So, a few weeks ago I was clearing out my emails at work & I came across an email from Mr. Windle, who I have had a couple work related encounters & I happened to notice a link at the bottom of his email, which when I clicked it took me to Lulu – a book self publishing company. There I found The Conquest of Canada, which I immediately bought, then uploaded to Thor (my kindle, in case you didn’t know that). My first regret is that I did upload it to Thor because it was sooo difficult to read! See, it is a PDF document, not a kindle file, so the print was about 1/4 the size of what is written here & even with my glasses I found it very difficult to read, especially first thing in the morning.
The Conquest of Canada is a travel journal of the trip that James & Netta Windle took to Canada in September 2007. They flew to Vancouver, where they spent about a week before heading into Alberta, then getting the train across the country to Toronto, then onward to Quebec, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, then back to Quebec before flying home to the UK.
Like all my other books I have read of late, I read The Conquest of Canada while on the bus, traveling to & from work. When I started out I was really excited to read what Mr. Windle & his wife thought of Canada, never dreaming they would have anything but a good time & a positive experience. Only, they didn’t. Don’t get me wrong, there were positive experiences that they had, but as I read, I found myself initially doubting what they had written could possibly have happened, then that doubt was replaced by horror at the behaviour of my fellow Canadians. I was shocked to read that Mr. Windle had been warned that Canada was not a very tourist friendly country. That’s something I have never heard in my life! I know loads of people who have traveled to Canada & they all had nothing but good things to say – raving about what a beautiful country Canada is & how friendly & wonderful the people are.
A couple times in the journal the Windles wrote about how the most friendly person they met was the car rental person in BC – who was not from Canada originally. They also said something that really baffled me, which was that when Canadians are asked a question they only answer the question as it was asked, with no elaboration. As in, ask a Canadian if they know the time & the answer would be “Yes”, and nothing more. Seriously? Have I never seen this because I am Canadian & I am used to it? I don’t think so, and I am pretty sure I have never experienced it. If I had I would have thought that person was incredibly rude & I have no recollection of anything like that in my home country.
I found some of their comments about the B&B’s they stayed in to be pretty snide & some of them were pretty mean, too. I have to admit that I didn’t like the comparisons to how things are versus the UK. I’m sorry, but Canada, even though it is a member of the British Commonwealth, it isn’t the UK. It is a different country, with different customs, a different way of doing things, and different people. In other words, it isn’t England or the UK. So, I was annoyed by the constant comments about how different mobile phone service was, how the food wasn’t the same/as good as the UK, the references to how the service they received was worse than anything they received in the UK, etc. That said, I loved following the Windles across Canada, with their stops in places that are so familiar & beloved to me (Banff, Toronto, Calgary, Montréal, Saint John (my home town), Nova Scotia & Northern New Brunswick.
What I wish more than anything though is that I could have met the Windle family before their Conquest of Canada – I know a million better places they could have gone, things they could have done, things they could have seen!