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- Visiting North America
Travelling across Canada
I spent 12 days, from May 1st to 12th of 2013, to drive across Canada from the east to the west all by myself. Along Trans-Canada Highway 1 West, I passed through 7 provinces---New Brunswick, Quebec, Ontario, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta and British Columbia, and visited by 10 places—cities, town and village. Along the trip of over 6,000 kilometers, I saw through an indeed great country: vast beautiful land, modern cities, historic culture, and simple customs. Two things were most impressive to me: friendly people and environment protection.
Saint John is the largest city in the east maritime province of New Brunswick, and also the first incorporated city in Canada. It has long history and simple custom. I had lived in there for three and half years, and touched a harmonious society of nature and human beings.
Saint John River flows through the city center, lovely and sparkling, sea birds fly about, primitive woods along with crystal streams prevail in the whole region, historical buildings have weathered through hundreds of years but still stand securely..., all which, as well as the cool humid continental climate, culture and reflect a simple, straight, and peaceful folk custom: strangers say ‘hello’ to each other on streets, children voluntarily help others, bus drivers and passengers keep saying to each other “thank you” “have a good day” “see you”, and people go to churches on sundays... You may not see much fashion there, but you got to submit to the splendid and the glorious of Irving factory in the sea of lights under the night sky; you may feel the city is so (or even too) quiet, and thus lacks modernity, but you must surprise for the marked contrast between the up-to-date equipments inside university classrooms and the raw surroundings around the small campus.
My first stop after Saint John was Quebec City. I arrived there in the afternoon of May 1st. I visited the Old Quebec. Old Quebec is a historic neighborhood, a miniature of 19th-century French culture and history. In 1985, the Old Quebec was identified as a World Cultural Heritage.
I got to Montreal, the second largest city of the country, around noon time on May 2nd. As soon as entered the city, I felt busy, hurry, and strong commercial atmosphere of modernization. The heavily heavy traffic, together with the hot air current, made me cranky at the moment. However, I changed mind after a-whole-afternoon traveling on foot. Along with gigantic modern constructions and the crowd, those tall historical buildings stand imposingly on streets, everywhere, but nothing discordant, reflected on which the city reveals meaningful and irresistible.
Dr. Norman Bethune (1890-1939)---today, not that many people remember historic people. Furthermore, to be a member of Canadian Communist Party, he is a controversial figure. He devoted his last two years to Chinese in World War II, and made a rest to peace in China. Thousands of Chinese people go to Gravenhurst every year, his hometown in the east of Toronto city, to visit 'Bethune House' in which he was born, but they (including or especially me) may feel lost for few Canadian people know about or even against him. However, if people like reading, they can find a long list of books about him in libraries. To be a world-known surgeon, his medical career rose from Royal Victoria Hospital of Montreal, and a brilliant medical innovator. He invented 12 medical tools, and one of them is still on use today. He eradicated the currently deadly tuberculosis and shocked the whole North America; to be an excellent artist, he completed ten huge mural projects, which was called 'B.C.-Bethune's life' (which was unfortunately ruined with unknown reason in 1960s) , and initiated a children art school, in which the teaching method was completely modern; to be a passionate humanitarian, he established free clinics for the poor, roared at elitists' meetings, invented mobile transfusion system in Spanish Civil War field, and dedicated last two years to Chinese Anti-Japanese War. When was young, he was a student in Toronto medical school, and became one of the earliest members of frontier college. He married and divorced to his wife twice in 10 years, and Frances, who was from a noble Scottish family and 10 years younger than him, finally parted from him. He had an affair with painter Paraskeva Clark, whose husband was currently a famous lawyer in Montreal and one of Bethune's friends. However, in that affair, we cannot simply say who betrayed whom. His bad temper and restless personality tell that he is a real man!
I red through three books about him: i) Biography: Norman Bethune by Adrienne Clarkson, the previous General Governor of Canada; ii)The Scapel, The Sword by Ted Allan and Sidney Gordon. This book was unreliable because the authors, especially Allan, extremely admired their hero, and iii) Phoenix: The Life of Norman Bethune by Roderick Stewart and Sharon Stewart. Then, I turned my respect for a historical person out of entirely official publicity by the Government to an admiration to a brilliant personalized people. It would be better to value objectively history without any political or/and cultural strings. This time, in order to find this statue, I lost my mind to Google map, then drove through a red light. Luckily, nothing happened, and the police sir let me go.
Toronto city reminded me of my homeland, Shanghai city, that Oriental Paris in recent time. The crowd, the noise, the traffic, skyscrapers... prove a world-class international city, and witness the prosperity of modern civilization.
Ottawa is the Capital city of the country. Ottawa river is 1,271 kilometers long, and the divide line between Canadian provinces of Ontario and Quebec. The most classic ancient European Castle constructions spread over one bank, while modern buildings on the other bank. I did not pass this city this time. The pictures are from another trip.
After left Toronto city, I stopped by the town of Gravenhurst, the homeland of Dr. Norman Bethune. That is a really beautiful area, lakes, trees, opera house, churches...
On May 5th, I arrived in Saul Ste. Mary, an old city on USA border.
Between Saul Ste. Mary and Thunder Bay, I passed through Lake Superior, the largest fresh water lake on the Earth. Natural beauty lies in appreciation, while words are meaningless.
Then I spent the night of 6th in Thunder Bay, the second largest city in north Ontario.
Past the farms of Ontario, the prairies of Manitoba, the grasslands of Saskatchewan..., I got to Regina, the capital city of Saskatchewan, also my favorite city along the trip.
Calgary is a modern city. I would like to call it Toronto II. I was so attracted to Calgary's sky that I could not help take pictures with one hand through the windshield.
The most magnificent view and the most unforgettable feeling happened on 11th. Rocky was there!
On May 12th, I arrived in my destination, Vancouver, British Columbia, the west province of Canada. On the way, I finally saw the fresh greenness, my favorite color, in early May.
Thank our heavenly father to give us such unutterable treasures!
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