Monday, 19 January 2009

walls/bridges/ and Canadian regionalism

In 1877, my great-great grandfather built a new house -- a beautiful stone house for his large blended family. I almost thought this house, along with tales of my great-grandfather's squandered inheritance, were fairytales. But this week I saw the house -- or at least a picture of it. Still standing. Still occupied.

The house still stands, but the family that once lived in it has scattered. The walls could not hold them. In fact,'walls' may have scattered them.

The lady who made time to tromp through snow covered rural Ontario to find my great-great-parents' land also sent me a picture of a bridge her grandfather built. A beautiful curved wooden bridge. It, too, stills stands after 100 years. Apparently, her grandfather built bridges in Western Canada too. I'm keeping my eyes open for them.

Aren't bridges beautiful things? Not only do they get you from one side of a deep ravine or a raging river to the other, they are beautiful architecture. Useable art.

I live in a city where more joggers, getting fit along the coulee top trails, turn east to look at the huge viaduct spanning the river valley than west to look at the outline of the Rocky Mountains and Porcupine Hills. Canada Post put our bridge on a stamp once.

Groups, like TWG are bridges too, linking people of diverse backgrounds in many regions of the country -- even beyond. Too often we talk of walls: rights and regional competition. What 'they' did and how we carry more than our fair share of the load. Too often we hold onto to our grudges and prejudices. Too often we take pride in building thicker and thicker walls and hurling insults at our kin -- and we are all kin if we go back far enough.

We love our walls, but we need more bridges,especially in Canada.

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