Friends of the Richelieu. A river. A passion.

"Tout cedit pays est fort uny, remply de forests, vignes & noyers. Aucuns Chrestiens n'estoient encores parvenus jusques en cedit lieu, que nous, qui eusmes assez de peine à monter le riviere à la rame. " Samuel de Champlain

"All this region is very level and full of forests, vines and butternut trees. No Christian has ever visited this land and we had all the misery of the world trying to paddle the river upstream." Samuel de Champlain

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

A Canada-US border wall? Those aren't the 'States I used to know!

Part of the Dion family, my ancestors, back in the '20s and '30s, left the Montmagny region to earn their living in the US. The economy was picking up faster over there, and my father went to live with an aunt to be able to go to school a little longer.

He came back to earn his living in the Montreal area, met my mother, married her and bought a run down summer house on the banks of the Richelieu River, halfway between Montreal and the US border. My parents had their honeymoon in New York City, and brought me back there when I was barely 3 months old.

When I was a child, my parents brought me to spend summer vacation on beaches all along the Eastern seaboard. I did them all: Cape Cod, Atlantic City, Myrtle Beach, you name them, I went there with them. For the rest of the summer, a quick pic-nic along the shores of Lake Champlain was not unusual, or a drive after supper to go to a drive-in movie across the border happened quite often.

Then I got married to a guy who had never went to the 'States, but his father regularly spent a month or two in Miami Beach with friends. Along with my father-in-law, I convinced my husband to spend 3 weeks a year in Florida or South Carolina, and my husband was very surprised to see how warm and helpful the "Americans" accepted his broken English. During the 10 years I was married to him, we spent a couple of weeks in the Spring in Florida, and a couple of weeks in the Fall in Cape Cod, starting with our honeymoon.

Then I divorced, but with my new spouse, we also kept going to the United States for our vacations, twice a year, plus quick rides over the border to buy gas, a bit of food, some books and quality time along Lake Champlain.

But I remember my last vacation in Cape Cod back in 2004 that made me realize that my "class" of people was no longer welcome there: it was getting much to expensive to go there anymore. Also, State camping grounds in Florida did not make us feel welcome anymore in the 2000s: wardens would treat us like we were in boot camp and were rude with us if we did not stick to the rules like we were prisoners.

Then, all of a sudden, I needed a passport to go to the US. I don't have the money to get a passport, so guess what? I don't go there anymore. I don't buy gas there anymore. I don't buy food there anymore. I don't spend my vacations there anymore: no more camping in State Parks. No more motel stays driving down to Florida anymore. No more meals in restaurants in the United States anymore. No more buying clothes over there anymore, or books, or magazines. I don't spend money over the border anymore.

No, "Americans" have changed in the past 15 years. They used to welcome strangers, helped them any way they could. I used to enjoy my stays in the 'States': I felt at home there, and my vacations were always wonderful.

No, it ain't the 'States I used to know. No siree!

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