I’m living and going to school in Fredericton, New Brunswick right now. It’s fairly easy for locals to recognize that I’m not from the Maritimes: I don’t have the right dialect, I’ve never seen bagged milk, I’ve never been to a Sobey’s before, and I’m genuinely quite shocked by the temperature (or lack of it) on a daily basis.
Because of this, I am frequently asked: “Where are you from?”
The simple and most direct answer, the one I give most often, is simply, “B.C.” It gets the point across.
In B.C., we speak with less of a lilt, we drink milk out of jugs, we have Save-On instead of Sobey’s, and we have a climate more suitable to human life (it’s not that I don’t love snow, it’s that it shouldn’t snow in September, at night time, while I’m wearing my sneakers, trying to walk down the hill and back home from the hockey game).
So if I say I’m from British Columbia, everyone understands. Some people go on to ask me: “Whereabouts in B.C.?”
Here’s where things get tricky.
It’s easy enough just to say, “Vancouver.” Vancouver is about the only city in British Columbia that everyone knows about. Technically, I am from part of Metro Vancouver, so it’s accurate. But it’s not right. I’m from Maple Ridge. I grew up here, went to school here. Maple Ridge is bigger than Fredericton by population, but almost no one’s heard of it. It’s difficult to comprehend that the place where I’ve lived almost my whole life can go unknown by others. So instead of saying I’m from Vancouver, I start off with some geography.
I reply: “I’m from Maple Ridge, which is about an hour’s drive from Vancouver.”
It’s been wonderful showing my friends Maple Ridge. When people ask what’s special about my town, it’s hard to pick what to show them first. I usually go with the Golden Ears mountains or sometimes Alouette Lake, because for all the charm of the fall leaves, New Brunswick lacks the evergreens and the mountains. The mountains usually make a few jaws drop.
I’ve taken my friends on drives through our town. Not really, because we’re thousands of kilometres away, but virtually via Google Maps. I started at my house and show them my neighbourhood between Kanaka and Albion. The Wynnyck farm and the fish fence were our first stops. I took my friends to Memorial Peace Park, the cenotaph, the library, and I even stopped to show them the horse clock. Bruce’s Market was next.
I have discovered that B.C. fish is something unparalleled. Atlantic salmon is good, but nothing compares to Bruce’s. When my parents sent me my first care package when I came to university, all I asked for was smoked salmon, salmon jerky, and maple nuggets.
It’s important to me, to be able to share little parts of Maple Ridge with my Maritime friends.
I hope that one day I can share that feeling with my friends directly, and take them home with me so that they can see why Maple Ridge is the jewel of the Lower Mainland.