Although I grew up on a very little island, my life was far from little or insular. I am not sure how the term insular came in to being because most island life, it seems to me, is exposed to the comings and goings of the wider world. It is in the very nature of an island to be outward looking; with eyes always turned to the horizon at sea and minds dreaming of what lies beyond.
Some of my childhood dreams revolved around a huge country, namely Canada. My dreaming was influenced by a book we had, at home, about a modern (1960s!) Canadian family exploring their own country. The book had a stunning photo of what I thought must be the most beautiful lake in the world, Lake Louise. And I yearned to be like that travelling family, standing by that lake, breathing in the beauty of Canada.
My yearning and dreaming, and, most likely, some suggesting to my parents that we take our next holiday in Canada, came to nought. Nought, that is, unless I count my greatest (ever!) school project, entitled Canada. I completed this ‘master’work during my last year at elementary school, when I was about 11 years old. I remember the hours I spent on it; the careful penmanship, the drawings, the maps, the frustration of the maple leaf that refused to be drawn correctly; the beautifully straight, ruled lines I made across the pages. Ah, it was a labour of love; and a labour of heavily plagiarized content, as well. References, or sources, were not part of a school project in those far off days 🙂
Maybe the project lacked originality, but I adored it, and have kept it safe for more than forty years. Like me, it has travelled the world and rested in many homes. Unlike me, it has stayed in good physical shape and, apart from some discolouration and a few loose pages, it is much the same as on the day I finished it.
Here is a glimpse of the project. As you look at the slide show, imagine a young girl, in an old, wooden classroom, in a little sugar industry town, on a small island in the large Pacific Ocean, studiously and carefully recreating the story of Canada. And, for extra fun, imagine also that maybe, just maybe, that circa 1968, there was, in the middle of Canada, on a deeply snowy day, a young person dreaming and writing about small islands in the far Pacific, for I am sure there was one such child.
Did you look carefully at the brochure for the Canadian Pacific Railway trains? I put it in my project because I thought those scenes were the epitome of elegance and luxury.
Note: to 11 year old self….how could you do this?????