July 04, 2017

My Home and Native Land by Susan Barclay

Point Pelee
I don't know what it's like to grow up as a First Nations Canadian, but I know what it's like for a white Anglo-Saxon protestant whose family has been here two to three hundred years. My maternal grandmother's ancestors arrived from Londonderry, Ireland in 1768, while my grandfather's predecessors emigrated at least as early from Cork. They settled in Nova Scotia and Newfoundland respectively, pioneered the land and fished the sea. We can well imagine, looking from the position of all our modern conveniences, that the hardships were many and life fragile. Most of us take their perseverance for granted, but we stand on the shoulders of their labour.
Grand Pre, Nova Scotia
My grandmother's parents were farmers. Of their eight surviving children, only three were boys and as young men all were keen to relocate to Ontario for work. After a time, they persuaded their parents to move as well. My grandmother, the youngest child, was seven then. When she was twelve, her father succumbed to influenza. Her mother remarried but developed stomach cancer, and by fifteen my grandmother was an orphan. She went to work as a seamstress in one of Toronto's infamous sewing factories.

Heart's Delight, Newfoundland
My grandfather also lost his father at a young age. He too was the baby of the family. His older siblings left the "rock" for Toronto and he and his mother followed when he was fifteen. But my grandfather didn't like it and they returned to Newfoundland for two more years. When he was seventeen, they came back to Toronto for good, but it would be another 25 years before Newfoundland joined with Canada. For years Grandpa worked for the iconic Canadian company Massey-Ferguson.  

At the New Brunswick border
During my growing-up years summer vacations included only a few destinations, and unless we were camping in Ontario they all began with the letter N: Nova Scotia, Newfoundland, and New Jersey (where my aunt lived with her husband and family after marrying an American). No one in my family traveled by air and it was a long drive to the east coast, but we entertained ourselves with I Spy, the Alphabet Game, and I Packed My Grandmother's Trunk. And thank goodness for the radio, though it wasn't much help in Quebec when you only had grade school French!

Quebec City
These were the years that included the grade 6 class trip to Ottawa and the grade 8 trip to Quebec City. Memories were made indeed! I have a photo of Prime Minister Pierre Elliot Trudeau just after he emerged from his limousine on Parliament Hill, and I'll always remember my first taste of tourtiere and the visit to Ste Anne de Beaupre. 
Pre- Confederation Bridge days
After university, and as my grandparents aged out of long car trips, my Canadian travels expanded. My mother and I drove to Prince Edward Island one year and took the Ontario Northland Railway to Moosonee another. I took my first plane trip and went to Vancouver alone. Several years later my husband and I took our children to Alberta. We drove through the northern United States, then up through Lethbridge and Calgary to Banff and Lake Louise. We came back to Ontario through the prairies and Manitoba. All of it was beautiful and very different. We are blessed to live in a country with such diversity.
Capilano Suspension Bridge, British Columbia

Alberta badlands
At the RCMP Headquarters in Regina, Saskatchewan
Margaret Laurence House, Neepawa, Manitoba
I am proud to be a Canadian through and through, born and bred. I am fortunate, I know, to have visited all ten provinces, though there is so much yet to see. My bucket list doesn't include the territories and Nunavut - I don't expect I'll ever make it there. But my husband has never been to British Columbia and I wish I'd gone as far as Vancouver Island when I was so close. This summer I get to go back to Gros Morne National Park in Newfoundland, then up to the Viking settlement and across to Labrador which I've never seen before.

Moosonee, northern Ontario
I could go on and on about my love for this great country, all that it represents and all that I've been privileged to see. Instead I'll conclude with this final thought: it's so easy to take what we have for granted. Let's do something different in honour of Canada's 150th birthday this year. Every person has a voice. Every Inscribe member has a gift for words. Let's take up our pens (or whatever tool you prefer) and make a stand for what we believe is required to keep Canada one of the best places in the world to live. Write articles, blog posts, letters to the editor, your member of parliament, your MPP or MLA. Canada has a great past. Let's do our part to shape its future, that God's hand of blessing would continue to rest here.

God keep our land glorious and free.  
In addition to her posts here Susan maintains a website at www.susanbarclay.blogspot.com


  1. What a great post! It brought back many memories. We took our children on a cross Canada trip way back in 2002 and visited every province. I've been to Grose More National Park in Nfld as well as lans Aux meadows (the viking site) - definitely a highlight!
    I've also had the privilege of living in two out of three territories and i just have to say that the Yukon is actually the most beautiful part of the country. You shouldn;t miss it - put it on your bucket list!

    1. Thanks for sharing your response, Tracy. I was thinking that I really *should* put the territories on my bucket list, and now you've confirmed it! Looking forward to L'Anse aux Meadows - in just a short while, God willing!

  2. What a delightful story, Susan. I learned a lot about you in this blog and I strongly recommend that we all take another good read of your last paragraph. In a nutshell you say, "Let's take up our pens (or whatever tool you prefer) and make a stand for what we believe is required to keep Canada one of the best places in the world to live."

    I used to do write more letters to the editor and politicians in the past to express, hopefully, a voice of reason to a troubled world. We can present our Christian worldview in a reasonable, rather than dogmatic, way. We can share the compassion Jesus so loving taught us. Through our living and our writing, we can give glory to God and make a difference in our world that is crying out for a better way.


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