Rediscovering Alberta

“ I saw in their eyes something I was to see over and over in every part of the nation–a burning desire to go, to move, to get under way, anyplace, away from any here… nearly every American hungers to move.”

– John Steinbeck, Travels with Charley: In Search of America

I gave the prairies a chance to steal my heart, but in the end, I could not make my home there. The Canadian prairies are stunning. Covid made it difficult to connect with people or establish relationships with fellow travellers or anyone else there.

Why Alberta people are so tough

Albertans are in general, hard bitten and tough. Survivors from the very beginning. By beginning I mean when homestead land was taken from the native Cree people and given to anyone willing to clear and farm 10 mosquito infested acres per year with just a swede saw, an axe, and an ox (if they were wealthy enough to buy one).

Thousands of would be settlers turned on their heels and headed back to Winnipeg, Montreal, or Toronto after they’d given their best and their all to the unrelenting wilderness that was Alberta well into the 20th century. I doubt there were any wimps among the 1000’s of people that stayed behind through Canada’s harshest climate and left a legacy of hundred of thousands of acres of cleared and cultivated land. From such tough stock grew much of the present population of Alberta.

How rediscovering Alberta led me home

No Alberta native, I grew up across Canada until I landed on the edge of Georgia Strait in the Comox Valley. By August, I knew the bleak beauty of the Alberta landscape would be overwhelming and way too cold for me when winter came. And then there was the whole house issue.

Did I really want:

  • To go back to owing money to a bank for a property the bank would (technically) own until the end of my payments on a mortgage or the end of my life?
  • The work and worry that comes with owning a house?
  • To give up the freedom that I am finally experiencing after a lifetime of working on houses that are owned by the bank that loaned me the money to buy them?

The answer to all of these questions is “No”:

I am currently free to go wherever I please, without the burden of any of the financial hardship that accompanies home ownership or any form of permanent abode. I am for now a nomad. My heart yearns to explore open roads, to see old friends and new vistas.

I have never been happier than with the simple life I am living in the Arfpod. For the time being, I will head home to the Ocean for winter and stay until May. Then travel back across the prairies when the weather warms and the fields were waiting to be planted with canola, flax and sunflowers. Where my newly walking granddaughter and grandson will be waiting for adventures with Nan.

So one inevitable day, it came time to say a tearful goodbye to my family and to a few new friends, to return to the Island. In my travels, I have found a few truths and a few lies and pretty much everything in between.

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