Monday, September 24, 2018

We Went to Canada and Saw Toronto!

Here's our first stop at Steamtown National Historic Site.

And here are the only photos that I managed to get in all of Quebec:

Why yes, that IS milk in a bag! In all of Canada, this is the one thing that Will wanted to do above all else: purchase and consume milk. From a bag.

It's a Canadian thing.

Buying milk in a bag was actually surprisingly hard to accomplish, considering that we were IN Canada. It only comes by the gallon, so I didn't want to buy it when we were driving hither and yon because we wouldn't have time to drink it, and whenever we stayed some place for two nights, by poor luck that place only had tourist-style convenience markets, with tourist-style amenities. No milk in a bag.

But the main feature of Quebec City, along with all of the French-language immersion, is that Matt flew out to meet us there! We picked him up at the airport (and no, I do NOT want to talk about the drive from Prince Edward Island to Quebec City. The bridge toll was over thirty dollars. I learned a lot more about lobsters. Everyone puts their hazards on and pulls over when it rains. I managed to survive the experience), checked into our hotel (every person I met spoke French to me, and I excitedly spoke French back, but as soon as they heard my terrible pronunciation they always switched to English, grr!), and then took him grocery shopping to show him all of the glories of Whippets and All-Dressed Ridgies. And since he was along, we rolled the dice on our stomachs and bought some chocolate mix and milk in a bag!

After all, that's only a quart of milk apiece!

If you're wondering how you actually drink milk in a bag, it looks like this:

You put it in a pitcher (here our ice bucket is called into service), snip a corner, and pour!

The next morning, very, VERY full of milk, we drove to a local mall and spent the morning shopping at Renaud-Bray, a French-language bookstore.

Friends, I was in HEAVEN.

Because our local libraries do not have a French-language collection, and it's hard to inter-library loan books in a language I don't know well, my goal was to select several early-reader French-language books for the girls to use in their French studies. Here's some of what I bought:

All those books, plus all of the brochures, food packaging, and various other bits of ephemera that we collected now make up a nice little starter French-language collection in our homeschool.

In the afternoon, we left Quebec City and drove on to Toronto, discovering on the way that we do NOT like Toronto traffic. 

It took more than double the time that it should have to get to Toronto Zoo the next morning. Soooooo much traffic!

Worth it, though:

This is the cage that they use to capture and relocate polar bears up north.

Will was SO excited to see a Przewalski's horse!

I mean, not this one. This one is a statue...

But there's one waaaaaay over there, so it's good that I keep binoculars in my backpack!

The kids could not have been more thrilled to have Matt back with us, and even though it poured down rain regularly, we just put on our ponchos and tromped on through.

The mental breakdowns didn't come until we were trying to drive from the Toronto Zoo to Medieval Times. Traffic was RIDICULOUS. It took hours. Streets were randomly closed. Other streets merged together with no traffic lights or signage or any direction whatsoever, everyone just left to fend for themselves and battle their way into the proper lane. We finally got there and ended up somehow parking in the employee lot, and could not for the life of us figure out where we were supposed to go in.

And then, and THEN, when we'd eventually discovered the entrance, and were let inside, freezing and sodden, I went to the bathroom to try to compose myself and dry off. It was a madhouse, but I used the toilet, flushed, and as I went to wash my hands I heard the lady who'd come into the stall after me say loudly, ostensibly to her small child but LOUDLY TO MAKE SURE EVERYONE IN THE ENTIRE WOMEN'S BATHROOM COULD HEAR, "Oh, look, Honey, that lady didn't flush. That's too bad!"

I was in the middle of wiping my glasses down with a paper towel, but I had HAD it with that militant Canadian politeness bullshit. I immediately whipped around, glared somewhere in her general direction, and barked at her, "I did, too, flush!"

The woman replied, "Well, there's some toilet paper there. You know what I meant."

Oh, DID I?!? It was the last freaking straw. I was all first-world problemed OUT!

Seriously, I could barely enjoy the town crier or the royal procession. It took about half my fruity alcoholic beverage, half my hot tomato bisque, and the sight of these sweet faces to get me out of my funk:

And then? I started having a really, really, REALLY good time:

You might remember me mentioning that I have a Master's in English with an emphasis on the Medieval period. Heck, if you've been reading here since the beginning, you remember when I WAS in grad school studying the Medieval period. Good times. Kind of...

Anyway... I am very interested, academically, in the Medieval period, but I found during my studies that I'm actually much more interested in "Medievalism," which is representations of the Medieval period that take place after the Medieval period. They sometimes try to be accurate, which brings up a billion more issues of how you can portray or define accuracy in regards to a historical time period, but mostly they really just want to reflect or modify various non-canonical aspects of the period. These new artifacts say a lot of interesting things about the cultural context in which they were created, and just about nothing about the actual Medieval period.

But... they're FUN!!!

Whenever we explore Medievalisms as a family, I spend half my time furiously hissing historical corrections to Matt and the kids and the other half beaming and cheering wildly.

I did both constantly at Medieval Times, and it was AWESOME:

This guy is our knight. He did NOT win, though I cheered him hard.

I had been especially super excited to come to Medieval Times since they replaced their kings with queens. Yay to more positive female role models! Here she is:

I hadn't realized it before, but Medieval Times is really the place to go if you want to see a lot of horses. There were several really beautiful performances, although the kids and I talked for the rest of the trip about how on earth the horses get nice outside time in the middle of downtown Toronto. I hope they walk them over to the park a lot:

Also, falcons:

And fighting!

Oh, my gosh, it was SO fun. Afterwards, both kids assured me that I had cheered louder than anyone else in the arena.

I don't think they were necessarily going for a compliment, but that's how I took it!


Yuki said...

1. The title of the first book is "Where is my unicorn?".

2. The amount of driving you had to make is driving me crazy just thinking about it. Seriously Cavendish-Toronto in just a few days is so crazy!

3. I went to a medieval show like that when I was 12, thanks for the trip down memory lane!

julie said...

I know, right?!? It was a LONG drive just to get to Canada, too! I really want to go back to Nova Scotia again, especially, but if it was just me and the kids again, I'd be tempted to fly into Halifax and rent a car from there. All of that driving was so stressful!

The kids' French tutor LOVED that unicorn book when the kids showed her. So many adjectives in it!