Well, being stuck on an unmoving train/crime scene for 3 hours was not exactly how we planned to spend Canada Day as a family… but somehow it still turned out to have a feel-good, totally Canadian, “why I love living here” vibe.
After attending a lovely, powerful woman giving birth yesterday as a Birth Doula (I’m also a Registered Nurse & Lactation Consultant) and therefore missing the first day of summer break with my kids, I thought I could come up with something fun to do to for Canada’s 150 celebration.
The basic plan was to go to see some amazing fireworks tonight. We’re not huge fans of crowds, and I strongly believe that letting a 3 year old stay up to 11 pm is almost never a good idea, so we were going to enjoy them from the comfy top floor balcony of my in-laws home.
With an entire day in front of us, we decided to think small, and go to the Port Credit Canada Day parade….. We drove 10 minutes to the Mimico train station and took the GO train just 2 stops “because trains are fun” (so at least one of our kids would like the ride) and we could skip the crammed parking lots near the parade.
After making it 90% of the way to our station, our train suddenly stopped. Within minutes we were told that we had made an emergency stop, and that they were trying to gather details.
Quite quickly we were told that that there was an “incident” involving a trespasser and that wouldn’t be moving any time soon. We settled in and checked the stash of snacks, but nobody panicked. Unfortunately, we soon found out that the incident was serious enough that the train had technically become a crime scene involving a train and the ‘trespasser’ and therefore were unable to leave and we would probably be there for about 3 hours.
Ugh. Right away we told our older 2 kids (aged 12 & 9) that there had been a serious accident and that we weren’t going to complain because no matter what, someone else was having the worst day of their lives (I kept thinking that everyone has a mother and I’m so sorry for them)…and that this was just an inconvenience to us.
We happened to be on the busiest car of the train so there had been chatter and joking about how we could make a human chain to escape into a nearby backyard, or how we could have Pizza delivered if it came to that, but we were patient…we just waited.
After a while of sitting, talking and an exhaustive iSpy game (there’s only so much for a 3 year old to spy from an unmoving train) I whispered to my 9 year old that I had an idea for a Canada day project. I suggested that we should take this opportunity to meet some new people because that’s what Canada is all about, and she quickly jumped on the idea. Within minutes she had started her first ‘interview’ and was meeting people on our train car and asking what their plans had been (before being stuck here for the day), where they were born, and what they loved most about Canada.
The response was awesome.
We met a new friend who had also been on his way to the parade, and although he was born in Canada he actually grew up in Ethiopia and had lots of stories to tell. My daughter talked his ear off and he graciously told her all about their New Year celebrations (in September!) and why he decided to move back to Canada 1 year ago. He told us he was supposed to meet up with his Robotics team, so they talked about building stuff, and also how the drivers are apparently better in Canada, and that people are just so nice here.
Next was Wendy, who was born in China and moved here when she was just 22 (only a few years ago). Her favourite thing back home was spring festival because her favourite memory of home was all the amazing food, and that was the best part of the festival. School in China was VERY different than what she hears about school here, and she said that everyone is so nice in Canada… she even said that “talking to a stranger on a train would never happen in China, that would be weird”… I explained that it is still a bit odd here to be honest, but we all joked that we were here anyway and she kept chatting along…
We met a family with kids, and the mother and I shared an interest in helping new mothers and that she runs a mom’s group in the area… we even shared contact info! We also met a young couple heading to Niagara Falls for the day. The mom in me quickly found out that they hadn’t eaten breakfast, and we gave them apples, while the next family over gave them granola bars…
By the time we were cleared by police and the train was able to move, we had been on the train for three and a half hours…
There had been a show or two watched on the cell phone with the most battery, a mile or more had been walked up and down the train cars (they have cool new automatic doors now), and we had met a train car worth of other Canadians who were friendly, open, and just trying to make the best of a bad situation.
As the train finally pulled into the station (we all had to get off) we all clapped and said goodbye, wished each other good luck and Happy Canada Day. … and you know, it really was. I know that Canada isn’t perfect. I also know that there’s no where else I’d rather live. I like what we’re trying to become, and I like what we stand for.
We finished the day with “daytime Sparklers” and the girls still went with Dad to watch the fireworks. The youngest was tucked into bed by 7pm (phew!) and I got caught up with work, organizing with new moms all around the city who were having visits from our Postpartum Doulas tonight!