This summer, Jane (my “techie”– though no tattoos so far) and I are going to be travelling widely to give my show in various parts of Canada. As usual, I’m preparing by consulting the 1997 classic, The Canada Trip, by Charles Gordon.
You may know him as a former writer for The Ottawa Citizen, or a witty columnist for Maclean’s. Even better, you may know him as the author of the classic At The Cottage and the follow-up Still At The Cottage. His other books include an affectionate satire on life in Ottawa (The Governor General’s Bunny Hop), The Grim Pig, a novel based on the newspaper world , and Canada’s answer to the wave of hyperbolic self-improvement books from the U.S.A., brilliantly entitled How To Be Not Too Bad. All of them reveal Charles as a man with a finely understated style that is a delight to read, and a dry sense of humour so Canadian that it deserves to occupy our seat at the United Nations.
In the summer of 1996 he and his wife Nancy (known in the book, to her slight irritation, as “The Business Manager”) set out from Ottawa in the family car to drive across Canada and back. The result is a wonderful book that shows what typical travellers will find as they enjoy the trip. It is not an earnest “Whither Canada?” book, as much as a “Whither the moose?” or even a “Whither the washroom?” book, and we are all grateful for it. Check it out.
I am especially grateful for what my old friend Charles wrote about me in his Acknowledgements: “My publisher, editor, and fellow Scot, Doug Gibson, was as encouraging as always on this, our fourth project together. In his editing, Doug consistently amazed me with his knowledge of what is where in Canada. Many times he was able to tell me that I could not have been looking at what I thought I was looking at from a given spot – a sunset, a mountain, an ocean – because I was facing the wrong way. This invariably sent me back to my map collection and invariably forced me to conclude he was right – except maybe for once in Saskatoon.” (Ah, Saskatoon, where the reliable old north-south Idylwyld Freeway treacherously turns east, south of the river.)
Jane and I will have a chance to expand our knowledge of the country as we roam around with my show, this summer. Maybe we’ll meet you along the way. It should be fun.