Question: How could you logically travel from Halifax to Truro in a north-easterly direction?
Answer: When you are in Nova Scotia.
|The multi-coloured houses of Lunenburg|
and cars without front registration plates
Truro is perhaps not the most exciting place in Canada but, as a centre for training people from all over the province, it made geographical sense. It’s described as a ‘hub’ and was once the point of convergence of major railway lines but I was surprised to learn much of the railway network has closed, simply because, so I was told, ‘Everyone has a car and the highway network is so good’. Nova Scotia is now left with a legacy of disused railway-lines-turned-cycle-tracks which, sadly, I had neither the time nor the bike to enjoy.
The Nova Scotians seem to be generally an unassuming, rather conservative people who made us feel very welcome with their enthusiasm for learning and their commitment to improving the lives of families dealing with mental health problems. So what does a British visitor notice that’s different from the UK?
A few precious bananas appeared in the hotel one day but, within 24 hours, they had converted themselves into a banana dessert. Curiously, slices of oranges were de rigueur, whether on the edge of a pint of Rickards White beer or as an accompaniment to poached eggs. Apart from these ubiquitous slithers of orange, fruit was, if not forbidden, rare.
After a week in Truro, the enthusiastic politeness of the hotel staff was wearing a bit thin. Call it grumpiness, but an English person is satisfied with a grunt when he thanks a waitress for pouring his coffee whereas it is the Canadian reflex to declare: ‘You’re welcome!’ at every turn. I had the privilege to meet some great characters and kind souls in Nova Scotia and so - perhaps despite rather because of the urgent, insistent ‘You’re welcomes’ - I genuinely did feel very welcome in this big, beautiful, peaceable province.