This Canadian Goes To The Top Of Santa’s Nice Column

Anna Kroupina, Open Jaw

Canadians are known the world over for their rare breed of “nice," so if you're ever in need of a favour, ask a Canadian, even if that favour involves a nearly 1,700-km drive through a snowstorm to another country.That's exactly the kind of northern hospitality the villagers of northern British Columbia town Wonowon offered one American mother and her kids when they found themselves stranded in the Great White North.

As CNN reports, Lynn Marchessault, her 13-year-old son Payton, 10-year-old daughter Rebecca and the family pets needed to get from Georgia to Alaska, where Marchessault's husband, a staff sergeant in the U.S. Army, is stationed.

The drive north was supposed to happen in the early days of fall, but of course, the pandemic stymied those plans. Instead, the Marchessaults set off on their cross-country road trip in November. 

The first 4,800 km of the trip went without a hitch, but the further north they travelled, the worse the weather got. That's when Marchessault encountered her first winter white-out conditions, something she had never experienced in the southern United States. To make things even worse, she also ran out of windshield fluid.

Slush covered her windows and she couldn't see to drive. Even scarier -- her "all-season" tires turned out to be summer rubber.

Exhausted, stressed and in tears, Marchessault threw in the towel when she got to Wonowon. Vowing the only way to get them to the U.S. border was with the border patrol, the Marchessaults found a motel and went to bed.

That's when the kind folks in and around Wonowon got to work, putting out a plea on Facebook for someone to drive the Marchessaults, their truck and their U-Haul the last 1,700 km to the border. The trip takes a good driver, familiar with the perilous Alaska Highway, about two days.

Gary Bath, a ranger whose job includes training members of the Canadian military to survive the Arctic, answered the call. He volunteered to drive the family all the way to the border.

Bath is the quintessence of "Canada nice."

The rest of the drive was long but, save for a blown tire that was fixed quickly, uneventful and, in the end, rather enjoyable.

"We both have military experience so we talked about military life, told stories of family, the kids played games, and Lynn and I found out we are both weird and like the MRE's -- the military food," Bath told CNN.

He drove them to a Canadian border checkpoint where the Marchessaults handed in their paperwork and the new friends parted ways.

Anna Kroupina

Anna Kroupina Journalist

Anna is OJ's newest member and she joins the team as a writer/reporter. She co-writes the daily news and covers events. Although she's new to the industry, pursuing a career path in travel/tourism has been a goal since her first family road trip to the Florida Keys sparked a desire to discover the world and this exhilarating, fast-paced industry.

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