Thursday, July 15

Back in a big city

Well, I finished my tour of Ontario, and I'm finally in Manitoba.  Ontario is a helluva lot longer than I ever imagined, being about 2200 km from Ottawa to the boarder with Manitoba.  On top of that, I took the long way around, going through Northern Ontario, way up in Kapuskasing and Hearth, the last true French speaking holdout in Ontario.  Most of the places in the area were depressing, dirty, and generally not very interesting, but for whatever reason, Kapuskasing was very pretty.  Granted, I only spent a few hours there, but in a town of 9000 people, it was enough to see most of the sights.  Timmins and Sudbury are the bigger towns in the area, which are a few hours south of Kapuskasing.  They're the depressing towns that I mentioned, and are pretty anglosized as well.
After leaving Northern Ontario, I spent a few nights in Thunder Bay, which was overall pretty boring.  A few interesting things about the town (the only interesting things?) were that they have a pretty large Finnish community, as well as a very large aboriginal, First Nations (or whatever politically correct term is used now-a-days), population.  The Finnish population is the largest in Canada, which makes me wonder why in the world most of the Finnish immigrants choose to go to Thunder Bay.  If anyone has any idea, please share, because it beats the heck out of me.  They have such a large community that the Finnish section of the public library was bigger than the French, which for an Ontarian town is really saying something.
The thing that did impress me about Thunder Bay was that in a town of 100,000 people, about half the people that I saw on the street were aboriginal.  On top of that, the whites and aboriginals seemed to be getting along just great, which struck me as being amazing.  I've given this rant a few times in the past, but I think that reserves are downright horrible, and should be abolished.  After seeing the conditions on every single one that I've ever been to, and taking into account that most of the their youth are complete alcoholics, or even more charming, sniffing glue on a regular basis, the rigid preservation of culture may have to take a back seat if there's any hope of saving their future generations and giving them a chance at a decent life.  And in Thunder Bay things seemed to be just that, with an integration of the aboriginals into the city's society.   All of this is just my opinion, but I really do wish that the rest of Canada was moving along the same lines as Thunder Bay.
I was reading in the news that Canada ranks fourth this year in terms of standard of living.  I'm not entirely sure what factors are taken into account for, but it really surprised me.  We were leaps and bounds ahead of France, among other Western European countries, yet I see a
she!teload more homeless in the big cities of Canada, many more than I saw in Paris or any other major French city.  The only way that I can think of to explain it is that there must be a slew of other obscure factors that contribute to a country's ranking.  Then again, I've heard tales of how Muslim immigrants live in France, in areas known as les cities (needless to say, deplorable), but I've never been there.  So this may have also dragged down their ranking.
I'll probably stay in Winnipeg for a week or so to rest up after the exhausting last 8 days of going through Northern Ontario, tirering mostly due to having to hitch backroads which had hardly any traffic.  Unfortunately, it was the only way that I could see the parts of Ontario that I was curious about, since the bus service there was pretty much non-existent.  It also gave me a chance to meet and shmooje with the locals.  Sometimes a local would pick me up just to hang out, like one girl that stopped just to ask me if I wanted to smoke a joint with her.  It's gotta be pretty freakin' boring up there, especially for teenagers.  She had sort of a raver style going, but spent her days fishing, on account of having nothing else to do.  Still, it was her home and she said that she didn't have any desire to go anywhere else.
Still, standing for hours in the blazing sun while being eaten alive by bugs was a little draining.  Thank god for truckers, and the nice long distances they travel at very high speeds...  At any rate, Winnipeg means that I'll be around computers more, so I should be more punctual with emails.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

On Finnish people:

I think there is no particular reason why the first Finns chose Thunder Bay in the first place (random?) but I think the fact that there was a small community there made it so that all new Finns who arrived chose to move there because the others were there as well.

On Canada being #4: Sure, as long as you don't get sick. After watching Les Invasions Barbares (by the way, a very good movie) I only got reinforced in my option that Canada has third-world-country level of health services.

On traveling wherever you want by means of hitch-hiking: I would instead have a small car and go across Canada at a leisurely pace. On the other hand, you don't get to "mingle with locals" as much if you're in your car.

(cr) Dave.

12:26 a.m.  

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