By: Marguerite Jill Dye
We headed west with our Rutland friends, Sandy and Allen, on a five day road trip to Canada. First stop was Seneca Falls, N.Y., the setting for “It’s a Wonderful Life” with Jimmy Stewart and Donna Reed. It is also the home of the Women’s Rights National Historical Park.
When two American women attended the 1840 World Anti-Slavery Convention in London and were barred from the convention floor, they were inspired to address women’s rights in America. Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Lucretia Mott convened the first women’s rights convention in 1848 at the Wesleyan Chapel of Seneca Falls to discuss women’s social, civil, and religious rights — 11 of 12 resolutions from the “Declaration of Sentiments and Grievances” passed unanimously. The last resolution for a woman’s “sacred right to the elective franchise” only passed after Frederick Douglass, famous African American abolitionist, joined Stanton in defending a woman’s right to vote. The women’s suffragette movement continued its struggle until Amendment 19 finally passed in 1920 granting American women the constitutional right to vote.
Onward to bucket-listed Niagara Falls where we gawked from the observation tower above the American Falls and circled below Canada’s Horseshoe Falls in dripping wet ponchos on the “Maid of the Mist” boat tour.
We then crossed the bridge border and headed for Niagara on the Lake at the mouth of the Niagara River and Lake Ontario which our French friends had raved about. What we found was a Georgian village of clapboard mansions, breathtaking gardens, European boutiques and flair, English high tea, and the [Bernard] Shaw Theatre Festival. Fortunately Canadians have forgiven our destroying Newark, Ontario, on that very site during the War of 1812, and generously offer us a 30 percent discount on the exchange rate.
The 28 mile isthmus between Lakes Ontario and Eerie creates a temperate microclimate perfect for a wide variety of vegetables and fruits including grapes, so we tasted fine local wines and delectable fare at Ravine Vineyard. We ate pumpkin ice cream on Avondale Farm where a cargo ship crossed the fields on the (hidden) Welland Canal with eight locks between the lakes.
We were struck by the awesome performances of “A Woman of No Importance” by Oscar Wilde where “the woman suffers and the man goes free,” and of “Sweeney Todd,” a haunting, Sondheim musical depicting the most despicable aspects of industrialized London society where “the history of the world, my sweet, is who gets eaten and who gets to eat.”
Our Lithuanian hosts at Vineyard Villas (who left after the Fall of the Berlin Wall), served breakfast as a lovely Turkish couple shared their story. They live in Toronto but hope to follow their dream to buy a farm and create their own vineyard.
“Ten years ago no one believed Erdogan could win the Turkish election because he made such outrageous statements, but he won. That’s when we moved to Canada. Now, ten years later, he’s set up a dictatorship. We wish the U.S. had intervened. You can learn from our mistake. Choose wisely. Beware!” said the Turkish couple.
We considered our freedom on our way home, and the rights we often take for granted.
May we defend the rights of humanity and look out for one another.
Photo by Patty Songstad
A seagull is perched on a rock overlooking Canada’s Horseshoe Falls, a bucket-list stop for the author.