Day 18: Last Hurrah in Canada

It was a slow start this morning because we lost an hour at the Manitoba border yesterday and were still on Saskatchewan time.  On the road at 9:30am, we set our sights on the town of Shilo to visit the Royal Regiment of Canadian Artillery Museum, located on a large military base.

Look at this bad boy. The tank is pretty fierce, too.

Check out this bad boy. The tank is pretty fierce, too.

The museum (CAD$6/ea) was exceptionally well done, with displays of armaments from small guns to large tanks, as well as one large room comprised solely of signboards outlining Canadian military history.  I read every signboard and learned a great deal about Canada’s colorful history, of which we’ve only previously had snippets.

If I recall correctly, and forgive me if I don’t as it was a lot of information to digest, it started around year 1000 with a Viking invasion of First Nation tribes (First Nation won and sent the Vikings packing).  Next the French came over around 1500 (the first group since the Vikings), then the Brits came over.  The two factions were not fond of each other (some might argue they still aren’t) and there were many disagreements that were not so polite and even led to fisticuffs.  Then after the American Revolution a bunch of British-siding Americans defected north, bringing more English speakers and customs.  This, of course, further irritated the French.

The museum is VERY proud of this latest acquisition, a 13-pounder

The museum is VERY proud of this latest acquisition, a 13-pounder

And then for a lot of years there was much tension between Canada and the United States, including some fighting and territory swapping, before everyone ironed out their differences and it dawned on them it made more sense to get along and present a united front protecting North America than tearing each other apart.  Gee, what a novel idea.

Canada has contributed military power to every international conflict since WWI, a fact I think is often overlooked.  They may not have the sheer numbers of personnel to send due to having a relatively small population, but they give it all they got and have been militarily involved in significant events of our world history.

St. Claude's Pipe

St. Claude’s Pipe

Leaving the museum full of knowledge, we carried on toward the US border, taking our beloved secondary roads the whole way and stair-stepping our way down through nothing but farmland.  A quick stop was made in St. Claude, Manitoba, to view the World’s Largest Tobacco Pipe; it’s 19 ft long and 5 ft high.  St Claude is a very small town (population about 600) but surely this gem brings ‘em in by the carload.

We got to the town of Morris, Manitoba, which is just north of the US border, and stopped in at a Tim Hortons one last time.  Although we’d only been in Tim’s a handful of times, and mostly for coffee, they really are everywhere and so uniquely Canadian.

There was a short wait at the border in Emerson, MB/Pembina, ND, but Jim sweet-talked our way back into the United States.  It was sad leaving the Great White North, as we’ve had such a great time.  Canada, you are a gem.

Once again, as soon as we crossed the border we needed to put our sunglasses on.  It had been a few days since we’d seen the sun and it was a welcome sight, even if we were in North Dakota.  About 70 miles down the road we turned east into northern Minnesota.  If there was any question we were back in the US, it was definitively answered the moment we were stopped at a red light on Hwy 2 and the instant it turned green people laid on their horns.  We ain’t in Canada anymore.

Jim, Paul, and the Babe

Jim, Paul, and the Babe

We drove across northern Minnesota, which is apparently potato growing country, and on to Bemidji, MN.  It was 6:30pm when we arrived but first things first.  Bemidji (which is almost as fun to say as Yoho!) is the birthplace of the fictitious Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox.  And in tribute there are statues of both right on the shore of Lake Bemidji.  They aren’t the world’s largest, or anything, but the Kodak Company (remember them?) claimed they are the “second most photographed statues in the US behind Mt. Rushmore.”  This seems hard to believe in today’s digital age, but we helped add to their numbers by snapping a few, ourselves.

Once that was properly done, we moved on for dinner at the Green Mill Restaurant before heading on to the Country Inn & Suites.  It was our last night in a hotel room and as much as I’m looking forward to sleeping in our own room, I’m sure going to miss someone else making the bed.

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2 Comments

  1. Peter S

     /  October 13, 2016

    Excellent detail over the past couple weeks, thanks. It’s been a pleasure to follow your trip. Thanks too for recognizing the quiet military efforts of Canada. Very nice of you to recognize that and comment on it. And, so sorry about burning down the WhiteHouse in DC so many years ago! I don’t know what we were thinking.

    Best,
    Peter

    Reply
    • howieroll

       /  October 14, 2016

      Thank you so much, Peter, for your kind words! If you haven’t already, the museum in Shilo is outstanding and well worth a visit if you are in the area. And we’ll forgive the White House incident if you forgive… well, now, the list is a bit too long to go into here, up to and including our current embarrassing political circus. Thank you again for reading and your comments – we adore your country and hope to be back soon!

      -Angela

      Reply

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