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Oh Canada!

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The feeling of car sickness sweeps over me. “Mom, I don’t feel so great,” I complain. “We’ll stop at a gas station soon, honey,” she replies. It will all be worth it once we get there I say to myself repeatedly. And as I console myself, I know that after this three day drive up to our neighboring country, it really will be worth it once we get there.

Since both of my parents were born in Canada and grew up there, my family visits relatives in Canada every other summer. It may not seem as exhilarating as, say, France or Spain, but Canada is always as special as ever for me. As hard as it is to believe, my family drives to Canada, for the good ole’ money’s sake. Sometimes the car ride seems never-ending, but we try to make the best of it, because we know what is ahead of us after crossing the border.

The first place we go in Canada is in a small town near Winnipeg, Manitoba called Selkirk. My mom’s sister and her family live on a farm, with acres of land spread out across them. As we ride up the bumpy road eventually leading to their house, I stare out the window, mesmerized by the fields of wheat, flax, mustard seed and other things of nature. Once we make it up their long driveway, the feeling of running into our family’s embrace, after not seeing them for two whole years, is uplifting. Even though we will only have the painfully short time of five days with them, it’s so nice to finally be with them.


As the days swiftly skitter by, it seems as though I am lost in my own little daydream, almost as though our five days with my mom’s side of the family (she only has one sister) are packed into one single day, because before I know it, the day that we have to leave the farm has quietly but surely crept up. The horse races-betting on horses and watching disappointingly as the one you bet on is in last place, the hours of laying lazily in the sun after playing volleyball, the intense ping pong tournaments with my cousins and siblings, are all over and it is time to continue our second half of the journey. As we wave our goodbyes and blow kisses, my family once again back in the stuffed car, I smile to myself, delighted with our visit.

Our next destination is Coney Island, Ontario. On Coney Island (not the famous one in NYC), also known as Lake of the Woods, my grandparents own a spacious cottage, big enough to fit at least half of my dad’s side of the family. I start to get really giddy while we are waiting for my Uncle Michael to pick us up from the creaky dock on which we are standing. At last, I see him nearing the dock, disturbing the peaceful lake with his obnoxiously impressive boat. He picks us up and takes us to the island, where my dad’s five brothers and their families await our arrival. I go to hug my weak grandpa, and he returns it with a somber yet placid smile. This is when I realize I am home.

The days once again go by amazingly quickly. We lay on the beach, soaking up the sun after leaping into the cool lake. We have our traditional fish fry and top off our last night, staying true to the Cortens tradition, by having a talent show. While my sister and I harmonize, singing “Bye, Bye, Blackbird”, I sneak a glance at my grandpa and notice he is wearing that same smile I saw when we first arrived.

The next morning, we pack up our stuff and head out to the dock, where we will depart. After many hugs and kisses, we drive away on the boat, and I watch my many relatives get smaller and smaller…until they are out of sight. As the wind whips across my face and a tear slides down my cheek, I wonder if life could get any better.





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