Canada’s Soul: Vancouver to Toronto

August 6, Ride One: Vancouver to Winnipeg (Brown van) Shared cost of gas with Obie (van’s owner), two English guys and Steph. Left at 10 am, Wednesday, arrived in Winnipeg at 3 am, Friday, August 8. August 8, Ride Two: Outskirts of Winnipeg to highway turnoff (Pickup truck) Driver asked me to open the glove box where there was a hardcore porn magazines. He said, “You know, I like to look at the guys as much as the girls.” I tried to be witty. “That’s very open-minded of you.” He asked me if I wanted to come back to his cabin for a blow job. When I declined, he asked if I’d like to come back to his cabin for a sandwich. I declined that too. “I know a lot of guys who aren’t gay but like to be sucked off.” I nodded that I understood.

Ride Three: Highway turnoff to St. Anne (1955 pickup truck) Driver got me high and gave me sunflower seeds.

Ride Four: St. Anne to Falcon Island Park (Small blue car) Two girls, both nervous about picking me up. I told them about the hardcore porn, the offer for a blow job and a sandwich and then getting high, all of which made them more nervous.

Ride Five: Falcon Island Park to Toronto (Dodge car) Wax and Di, coming from a military base at Portage La Prairie. Overnight drive of almost 1,500 miles, right to my house. I should have invited them in but didn’t because I just wanted to go to sleep. I felt bad about it then. Still do.

Canada’s Soul: Saskatoon to Edmonton

July 15, Ride One: Saskatoon to North Battlefield (Souped-up Trans Am) Nice Indian guy who used to be a dealer; into motorcycles and Van Morrison.

Ride Two: North Battlefield to Peynton (Camper Pick-up) Old Indian man with weathered skin; lived on the reserve, very friendly. Ride Three: Peynton to Lloydsminster (Air-conditioned Oldsmobile) Singer with a thin half-beard. Doesn’t like Indians because they “cut holes in the side of the house so their horse can drink from the bath tub.”

Ride Four: Lloydsminster to Vermillion (Blue Phoenix) Mild-mannered driver who has worked and lived all over the country.

Ride Five: Vermillion to Edmonton (AMC Meteor station wagon) Quite political, doesn’t like sports,sausage buyer, has a water tower for sale.

Canada’s Soul: Winnipeg to Saskatoon

After a visit to the Manitoba Legislature in Winnipeg and writing of “the gatherings of self-made gods separated by a golden rail and velvet curtain”, I continued west.

July 11, Ride Two: Winnipeg to Highway 16 Turnoff (Red pick-up truck) Part of a small convoy of Indians headed north. “Hey, back there, you want a smoke?”

Ride Three: Highway 16 to Regina (Blue Chevette) Jeff Gibbs on his way to Alaska. Was with the military in Germany, worked as computer programmer for Pershing missiles. Did acid on Check Duty. Derided quality of commercial gasoline as – ‘ass gas.” I spent two days in Regina where I met a couple in the park who had won a radio station contest and shared their fresh-caught salmon and case of beer, the man telling the story of almost being captured by a zombie witch cult.

July 13, Ride One: Regina to Wattrous (Old pick-up truck) Driver looked like a maniac – wild hair, stubble, weird look, dirty green shirt. “If you run out of money, you’ll just have to get some more.”

Ride Two: Wattrous to Saskatoon (Blue Meteor station wagon) Middle-aged woman with two small kids who made her turn around and pick me up. “You should write me to show me how well you’ve done.”

Canada’s Soul: Ahmic Harbour To Winnipeg

July 3, Ride Three: Parry Sound to Sudbury (Brown VW Rabbit) Driver was moving to Portland to study herbal medicine.

July 4, Ride One: Sault Saint Marie to Wawa (Custom Chevy Van) Driver wore fancy track pants. Loved the country and understand “its power”.

I waited in Wawa for three hours and considered the graffiti underneath the giant goose. Wawa sucks! Fuck Wawa! Jerky Fuckwell, I Slept Here.

Ride Two: Wawa to Thunder Bay (Silver VW Rabbit) Alison and Jane Wright. Got stoned with them. “Electric knives are fine but freedom is incredible. God, I’m happy to be alive.”

