My Canadian Atlas
By Rita Edison-White
While cleaning a closet last week, I came across the atlas we used when we left Halifax, westward-bound for Edmonton, Alberta. That was August 2001. What wonderful memories!
This was my first trip out West. My husband Godfrey had lived in Calgary with his family during his teenage years so the flat rolling land, the colours, the skies was not a novel sight for him. For me, however, it made me feel like a child full of hope and excited.
Our trip took us through the endless beauty of Northern Ontario, the farms of Manitoba and Saskatchewan and finally the Alberta border.
The road trip was to be the "holiday" part of the move, no talk of work allowed. However, we were coming to Edmonton not knowing what waited us. Just the rumors of "the land of hope," so work sneaked in to our conversations during the day and some sleepless nights. I wonder if this was how the pioneers felt?
Will we find work? Will we find a good place to live? Such a big city. What would the people be like? Was this adventure nothing more than a mid-life crisis type of decision? Was it reasonable to move this far to be with our daughter and granddaughter? You bet ya! (The first Western phrase I learned—you bet ya!)
Our first good memories of Edmonton was the day we arrived. It was close to lunch and we found ourselves downtown on Jasper Ave. We pulled up to a meter, time for lunch. After checking out the meter, we weren't sure if we had enough time to eat. The allowable time for the coins made it doubtful. While we we're standing on the sidewalk "bewildered”, a lady came out of her ground-floor office. We told her we were new in town (I'm sure that obvious) and she greeted us like old friends and said, “Just go and have a great lunch, I can see the meter from my desk, I'll look after it for you." After suggesting a few lunch spots she left as fast as she appeared—very quickly. What an ambassador. And what a great welcome!
After lunch we continued to a gas station. Our destination was 153 Avenue and 97 Street. At the counter Godfrey asked the clerk for directions to 97 Street. Before she could answer, a gentleman driving a white van said, "I'm on my way up 97th, just follow me." We did. We’ve been here 8 years. We own a small family business and life is great. Thank you Edmonton!