My window seat

The great Canadian road trip deeply influences every traveller, perhaps disproportionately the young. For many, it’s the first time their senses have confronted the massive scale of Canada—the ever-shifting time zones, the mind-boggling distances, the immense diversity of terrain.

This past summer we asked a young Canadian for her reflections on the journey across Canada. Fiona travelled by bus from Ottawa to Vancouver—her first time experiencing Canada by road. Her journal entries first appeared on our Facebook page in 2016. Here are a few highlights.

When I was a child, my family took trips to cottages and campgrounds to experience the outdoors. I’m grateful; it’s given me an appreciation for nature that will stay with me for the rest of my life. Taking the bus across Canada is strangely comparable. I am on a bus, not in the woods, but I am experiencing the country more profoundly than ever before. It’s a powerful lesson in Canadian geography.

But the trip’s greatest lesson so far is the importance of transportation, which comes through crystal clear when you understand the true scale of Canada.

You really can’t prepare yourself for the extraordinary variety of landscapes. Seeing it in photos is one thing. Moving through it in real time is transformational. Every Canadian should have to make this trip—even if it’s only to meet other Canadians. In a country as vast as ours, we must do all we can to make connections with each other. Everyone I meet is from somewhere else, sometimes thousands of kilometres away, yet we are all Canadian.

As a kid, I was never in charge when I travelled. I was just along for the ride. On this trip I am in control—not just responsible for the logistics of travel, but also thrilled by the feeling of being in charge of my own direction in life. It seems to affect my relationship with the country and the environment, or maybe it just gives me a different perspective on myself. I may not be behind the wheel, but at every stop—in every new town and city—I know I’ve reached there on my own.