Here's a journal entry that I wrote on a Pacific-bound train twelve years ago, somewhere amid the lakes and forests of Western Ontario.
Rick was my seat-mate, a Toronto lad who was travelling to Jasper. When he woke up I didn't so much "talk to him" as "propose to him". Yup, not even one third of the way across and I was already in love with Canada, and had taken my first stumbling step towards citizenship.
At 8:15 am today, barring any unexpected obstacles, I will take the final step. Swear the oath of allegiance, sing the anthem, and complete the journey.
Regular readers will know how much I love my adopted home town of Vancouver, despite its flaws; my first day here was enough to erase any thoughts of moving to Toronto. That love extends to the rest of BC and beyond; Toronto is hip and happening, Montreal is vibrant and beautiful, Nova Scotia is scenic and friendly, and there's so much more still to see. Canadians are great people (although many Vancouverites are way too reserved for their own good), and they've built a (mostly) decent, tolerant, multicultural society that I'm proud to be a part of, the current government notwithstanding.
I've always felt at home in this country, from the very first time I set foot in Toronto after a few weeks in the US and thought "cool! Red mail boxes". As much as I love my home nation, Canada just feels more... open, I guess. There's much less of a class structure, people don't judge you based on your accent the same way they do in the UK, and everything's just so new... it feels like the possibilities are endless. And there's so much space.
Today is a doubly proud day because I'm here in my own right. I earned my status through my education and work experience, not through marriage to a random Canadian I met on a train when I was 20, or even in a friend's house when I was 26.
I will remain a proud Brit. I'm lucky enough to be allowed to hold two citizenships; if I wasn't, I honestly don't know whether I'd have taken this final step. But since I am allowed, I applied for Canadian citizenship within three days of becoming eligible.
But I'll save my immigration stories for another time; today is about true patriot love.
(or should that be \Ø/ ?)