Wednesday, 2 October 2013

CANADA - THE CANUCK CONNECTION

Canada - The Canuck Connection

( Canucks is a term now used, affectionately for all Canadians though originally, it was meant for only French Canadians)


Beginnings are always tough; do I start from the very beginning or do I pick a thread and wade through the ocean of memories. I am not a great storyteller, nor do I fit the bill of a jet setter globe trotter.I am no expert of the language, whatsoever. But yes, I have stories to tell, for, every travel you undertake,your eyes see a story unravel, your mind feels one and your heart lives it. My heart has lived a thousand such stories and so I share these with you. I would take the liberty of skipping the index, chucking the dates, missing the chronology and more often than not, drifting into deliciously refreshing flashbacks.
   The narrative here, begins with a quaint sleepy village, Hillsdale, near Toronto, Canada. Now why would anybody land into this unknown, obscure hamlet of 200 odd houses, is a question even I was asking myself. We were visiting this side of Ontario province,Canada as part of a Friendship Exchange Programme, were being hosted by Canadian families and thus, Hillsdale it was. For anybody who is from my part of the world would understand and empathise with my anxiety in surrendering to the prospects of having to live, for a good part of my vacation, in a village. Vivid images of thatched roofs, mud tracks and meandering buffaloes danced in my mind. Hillsdale didn't live upto this mental sketch I had conjured, though. Thinking back, our Canadian experience would have been nothing to write back home about if it weren't for places like Hillsdale, Muskoka and Washago and most of all people like Dan, Mike, Steve and Janet, our hosts, our friends,our companions on this fantabulous journey through the Canadian wonderland. If not for them, this holiday would have been another on the list of Google Searched, hackneyed,cliched trip covering the typical bestsellers and I too would have added a word or two to the sundry eulogies dedicated to Niagra Falls and gushed about the Yukowa river journey! Instead, we were zipped off , away from Toronto, away to unheard, unchartered territories ( Tourists don't usually pick a Barrie-Hillsdale package over Toronto-Niagra Falls holiday...).
CANADA DAY
And thus, we arrived in Hillsdale ; one of the many tiny breathtakingly beautiful hamlets in Canada, maple trees standing proud on either side of the road, cottages in neat little rows, similar yet with a distinct character of their own and tranquil that leaves no scope for fatigue. If this were a village, what was a fairyland made of .....Our hosts welcomed us into their home and after some delectable hors d' oeuvres showed us our dig for the next ten days. The room was at the basement level which opened into a backyard and the backyard merged with forests of thick pine; no outer boundaries, no hedges or fence, no barriers .......and most of all no latch on the back door!
OUR TEMPORARY HOME IN CANADA

THE BEAR
When asked about whether it was safe this way, and if there were any burglars who might wanna try their luck, our hosts just brushed it away laughing,"Oh, no worries.No thieves around. Though a bear might come wandering.'' I didn't sleep that night, was it jet lag or was it the image of a bear hovering over my face; can't say!                                                                                                                                        

HILLSDALE
                                                                                                                                                                         
 Next day, before I could breathe in the fresh air of the pines, take a relaxing dip into the outdoors heated pool or soak in the colour of riotous petunias: we were whisked away to Muskoka by our home hospitality team. An overnight stay at a lake facing cottage, speed boats, bonfire, camping, cooking, dancing;stuff dreams are made up of and dreams we were about to live now, in this moment! Now that's another story that my family dozed off during the lunch at a hip joint at the boulevard and that once at the cottage, we slept our way through the afternoon, all promises of helping Mike, our host for the day, with dinner, forgotten and all concept of time zoned out. Finally, reluctantly at first, we opened our eyes to witness the most heavenly scene on earth; the lake infront had a haze, a mist engulfing it, the trees far beyond were nothing but a blurred blue green outline, as if the clouds had condescended to walk on water just for this one day; just for us. We lay there mystified. , trying to absorb the moment, soaking in the spectacle, thankful, that we had chosen this room with a glass facade-our gateway to paradise.                                                                                                                                                                  
THE PIER

