I imported my American Husband to Cranbrook about 14 years ago. A native of Detroit, he spent his first few months here unable to blink or to close his mouth, so amazed was he at the majesty of our area. I had lived in Cranbrook for a lot of years already and was somewhat immune to the surroundings. When he arrived I began to see things through his eyes and it allowed me to truly understand how incredibly good we have it here in the East Kootenay area.
Fast forward a few years. My American Husband and I head on over to Michigan during Canadian Thanksgiving weekend. Upon mentioning to the American relations that we celebrate in October and not November they were all very curious.
“Why is Canadian Thanksgiving in October? What is your Thanksgiving all about?”
When somebody asks me a question I do not have the answer to, I typically say something like: “That is an excellent question” while furtively opening a browser on my iPhone and googling like mad. This time was no exception. As the official Canadian Ambassador to my American In-Laws, I did not want to appear ignorant to my own customs and history. Which, sadly, I was.
Turns our Canadian Thanksgiving did not begin with one specific event or meaning. It was a combination of many things. It all started with the ill-fated voyage of explorer Martin Frobisher. Back in 1578 Frobisher planned to travel to the aptly named Frobisher Bay to begin a settlement. Plagued by ice, freak storms, loss of supplies and a terrible no good awful set of bad luck, Frobisher turned around, heading back to England with a ship full of what turned out to be fool’s gold, and the inspired words of learned man Mayster Wolfall who encouraged Frobisher “to be thankefull to God for their strange and miraculous deliverance in those so dangerous places”.
Years later another explorer, Samuel De Champlain held a huge feast for the French Settlers and First Nations neighbours to celebrate the bountiful harvest and to form the Order of Good Cheer. Not long after a bunch of British Loyalist expats moved to Canada, bringing the U.S. tradition of turkey, stuffing and pumpkin pie to add to the mix. (Which may be my favorite export from the Americans. Next to my Husband of course). And in 1872, the first official Thanksgiving was held to celebrate the Prince of Wales’ return to good health from a very serious illness.
Dates and times bounced around for lots of years until 1957 when it was officially declared by Parliament that Thanksgiving would be held the second Monday in October. Please pass the stuffing.
No matter the roots of this holiday, the central theme has remained the same. To be thankful. And to begin this most grateful of celebrations, I asked around to find out what the local folk find to be thankful for in our beautiful city of Cranbrook. Here is what some had to say:
Erin McDonald: “A community of people who care about one another’s well-being and happiness. Also Lotus Books.”
Shona Bohmer: “Multi Season recreation! And the views that go with it.”
Vicky McDonald: “The mountains! Spectacular!!”
Brianna Stevely: “The ability to drive 5 minutes outside city limits and be surrounded by silence and nature’s beauty.”
Lary Sparks: “7+ lakes within 45 minutes.”
Leslie Molnar: “My commute to work takes 7 minutes. 10 minutes if I stop at the bank on the way.”
Lori White: “ The amazing people!”
Jeannie Argatoff: “Hey! I was going to say that. Okay. Amazing people.”
Shelly Shaw: “Moved to Cranbrook from Surrey six years ago. I am grateful for not having to lock my door just to take the garbage out. Or my car door when my car is sitting in front of my house. Grateful that my car is always there the next morning when I wake up and not stolen! That if I drop something in the mall, it is always returned to me or taken to the lost and found. That almost everyone smiles and says hello on the street or in the stores. For the endless glorious sunshine and almost no rain to speak of. That I no longer have to worry about mold growing on me after months and months of rain! For the white Christmas’s every year. For the endless beauty of the mountains. Grateful for the chance to see wildlife almost every day, either in my yard or while driving around the area. And that wild life is not a rat! Awesome that I don’t have to wake up each day to another shooting in Surrey!!! Thankful to live in one of the most beautiful places in BC if not the country.”
And last but not least, my American Husband: “The proximity to beautiful, natural wonders and the solitude of nature. I appreciate the welcoming I’ve received from a close knit small town. Cranbrook is super friendly. Also very few drive by shootings … haha.”
I’m sure he also meant to mention that he was thankful for me. Must have slipped his mind.
Personally, I am grateful every day for this beautiful city. I did most of my growing up here and though I have flown away a few times, I always come back. Cranbrook is a wonderful place to call home, to raise my child, to build friendships, to enjoy 4 glorious seasons and to explore nature.
Cranbrook makes it easy to maintain the attitude of gratitude, on Thanksgiving and every other day of the year.
(Originally published in http://www.e-know.ca/)