Climbed on top of a train in Thunder Bay depot to take a picture; almost fell off when it began to move.

July 6, Ride Three: Terry Fox Monument to Sunshine (Brown VW Rabbit) “You have to like sitting at the side of the road.”

July 7: Ride One: Sunshine to Winnipeg (Blue Colt, pictured below) Dave and his nephew Sean, Indians from Winnipeg. Dave enjoys the silence of the forest, forest fire trivia and is obsessed with sex. Lots of “Bloody Red Baron Beaver” jokes. Had dinner at their house – salad, chicken, baked potatoes and beer; wife joked that I had dinner with Indians and wasn’t eaten.

Canada’s Soul: Metis to Ahmic Harbour

June 27, Ride Two: Pont du Quebec to St. Georges (Beige Subaru) Driver was an anesthesiologist: “The separatist movement meant nothing.”

Ride Three: St. Georges to outside Montreal (White Fury) Driver got stopped for speeding, used ‘judge’s card’ to get off. Gave me a pack of Matinee cigarettes. “We’re all on this earth together, man.” Stayed in Ottawa and wrote on “the silken void” and “First Impression Syndrome”.

June 29, Ride One: Ottawa to Carleton Place Turnoff (Cadillac) Took me on scenic route to see Ottawa River shoreline.

Ride Two: Carleton Place Turnoff to Pembroke (Dark red Rabbit) Saw space shuttle  over apartment building, not too thrilled with “peace and love crap”.

July 1, Ride One: Pembroke to North Bay (Grey sports car) Driver had worked on the Trans Canada Pipeline.

Ride Two: North Bay to Ahmic Harbour (Brown VW Rabbit) Driver was well traveled across Canada; constant barrage on how many “twats he’d snatched”. Stayed at Ahmic Lake for two days at my family’s cottage.

Canada’s Soul: To Kouchibouguac Park, NB

A week into my cross-Canada hitchhiking trip, I was back from Newfoundland and crossing Nova Scotia again:

June 19, Ride One: Port Sydney to Kelly’s Mountain, Nova Scotia (Red heap) Driver was a wreck diver and told stories of sharks, whales and trout.

Ride Two: Kelly’s Mountain to Baddeck, NS (Green car) Beard driver with a red cap and sweaty chin.

Ride Three: Baddeck to Truro (Car) History high school teacher, who was boring.

Ride Four: Truro to Moncton, New Brunswick (Sports car) Driver was a former Mountie, now a bartender. Gave me beers and a quarter pound of cheese.

I walked into Moncton and watched a truck crash into a wall from above. Heavy rain, followed by sweltering heat. A Silver Mazda pick-up followed me around until I went into an A&W, dropped off my backpack and chased after him, but I couldn’t catch him or read the license plate. I went to the cop shop and was told, “I simply don’t know what to tell you.” I stayed at the Canadiana Motel and give my backpack as collateral.

June 20, Ride One: Moncton to Shediac (Family car) Driver, a painter by trade, gave me his last smoke and a Moosehead beer.

Ride Two: Shediac to Kouchibouguac National Park (Silver Honda) Driver had a comical laugh, and was anti-Wagner. “Bach’s Variations above all.”

Canada’s Soul: Across Newfoundland

June 11, Ride One: Grand Falls to Clarenville (Manual pick-up)  Very friendly moose hunter, stories of the ‘screwdriver murders’; the difference between Newfoundlanders and Mainlanders is “a matter of trust”.

Ride Two: Clarenville to St. John’s (Small white pick-up): Stopped at Finney’s Pond to fish and could not get back up the hill. Ride Three: Hiked up the hill with Will and Bob and hitchhiked into town with a drunk driver. “Pass me a beer, yeah? You’re welcome to one too.”

Spent two nights at Will’s house where I was given their son’s bedroom; he had to sleep on the couch. Spent much of the time listening to Will talk of his search for the Sargasso Sea as he did crosswords and his wife, Helen, rolled cigarettes.

