Canada, you were gold. Letter from America

Post by CityCaucus.com Staff in

39 comments

Canadians in the streets of downtown Vancouver
LA Times writer Bill Plaschke marvels at the spirit of Vancouver during these Games

Folks, we don't usually re-post stories from other sources, but this recent story by Bill Plaschke published in the LA Times took our breath away...

There was a lot to like about these Olympics, but nothing more than the Canadian people.

It was after midnight, a week ago, the U.S. had earlier defeated Canada in a preliminary-round Olympic hockey game, the emptying streets wet, the mood soggy. I was returning from our nightly visit to the giant four-pronged Olympic flame with my 15-year-old daughter, Mary Clare, who was wearing an American flag like a cape, and a smile like a necklace. It was one of the first times she wore something that didn't represent her high school or favorite sports team. It was one of the first moments she may have realized the pride in being an American.

And here came the Canadian. He appeared to be in his late 20s. He was wearing a scruffy beard, a pale bandanna, and wild stare. He jumped in front of Mary Clare on a darkened patch of sidewalk and started shouting.

"Eh, eh, eh!" he said.

She froze. Her brave and resourceful father also, um, froze.

At which point the man stuck out his hand.

"High-five, eh?" he said. "Great game, America. You won fair and square. We'll see you in the finals."

Before disappearing into the shadows, the man looked back at me with what appeared to be a wink.

"I know what you were thinking, but that's not how we do it here," he said. "We're Canadian."

I thought of this incident later when, spying on Mary Clare's Facebook page as all brave and resourceful fathers should do, I came across a line about her Olympic experience that stunned me in its simple honesty.

"I love Canada," she wrote.

Come to think of it, so do I. Forget the medal counts and podium ceremonies, there was only one true winner here, the beauty and breadth of its land equaled only by the daily kindness of its people.

Canada, you were gold. For two weeks, you lived your anthem, your hearts glowing like that moon that hung nightly over the Burrard Inlet, a light on the front porch of a house that felt like a home.

There was tragedy here in the death of Georgian luger Nodar Kumaritashvili, embarrassment in the opening ceremony torch malfunction, carelessness in the ice resurfacing machines that broke during long-track speedskating, crassness of a gold-medal- winning Canadian women's hockey team celebrating on the ice with booze and cigars.

None of it was the fault of the Canadian people, who turned the Winter Olympics into the Warmer Olympics, filling the city with friendliness, filling the stands with good cheer even while booing the USA hockey team, sharing not only their streets but themselves.

There were women giving me directions as if they were my mother reading me a recipe, hand on my back, walking me toward my destination -- "OK, now, you go down here a little ways, pass that cute little syrup store, make a left at that fountain."

There were guys who, standing in one of the endless lines here that the Canadians accepted with such good humor, would ask me if I'm having fun, and did I need anything, and oh, here, let me explain curling, everyone a cousin, every gathering a family reunion.

Then there was the Canadian who literally gave me the shirt off her back. She was a manager at a local bakery that properly boasted of Vancouver's best cheesecake. After a couple of memorable visits there, I wondered whether they sold T-shirts featuring the name of the shop.

The manager went into the back and came out with red shirt that looked similar to the one she had been wearing. Take it, she said. No charge. Thanks for coming.

Finally, there was the ski lift.

I may be the first person in Winter Olympics history to admit this, but I'm terrified of ski lifts. A horrible experience on a long and rickety Alaskan lift 25 years ago made me swear to avoid them forever. Imagine, then, my nerves upon learning that in order to cover the Alpine ski events here, I had to take a ski lift up to the media center.

Sitting next to unsuspecting colleague Chris Dufresne, I held my breath going up and survived. The problem was coming down. It was late, and there was nobody working the lift. Just riding that sucker was hard enough without figuring out how to climb aboard and pull down the bar and actually get off.

That is when she appeared, a local volunteer returning to her family. As she prepared to board the lift, I shouted for her to wait for me. She did.

I told her my problem. She understood.

She helped me board with my giant briefcase, asked about my family as we rode down through the tops of the trees, then carefully instructed me how to climb off at the bottom without falling on my face, drawing a few deserving snickers from some nearby teenagers.

