Sunday, 27 November 2016

Cars, Journeys and Change part 4

It was 1974 and moving west was the furthest thing from my mind. At the time I was sharing a flat in Halifax with three other girls. At least, that was who officially lived there but with four young single women living in one place there were often more than four of us around the kitchen table. It must have been January or February, with thoughts of the long cold Nova Scotia winter ahead, when two of us started talking about a vacation in Florida. My flatmate owned a car and my parents owned a place in Florida so all we had to do was to find the money and time to go. How that morphed into five people selling all their stuff to take journey down to Florida I don’t know, but it did. 

At first it was just the five of us who were going, two of my flatmates and I, the second flatmate’s boyfriend and his cousin. When the car owner’s boyfriend heard about the trip he insisted on coming along too. It was his diving tanks that completed the load on the roof rack. There wasn’t enough room in the car and trunk for six people and their luggage. It was a ’65 Acadian stuffed to the gunnels with luggage and bodies; three women and three men. It’s a good thing most of us were young and skinny!

We headed west as far as Montreal to pick up the house keys from my parents. Then it was off to southern climes. It must have been March by then and snowing in Montreal. As we headed south the weather got warmer and so did our tempers. But we were out of the northern winter and getting along for the most part.

 This was a better view than the snow in Halifax!

The time in Florida was great. We went to Disneyworld, Daytona Beach and the Florida Keys all the while making my parent’s house in Kissimmee our base. What an adventure, we had all the time in the world or at least a long as our pooled money would last. As most of our group were friendly Nova Scotians, we inevitably made friends. It must have been a few of those friends who broken into my parent’s place and stole our stuff while we were away exploring. 

After that, reality set in and we decided that it was time to go back to Canada. But where? We had given up the flat in Halifax so that didn’t seem like an option. Four of us wanted to go to Montreal and two wanted to go to Vancouver. Since the two who wanted to go to Vancouver were the car owner and her boyfriend, we were Vancouver bound.

Wednesday, 23 November 2016

Cars, Journeys and Change part 3

In eastern Canada cars don’t last very long. The long harsh winters with all their ice and snow necessitate the use of lots of salt on the roads. The salt eats away at car bodies so they rust away in a matter of a few years. It is unusual to see cars on the road that are more than seven years old. 

In Vancouver cars bodies last so it is not unusual to see cars that have been around for fifteen years or more. And those are just every day cars. The older classic cars come out on fine summer days. But when we first got here, it was the winter days which were the most amazing to us as we were used to winters in the east. Instead of parka, toque and boots; it was warm enough to wear a simple jacket in December. 

It was not just the weather that induced so many young easterners to join us in the west. It was the call of opportunity. Our group from Nova Scotia established ourselves in Vancouver and soon the word got out. More friends, family and acquaintances made the journey down the Trans-Canada Highway and over the Rockies. 

This was chain migration in action. It was a movement of people similar to the Scottish settlers who followed each other to Canada in the 1800s. As they had done, we stuck together in a community. But we differed from those older settlers in that we weren’t banding together against the wilderness of the new land, there were more single people than families and instead of ships and wagons, we settlers headed down paved roads in our own cars. Like the Scottish settlers some of us made our home here and some went back.

The trek across North America from Halifax to Vancouver must have been long and tiring (especially through Ontario which was one construction zone after another in the summer). But we, the group who started it all, didn’t set out to go to Vancouver.   


Haywood, John. The Great Migrations: From the Earliest Humans to the Age of Globalization. Quercus, London, 2008.