At home – together - Shawn Loughlin editorial
During a recent Zoom meeting with my neighbours, it appeared Newfoundland and Labrador were the big winners. Two of the five couples identified the island province as the best vacation they’ve ever had, while others expressed their desire to visit.
This isn’t a love letter to ‘The Rock’, though I’d be happy to write that someday (I was one of those two), but rather a love letter to this magnificent country of ours and a chance to take a second to appreciate all we have here.
In recent years, Jess and I really wanted to focus our attention on our home country. As our neighbours to the south became more and more overt with their unsavoury behaviour after the election of Donald Trump (yes, we, as a household, think he sucks that much) we felt we should be spending our money here in Canada, seeing all there is to see here, rather than pining for far-flung, exotic locations.
There is so much to see and do in this world and, don’t get me wrong, I’m far from turning my back on it (Germany, France and Italy have my name written all over them someday – and this comes after a lovely honeymoon split between Ireland and Scotland), but it’s foolish to turn a blind eye to the beauty of Canada.
There has been some talk about this locally, with David Sparling of the Blyth BIA planning for more domestic travel in the coming years as the world rebounds from the COVID-19 pandemic. But for me, it’s just about getting to know the country I call home and being proud of all we bring to the world.
In Scotland, I talked to a few bartenders in Glasgow who hoped to visit western Canadian spots like Banff and Vancouver. Furthermore, they were surprised I’d never gone. Those places were, after all, in Canada, right? They weren’t wrong, but I helped them brush up on their Canadian geography detailing the four time zones and five-hour flight between Toronto and Vancouver. To understand where they were coming from, it helped that I had just taken the hour-long train ride from west coast Glasgow to east coast Edinburgh.
But it did get me thinking about all I was perhaps missing by looking over the fence, as it were, instead of at my own lawn.
Canada is a great place to live, we all know that (and the Quality of Life Rankings back us up on that, with Canada holding the top position). To experience something different, so many of us look beyond our borders when the time comes to kick back and enjoy our hard-earned vacation time. But, if my Zoom meeting and the residents of the east end of King and Wellington Streets are any indication, it seems it can be worth staying “home” for that time as well.
Like Citizen Founder Keith Roulston said in his column last week, being self-sustaining is looking like a sound strategy after years of running the other way. This can be true with our tourism dollars as well. The world has plenty to offer – this much is true – but Canada does as well and it’s too easy to dismiss what we have here in our backyard for no reason other than that it’s familiar.
When I explained my love of Newfoundland to my neighbours, I said it was this beautiful, rugged landscape, surrounded by incredible ocean views, but not burdened by droves of international tourists and gift shops with inflated prices for worthless trinkets. It’s almost like the world’s best-kept secret.
With the exception of cities of international renown like Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver, this could be said about our entire country.
The secret is ours – we are in on it. And we need to take advantage of it.