- Olivia Petras is a former Ontarian giving the East Coast a go, one so-called-highway and coastline at a time. Her writing can be found at haliforniadreaming.wordpress.com
Dear Nova Scotia,
Today marks our two-year anniversary. Writing this letter has additional significance to me because it is the first time I have written a love letter in my 25 years of existence. And although it isn’t to a person, rather a place, you have changed me in much the same way I envision a romantic partner could.
It seems like just yesterday I was quitting my job in Niagara and informing my friends and family of my intention to move across the country, which seemed to be a rather spur of the moment decision. I was met with a healthy dose of scepticism and some disappointment at first, but I knew from previous visits that you would be warm and welcoming. And as I drove across three provinces, from the chaotic freeways of Ontario to confusing French signs of Quebec, and along empty, seemingly never-ending stretches of New Brunswick pavement, I was trying to picture what you would have in store for me. I can say, without a doubt, it has been more than I ever imagined.
And so when I dropped my father off at the airport, I found myself wholly alone for the first time in my life. As I drove back to my new home that day, I was utterly terrified and wondered to myself if I had just made a huge mistake. During the next six months, I had a lot of those moments—feeling completely alone and scared. But, you seemed to develop a knack for being able to scoop me up and hold me close when I needed it. You distracted me with a beauty I had never seen before when my mind raced with thoughts of fleeing back to Ontario. Your ocean swam in my head when I pictured the common lakes of my childhood. Every time I explored a new road along the rural coastline, with bright yellow houses and buoys lining your front porch, I thought to myself how I would not be able to replicate this colourful and
Thank you for the economical opportunities I have been blessed with here. I know jobs are hard to come by, and I have taken none of the opportunities I have been given for granted. Just when I was ready to give up on my degree and prior education, you gave me the first job I have ever truly enjoyed and a break I would be hard pressed to find in Ontario.
Thank you for procuring the friendliest and most welcoming people. Within the first few days, I had my first taste of this pleasant culture you are so well known for as the lady at the DMV told me, “You can smile for your license here, dear.” Cue the stupidly big grin which is now plastered on my card. “Welcome to Nova Scotia,” she said, as I left the office with a hop, skip and jump,
Thank you for allowing me to try and become a true “East Coaster.” You have only playfully ribbed my ‘Upper Canadian’ accent, although you continually point out the extent of ‘eh’ in my vocabulary. You didn’t rush my culinary journey into seafood and Maritime-approved alcoholic beverages. In Ontario, I would have stuck my nose up if you pushed a plate of mussels, scallops, halibut, or lobster in front of me at the table. Now, I devour them with gumption and brag about my access to these delicacies to those jealous Upper Canadians. I previously assumed Alexander Keiths was the drink of choice
Thank you for sharing your geographical beauty with me. I am spoiled now by your powerful sea and never-ending coastline, as I find myself dismissing most lakes and rivers with a quick wave of my hand. I have glided alongside humpback whales on a rough day at sea. I have biked the windiest routes in the Clare
However, I would be hard-pressed to finish this letter without mentioning my former mistress, Ontario, which will always hold a piece of my heart. I was born there, in the sprawling suburbia of Scarborough. I grew up on a small farm in her central region, having a youth full of animals, chores, long drives and unique memories. I somehow turned into an adult in Niagara, with a few bumps along the way. She still holds my family, and she treats them well; and for that, I will always be grateful and I will always return.
My hope for you, and for us—all of us—is that people are able to look at you will the kind of wonder and love I do. And I have seen signs of that, along with the odd grumble from a scathed former lover in the back pages of The Coast. I see the countless Instagram accounts documenting your beauty. I know that on a busy day on the waterfront, alongside the hordes of excitable tourists, there are people just like me out for a walk or run that find simple satisfaction from gazing onto Georges Island and inhaling the salty air. I see people as hungry as me to check out the newest craft brewery or indulge in the latest calorie filled sweet at the market. So don’t be discouraged. I am not the only one who loves and appreciates you, and I hope people will read this and that fire will be lit once more.
I’ll think I’ll stay if that’s alright? Who am I kidding, you’re happy to have me.