Katimavik Part II: They Yelled at Us!

Late in 1979, my Katimavik group left its friendly little Quebec village near the New Brunswick border. We had spent the previous three months getting to know the people there, working on community service projects, singing by guitar all evening, eating bean stew and whole wheat bread, and taking care of the environment.
We boarded an airplane (if the guitar had been out, we might have been singing some John Denver) and headed for the west coast. In Victoria, we were met by a military bus. Katimavikers know what to do with a bus; on a bus, Katimavikers sing! And that’s what we were doing as we entered the gates of the Esquimalt military base for our three-month military option rotation. Our group leaders (military officers) were there to meet us. We were slow getting off the bus, and they yelled at us!
This was a big shock to us sensitive granola-crunching tree huggers. But we got used to it. Katimavik is, after all, supposed to introduce young Canadians to different ways of Canadian li…

Tales from the Trail Part II: Bruce Revisited

In four short years, my sister Mary and I went from being the smallest children in the family hiking trip

to being the only children in the family hiking trip.

By 1978, my two older siblings had other things to do with their summers. These four years transformed us from foot-dragging children into teenagers that charged on ahead of their parents. This was probably the same year as that other famous reversal in our family…in which it was my eager parents dragging their sleepy teenagers out of bed on Christmas morning.

We decided not to pick the trail up where we left off four years ago. We had found out how long it takes to get anywhere on foot, and it would have been impossible to leave the heavily populated regions of the trail. Instead, we started our hiking trip at the other end of the Bruce Trail. Driving up the Bruce Peninsula in a rented car, we parked in a municipal lot in Tobermory and set off.
At this end of the trail, we enjoyed the same splendid escarpment as at the other e…

Elsewhere Part III: Tales from the Trail

My family’s 1974 summer vacation happened because of a geography book that was lying around the house. Our book about Ontario included several pages on the Bruce Trail, and we decided to give it a try.We had done lots of camping already but had never attempted a long hike. My siblings and I pored over the book, estimating speed and distance, coming to the optimistic conclusion that we could get close to the end of the trail at Tobermory. We even equipped ourselves with a snake-bite kit, in case we made it to the Bruce Peninsula and encountered one of those fearsome Massasauga Rattlers. This just goes to show how little non-hikers really know about distance. It’s just as well that we weren’t really determined to finish the trail. In our three-week vacation, we barely made it off the Niagara Peninsula.
My family and I set off on this adventure in our usual fashion, which was by walking to the Longueuil Metro station. Fully equipped with knapsacks and hiking boots, we rode into Montreal w…

Strike! Part II: The Demise of a “Rattling Good Paper”

In 1912, my great uncle Loring Christiewrote a letter to his parents, describing a political convention he had attended in Chicago. Before launching into his description, he said:
You would get some ideas of it from the paper I sent. And looking over the copies of the Montreal Star that accumulated during my absence I find they had a very good story of it - and further they had very well informed, intelligent & shrewd editorial comment on the situation as it developed. (A rattling good paper that, by the way - it excites the admiration of many of my friends here.)
Sixty-six years later, the Montreal Star was still going strong and I was one of its teenage readers.It arrived at our door in the late afternoon. I liked to lay it out on the living room floor and flip through it when I got home from school.The other Montreal paper, the Montreal Gazette, appeared at our door in the morning. It actually belonged to Champlain CEGEP’s library, but was sent to our house so that Mom could b…

Guest Blogger: An Account of Expo 67

On April 29, 1967, my family took its first expedition to the newly opened Expo 67.Soon after, my mom wrote an account of the day. Here is that account.I was five years old.My grandparents weren’t there that day.This photo was taken some other year (not sure which) when they came to visit.  My grandmother must have taken the picture.
Left to right: me, Mom, Mary, Grandpa, Murray (behind Grandpa), Kathleen, Dad
High excitement and a few howls at breakfast and dressing and leaving activities. But we got away bright and early for us--9:15. Drove over Victoria Bridge with dire warnings from Murray and Kathleen that you can't get to Expo from Victoria Bridge. They proved right—they and the map. We had to first get into Montreal and pretend we didn't come from the South Shore, and get ourselves onto the new express highway that rolls down beside Expo and under the Victoria Bridge. There, we kept getting waved on because we weren't a taxi or a bus, and finally stopped, facing the …

Fun Canadian Stuff: Waiting for the Summer Fair

When my family went to the west coast in 1975, we spent a day at the Pacific National Exhibition.There were rides, cows, and a demolition derby…all in the pouring rain. I was in heaven.These big-city events are one way for urbanites to get a taste of the county fair: the exhibitions, the rides, and maybe a circus.As a Canadian, I got to enjoy all of these on a national level.But I had to wait.
The Exhibition When my siblings and I were very small, my parents took the family on short expeditions after church every Sunday.I clearly remember hanging out at the St. Lambert locks, watching ships rise and fall.One Sunday we ended up on a hill beside the Saint Lawrence river, looking at a pair of islands.They were crawling with machinery.Even though I was only five, I must have been listening to my parents’ conversation, because I know, all these years later, that these were the Expo islands.

We had fun at Expo 67.But first we had to wait for the islands to be built, and then for each unique pa…


I grew up in an interesting place. Quebec had parties, politics, sports, and some cutting-edge schooling.It also saw a little bit of trouble, which we could all have done without.But something else was going on in Quebec while I grew up there: a revolution. I was in the middle of it but didn’t see it; it was too quiet.
My family’s day-to-day life was lived in the worlds of the Protestant school and the Anglican church. We knew our Francophone classmates and neighbours, and we heard lots of French spoken at the public swimming pool (I once ended up in an all-boys swimming class because the registrar thought I was Jean-the-French-boy, not Jean-the-English-girl).But we didn’t know the Francophone world well enough to be party to the profound shift in culture that was pulsating around us.
But I can look back and see that it was there.The revolution was already underway when my family arrived in St. Lambert, our Montreal suburb, in 1965. The remnants of Quebec’s recent past were still rattli…