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My image of Canada

by Sandra Gulland
Toronto Monthly Meeting (Quakers)
Toronto, Ontario, Canada

I am an American-Canadian; I've lived half my life in each country and am a citizen of both. I think of the States as my birth country, and Canada as my adopted country.

One of the attractions for me in adopting Canada was that it was bilingual. For me, that was something that really made Canada different from the States. And too, I have always been very much attracted to the French culture.

Decades later, I find myself very deeply involved both in learning French and in studying French history (researching a trilogy of novels I am writing based on the life of Josephine Bonaparte). In studying history, I begin to see the complexity of the relationship between England and France: the hostility between the two is centuries old.

For me, one of the images that sticks in my mind regarding (in an extremely simplistic way) the differences between English and French Canada came 20 years ago, during the first serious energy crisis. We, like most Torontonians, had turned off the Christmas tree lights. Toronto was dark and gloomy; but in Montreal, the city was ablaze with light! In Montreal, the thinking was: If this is the last of the light, let's enjoy it!

Now I think of English and French Canada as oil and vinegar: not a natural mix (they separate easily), but so much better combined. In terms of cultural balance (not even taking into account the logistical difficulties and economic losses), I think English Canada would suffer greatly without French Canada.