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.”

My Parents Send Their Response

April 25/83

McPhedran;

We have been mulling over your proposal that you hitchhike across Canada this summer and, as you can imagine, we were quite taken aback by the idea. We have considered your project very seriously and reluctantly would permit you to go.

I think it would be unreasonable for you to expect your father to contribute to the financing of not only your projected trip and also to pay the entire cost of your second year at university. You should not overlook the fact that working in the summer with people you might not otherwise encounter is a very good way of learning about “life” – I am not at all convinced that hitchhiking is a better way.

It is also dangerous though perhaps I shouldn’t exaggerate that aspect since you are big and strong and reasonably capable of coping with undesirable people you are bound to run into. You will have to steel yourself to the idea that a job in the summer of 1984 is an absolute must.

Mom

Letter From My Embarrassing Youth

April 14/83

Dear Mom and Dad;

Hi, it’s me. I guess you’re wondering why I’m writing, and I guess you’re wondering what I plan to do this summer. Well, I’m going to answer both of those questions. I’d like to hitchhike across Canada.

Now I’m sure your first reaction to this will be that I should work an (sic) make money and pay my way through university next year, but I don’t feel that way. You see, I have the energy, the spirit and the enthusiasm to try this venture right now. The problem with getting a job is that I feel it would stifle me and my artistic (that is in my writing, etc.) talents.

What I plan for this journey is intended to release my mind and make it easier for me to write creatively. The trip wouldn’t just be me running all over the country, doing nothing but looking for a good time. The whole journey is planned for two reasons: one to give me more to write about by giving me more attitudes and angles on different issues – in essence to broaden be (sic) horizon to help me write more knowledgeably. The second reason is that I, ideally, would like to write a book about the search for the Canadian identity (if there is one). The book, of course, would take a couple of years to compile and edit, but I’d like to try it. Of course if it fails, I’ve still learned a lot, haven’t I? A lot more than I might learn working at some job.

Now I’d need about $1,000 for this trip. As well, I’d again need your full financial support for university. (I guess this whole scheme sounds like I’m just as impossible as ever, but I’d like to challenge that.) All the courses I’ve taken and plan to take at university all deal with the opening of my mind – philosophically; so to get better grasp of it and my understanding and development of these ideas I think this cross-country venture would be very helpful. If I get a job, instead I work at a set amount of hours at some specified (or despecified (sic), depending on how you look at it) job. I feel this would be very stifling and, in fact, harmful to my potential as a writer, film-maker or whatever in that general field.

There is some danger in this idea, but danger is part of life and it makes life more exhilarating, does it now? What I’m trying to do is give myself more to work with creatively – I want to be as artistic and fluent in literature (film) as possible and feel this to (sic) an excellent route to such.

Thanx.