Canada’s Soul: On Being Alone

While camping on Prince Edward Island at Cavendish Beach for two days in 1983, I reflected on “being alone”:

Solitude is a necessary state, that I feel that all men should experience for some intended period of time. But also, it must be noted that man should not be in this state for too long a period, lest he lose his sanity.20161203_180038

Man is an insecure beast – so be it. The fact that we are aware of our existence does not prove our existence. It only clarifies our insecurities. Man in his comfortable and unnatural state has time to reflect on more than the today. Man cannot enjoy life as it is, because he worries of the future. And so do I.

I hitchhiked from Prince Edward Island to the North Sydney, the ferry terminus to Newfoundland, seven rides in all, the last driver who told me that he preferred female hitchhikers because “you never know what might happen.”20161203_175640

Canada’s Soul: Halifax to Cavendish, PEI

After a night in Halifax, I continued east. June 7, 1983, Ride One: Halifax to Bedford, NS (Brown Cadillac) Middle-aged man, “Fuckin’ Toronto.”

Ride Two: Bedford to Fall River (Department of Nova Scotia Transportation truck) Big hippy with red headband.

Ride Three: Fall River to Amherst (Blue Trans Am) Al Smith took me to his cabin where he expressed his belief in the sanctity of human life, a wish for people of different cultural differences to get along and a love for “big tits” (which he illustrated by showing his collection of porn in the woodshed).imag2131

June 8: Ride One: Amherst to Carelton, PEI (Blue Custom Deluxe truck) Dwayne claimed to have been in 19 separate car accidents, one where he killed “an old lady”.

Ride Two: Carleton to Charlottetown (Red Oldsmobile) Driver tried to live in Vancouver, Toronto and Halifax, but it was a “no go”.

Stayed in Charlottetown for the day where I visited a cemetery and was told by a friendly middle-aged woman in heavy makeup: “It’s the oldest cemetery around. It ain’t got no name.”

June 9: After four rides and a 2-mile walk, I arrived at a campground where I bought supplies (jars of peanut butter and jam, loaf of bread, package of cookies and case of lemonade for $8.39) and stayed on the beach for two days.20161203_175845

 

Canada’s Soul (1983): Toronto to Truro

I spent the summer of 1983 “in search of Canada’s Soul”, or as my parents saw it, hitchhiking around the country. I set out to keep a journal, documenting every ride, idea and expenditure…and I actually did that.

The trip began June 3, 1983, a rainy morning, at the eastern outskirts of Toronto:

Ride One: Toronto to Ajax (Blue Rally STX Van). Driver told me that “Hitchhiking is against company policy.”

Ride Two: Ajax-Highway 11 (Beige VW Rabbit). Driver gave me a Medallion cigarette.

Ride Three: Highway 115 to Ottawa Turnoff (Red 1977 MGB) Driver’s daughter does Pepsi commercials although she hates the stuff.

Ride Four: Ottawa Turnoff to Cornwall (1979 Thunderbird) Driver, a Catholic priest from Poland, said that Canada is “free and nice”. He doesn’t want anything more in life. 20161203_175412Ride Five: Ottawa Turnoff to Montreal (Brown 1977 Dodge Dart) Tim Paquette smoked me up. “My fingers tingle and life goes on.” He offered a night on the town and a place to sleep. I accepted.

June 4, 1983:

Ride One : West End to East End of Montreal (Brown bakery van): Driver told me, “You’ll get murdered.”

Rides Two, Three & Four: (Forgot makes of cars, too tired)

Ride Five: Victoriaville Turnoff to Quebec City Turnoff (VW Rabbit) Nice French couple who spoke no English at all. Saw a moose.

Ride Six: Quebec City Turnoff to St. Jean Port Joli Turnoff (Large old car)  All loving and Catholic. “We learn from what we see, not hear.”

Ride Seven: St. John Turnoff to Riviere Du Loup Turnoff (Blue Chevy Van) Driver going to Gaspe to his boat and Greenland. Told hitchhiking stories from his youth, being “fucked by horny broads” in Nova Scotia, bad acid in Wyoming for hitchers who then ate their ride.

Ride Eight: Riviere Du Loup Turnoff to Highway 17 (Camper Van) Nice old WWII veteran full of war stories.

Ride Nine: Highway 17 to Truro, Nova Scotia (Mack truck cab) Ed Haggerty, a non-unionized driver who had logged over four million miles. I saw the signposts turn into cyclists due to exhaustion.20161203_175615