When I think of quintessentially “Canadian” moments, I usually imagine them taking place outdoors, in some spectacular natural setting.
Whether it’s hiking up the side of a snow-capped mountain, pitching a tent at the edge of a glassy lake, or strolling along a forested trail, beneath old-growth cedar and fir trees that stretch toward the sky, Canada means something different to everyone.
Of course, for some, it might be a spectacular view of a mountain, lake or forest from the vantage point of a pricey hotel room. And that’s OK, too.
If I had to pick my most “Canadian” memory, I suppose it would be a collection of summers spent camping at One Island Lake, back in the late ’70s and early ’80s.
The small lake, which features, as its name suggests, a single, tree-covered island, is located in a relatively isolated provincial park, about an hour’s drive southeast of Dawson Creek.
Back then, it had a smattering of cabins along its eastern shoreline and was surrounded for miles in every direction by dense forest, all of it accessible only by gravel road.
One of those cabins belonged to a family friend, who would occasionally invite us out to spend a few days. It was a rustic wood structure, with two bedrooms, separated from the main room by sheets hung in the doorways.
It had an old wood-fired stove and a few basic pieces of furniture. As I recall, there was no electricity or running water.
It didn’t really matter how well appointed the cabin was or was not, though, because we tended to spend every possible minute outside.
It was heaven on Earth.
A few steps from the front door, there was a short pier for diving or launching a small boat. A short walk along the shore, brought you to a rope swing, for those who were more daring, and wanted to put some real distance between themselves and the beach.
She also had canoe in which, I suppose, I first learned to paddle. I recall being out on the lake at twilight and hearing loons call — always an oddly forlorn sound.
I remember trying to re-create the effect, cupping my hands and blowing across the space between my thumbs, while flapping the fingers of one hand up and down. Mostly, I re-created the sound of rushing wind.
Although it’s been decades since our last visit, that little cabin at One Island Lake is still one of the first snapshots that enters my head when I try to visualize “Canada.”
As the nation celebrates 150 years, we’d like to hear from our readers about the places that make Canada special for them. We’re inviting everyone to send in photos and related stories about the places they’ve lived or visited — or a favourite spot they return to, time and again — that best illustrate what it means to be a part of Canada.
At the end of each month, from now until Canada Day, we will publish special Canada 150 sections, featuring stories, photos and interviews with Langley residents about what Canada means to them, whether they’ve lived here their whole lives, or have only recently come to call this country home.
If you have a photo — or several photos — that you think encapsulate Canada, please send them to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Include the location, as well as who took the shot and why you chose it.
We look forward to seeing how you picture Canada.