Like many of my country men and women, I thought I learned everything I needed to know in school, especially back in the 50’s when learning knowledge, mostly by rote, filled out school days rather than the technology which seems to dominate the current curriculum. I believe that both do have their time and place. After all what was taught 200 years ago would probably not fill more than a year of learning today.
Although I feel like my education was complete, I know now that nothing is as important as being able to apply the information or knowledge or skills to real life. For example, taking typing lessons way back in the 60’s helped make the transition to computer much easier. Two finger typing seems to take twice as long. I never knew how that choice would affect my life, but being able to type has made a difference and for the better.
Still skills didn’t make up the whole of my education. History and civics were also important parts of the curriculum. After school, I travelled to London, England years ago to work and study. At times, during those years in London, it felt like I was walking through a history lesson because I was able to see where events read about in the books really happened. I love the application of learned knowledge!
But, what about all that really non interesting Canadian history? I finally started exploring this great land of ours thirty years ago, with every intention of visiting every province and many of our own historic sites before I got too old. Well I have reached nine out of ten provinces so far. There is one more province and the territories still to come. An early trip to Québec City helped to begin to put things in perspective and touching the Atlantic and Pacific oceans which border this nation seemed like a perfect rite of passage for amateur explorers. I still had lots to see but events changed in my life which put a halt to the travelling. I became an armchair writer instead.
After a long break from road trips, I finally got back on track and I have to thank my grandchildren for being the impetus. ‘Teaching what you know as the way to immortality’ is a millennium saying attributed to Dalai Lama. Since I often mention my Granny and how much information she left with me, it became clear that my immortality lay with my grandchildren and if I wanted them to carry my wisdom into their adulthood, I should do things with them and help them to learn just as my grandmother did for me.
I must say that making the decision to hit the road again was different. I would be the only driver. Our first venture out was pretty successful. I enjoyed revisiting a couple of places that I had enjoyed with my children. The shorter trips didn’t turn out too bad and I decided to make a much longer journey with the older boys. However I was determined that the second trip would be a journey into history. The nation’s capital was our destination.
Who could not be aware of the significance of Ottawa. I am a political junkie. Growing up in Toronto left me jaded about big cities but to go to the capital of our country and step inside the Houses of Parliament was a completely different experience.
We listened to the guide talk about the role of Government, the way in which the buildings came about, their significance, and why each room had its own importance. As a writer, the words and the stories were awe inspiring to me and not surprisingly to my grandchildren as well.
What was even more strange at the time, was the unanimous decision that the Parliamentary Library was the highlight of the trip. We saw the changing of the guards, the house and the senate rooms, a monster statue of hockey legend Maurice Richard, The Museum of Natural Civilization, The fabulous Candian Mint, took an bus/boat ride through the city and yet the library was truly a work of art and well worth seeing. Who knew that two boys, who would rather pick up a Game Boy than a book would be enthralled in a Library?
I was excited to learn about the French Kings of Canada before we became a British Colony. That is a part of history which we never learned. I am still pleasantly surprised at the genuine pleasure I felt, not only from sharing the time with my grandsons, but also with the application of knowledge learned years ago and the joy of still being able to learn something interesting and delightful about this country we call Canada.