July 20, 2017

Oh Canada, Home and Treasured Land by Joylene M. Bailey

I wrote the following for my own blog in celebration of Canada's 150th.  And it is perfect for the topic this month:

We camped.

That’s what we did every summer when I was growing up.
My birthday is at the end of July and I don’t remember many birthdays at home. Our temporary home was a used tent trailer.

I didn’t know it at the time, but my parents were giving my brothers and me a priceless treasure. We traveled from coast to coast. And as I look back on it now, I understand where my love of this great country – Canada – comes from. It comes from those summers of traveling with my family.

Every year, Dad would plot our trips. He usually started a month in advance. I remember him at the kitchen table with maps in front of him, and that camping reference book – I think it was from CAA.  It listed campgrounds, how many sites they had, how much they charged, whether or not they had flush toilets and showers, etc.

Back in those days we couldn’t go online to check it out or to register. We didn’t call ahead.  We just showed up, expecting a good spot. And we usually got it. I remember only one time when we arrived to a completely full campground, and we set up in a gravel pit instead. I also remember many times that Dad would leave our cash payment (anywhere from $6 - $12 over the years) in an unlocked wooden box when we left. I doubt if you could do that nowadays.
(Mom tells me that our first year of camping we bought a National Park sticker for $7 and the total camping fee we had all summer was $20.)

Mom didn’t relish getting ready for camping. When we got older, my brothers and I had to pack our own clothing, and entertainment for car travel, but she had her same lists from year to year … everybody’s clothing, toiletries, kitchen gadgets, linens, bedding, pots and pans, games, first aid, food. And she spent about a week shopping, gathering, and packing. But she did enjoy the camping once all of that was taken care of.

I am so grateful they took the time for this because as I look back now, I understand. I understand it was a great undertaking, but also a great privilege to experience my country. I understand now that not everybody had this chance. When you’re a kid you just assume everybody does what you do. But I’ve learned that not everyone grew up with the amazing opportunity I had to absorb my own vast country. Thanks, Mom & Dad.

Barkerville, BC

Drumheller, AB

What wonderful memories we made:

Panning for gold in Barkerville, BC
Riding a dinosaur in Drumheller, AB
Visiting the RCMP training grounds in Regina, SK
Touring the International Peace Gardens in Boissevain, MB
Feeling the spray of Niagara Falls, ON
Roaming the halls of the Parliament Buildings in Ottawa, ON
International Peace Gardens
Exploring in Old Quebec City and the Plains of Abraham, QE
Watching the Reversing Falls Rapids in Saint John, NB
Climbing up Citadel Hill in Halifax, NS
Marching at the Fortress of Louisbourg on Cape Breton Island, NS
Pretending at Green Gables, PEI

These were fun tourist attractions full of history and fascination. But more than that, I learned to appreciate the geography of this wonder-inspiring country.

Columbia Ice Fields, AB/BC

I’ve clambered over the smooth stoned Pacific coast and listened to waves lapping the shore. I’ve wandered the red sand beaches of Prince Edward Island and breathed in the healing salty air. I’ve played in cool lakes that were so clear I could see the bottom through four feet of water. I’ve run screaming through long grassy fields scaring up grasshoppers, squinted across sun-skimmed ice fields, and splashed in hot springs surrounded by mountains whose crowns disappeared into clouds.

All before I grew up and left home.
What a gift!

Rushing River Provincial Park, ON

And what a treasure, this country.

Oh Canada! I am so blessed to call it my home and native land.  


Joylene remembers childhood summers from her home in Edmonton where she lives with her Cowboy, Babe, and a cat named Calvin. Find more of her writing on her blog, Scraps of Joy.


  1. Such wonderful memories! I love the pictures too.

    1. Thank, Vickie. When I asked my Mom for photos, she was concerned that they weren't good quality but ... I told her the vintage look is IN! Haha. I love them too.

  2. Enjoyed your memories and pics. My childhood also involved camping, though only from Ontario to Newfoundland. I didn't get to see the rest of the country until I was past my mid-twenties. Our children have been from AB to NL camping, and sometimes I've wondered if it was worth our effort. All they seemed to want was a playground. You've made me think that perhaps someday they will appreciate the size of the undertaking...

    1. Yes, Susan, your children will definitely appreciate it someday. Also, Newfoundland, and the Territories are still on my bucket list.

  3. A wonderful gift indeed! We also went 'camping' every summer, but usually to Waterton park. However, my husband and i did a cross Canada trip with our kids before they left home. We truly live in a wonderful country!

    1. It is the best country in the world. :)

  4. You truly were blessed. The joke in my childhood family is that the only time we vacationed or traveled was when we moved lol. That being said, I lived in four different provinces and am slightly amazed when I think about what I managed to see and experience even without a true vacation. Canada is so incredibly large. I've enjoyed traveling a bit more as an adult but still have so much more I'd like to see. Enjoyed your post. It really describes our beautiful country and what a peek back into time with the differences in camping from then and now.

  5. I think we don't realize what we are learning or even experiencing when we are children. It is only when we look back that we can say, "Hey! That was pretty cool." And actually living in four different provinces gave you true experience of place. So you were blessed too! :)

  6. Joy, are you sure we're not sisters, or at least cousins? My Dad pored over CAA maps too, planning each day out of our summer camping trip. We covered the continent as well, and I'm sure we saw every museum, cemetery, and any free landmarks between here and Florida. We must have crossed paths at least once, us in our orange and green tent trailer, and you in yours! What good memories!! 😊

  7. Our tent trailer was green and white. Haha. And yes, we covered most of the continent too. We must be related somehow!

  8. What wonderful memories. We and our five kids started with a tent, worked our way up to a 'converted' school bus, much appreciated when it rained. I recorded the trips in scrapbooks that are now tattered from being looked at so often. They included sand from a desert and napkins with logos. Our kids are all campers, and have enjoyed many exciting trips with their kids.

  9. I did this trip with two girlfriends, which I really enjoyed, but I think it would be marvellous to go cross Canada with family. These holidays are the making of great memories. My parents did shorter trips with my sisters and me when we were young, and our kids still talk about the holidays we had together.


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