Canada 2017·What's Your Story

Forget pet rock! Why my childhood boulder keeps me connected to Canada

For Debra Lewis, Canada means a place you can always return to. Like a boulder on the side of a road in Truro, N.S.

The rock was safe, solid. It's still there. Canada to me is safe, solid and still there.

Growing up near Truro, N.S., Debra Lewis (age 9 on the right) had a favourite place to go to when she played outside — her boulder on the side of the road. (Debra Lewis)

As part of CBC's What's Your Story campaign, we're asking Canadians to tell us about the one object they would submit to a collection of national treasures, objects that contain the strongest feelings, personal histories and vivid memories of our diverse population.

For Debra Lewis, who now lives in Scarborough, England, Canada means a place you can always return to — like a boulder on the side of a road in Truro, N.S. 

'The boulder, on the right side of the picture (the top rock), before it was moved by the work men. I was four at the time of the photo (1979). ' (Debra Lewis)

When I was a little girl, we lived in a log cabin about 15 minutes outside of Truro, Nova Scotia.   

We had chickens at one point, pigs at another and always had a cat and a dog. I never had a tree house or anything like that, but I had something better that no one else I knew had.

My very own boulder.  

It was huge. A big ball of pink granite that had been deposited by glacier far in the past, right in the way of the men who had built the little single lane dirt road our property was on.  

They had very thoughtfully shoved it out of their way and into my woods, long before my dad had bought the wood lot he built our log house on. The boulder had the perfect place to sit on top, shaped just right for my little bottom to feel like I had my own bottom-shaped chair. I could get up on top of it by myself, although the boulder was much bigger than me. It was a bit rough on the sides and there were little footholds here and there.      

One day, the road crews were widening out the road, turning it from a one-lane track into a proper two-lane dirt road. We went out somewhere and when we got back, the boulder had been rolled further into the woods surrounding our house. It was upside down. I was a bit concerned about that but once I tried it out, it turned out better than before!  

Although everything else in the world changes... the fact that the boulder was still there and unchanged made everything OK.      - Debra Lewis

My favourite seat was underneath the boulder now, but the rearrangement meant I now had a hidey-hole underneath the boulder that was just big enough for me to crawl into, and when I got bigger, it was a mini house for whatever imaginary friend I decided needed to live in it.      

Years later, I've moved more times than I can count and now live in the United Kingdom. A few years ago, when my daughter was nearly three, we drove past the house in Nova Scotia specifically so I could see the boulder. I made the excuse that I wanted to show it to my husband and daughter, but really it was because I missed it.  

'The house from around the same time (1979). It doesn't look anything like this any more.' (Debra Lewis)

My boulder was still there. My home was still there, and although everything else in the world changes, and even the trees around it had been cut down somewhat, the fact that the boulder was still there and unchanged made everything OK.      

The rock was safe, solid. It's still there. Canada to me is safe, solid and still there.

I have been back to Canada only once since then and I haven't managed to see my boulder again, but whenever I'm out walking, if I come across a bit of pink granite I hold it close to my heart and feel that connection to my boulder again.

Debra, today, with her husband Chris and daughter Felicity. (Debra Lewis)


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