I straddle the line between two cities. In fact, two provinces. I am currently sitting in my office in my one city of one province and I can almost see my apartment, which is located in another city in another province. One province is French – my first language and the language I use most often at work and school and with my family. The other province is English – the language I speak to my friends in.
I am French Canadian, with an emphasis on the Canadian part. I was born and raised and have lived in Quebec all my life (except for the six months I was living in Trento, Italy – another city in which I straddled the lines between two places). My family, both on my mother and father’s side have never strayed very far. I have one uncle, and with him, comes my aunt and two cousins who live in Vancouver. And up until my two brothers moved to Ontario, those were the ONLY people living outside of Quebec. I’m not even kidding. On my maternal grandmother’s side, my family came over from France in the 1600s. On my maternal grandfather’s side, my family came over from France in the 1600s. I haven’t done my paternal side’s family tree yet, but I can only imagine that my family came over from France in the 1600s.
How’s that for being Canadian?
Ontario and Quebec are two of the four founding provinces of Canada, with New Brunswick and Nova Scotia rounding out the new dominion. In 1867, Canada became a country and a federation. All the colonies that became part of Canada were once part of New France and ruled by France. A struggle between France and Britain led to the colonies being British. That is who we got our independence from. Our Head of State is the ruling monarch of the UK; our langauges are French and English. The history of Canada is fascinating, but the dicotomy between the two remains prevalent.
I went to elementary and high school in Quebec; followed by two years of Cegep. I did my bachelor’s in Ottawa; and my masters as well. I have worked in municipal organizations, federal government and crown corporations. I basically bleed red and white.
Even now, I am doing my master’s degree in French but take English electives.
So what does this have to do with turning 26?
I know, I’m also wondering how i got here. But it’s important. HANG ON A SEC WHILE I GET THERE!
On my 26th birthday, I did all the wonderful things I love to do in the cities I belong to. Cities. Because I live and breathe in both. I work and love in both. I’ve thrown up in both. I’ve drank in both. My best friends live in both. I eat tacos in both. Thankfully, someone made this a little easier for me and gave the area a name. NCR. National Capital Region. It is the official federal designation of the capital of Canada. But unlike Washington D.C, or Mexico City, (fun fact – while I was writing this, I learned that Canberra is also a capital district and is a separate entity – WHO KNEW?) other capital districts, this was isn’t governed on its own. Both cities that are a part of it fall under the governance of their respective province. That is where I live. It emcompasses everything about the area and it’s a pretty cool acronoym. So much cooler being an NCR socialite rather than a Gatineau-Ottawa one. And while it certainly doesn’t explain the stretch I feel being part of these two places, it’s a start.
If someone were to visit me, in the NCR, this is what we do:
On Friday, I took the day off work. I ran errands for two hours, finding my new favorite grocery store and spending the day getting ready for… Nature Nocturne! It is an event that is held on the last friday of every month from 8:00 p.m. to midnight. The Musuem of Nature, which is in a spectular building is transformed into a night club. Each floor has a different activity. There are bars in almost every section, a dance floor on the landing between the stair cases, a place to make crafts, a place to dance and some food tables. And don’t forget. You literally party with dinosaurs. All the exhibits are open and available so we spent our night flitting from the dinosaurs to the bird section to the exhibits of bugs to watch two snails go at it. Bliss.
The next day, I went with my niece, brother, sister and mom to all-you-can-eat-sushi, my favorite birthday tradition. We order plates and plates of sushi and finish it with green tea ice cream. Next, we went to see the Anne of Green Gables musical at the Centrepoint Theatre. It is a local theatre that puts on various shows, musicals, acts and comedians. It is rather small, but wonderful. Anne of Green Gables was the first novel I read in first grade and my favorite book series. Sunday was family day, brunch followed by the Grey Cup. This year was extra special because the Ottawa RedBlacks were in the finals!! They lost, but it was so amazing to see our team, in only its second year, make it to the end.
And finally, la piece de resistance. Spending the day at the Spa Nordique with my best friends. It is the largest outdoor spa in North America. Hot baths and cold baths and little log cabins and saunas are nestled in the Gatineau Park and its beauty is overwhelming. I felt the saltiness of the water and the smell the minerals for days after… mostly because I kept forgetting to wash my hair.
So, who wants to take an NCR tour with me? (I promise I’ll shower before then.)