Last week, I drove across Canada with my friend Karen. (Well, she drove, and I sat there being useless, since her car is manual and I can only drive automatic.)
We started in Toronto, our hometown, and finished in Vancouver, where she’s doing a 6-month internship. (I’m flying back home in two weeks.)
Most people were confused as to why we would willingly drive across Canada at all, let alone in winter. But we thought it would be cool to see what the middle of the country looks like—and it was!
For example, to take that first photo, we drove down a dirt road off the highway and got out of the car.
We took the Trans-Canada highway the whole way, so of course we had to listen to Neil Young’s song Bound for Glory, which starts “Out on the Trans-Canada highway, there was a girl hitchhiking with her dog.”
Neil Young songs were pretty applicable to the whole trip. I was excited when we passed the town of Blind River, because I like the song Long May You Run, and it goes “Well, it was back in Blind River, in 1962, when I last saw you alive.”
(I always assumed he was talking about a person who died, but I just learned—while looking up the lyrics for this post—that it’s actually about his beloved old car, which broke down, forcing him to stop there.)
And when we were mostly through Saskatchewan, westward bound, we listened to Four Strong Winds, which starts “Think I’ll go out to Alberta, weather’s good there in the fall.”
We also listened to “Helpless,” which starts “There is a town in North Ontario.” But that song is about the depressing side of small-town life. 🙁
And it is depressing.
Ontario small town starter pack
– Pawn shop
– Payday loans center
– Value Village
– Abandoned shopping carts
– Gas station: full-service only
– LCBO with bars on the windows 
– OntarioWorks employment office
We were really surprised at the number of churches, given how small the population is in these places.
In Thunder Bay, we even saw this sign:
In other, less depressing news…
Karen wondered why people don’t drink pigs’ milk, so I looked it up and found this amusing answer about a chef who “experimented with different ways of milking a pig”:
More things we saw
The Big Nickel.
Enormous Canada goose statues in Wawa, Ontario.
Several herds of buffalo in Manitoba. We started seeing them when we weren’t even an hour past the Ontario border!
People ice fishing.
People playing hockey on small outdoor ice rinks.
This cool bridge.
Some insanely dirty cars.
A tumbleweed blowing across the highway divider in Saskatchewan.
Bobbing oil derricks in Alberta.
People having a picnic in the park—in Calgary, in January. (They were wrapped up warmly in coats and hats.) “Could anything be more Canadian?” I said. “Well,” Karen said, “My parents once told me about a Canadian caption-writing contest, where you had to complete the phrase ‘As Canadian as…’ and their favourite entry was ‘As Canadian as possible given the circumstances.'” We agreed: it was as Canadian as that.
 In Ontario, all the liquor stores are operated by the LCBO, which stands for Liquor Control Board of Ontario.
 “Why don’t we drink pigs’ milk?” by Kevin Pang. The Takeout. thetakeout.com/why-don-t-we-drink-pig-s-milk-1798251565