#TBT | The First T.O.F.U. Tour | Part II

Poster for the 2009 T.O.F.U. Tour Show in Ottawa, Ontario

Leaving Saint John, New Brunswick and heading to Montreal, Quebec for the next show was probably the first real taste of what it was like to tour in Canada that Amanda and Mike got, but it was merely a taste. With only ten hours or so between the cities, I knew it would be a good practice run for what was coming up once we finished a few shows in Ontario. Basically a right of passage for any Canadian band, the run from southern Ontario to Winnipeg, Manitoba is well-known for many reasons. A vast stretch of forest, woodland creatures, and not much else, the more economically minded dip into the United States through Detroit and make their way around the Great Lakes then up through North Dakota to Manitoba. However, with the fight we had to get Amanda and Mike into the country, I wasn’t about to have them leave it so soon.

But I’m getting ahead of myself.


As far as I can remember, the drive through New Brunswick and into Quebec went relatively smooth. Well, minus the initial confusion of why the road signs and other things were mainly in French even though we hadn’t left the country. This discovery would be one of many quirky things we talked about over our month and a bit together as we learned just how much of a difference a line on a map can make between the worlds people grow up in.

Of course, it was this language difference, as well as past experiences driving into Montreal, that had me unsurprised when I ended up at a gas station just north of Montreal using my grade 11 French to try and find where we had gone wrong. Eventually, we found our destination and made it to the show on time. Thankfully, due to my friend Aléxandre Gagnon and the other folks involved with Association Végétarienne de Montréal, the event was well attended and there was even food!

Speaking of food, before leaving the next day, we made sure to visit Aux Vivres for brunch to prepare us for the drive to Ottawa. If you have yet to visit, I highly recommend it. On any given tour I did through the city, Aux Vivres was usually on the menu, and I won’t even get into how many times I’ve been there when I’ve spent more than one day in Montreal!

With our bellies full and Montreal traffic (eventually) dealt with, we headed south and made our way to Ottawa where the road signs were in English and driving made a little more sense. We were due to play a community-minded spot called Umi Cafe, which meant an earlier show, vegan snacks, and hopefully cool people.

Making Connections

When you’re on the road, even though the differences might be somewhat more obvious, the similarities that you notice between towns, people, provinces, countries, and more are what help to keep you connected to wherever or whatever you call “home”. Whether it’s a general dislike of the local weather or locals fighting the appearance of condos around the venue you’re due to play, familiar patterns emerge and you can’t help but feel both happy and sad about them depending on just what they are.

So, when we pulled into the parking lot behind Umi Cafe, I suspect all of us knew at least a half dozen other places that were just like it, and that was a good thing. For this tour alone, we would set foot in a number of other cafes with veg options, event posters, community meeting calendars, and all the other little things that let you know people care, and each time it happened I would feel at home.

Similarly, with a few shows under our belt, Amanda, Mike, and myself were starting to get comfortable with one another and realize that we saw eye-to-eye on a number of things. Obviously, the biggest one was being vegan, and even though we each had reasons for choosing to do so, we were reminded of just why we made that choice a number of times during our travels. One of the first moments was when we passed a truck filled with cows, most likely bound for slaughter. As sad as it was to see it so plainly, connecting with them for a second as we continued through Ontario only helped to push us a little more to speak with people during the tour and encourage them to make a choice similar to ours.

Fortunately, since we were driving across Canada, not all the animals we would see would be caged. Of course, such encounters can lead to their own stories, and that’s something better left for next time.

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