Canada - The Wrong Choice

In 1968, when I was eight years old, I made my first trip without my parents or sisters.   My grandparents, John and Margaret Macfarlan  drove from their home in Miami, picked me up in Virginia and took me to Canada.   

It was an amazing trip. We camped all along the east coast of the USA before finally crossing the border into Quebec, Canada.  It was my first time being somewhere where English was not the primary language.  

We had lunch as a nice restaurant in old Quebec City.  (I think it might have been at the Château Frontenac but I really don't remember.)   We had been camping and cooking for most of the trip, and it was a big treat to go to a nice place.    After we ate, I had to go to the bathroom.  An English-speaking  waiter told me it was downstairs.    I headed down the steps by myself and saw two doors.  One said "Monsieur" and the other said "Mademoiselle."   I didn't know those words and wasn't sure which one was for boys.  I had a decision to make.  I waited a few minutes hoping someone else would show up so I could figure it out.  Unfortunately, no one else came.  Even at eight years old, I liked to figure things out for myself.   So,  I stared at the words and reasoned that "Mademoiselle" started the same way as "man" and that "Monsieur" was liked "woman" because it had "o" as the second letter.   I finally decided that "Mademoiselle" must be the men's room and in I went.

Thankfully, the bathroom was empty.   As I opened the door to head back upstairs, I saw my grandfather standing outside.   He was horrified that I had gone into the women's bathroom but also thankful that I was okay.  He had searched the men's room and when he didn't find me, he thought I was lost.  

I don't have any photos from my time with my grandparents in Canada. I took this photo more than 40 years later.   On that trip, I fondly remembered my first visit to Quebec, one that probably started my love of travel.


It was also wonderful to travel with my grandparents.  My grandfather was a wonderful storyteller with a love of history.   For years, he gave history lessons at First United Methodist Church in Miami and I've posted many of those lessons online.

During my 2015 trip, we produced two stories for the TV program "Peruanos en el Mundo."  Those are linked below.

Dates of Travel

  • Summer, 1968
  • Winter, 1981
  • August, 2015

Places Visited

  • Quebec
  • Montreal
  • Ottawa
  • Toronto
  • Niagara Falls




This post is part of my series "One Photo - One Country."  I'm am selecting one photo and writing one story from every country I have visited.   Your comments and questions are welcome.  

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