“I am a part of all that I have met …”
Alfred, Lord Tennyson: Ulysses
“Je ne suis plus de l’équipage ni passager
Il faut bien que des bagages pour voyager”
Pierre Calvé, Quand les bateaux s’en vont
To understand a country, its soul and place in the world, is more than to collect “I was there” bumper stickers or stamps in a passport. These are activities of the tourist or souvenir hunter, the other is the journey of a lifetime.
There are those who have lived in a place all their lives and are still tourists/ strangers. And there are others who have come from elsewhere who have showed they got it/understood from afar before they came, and who helped us recognize the country we live in..
These include a Sri Lankan born Scot who came here to work for Canadian Pacific, who first described Canada as a “mosaic” and recognized that building the Railway was not just about joining a country but about being a northwest passage.
They include a German who came here as a POW, discovered a country and composed a song that echoed an earlier speech of Laurier: “I live in a cathedral”
They include a former Soviet President who envisioned glasnost and perestroika while touring Canada as Agriculture Minister in the company of a Canadian farmer.
And they include a young woman who came to Montreal as a student, met her husband and found a second homeland and went back to her native, newly freed Latvia, to become its first post-perestroika President.*
To the one who already has the sense of, the yearning for the whole, in the innermost being, to explore the parts is not a collecting but an embodiment and a homecoming. It is like the new child who moves hands and feet to discover they are part of him/herself. This dis-covery of self/country, like Socrates first task of education (“Know thyself”) is a journey that never ends.
If this describes you/reflects where you are in this experiment/voyage who name means “village” in Iroquois, and whose voyageurs are contributing to the awakening of the global village, read on. There may be a place in Canadian Classroom on Rails for you …