O Canada …

I lived in Canada—in Stephenville, on the island of Newfoundland—when I was a kid. (Daddy was a helicopter pilot in the US Air Force, which had an outpost there.) It’s one of the most vivid memories of my childhood.

I wouldn’t mind going back to see it. (Though maybe in summer.)

Beautiful downtown Stephenville, ca. 1959, mid-autumn.

Beautiful downtown Stephenville, ca. 1959, mid-autumn. (Click to enlarge so you can read the signs.)

A few years ago I read a book—Theatre of Fish: Travels Through Newfoundland and Labrador by John Gimlette—which whetted my appetite for a return visit someday. I even had a little email correspondence about it with the author, who was very generous with his time and advice. We’d have to go in August, it seems.

That isn’t the only book with a Canadian setting in my collection of books (here is a good list of books set in Canada to start with), but I’m particularly fond of novelists Margaret Atwood (who wouldn’t be?) and Louise Penny … or perhaps I should say I want to visit Penny’s fictional Three Pines. I’ve learned a lot about Québec and Canadian history from Penny’s novels about Chief Inspector Armand Gamache of the Sûreté du Québec and now of Three Pines.

But really I just wrote this post to inform you that Canada will be marking its sesquicentennial next year, and to celebrate, all of Canada’s national parks will be fee-free—for the year. There are 38 national parks and 8 national park reserves in Canada, so you’ll need to get a move on if you want to see them all while they’re free. Here are just the ones that are World Heritage sites:

If you can look at the photos in these links and remain unmoved, I’ve got nothin’ for ya.