Well it’s our second day in Calagary and the weather, contrary to what the locals insist on telling me, has been quite cold. But other than that, everything else has been just perfect.
After a short briefing on the activities lined up for “Let it Snow” and a tour of the kitchen at the head office of the Canada Beef Centre of Excellence, Chef Marty Carpenter brought us for lunch to the Bow Valley Ranche Restaurant at Fish Creek Park.
Arriving at the restaurant and looking at all the fine craftsmanship on display everywhere in that beautifully restored dining hall, it’s impossible not to admire Canadian ingenuity. And how they have been able to, not just overcome the adversity of winter conditions, but use it as an advantage in creating fine food and hospitality products on a global-stage.
Over another wonderful meal of steaks, burgers, and one of the best mushroom soups I’ve ever had, Michael regaled us with tales of Canada’s ranching history. From the early days of the pioneer ranchers who braved the elements to carve out their farms in the middle of the Canadian wilderness, to the traditions that survive until the present time.
The stories, while set in a completely different time and place, ring familiar to my Filipino roots. Overcoming hardships, persevering in the face of extreme challenges, an abiding faith that God will provide, and a firm belief that man’s indomitable will can triumph over all adversity is as true for the millions of Filipinos who have gone overseas to seek a better life for themselves and their families, as it was to those early ranchers who pioneered the Canada beef industry.
Perhaps this is why so many Filipinos have been drawn to Canada and its wide open spaces. It offers an opportunity to carve your own destiny. Even in the hardest of circumstances. But more than that, it represents a freedom and a way of life that – according to Michael – even princes in their palaces envy.
And to be honest, who wouldn’t want to live in a place where everyone is so friendly. Or at least everyone that we have met so far. There is always a ready smile, a firm handshake, or just the slight tip of a hat to show that there are no strangers in Canada, only friends that haven’t been met.