"Hey, he doesn't do this much, OK?" she said, scolding.

Canada, you were gold.

39 Comments

how wonderful that he took the time to write this....great neighbour, eh!

I fell in love with Vancouver last summer.
Go there! You will, too!

Thank you for your kind words. at first i thought you were gonna write a bad review! haha im so glad you had a great experience here and hope you come back to visit our city some day - we love having visitors =)

Couldn't agree more! I just returned from a quick weekend in Vancouver and met some of the nicest people! I only live a few hours away in Washington and after this, my first experience in Vancouver, I will DEFINITELY be returning! Thank you for a great weekend Canada and Vancouver!

Thank you for the wonderful feedback on our city and it's people. We love having visitors and hope more Americans can get to know us better.

Canada! And USA!

I have never been one to want to travel out of the country but after watching the Olympics and all the great reviews of Canada I cannot wait to plan our visit there. I have not heard any bad reviews about Canada nor have I ever met someone from there that was not a joy to speak to. Must be something about all the beauty that country beholds that makes everyone so friendly. You have a fan in Texas now. We are looking forward to meeting our Northern neighbors. Congrats on the mens hockey team taking the gold...spectacular game.

Love, smiles and hugs from Texas,
MrsMike and family

I AM A PROUD CANADIAN AND AM SAD THAT IT'S ALL OVER. BUT THE MEMORIES WILL LIVE ON. I HOPE EVERYONE HAD A REAL GOO D TIME AND COME BACK AND SEE US AGAIN, YOU HEAR!

Let me add my thanks to Vancouver and Canada. I took a whirlwind trip to the Olympics 19th-21st. Saw three curling matches and two hockey games. To say I had a wonderful time is an understatement.

From Gillian Apps' aunt (sat next to at the SUI-CHN hockey game) to Kelly from Abbotsford to the family from Calgary I met on the train Sunday morning (and was so engrossed in the conversation I missed my stop!!!) - THANK YOU! You made me feel like family - even if I did have a large USA on my jersey.

Had lunch at Yaletown Brewery Sunday between curling matches - I was outnumbered 20-1 with Canadian hoceky jerseys - but did not feel threatened.

You all did a wonderful job - I tip my hat and I promise - I will be back!!!

Ben
North Easton, MA USA

PS - congrats on your golds including hockey - well deserved and well done!

You're gonna love this, Canada. I'm an American, and I was born there, so now I'm moving to Vancouver!!! I'm so tired of American politics, and aggressive losers, and people asking me what I do, and poed rude dudes grunting like its music. I want some friendly faces, some skinny beautiful women, and some irony and manners, instead of gorilla-level aggression and ignorance. HAHAHA, you're stuck with me....

I am a very proud Canadian, Vancouver you were GOLD, Thank-you, for putting it all together so well.

Thank you for writing such a great review! I hope your positive feedback will encourage more Americans to visit our beautiful City and that it will further strengthen our already close relationship. As well, congratulations to our American neighbours for their great showing & medal count at these Olympics - well done!


All the visitors we met downtown helped to make this a fun and memorable experience for us to. Hope to have the chance to meet you all again!
Keep the spirit and thanks for coming to the party. eh!!

Nice to read the comments from our american visitors.
I am finally able to read without wiping tears off my face,either from Joy,Pride,the hugs and love I saw,or most of all the good natured national pride.Sadly we don't show it enough.
We are a great country,beautiful within our borders and within our hearts.
Welcome to our world....visitors from far and near, we will welcome you with open arms,Olympics or not.

What a great article that describes not only the writers personal Olympic expirience but similar expiriences we all had. Everyone for a long time to come will remember their own Olympic expirience with warm fuzzies.

I'm on the Olympic Fanwagon now and want to go to Sochi for 2014.

Great article.
One point: you said "even while booing the USA hockey team". Could it be you were hearing "Luuuuuuuuuuu", our cheer for Roberto Luongo, our goalie? Apologies if your article is correct but there was a lot of Luuu-ing going on.

PS I came here from Ireland in 1981 and many days, I have to pinch myself that I am actually here. I am so proud to be Canadian.

"here, let me explain curling" - now that it has been explained to you - would you PLEASE explain it to me?? I was born and raised in Vancouver Canada 68 years and I don't get it!!!

