Odd Thoughts: Round about as big as it gets

Start in Victoria. Stand on the edge of the bluffs in Beacon Hill Park, overlooking the Pacific Ocean. You can almost imagine seeing all the way to Japan.

It seems almost forever as you look out over the blue waters and off into the horizon. It takes 22 hours to fly to Australia.

But you can walk farther than that and stay right inside Canada all the way.

Walk down to the ocean and dip your toes in the clear, salty water, wander along the seashore to the northern tip of Vancouver Island.

Take another glance west from Cape Scott Park before rounding the tip of the Island and following the shoreline to Nanaimo.

There, you can catch a ferry from Departure Bay to Horseshoe Bay… and now the real journey begins.

Head north, still along the shoreline, cut overland from the southern tip of the Alaska Panhandle into the Yukon, mosey on over to Inuvik, and continue following that endless, relentless coastline through the northern territories, tracing out Hudson Bay to Nova Scotia.

That’s Canada.

There are countless islands along the way – Ellesmere and Baffin are among the bigger, better-known ones – you could circumnavigate along the way. And certainly, you’ll want to outline Newfoundland.

But even without them, it would be a hefty route from Victoria to Halifax that would take a longterm commitment: about 30 km per day, each and every day for about 25 years.

You’d walk far enough that, if you were to walk straight up, you’d get further than two thirds of the way to the moon – not quite far enough to let Luna’s gravity take over and allow you to fall the rest of the way!

Or instead, you could get into your car and make a beeline for the Atlantic at Halifax: about 5,000 kilometres down the road.

That’s Canada, too.

Either route – or any of a massive number of routes between the extremes – you’ll be passing through some tremendously beautiful country.

Geographically, Canada is the second largest country in the world, second only to Russia, our neighbour just across the pole.

But there’s more to Canada than sheer size. In fact, most people around the world have absolutely no idea just how big this country is. They see it on a map, but they have no idea.

Remember when SARS in Toronto took a huge dent out of B.C.’s tourism market?

Forest fires in B.C. leave people around the world fearful of trips planned to the Atlantic provinces – no idea how big this country is.

Even people who have lived here all their lives often don’t really comprehend the distances.

The distances are great enough to accommodate different thoughts, different viewpoints, different ideas, even different cultures.

Sometimes, the distances between Canadians are great enough that we don’t see what much  the world sees in us. This is a country filled with people who struggle – sometimes against each other, but mostly with each other.

This is a country where anger over the distances between our ideologies may rise to a national level – but pointed refusal to say “please” or “thank you” is usually about as violent as most arguments get.

This is a country that was born of peace instead of war, and has a proud reputation for promoting and nurturing peace wherever it might be found, or wherever it might be encouraged to take root. People in other countries look to us with hope because of that. They look at Canada and know it can be done.

The rest of the world doesn’t always understand just how big this country is, but it often sees us better than we do ourselves.

Ah! Canada!

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