I’m back in western Canada — 30 years after my first trip to the region, a trip that changed my life.
It was 1985 and I was with my Mom and sister at Toronto’s CNE (like a big county fair), and we stumbled upon a large model of the under-construction Expo 86 site in Vancouver. It was a marketing tent, touting the upcoming world’s fair…and the marketing worked. I was 11 years old and I knew I just had to go.
The problem was we couldn’t afford it.
But I was determined to go to Vancouver.
My parents said I could go… if I could raise enough money for the tickets, flights and accommodation. I was 11 and I had less than a year to raise that money.
So I got to work. Any work an 11 year old could get. I bagged a paper route. My little sister (who was 9!) shared it with me. We collected cans and bottles nearly every weekend from roadsides. I caddied bridge tournaments (carrying card decks for chain-smoking players) and did odd jobs where I could. My Mom got a job as well to raise her share of the funds.
The next year, in 1986, we made it to Vancouver. Luckily, my Dad got a work conference to fly him out as well, so all four of us got to experience the event (my two littlest siblings were too young to be able to enjoy it).
Expo was an an incredible, optimistic showcase. The theme was ‘Transportation and Communication” and I rode my first levitating train, got an early sight of phones with data capability (a pre-internet initiative from Bell Canada), and marvelled at pavilions from far away countries (some of which don’t even exist anymore: USSR, Czechoslovakia).
At the end of our stay, we took the Via train through the mountains to Banff, Alberta where for a couple of days, we enjoyed the mountain life.
We stayed at a Best Western hotel and today, I stopped by that hotel and did a FaceTme with my Mom.
I learned the value of hard work, goal setting, and perseverance that summer. It was a seemingly impossible task for an 11 year old, but I got there!