In 2015 I set foot on Canadian soil again for the first time in five years. I'm from Saskatchewan, and have lived in the UK since 2009. A dear friend was getting married in Charlottetown, her ancestral home to which her family returned from Regina when we were 12, launching us into a long distance friendship that mercifully survived through a profound connection, dedicated letter-writing and occasional (bankrupting) long distance phone calls.
I didn't make it all the way home this time around, so Prince Edward Island was my sole reintroduction to the homeland. It was a strange feeling -- something like a homecoming, but, being surrounded by utterly different landscapes and architecture from my ingrained Canadian experience, and with the unmistakeable aroma of salt water in the air, there was an ever-present awareness that I was still very much "from away" (as they say on The Island).
A visit with friends to Victoria village and its famed Leards Range Front Lighthouse gave me pause. Being from a landlocked province, lighthouses have never featured heavily on my radar. Yet there was something familiar here -- and it hit me: Leards Light House looked not entirely unlike the iconic grain elevators that dot the prairies. And this vision forged that missing connection between my surrogate home and that of my Canadian youth; these iconic buildings that bonded the people to the landscape were woven into the fabric of our history (and our ability to thrive) in these places.