As we sat in a pub last evening listening to another Newfoundland band playing some great tunes, The Husband remarked to me that while it is obvious that The Rock has its own unique culture and is extraordinarily proud of that history and in maintaining it, he was hard-pressed to come up with anything that would remotely resemble an "Ontario culture". And as much as I am loathe to admit it, proud as I am of my home, I think that he is correct on this account.
Newfoundland is built upon a rich history stemming from the people's love affair and total awe of natural occurrence. Their livelihood depended on whatever the sea provided and however she might behave at any given moment. They have built memorials to those lost in maritime tragedies; written songs, poems, and elegies to celebrate and commemorate; and hate and loathe any government official who has ever tampered with what they view as their birthright, namely the fisheries. (The memories are long here. They still talk about the cod moratorium of 1992 in funereal tones.) The newfound wealth coming from the oil exploration just doesn't inspire the same sort of reverence as do stories of fathers and grandfathers out on cod and lobster boats. We have had several conversations with old timers who still lament the loss of their families history to government intervention. In Twillingate, an elderly chap saw us stopped at the side of the road taking pictures. He pulled over to tell us that we were at the former staging area for the cod boats. He sadly told us that his grandfather worked there proudly his whole life but that was all gone now.
So it is only natural that the people here are fiercely protective of everything native. The wildlife, the food, the language, the music, the self-mocking, (they can tell a "Newfie" joke but don't you dare) the history, the moose....they are all pieces that fit together to explain a rich and diverse heritage that is hopefully being passed down to the next generation....if only they would stay to absorb it.
Ontario? We have much to celebrate. Our cultural diversity, our natural beauty, and perhaps even our historic place in Canadian confederation. But unique? I am hard pressed to support that side of the debate. Maybe if we had a song or two? (Ontar-ri-ari-ari-o just doesn't cut it.)
A few random thoughts. Gros Morne national park is astounding. We hiked today in several locations and returned spent but happy. There is incredible beauty in a nature walk to the fjord, a climb to an abandoned lighthouse, and even in the remains of an old shipwreck strewn across the rocky shore.
If you don't like the weather here, just drive for 10 minutes or wait a bit and it will change. Today we were bundled up in layers at one point and decked out in tank tops at another. Crazy!
The Husband is still awaiting his first fully grown moose. He desperately wants a photo. I am all for the possible sighting, but would not like to see it happen while we are driving. The numbers of moose meets motor vehicle collisions are astounding. In the hundreds in some areas.
Here is a view of the wreck of the S.S. Ethie that has its remains strewn all over Sally's Cove since 1919.