Vancouver, 9th July 2008
A friend in the North once told me of a telephone conversation between a friend of his in British Columbia and a relative of that friend living in Belfast.
The Belfast caller had a friend who was travelling to Canada, a friend who had not travelled much and was apprehensive about the journey. With that willingness always to try to be helpful that is part of the Belfast character, the Belfast caller said he had a friend in Canada and maybe they could meet the person at the airport.
Anyway, with the best intentions the man in in Belfast phoned British Columbia. “I’ve a friend coming to Canada and he’s a bit worried about the journey, I was wondering if you could meet him”.
“Where’s he coming to?”
“Halifax in Nova Scotia”.
“Ah, I don’t know if you realize, but you’d be closer to him in Belfast than I am out here”.
I never checked the details, but I was once told that the halfway point between Dublin ad Vancouver is Sudbury, Ontario.
It’s hard for Europeans to grasp the size of the country.
At Revelstoke Dam Visitor Centre it is explained that the dam at Revelstoke provides electricity for 800,000 homes. The hydro-electric station there was designed in the 1980s with a capacity for six turbines. Four were installed at the beginning, the fifth is currently being added, the sixth will follow. A single HEP station generating power for 1,2 million Canadian homes would generate enough power for the whole of Ireland.
The dam is fed by the Columbia River, the basin of which, the exhibition says, covers an area the size of France (or half the size of British Columbia).
Sitting in a diner at a truck stop this morning, we watched the eight axle lorries pulling in and drivers built like their trucks coming in for their lunch. Across the road, two CNR trains passed, each pulling as many as 150 wagons, it is hard to keep count as they roll through.
Perhaps things being big helps a psychological adjustment to the scale of the place. Halifax is indeed a long way off.