I grew up in Toronto in the late 1960s/1970s and while we never feared the Russians - they were too far away and they lost THE hockey game ('72, Paul Henderson my Hero!), but the Americans were there and big, and we grew up with this niggly fear that one day they would have had enough and come calling. One day they would want our water, our oil... and if climate change continued they'd want our wheat fields and our northern ports. The question was always would you accept them or try to fight them. It came up for discussion again during the Quebec Separatist Referendums.
Both Canada and the US have changed hugely since those days. We are perhaps not quite so wholesale admiring of what the US has to offer but many of the blatantly socialist policies, combines with an "inclusion at all cost" mentality that we have taken on isn't universally popular either. So this is what might happen if we continue down some respective paths...
The old man walked slowly up the aisle and took a seat in front of the Congressional Committee. He was old, very old, and arthritic, and walked with two canes. Most had never seen a man so old. He was plainly dressed as were the two pretty young women, his great-granddaughters, who accompanied him. His blue eyes were sharp and missed nothing. He looked at the young whippersnappers, sleek and well stuffed into their fancy suites and considered going home. ‘But no,’ he thought. ‘We have come a long way and even if they won’t hear me, what happened will be on record.’ In a clear voice with its intriguing trace of a German accent, he began.
“My name is John McConnell. I am one hundred and two years old and I am here to testify regarding what is now historically called “The Great Relocation”. It happened the year I was twelve. Now some might say that I am not the best person to testify but there are very few of us left who can and the record is important. My parents, Jan and Jones, were amongst the selected. I am one of the Relocated.”
At his words, there was a gasp and then the room went silent. The members of the public, the historians with their pencils handy for revisions, the Congressmen, members of the military… they all sat silent.
“On the day it all began…” he started and then stopped. He took a sip of water and then started again.
“The 401, in case you have never driven it, was the original highway to Hell. The southern line of the Trans-Canada, it took you from Windsor to the Ontario-Quebec boarder, where it changed its numbering and continued on to the north-east through Montreal along the south shore of the St. Lawrence, past Levis and to points further east. In the old days, when my mother was a child, there were big rivalries between the Toronto Maple Leafs and Montreal Canadians. Gas was cheap then, and bosses saw value in the camaraderie of days off, and the traffic flowed unceasingly. But those days were long passed by the time I was twelve. Days off had become few and far between as employers demanded and got 12-hour workdays and woe betide the slacker or one in need of a ‘mental-health day’. Not being a team player was a criminal offence and accepting a job was on par with a fly landing on a spider’s web, a version of the ancient 1960s song “Hotel California” where checking out and leaving were not possible. Then again the cost of going to Montreal from Toronto was beyond what many could ever dream of affording, although I do remember advertising for cheap package trips to Florida. So vacations were still theoretically an option. In any event, the 401 had become a form of commuter hell, as carpooling vehicles vied with transport trucks.
From the time I was born, my mother and I travelled regularly to the Children’s Hospital in Toronto. It was always an adventure for me – so many machines and things going on. It was so different from our daily life, but the procedures were not always nice. On the day our world changed forever, we were coming back from one of those trips…”