In 1990, we visited my dad’s brother in Canada and my obsession with Vancouver Aquarium began. l fell in love with the sea otters, marvelled at the white beluga whales and was impressed with the killer whale tank that was there at the time.
My uncle and aunt lived in the Vancouver suburb of Richmond, BC with their three children and beloved pet- Holly the Dalmatian. My parents and I slept in the brown pop top campervan parked out the front of their house.
I ate lucky charms for the first time for breakfast and my aunt made us bagels with salmon and cream cheese for lunches on our day trips in the family car- a wood panelled station wagon named “The Woody.”
My cousin Jay had a paper route and I remember riding around on a bike following him as he completed his drop.
The first time I realised that people drive on the other side of the road on the other side of the world was when my cousin Kate got on the back of motorbike with my dad who tried to pull out on the main road on the wrong side of the road. They were chased by my yelling uncle, concerned for his daughter’s safety.
Our grandparents visited from England and we all went to Steveston wharf- a cute little fishing village not far from Richmond. On the way back we went to the European village at Fantasy Gardens where my aunt had been an extra in a movie.
One of my favourite parts of Vancouver was Stanley Parkwith its totem poles of different animals carved by First Nations people. We also went to the bizarre steam clock in Gastown. Another favourite to visit was Lynn Canyon suspension bridge.
I first discovered that Canada is famous for its natural wonders when we travelled to Manning Park which is famous for its wildlife and wildflowers. I remember seeing a lot of Canada Geese.
We then went to Whistler out of the ski season where grandpa saw a black bear going through a bin behind a hotel and a ranger had to come and shoot a flare gun to scare him back up the mountain. We caught a cable car to the top of the mountain and saw Shannon Falls on way back to Vancouver on the sea to sky highway.
The ferry trip to Vancouver Island became an adventure in dolphin and killer whale spotting as we made our way through the labyrinth of islands. We landed at the provincial legislative buildings of Victoria and saw a parade with dragons in Chinatown for Chinese New Year.
Lastly, we drove through the Okanagan to Oysoyoos Lake on the US border where my cousins holidayed every summer in their campervan and went on a boat trip on the lake.