Canada’s East Coast Versus West Coast: What’s the Best Coast?
I grew up with one foot on the mainland, the other on the rolling hills of “down home.” Newfoundland may not have the majesty of the young, imposing, and proud Rocky Mountain regions, but its homey warmth and rugged beauty are endearing.
The salty, fresh sting of the gray and robust ocean beat its well-worn shores. It hasn’t the giant Redwood or Sitka of the West Coast, but its little, gnarly shrubs and fragrant marsh lands, its cattail reeds, and the delicious offerings of the rugged, yet soft wild—bake-apple berries, dew berries—are the joys of Newfoundlanders alone.
My parents are among the Newfoundlanders who have traversed the sprawling nation’s expanse to the land of milk and honey—Alberta.
True to this modern-day Canadian tradition, the Newfoundlanders never forgot home and not a year went by without a pilgrimage back to the homeland.
I grew up in Ontario—the “Onterrible” region between coasts—land-locked. I cherished my summers in Newfoundland.
Northern Ontario holds many delights. I won’t sweepingly dismiss the charms of the province, from the Maple festival near Kitchener-Waterloo to the good old cottage country expanse north of Toronto.
But, this article isn’t about the in-between regions.
Vancouver has its charms, and the islands off the coast are magical. The West is, for me, a land of adventure—surfing, hiking, climbing, and skiing. The metropolitan and the wild mingle in Vancouver, where trendy patios look out at mountain ranges.
Further in-land, the sun and warmth, and rolling hills of the Okanagan Valley delight. The blooming fruit trees of the Okanagan in spring rival the changing leaves of fall along the Cabot Trail in Nova Scotia’s Cape Breton.
The East is a land of kitchen parties, warmth, fiddles, and accordions—folksy, humble. It also offers much adventure to the adventurous heart, of course.
I sometimes think of the east-to-west spectrum in relation to the Old World.
The Vikings landed in Newfoundland. The first Europeans landed and settled there. It took a certain amount of hardiness to leave the Old World and carve a living out of Eastern Canada’s tangled vegetation and rocky soil. It took perhaps a certain extra dose of hardiness to make the long trek out to the Western frontier.
I think as a general statement, however, few regions outside of Newfoundland can boast such an attachment among their inhabitants to the land that formed them. That’s my experience and observation from traveling across this land and getting to know many of its people.
I’ll leave you with the lyrics of a song titled “The Islander” often sung in Newfoundland: “I’m a Newfoundlander born and bred, and I’ll be one ’til I die. I’m proud to be an Islander, and here’s the reason why. I’m free as the wind and the waves that wash the sand; there’s no place I would rather be than here in Newfoundland.”