Life is Sweet & Good People Make it Sweeter:
Lessons from the 6ix
2 July 2017 (Day 5)
When you’re a solo traveler, it can get lonely at times. You come across something magnificent and you want to share it with someone. You go to a party and see people in with their groups or cliques and you wish you had your own. The past 3 years years have been even harder since I can’t pick up the phone and share my daily adventures with my mom, who had a love of all things French so she especially loved when I was in Canada. It can be a challenge, but the reality is that you can’t wait on someone to ask you to go anywhere or to do anything because you may miss out on something cool or on meeting some really great people.I’ve never been a narcissist so I’ve never wanted a big entourage. It takes me awhile to trust people, so my friend circle has never been huge. However, since my first trip in the Spring of 2004, I’ve been privileged to meet and become friends with some pretty cool people here in the 6ix….
- It was a film student who told me where to go and hang out on those cool spring days and recommended that I come back in the summer to visit the Toronto Islands or for Harbourfront fests…or in the fall for the TIFF.
- The couple that owned the Victoria Inn on Rice Lake were amazing! I’m so appreciative of their recommendations of where to learn more about the Hiawatha and Alderville First Nations.
- Random strangers helped me find my way around the Rice Lake in the days following that when I was trying to make it to the ancient First Nations burial (serpent) mounds in Keene Ontario when I pulled over on the side of a rural road to read the map.
- I was ever grateful for the hipsters that made me feel welcome in the Beaches area and recommended a respite in Kew Gardens with the black squirrels after our long day of walking in the Distillery District.
- I was warmed by the friendly faces of British Islanders as I meandered the streets of Vancouver and the Vancouver Islands on those cool, windy days years ago.
- Hamiltonians are equally amazing – the people who were hiking the waterfalls a few years ago and the cabbie that drove me to the dorm at McMaster University, took me to and from the Janet Jackson concert AND dropped me off at the Greyhound when I was ready to head to Toronto a couple days later.
- I can’t forget that Windsor cab driver that drove me and Morgan around the ENTIRE DAY after finding out that our luggage was lost and that we we wanted to engage in an unguided tour of a number of underground railroad stops between the Detroit/Windsor border and Toronto. She drove us around Windsor, Amherstberg, Buxton, Dresden, Chatham-Kent and dropped us off in London without breaking the bank! She even joined us on a tour of the Uncle Tom’s Cabin Historical Site and old school houses in Buxton area.
- After that journey, I was inspired to see the other routes along the Underground Railroad in the coming years. While I still haven’t seen the uppermost Ontario stops, I was so honored to meet Lezlie Harper-Wells, the founder of NIAGARA BOUND TOURS. I was literally in tears during various portions of the tour – walking in the footsteps of Harriet Tubman and others…walking through and seeing the hidden passageways around Niagara, St. Catherine’s. To have studied the Niagara Movement and UGRR in school and to, then, stand in the churches and various meeting places of prominent Black leaders was inspirational! I’ll never forget that experience and am ever grateful for her words of kindness/friendship over the years. If you’re in the Niagara or Toronto area and want to learn more from a 5th generation descendant of fugitive slave from Kentucky, please reach out to Lezlie.
- Being an MJ fan, you can find fan-mily pretty much anywhere in the world and I met Toronto fan clubs leaders + members years ago and have remained in contact with a number of them. They have always made me feel like part of their families/friend circle – exposing me to great food, venues between Toronto and Peterborough. Thank you Shari, Leslie, Gabi and Renata!
I can’t name every single person that’s been great and detail every amazing experience, but suffice it to say that America’s “Neighbors to the North” are true and loyal. I rarely feel like a stranger here. Local Canadians have made my travels sweeter and that’s a godsend for a solo traveler!