THE LAKE
                                   


MIKE'S COTTAGE
AMAZING MUSKOKA
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     
WHAT EVERY CANADIAN  LOVES!!   
 Over dinner we learnt what a 'Wife Saver's Casserole' ( My husband remembers it as Wife Beater's) meant, from Janet who made us one and then we went in search for our marshmallow sticks for, we were told that, 'to fire your marshmallows, you have to find your very own perfect marshmallow stick.' Some two hours later, post a beautiful bonfire on a perfect night, a lot of chatting, laughing, singing and dancing together; we finally called it a day but not before discovering that they are passionate about their hockey which is nothing like our hockey and instead of ground, is played on Ice. The next morning we went for a ride on the boat while my son learnt maneuvering the ATV; we lazed  around watching the ducks feed and tried to land our feet in the cold freezing waters of the glistening lake while our host friends were enjoying water skiing.How I envied their adventurous spirit, their passion for outdoor sports, their agility and their youthful energy.          
WANNA GO BACK AGAIN
                                  
ATV

ETCHED ON MY MIND

THEIR HOCKEY
LAKES ALIAS HOCKEY GROUNDS
 Our next stop was the bizarre abode of an eccentric artist, Peter Camani- THE SCREAMING HEADS!! Right in the midst of nowhere (ok! granted that its near Burke's Fall) , amongst overgrown shrubs, unkempt gardens and stretches of wilderness, lives this artist in a weird castle surrounded by these amusing Screaming Head sculptures(??) carved out of stone; its crazy, its whacky, its wicked -goes on to show how eternally whimsical an artist's vision can be. Thank you Dan, for taking us there.
SCREAMING HEADS


   Tomorrow we head towards Niagra Falls and CN Tower but what I would most remember is The Green Room which changes colours and which is not a room, the black river and meeting Dragon!! Till then I hope there would be no nocturnal rendevouz with any bears....



P.S.
# All Images/Photographs used are either clicked by self, family or friends.
#All places mentioned are at a distance of approximately, 2-3 hours drive from Toronto.
#Muskoka lake area is a popular summer destination for domestic tourism. Lake front cottages are available for hire. People also travel in campers (buses/trailers modified into mobile homes) and park here for the season.
#Hillsdale, we are now proudly aware, is transformed into a popular ice skiing destination as winters arrive.
#Souvenir shops on the way to Muskoka, Burke's Falls, have plenty of amusing, interesting, quirky artifacts on offer, do stop to take a look.
#While on your way, you might have a chance encounter with a Moose or two. Drive carefully.
#Box stores are nicest in Huntsville, made famous by the 36th G-8 Summit held here in 2010
#Someone once told me, the best souvenir(other than the stamp on your heart) that you can bring back from a holiday, is a bottle of perfume half used. The scent would always remind you of the happy times.
#  Lastly, Canada is a place for many reasons and many seasons. Picking a favourite, from the  glistening lapis lakes shrouded by green pines in summers or the flaming fiery autumn colours or for that matters the pristine white of the crisp snow in winters, is next to impossible. Canada tempts you , bewitches you and casts a spell on you. It tells you, Once Is Not Enough!                                                                                            
MY HOSTS AT HILLSDALE :)


CANADA!!
HALLOWEEN SCARE



MYTHICAL BLACK RIVER -Yes we were here!!
DRAGON 

BLACK RIVER RIDE
AUTUMN KNOCKING




I AM STILL GAPING!!


DAN'S GREEN ROOM

GREEN ROOM NO LONGER GREEN

CANADA CALLING!!
 PHOTO CREDITS
DAN HERBERT
MIKE KINSEY
STEVE THOMPSON
JANET STEAD
JEETENDER GUPTA


3 comments:

  1. Mam, really nice,it seems you have taken us to that beautiful world.The langauge, composition and style of writing is praiseworthy. Think of writing a book ? -MG.

    ReplyDelete
  2. you have a very adventurous life :)

    ReplyDelete