What an incredible article! Thank you for writing such a touching & heart warming piece. A few co-workers and I were just chatting today about how incredible it is that these Olympics have re-ignited our national pride. Whenever we travel to the USA, there are flags everywhere, you are all so proud of your country. Until these Olympics, I don't think many of us Canadians fully comprehended how fortunate we are to live in this incredible country. These games brought us together, reminded us of how fortunate we are, and re-ignited our passion & our love for our country, which is priceless. Thanks for the laughs in your article, and for your great article!!

Thank you very much for writing such a positive and uplifting article. However, there is one small factual error I would like to point out...We were not booing the American Hockey Team. Vancouverites cheer for their favourite goalie, Robert Luongo, with a resounding LLLLLOOOOOOOOOOUUUUUU!!!! I know it sounds like booing, but you really you don't think we are that rude eh?
Thanks again for coming. We enjoyed the games very much, and glad to hear that you did too!

LOL ... he said "booze" ... not boo's

Booing the American team? Not in Canada! I agree with my fellow Canucks above - we were simply cheering on our beloved goalie Luongo with a resounding "Luuuuuuuuuuuuuu!!!" when he makes a great play. I also needed to clarify this to an American friend who commented "that was an amazing save why is everyone booing? Man you guys are tough on your goalies!". :) Amazing games Vancouver - and very proud to be Canadian!

Your comment on the games us as Canadian's thank you please come again
and enjoy other parts of Canada

I wasn't able to attend any events or even get downtown Vancouver. I live on the beautiful Sunshine Coast. I watched everything on TV though and coverage was fantastic.
One sweet treat I received was when my daughter, phoned me from her cell, while walking in the crowds on Robson Street on the last day of the Olympics. She was on her own at this time and was laughing so much just being part of all the wonderful people in the streets. She said people were high-fiving each other, no matter what country they were from, bus drivers were high-fiving out their windows, drivers out their windows and I starting laughing too and felt like I in the middle of the excitement which was evident everywhere. All the energy, I could hear and feel through her phone conversation, made me feel like I was there, enjoying all the spirit and wonderful people who were having so much fun.
Me? Born in Vancouver and stayed and never took for granted, the beauty that surrounds us. Thank you Canada! Welcome back everyone!

Wonderful to hear so many positive comment from our American friends. As Canadians it is important to us to that the American people appreciate us and what we do.
Thanks

what a great article.....I do however disagree with one small detail.....Canada wasn't boo'ing the US team - we are saying "Louuuuu" for Luongo the goalie......When it is great competition - how could we BOO!

cheers!

I am a proud Canadian currently living in Texas. I got a call during the games from a friend, apologising profusely for her lack of knowledge about Canada.She said she had learned so much from the Tom Brokaw story on the special relationship between our two nations, which aired on NBC just before the oening ceremonies. She had even been cooking some of the Canadian dishes featured on the Today show! I've had nothing but positive comments on the games and how well Canadian athletes did. I'm so very proud!

i'm just drunk...

Your article put a tear in my eye.
With a glowing heart, thank you.

What a wonderful article, and we are so glad you came to visit, and hope you will return.We love our Country and our hockey but we also love our visitors, this was a perfect opportunity to teach the world we don't live in igloos we are kind and you will find many things to do here. We miss you all it was nice to see the streets crowded with smiling faces, and jerseys from all over the globe. Thank you

I am a mexican born canadian resident. All my life I saw Canada as a promise of a better life for me and my family. Today I can say proudly I live in BC and enjoyed every second of this marvelous experience and fell much more in love with this beautiful country, because we could show our hearts to the world and let them know that peace is Canada's treasure, that politeness is part of the culture as well as the ability of taking our own mistakes or gaffes with humor. Go Canada!!!

We weren't booing u! We were saying "looooooouuuuuu" to support our goalie ! We thought uguys played a great game!! Come back and visit soon. We miss u.

