Wave to a stranger on Canada Day

Halina St James

by Halina St James

I remember, as a young girl, going for boat rides with my parents. We always waved to passing boats. They always waved back.

I often wondered why we would acknowledge perfect strangers on a lake when we wouldn’t in a city street or shopping mall. Perhaps it was the enormity of the lake and the frailty of our boats that made us reach out to each other. Or simply the knowledge of a shared pleasure.

Fast forward to today. I’m blessed to live in Nova Scotia, a Canadian province surrounded by ocean and awash with lakes. When I go out on a boat, I still wave to perfect strangers. And they still wave back.

But there’s something special about Nova Scotia. You don’t have to be out in a boat to get a wave from a stranger. If you are out for a walk, you’ll most likely get a friendly wave from passing motorists.

Admittedly most of my walking is on the lanes around my home. So you could argue that the waves are an indication of shared pleasure in a certain neighbourhood.

But here in Nova Scotia this delight in reaching out to strangers extends far beyond shared interests or simple neighbourliness. This is the province where a man stood on the overpass of a busy highway day after day and waved to passing motorists… for 40 years.

I was startled the first time I saw him. After that I started to look forward to seeing him. The province named the overpass for him – the Freddie Wilson Overpass.

As human beings, we instinctively want to communicate with each other. So, on this Canada Day, no matter where you live in this beautiful country, reach out. Smile or wave at a stranger. Happy Canada Day.

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