When I finally arrived in Toronto (right after a tornado had touched down just north of the city), I was mildly shocked by the cooler, damp weather. By the next morning, the clear skies and strong sunshine indicated lower levels of pollution and I felt relatively well in this industrialized, highly populated area.
I regained my Canadian bearings in Whitby, a pretty city with tree-lined streets about an hour east of Toronto. As I attended to medical and other personal matters there, I appreciated the friendliness of the people and an organic restaurant near a conveniently located small motel called The Lucien. It is a family run business and I am a repeat guest over a several years. The rooms are clean, quiet and unscented per my special request. I don’t need a car there as everything is within walking distance or can be accessed by a regular bus system.
When my business had been completed, I headed down the highway for a special event:
my one and only nephew’s graduation from Grade Eight! In the Canadian system, this is the educational milestone one achieves before continuing on to four years of secondary school.
I was a very proud auntie indeed, as my young relative received top awards for science, geography and for his exceptional contribution to school music activities. The biggest surprise was his distinction as class valedictorian, and he delivered the address in both of Canada’s official languages, English and French.
I’ll just say, that with the bit of extra noise that I generated during the applause after his speech, everyone knew that I was ‘related’ to the young graduate!
Then I was off to visit my other brother and his wife. Edwin and Beth had met and married since I was last in Canada, so it was another joyful occasion. It was a delight to meet this lovely woman, and to get better acquainted. We had plenty to celebrate, as I was there between both of their birthdays . I surprised them with a delectable summer fruit cheesecake from the renowned Mariposa bakery about a half hour north of their city. They in turn spoiled me with all kinds of treats and meals. We parted with assurances that we would meet again in a few weeks time, after my trip to Nova Scotia for Aunt Vivian’s milestone 90th birthday.
While I was in the Orillia area, I took time for an all important face-to-face appointment with my longtime naturopathic physician, Shawna Clark, N.D. We consult regularly by phone, but there were a few tests that required my physical presence. This helped tremendously with my ongoing treatment of environmental-based health challenges. Shawna has helped me enormously to have an improved quality of life over the past 18+ years. Her professional assistance has been invaluable to me and I do not know what I would do without her highly trained, professional, complementary
medical knowledge and techniques.
Between all the above-mentioned visits, I spent one day in the big city of Toronto expressly to visit a friend from Dominica who had returned to Canada a few years earlier. I had promised John in our Christmas correspondence some months earlier that we would get-together this time so I could bring him up-to-speed on the latest news on the Nature Island.
On a beautiful Sunday morning, I took the GO train into downtown Toronto from Whitby and arrived at Union Station, not far from the CN Tower, just before midday. John met me across busy , congested and construction-clogged Front Street.We headed to Le Marche, a cosmopolitan eatery nearby for a freshly prepared delicious lunch and an intensive two-hour chat. As I provided John with my latest perspectives on my life as an expat in Dominica, he filled me in on his forays and projects. It was no surprise when he informed me that he was writing a book because he has “had an unusual life.“
I won’t give anything away, but I can’t wait to read it.
John is the kind of person who carries through with all of his goals. All best wishes, John!
After all my pleasant meetings in central and eastern Ontario, it was time to go’ down east’. On a clear Saturday morning, I boarded a VIA Rail train in Oshawa, just east of Toronto, en route to Quebec City where I would overnight before hopping aboard The Ocean to continue my rail journey to Halifax, on the east coast. It was a pleasant trip to Montreal, where I had one hour in between trains before the next departure to Quebec City. My only complaint is that I was not aware that baggage could no longer be checked. As such, I had to hoist my 20+ kilo suitcase on to the raised platform with minimal assistance. In doing so, I twisted my back and coped with the pain for the rest of my Canadian visit. Fortunately, I had visited my Canadian chiropractor, Dr. Leanne Bruni ,D.C. in Whitby the day before, and she had set me straight. Perhaps it is good that I had been adjusted before the start of the journey, otherwise it could have been much worse!
On the way to Montreal, I engaged in conversation with a young man who was sitting beside me. He was returning from a quick overnight visit to Toronto to take in some of the World Pride events. I quickly discovered that he is a heavy metal musician with roots in jazz and classical. From our discussion, he also disclosed that he was raised in two cultures with a French-Canadian mother and an English Canadian father – a genuine ‘Canuck’ if there ever was one! Although he looked the part of his style of music (body piercings, spiked hair etc.), he was a real gentleman – and even carried my heavy bag off of the train in Montreal! I have long ago learned not to judge people by their outward appearance – genuine souls reside in all guises!
The train transfer in Montreal was smooth and easy. I also started to practise my French! At first, I was a little shy, but it became easier during my two-day stay in Quebec. You’ll hear more about it in subsequent posts. I hope I will have made my French teachers at Alliance Francaise de la Dominique proud!
I really enjoyed day dreaming and watching the clouds, as well as the verdant, varied scenery that passed by my window. Occasionally, I worked on my new mini-tablet. Although the train rocked from side to side, thereby making my eyes and hands jiggle as I familiarized with this device, I quickly adapted. Below are some shots from my train window.
Next post: A Night and Day in Beautiful Quebec City!