To start I had just arrived home from 70 days in N.Z. & C.I.on the 21st of February. As I fly into my born town city I had no idea how the games had been going. To see the young ice dancers, I cried in joy!Then to see the Canadian women hockey team (who are not pro) defeat the U.S. of A. team,2-0 made me really proud.I cannot believe how well we did. In a sense the whole world is amazed at how well we did.Truly I am proud to be a Canadian and so pleased I was born in Vancouver.
Chow 4 now,
Johnny

I wasn't born in Vancouver but I got here as soon as I could ~ LOL. What a Party eh. Congrats to Vancouver and All who made this dream become a reality. How wonderful and heart warming it is to witness the hospitality and open arms that we Canadians are famous for. Thank you to EVERYONE who contributed, from VANOC, to the media coverage, to ALL the ATHLETES,to our fine city, to the volunteers and to the FANS. I am so PROUD to be CANADIAN. Thank you also for all the GREAT comments we have received from our American neighbors and around the world. We are so Happy that everyone had such a "LARGE" time. YA ALL COME BACK NOW YA HEAR... WE are C~A~N~A~D~A~eh

I am a Canadian living in Australia. I couldn't make it home for the Olympics, something that made me quite sad. I did however, watch as much of them as I could with the time difference. What I saw made me so proud to be Canadian. I have heard many comments over here about the Olympics and how people absolutely loved the games, and how they would love to go there someday. It brought a tear to my eye everytime I saw our flag and our anthemn being sung. Canada and our people....what can one say, we are Gold. Thanks for making me so very proud!

We weren't booing u! We were saying "looooooouuuuuu" to support our goalie ! We thought uguys played a great game!! Come back and visit soon. We miss u.

Olympic torch "malfunction"? OMG...not like a space shuttle "malfunction", eh?? And the women's hockey team "crass"?? I guess you've never been to Canada before...at least not to Northern Ontario...that's how we do it!! Some people get automatic rifles and shoot people, but we just enjoy some laughs, some champagne, and a puff on a cigar! Give your head a shake...


This is such a great article, Bill, and it makes my Canadian heart glow all the way from Ontario, to know that our people from B.C, gave you and your daughter a big piece of their glowing hearts and so left you with a warm memory of your experience here. Canadians are a generous people. Thank you so much for caring enough to let us know that we touched you and your daughter Mary Clare in a meaningful way. I for one really appreciate it.
As many have commented before, when a friend told me that the Canadian spectators had been booing the American team, I was SHOCKED. I am so glad to know that it was not indeed a Boooo but a cheer for Luuuu.

I am so sorry that the commentator before me felt it necessary to be inflammatory.
Having said that, I do believe that the only thing that *most* Canadians will ever mourn from this experience is the death of Nodar. His passing is a loss for us ALL as a part of the human family.
Having staged dozens of shows on a *very* small scale, I know that there will *always* be something that stubbornly refuses to go right. Given that the Vancouver Olympics were a HUGE, LIVE and worldwide arena with a cast of thousands, and an organizational nightmare for those arranging all of those venues and the running of all those game events.....WELL......in my estimation things went very well indeed. Other than Nodar's very tragic death, the only things that the media had to pick up on and criticize were escalated because things ran so smoothly overall. In that arena that involved thousands, how much of a travesty is it in the grand scheme of things, that an hydraulic arm that had been tested and retested decided to break its switch at the vital moment, or that a team that had spent four years training for a game won it, and then had the gall to share a glass of beer or champagne and puff on a cigar?
I salute the VANOC team for their amazing heart, and for their ability to juggle all those pins in the air at the same time.
I know that the olympic torch run lit a flame across all of the small towns, and cities across our great nation. Through both hosting and taking on the world's best athletes of the world, we as a nation are more unified than ever before. And that is a true and lasting legacy of these games.
I really thank the athletes of the world and their supporters for coming, and I hope you *all* enjoyed being here, as much as we as a nation enjoyed being your hosts. See you in Sochi.

Namaste. Merlinda

Thank You for coming to Canada. Come back again! Great article. GO CANADA GO!

I attended the Olympics in Athens and enjoyed my time there, but my time in Vancouver......was over the top. My niece is an Olympian Speed Skater from Calgary.......and her event was the most fun I have had forever. The crowd, the atmosphere of the Oval and everyone cheered for every skater.......regardless of where they were from. The Olympics made us a world family.
Vancouver, couldn't have done a better job........I am still missing the events and time there.
A Proud Canadian........

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