As a kid of the 50’s, air travel was really starting and certainly not something my parents thought of or could afford.
But when I think about it, I realize that they both came from other places and landed in Vancouver, British Columbia. So they also wandered from their homes.
My father was from a farm near Marshall, Saskatchewan. Marshall is very close to the Alberta/ Saskatchewan border and was a very typical, small farm town. Wikipedia says that there is a population of 533 (in 2011), and the only picture they display is a Grain elevator. (below) If you are unfamiliar with Canada - Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba are the heartlands of Canada. Saskatchewan was once considered the “breadbasket of the world” as they supplied wheat to the world.
My father left the farm during WWII, he joined the army by lying about his age, and never returned permanently. Dad never managed to go overseas. Still, I imagine that after seeing other parts of Canada, it was enough for him to decide that a large city like Vancouver was preferable to Marshall. Especially with a whole lot less snow!
What I remember from the trips that we took to Marshall every other year was playing in the barn and laying in the haylofts. My cousins had calves for pets, which we would name. And fuss over. I rode horses in the fields and marvelled at hectares of wheat and rapeseed. We ate the most delicious corn that we had picked. Life there was quite different from my life in the city.
Mom was from Powell River, British Columbia, which is on the Sunshine Coast north of Vancouver. This area of BC was initially inhabited by Coast Salish peoples of the Tia’amin Nation. My grandfather went to Powell River to work for the pulp and paper mill built there in 1912, which became one of the largest in the world for a time. Most of Mom’s family worked there at one point or another. This was not something that Mom wanted to do, so she left for Vancouver.
Vancouver isn’t really that far away from Powell River. However, because of two intervening and long, steep-sided fjords, the construction of a continuous road system from Vancouver to Powell River is not possible. To get there, you must take two separate ferries with a 2.5 hours drive between them.
We spent lots of time in Powell River. I had many cousins there close in age. Time there meant summers at the cottage on the lake, sleepovers at my cousins and fishing with my grandfather. A totally different experience from the farm.
The most extended trip we ever made as a family was to Montreal for Expo67, driving with my Powell River grandparents and dropping in on my Saskatchewan grandparents on the way. We spent two months travelling across the country. That’s a distance of approximately 4,600 km or 2,860 miles. Two weeks of that was just getting through southern Ontario - where my Grandmother was born.
As a 13-year-old most of that trip was spent with my head in a magazine - remember Tiger Beat?!
Maybe because I made those trips so frequently, maybe ‘cause it was always with family or maybe ‘cause I had my head in a book - but I was never aware of how much I enjoyed seeing other places and being somewhere else.
But the trip that probably got the wanderlust really going was to Oahu. My Mom’s work gave her a packaged tour to Hawaii, and she took my brother and me along. I came home from that trip and tried to figure out how to move to Hawaii.
Why did I want to go live in Waikiki? The humid, fragrant smell when you get off the plane, the climate (always my favourite climate) and the beaches. I imagine being far away from my parents was also an appeal. It just felt like somewhere I would like to be. It was a beautiful, wonderful playful place for a single girl.
But how was I going to work in the United States? How was I going to save enough to go back? How long would it take me? Could I work under the table and stay there?
Being a single young woman got in the way. I started dating someone, fell in love and married him. Hawaii was left behind. But that didn’t end the Wanderlust - just delayed it for the two years we dated.
This reminiscing is excellent, but I am still not answering my question as to when Wanderlust set in.
Maybe it was when we honeymooned in Europe. We sold everything we owned and flew to London the day after we got married. For months before, I had mailed every European consulate (this was 1975, pre-internet) and asked for information about their country. It was inspiring getting those packages in the mail and imagining the places we could go to.
We had no set agenda as to where we had to be or when we had to be back. We spent two sweltering weeks in London in August. Because we were young, we were always given the top room in any of the b&b’s we stayed in, and they never had lifts or air- conditioning!
As a young couple, we weren’t big on the idea of hostels, and we kept pretty much to ourselves. A lot of that trip is pretty hazy now. When I think about travelling then, I wonder how we managed without the internet to find places to stay and things to do. But we always did manage.
We covered a lot of ground in the two months that we were there. We went from London to Ireland, Scotland, France, Switzerland, Holland, Germany, Italy and Greece. And I really loved it. Maybe that’s a post for another day - if I can get my memory back.
BUT I wanted to come home. I wanted to be Suzie Homemaker and play with all of the gifts that we had been given for our wedding. So back we came. ONLY to wish that we had stayed longer with no responsibilities and no jobs.
MAYBE IT WAS THAT LOST OPPORTUNITY THAT HAS HAD ME ACHING TO TRAVEL EVER SINCE.