon is male and thus unable to stop and ask for directions, many interesting miles were added in this way. Further sacrifices were made by Nancy "for the book," including a visit to a Regina casino, but she drew the line at the West Edmonton Mall submarine. As well as these family dynamics we meet many Gordon friends and relatives, while memories of Charles Gordon's namesake and grandfather, the writer known as Ralph Connor, lend special meaning to encounters in Glengarry County, Winnipeg, and Canmore. If you insist on looking for conventional travel guide advice ("Eat here. Stay there") this book has some interesting twists. In downtown Fraser Lake, B.C., for instance, Nancy gets carried away and asks about the house white wine.… "'It doesn't really have a name,' the waitress replies. 'It comes in a big white box. Everybody likes it.' Nancy tastes it and she likes it too. Wait'll the big-shot wine stewards in T.O. hear this." Besides learning to look for wine in a big white box the alert reader will find where to ask for a Denver as opposed to a Western sandwich, and learn about the Thunder Bay delicacy known to one and all as a Persian. Ranging from moose to chipmunks, from a cool jazz festival to even cooler icebergs, and from the Prestige Motel to the Chateau Lake Louise, this book is a highly personal look at a country well worth visiting, witty and affectionate, a fact that its own citizens tend to overlook. As Charles Gordon, the perfect companion, puts it in his final paragraph, "What does Canada need, you ask, to enter the twenty-first century? More passing lanes. More ferries. Readin
Publisher: Toronto, Ont. : M&S, c1997.
ISBN: 9780771033896
0771033893
Characteristics: 346 pages :,maps ;,24 cm.

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Ron@Ottawa
Jul 12, 2014

Humour writer Charles Gordon's book is a bit dated by now, but for people with lots of time to kill this book of travel stories and a tad of humour may still be a worthwhile read.

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