The personal topics our writers explored last year ranged from lighthearted and funny to poignant and heart-wrenching. These are some of our favourite essays.
Vancouver and Whitehorse Are Tied Together in My Mind
“Vancouver and Whitehorse are about as different as two cities can get. One lives in a grey, persistent 10-degree drizzle, the other in a blanket of snow—volleying from full days of sun to full days of darkness. And yet, Vancouver and Whitehorse are somehow tied together in my mind: people wander up and down, looking for salvation.” Read more.
Turning 40 Made Me Feel Invisible. It Also Set My Style Free
“I didn’t think I dressed for men—except when I did. Reflecting now, I did it all the time, as naturally as breathing. It makes me want to go back and hug that girl. She was just so worried about how she looked all the time.” Read more.
Which Is Vancouver’s Cruelest Month?
“In giving a novel touching on the theme of depression a Vancouver setting, I thought I had only two possible choices for time of year: November or January, Early Rain or Middle Rain. (Late Rain, with its hopeful cargo of spring, its soaking masses of Japanese cherry blossoms clinging to everything like glitter, was obviously too chipper for a book about the deep dark blues). And while it’s true that January is bleak, it really is hard to compete with November—not only sombre and sodden but also host of our most solemn, least whimsical public observances, Remembrance Day and Movember.” Read more.
Digital Filters Are Changing How We See Our Own Faces
“Sometime between 2019 and now, I stopped recognizing my face. I’m not entirely sure when it happened—looking back, it feels like overnight—but one day, I walked past a mirror and I saw a stranger. It was a little more age, a little less makeup, and a little change in weight, but to me, it represented an insurmountable difference in personhood.” Read more.
Darkness Past, Beauty Present
“If I couldn’t ask my mother what it was like to be a prisoner in Auschwitz from August to November 1944, I could read about other people’s experiences there during that time period. As I read and wrote about these horrors, sitting at my little IKEA desk at the window in my bedroom, I would look outside to remind myself where I was. I was home, in Vancouver. Safe.” Read more.
At an All-Adult Summer Camp, I Explore What Online Dating Is Missing
“We’ll be housed in unheated, co-ed cabins with 20 people we’ve never met. Even before COVID, the weekend sounds like the plot of a reality show and my worst nightmare rolled into one. But I’m burnt out from online dating and willing to push myself outside my comfort zone if I might experience some campfire sparks.” Read more.
Searching for Clan Campbell in the Scottish Highlands
“Thanks to industrious Mormon cousins and old family bibles, my mother’s side going back 10 generations to Ohio is well set out, and there are enough Scots to keep up with the Joneses. But the names are a sea of strangers. Seventy thousand people in Canada use the last name Campbell, and I’m only related to four of them.” Read more.
The Harlequin Set
“According to a friend who is very British and knows these things, a collection of mismatched dishes is called a harlequin set. When I heard that, I felt relieved. Until then, the hodgepodge nature of our dishware—and, really, our life in general—was starting to get me down. At times, it feels as if we haven’t moved beyond our days of eating off the top of a box. Sometimes naming a condition, a circumstance, or a state of life (or dishware, in this case) confers dignity.” Read more.
Read even more essays.