Canada

Happy 150th Birthday, Canada

(Click on each photo to see a larger picture on a separate picture page.)

To all of my Canadian neighbors to the north, I wish all of you a very warm happy birthday.

Canada is more than just a neighbor to me and my country. It is my former employer. I worked for more than eight years with the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade (now called Global Affairs Canada). I served “queen and country” (the head of state is the Queen of England, FYI) at the Consulate General of Canada Seattle and the Consulate of Canada Anchorage, which has now closed.

In my work as a political affairs and information officer, I helped to promote Canada’s foreign policy and trade activities in the United States. The two countries, during my employment, were the world’s largest trading partners. They share the longest un-militarized border in the world. Canadian men and women serve side by side with American men and women in joint military activities. In Anchorage, where I worked, Canadian Air Force personnel served on AWACs planes that were deployed in the arctic to monitor for Russian military incursions and other possible threats. The list of our common interests could run pages.

I also had the good fortune of traveling widely in Canada. I visit the Yukon Territory, British Columbia, Saskatchewan, Alberta, Ontario, and Quebec. I loved every province and territory and have wonderful memories, even during my winter trips.

I learned to appreciate the “Canadian way” of governing. They have managed to create a single-payer healthcare system, started in 1966 through the Medical Care Act, that makes America’s overpriced and inefficient system look like the failed system that all data show it is. They do not allow the mass sale and widespread distribution of firearms (Canada has a national gun registry), like their American neighbors. Canada has affordable and world-class universities that enable their lower- and middle-class youth to climb ladders to success, compared to their debt-burdened student counterparts south of the border. I could go on how they do it right.

So while not every Canadian may be happy today, including many First Nations residents who see independence as a reminder of lost rights and colonialism, I think most of us can share in the happiness that comes with 150 years of providing the world with a model how to co-exist and lead in an era of conflict. Bon anniversaire, amis!

Prince Rupert Highway downpour drive

I drove the Prince Rupert Highway (Highway 16 in British Columbia) twice. I first drove it in 2004, when I headed up to Alaska in August that year. I returned the same way in August 2010. I used the Alaska Marine Highway ferry from Prince Rupert to Haines, Ak., both times. I loved this road. It’s about 500 miles from Prince Rupert to Prince George, where one makes a sharp right on the Al-Can to head back south to the lower 48. These shots were taken in a very intense storm. I took the pictures from inside my car, while driving. The beautiful road cuts through the coastal range along the Skeena River. It’s one of my favorite drives in all of North America. But I was in a hurry then, heading back to Seattle, to find an apartment, start a grad program, and to leave Alaska forever in the rearview mirror. (Click on each photo for a larger picture on a separate picture page.)

The Yukon Territory in the early morning

 

Twenty-two years ago I first came “into the country” to Alaska via the Al-Can Highway through the Yukon Territory. This was taken in 2010. The scenery is beautiful, and the land is harsh, and the mosquitos plentiful, and the economics mostly mining in these parts. (Click on the picture to see a larger photo on a picture page.)