Thursday, August 11, 2011

The retirement Grande Tour

I have so many memories of life at the lake, the Shuswap of course. When I retired from teaching, I travelled down East to visit my daughters. Spent time first in Ottawa, becoming a new Canadian. I was baptised into the feeling of being at the center of a great country. Wyona and Greg were so hospitable. I had rented a car to drive to Ottawa and on to Montreal. On my way I was able to stop in Kingston to visit with our friends Spring and Clyde Foresberg. Then it was off to see Cath and Eric. I had been to Montreal earlier on one of my trips to the Arctic, to Resolute Bay, I believe, to cook for a geological exploration company. In any event, this visit was fun because it was with family. I remember Catherine taking me down town. We saw the oldest part of the city and its churches. Walked the cobblestone streets, visited the huge cathedral on the top of Mount Royal, and sampled some of the famous French cuisines, French fries and gravy—poutine if I remember, and of course those tourist’s staple, the beef sandwitches at that little cafĂ©.

From Montreal by airplane it was off to Fredericon New Brunswick to visit Steve and Rebecca and Alex, whose idylic childhood and surprising ingenuity filled our lives with laughter. Of course he was our first grandson, and his mother’s letters had been full of the amazing events told in the most delightful style of a great writer, his hiding in the cupboards and popping out to surprise his mother just to mention one. Rebecca’s tours of the oldest university in Canada and sitting in the desks once warmed by founding fathers who carved their names thereon. One of the highlight was to go with Rebecca to a meeting of an Native Indian band who were protesting the violation of one of their grave yards. It was chaired by a native lawyer who was so brilliant . These were a tribe of Indians who were here when the first Europeans almost starved to death, saved by the natives who taught them how to live in this new world. How connected I felt having just had my Canadian Idenity confirmed in Ottawa, and connected to Elizabethan culture and Shakespeare through university studies in English Literature. Here I was with a people who saw the beginings of Canada, and in a place where European Empire building got such an early toe-hold. How proud I was that Rebecca was able to start her career in such a place.

My last flight was of to the heart and head-ache land of early Mormon history: Kansas City Missouri where Bonnie was doing her Doctors Degree in Child Language Development. It was an unexpected surprise to find myself there. I had read the history of the persecutions of my great grand parents and the Prophet Joseph and his early Restoration band of pioneers, but I had never grounded it in geography. I found my self going to Independence where the Centre Stake of Zion was to be. Visiting the Reorganized Church’s temple, reading the extermination order of Governor Boggs, and a copy of the appology of the current Governor to the reorganized Mormons for the injustices the state had perpetrated on the Mormons. Bonnie let me make trips to famous spots. To the dungeon where the Prophet spent the winter, and penned some of the most moving passages in the D. & C. A visitor’s centre had been built around the dungeon. A senior Misionary couple were hosting. I had an informative visit about the political events. The elderly gentleman had worked for ZCMI, had worked closely with many of the General Authorities, and gave an excellent analysis of early American history. I thought of the printing press that the Missouri mobs destroyed. It seemed ironic that printing presses became a kind of liet motif of Mormon history, and keeping records a preoccupation of Mormon practice.

Visits with Bonnie and her friends were intereting. Her boyfriend at the time invited us to have dinner with his mother. Some other friends also came. In conversation with one friendly chap of whom I wondered how long his people had lived in this area. “We’ve lived here for many generations,” he cheerfully noted. “Then some of them were here when the Mormons were being chased around in these woods?” “Yes,” he proudly replied, “We helped encourage them to keep moving West.” What a nice light touch there was to his history.

1 comment:

  1. you have a great memory! Thanks for reminding me of those adventures in New Brunswick!