Melanie Gardner is pictured at her home in Stittsville, Ont., on Wednesday, Nov. 4, 2020. Melanie Gardner moved to Canada to escape Donald Trump’s presidency, but even on the other side of the border she said the stress of the U.S. election is taking a physical toll. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

Melanie Gardner is pictured at her home in Stittsville, Ont., on Wednesday, Nov. 4, 2020. Melanie Gardner moved to Canada to escape Donald Trump’s presidency, but even on the other side of the border she said the stress of the U.S. election is taking a physical toll. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

Moving to Canada didn’t ease this American’s election-induced stress

She doesn’t expect to move back to the U.S. regardless of the results

Melanie Gardner moved to Canada to escape Donald Trump’s presidency, but even on the other side of the border she said the stress of the U.S. election is taking a physical toll.

“I just went to the dentist this morning. I’ve been grinding my teeth so that I’m having vicious pain in my mouth,” she said from Ottawa on Wednesday. “So I have to make a concerted effort to stop that.”

But she can’t unclench her jaw just yet.

Despite Gardner’s Ottawa address, the as-yet-undetermined results of the election are all too real to her, affecting her daughter who remains south of the border, her siblings and cousins, and the homeland for which she still has hope.

Gardner, a retired U.S. government librarian, was among many Americans who pondered crossing the 49th parallel after Trump was elected four years ago. Google Trends show the search “move to Canada” spiked after the 2016 election, and surged again on Tuesday night.

But with a Canadian husband, Gardner was in a position to do it.

“My husband is from Ottawa, and he was saying, at that point, it didn’t feel like the same country to him that it had been for over 30 years when he was working in Washington. And he didn’t any longer feel welcome. And so I said, ‘Well, you’ve got family there. Let’s just move there.’”

It took about two years, she said, but she and her husband sold their Maryland house and sought solace in Canada’s capital.

And while she said the move felt — and continues to feel — right to her, it didn’t bring the respite she and her loved ones expected.

“Everybody — all my friends and family — said, ‘Oh, well, you know, you’re away from all of it. So you must be calm and everything is good.’ I said, ‘It’s up here. It crosses the border. It’s in the newspapers, it’s on the news. They can’t stop watching because of how horrible it is,’” Gardner said.

She couldn’t stop watching either, and this year began working with Democrats Abroad to ensure Americans overseas know how to vote.

“Many of those people don’t know they actually can vote,” she said.

She’s spent hours every day answering people’s questions in an effort to get out the vote, while taking Zoom exercise classes, going for walks and working on a quilt in a bid to take care of herself.

But even if her work pays off and Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden wins the presidency, she said she won’t be moving back to the U.S.

She’s set down roots here.

“People have asked what most surprised me about Canada and I said the fact that it seemed like home right away,” she said.

READ MORE: Advisers during Bush-Gore cliffhanger urge Canadian silence on uncertain outcome

Nicole Thompson, The Canadian Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.

CanadaDonald TrumpelectionJoe BidenUSA

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Heating cable laid in the cold frame, awaiting the layer of sand. (Mary Lowther photo)
Mary Lowther column: Greenhouse growing in the winter

I have a heating cable I’ve never used that I’m contemplating putting to work in the cold frame

Sarah Simpson
Sarah Simpson Column: If you don’t have anything nice to say…

Dear Sarah, the letter began. I hope you mail a note from… Continue reading

Bhagwan Mayer. (Photo submitted)
Organizer of transporting the World’s Largest Hockey Stick to Cowichan remembered

Bhagwan Mayer a “hard-working fellow who cared about his community.”

Paula Foot narrates a collection of stories to appeal to the imaginations of the young and young at heart with a new album​ ‘Moments with Miss Paula: Stories for Fall and Winter’. (Submitted)
New album of stories from Cowichan storyteller offers children a world of magic

The stories will appeal to six-, seven-, and eight-year-olds

Mary Cox and Jack Plant dance in their pyjamas and slippers at the morning pyjama dance during the Rhythm Reelers’ 25 Annual Rally in the Valley Square Dance Festival in Chilliwack on June 4, 2011. Sunday, Nov. 29, 2020 is Square Dancing Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of Nov. 29 to Dec. 5

Square Dancing Day, Disability Day and International Ninja Day are all coming up this week

Black Press Media and BraveFace have come together to support children facing life-threatening conditions. Net proceeds from these washable, reusable, three-layer masks go to Make-A-Wish Foundation BC & Yukon.
Put on a BraveFace: Help make children’s wishes come true

Black Press Media, BraveFace host mask fundraiser for Make-A-Wish Foundation

Vees goalkeeper Yaniv Perets stands watch while Tyler Ho takes the puck around the back of the net on Nov. 7. The BCHL press release did not name the player who tested positive.(Brennan Phillips - Western News)
Penticton Vees quarantining after player tests positive for COVID-19

The team, staff and billets are isolating while they are tested

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

A photo from 2017, of Nuchatlaht First Nation members outside court after filing a land title case in B.C. ( Submitted photo/Nuchatlaht First Nation).
Vancouver Island First Nation calls on B.C. to honour UNDRIP in historic title case

Nuchatlaht First Nation says Crown counsel continues to stall the case using the ‘distasteful’ argument that the Nation ‘abandoned’ their land

West Vancouver Island’s Ehattesaht First Nation continues lock down after 9 active cases were reported today after a visitor tested positive last week. (Ehattesaht First Nation/Facebook)
Ehattesaht First Nation’s COVID-19 nightmare: nine active cases, a storm and a power outage

The Vancouver Island First Nation in a lockdown since the first case was reported last week

114 Canadians were appointed Nov. 27 to the Order of Canada. (Governor General of Canada photo)
Indigenous actor, author, elder, leaders appointed to Order of Canada

Outstanding achievement, community dedication and service recognized

The Ahousaht First Nation confirmed its first case of COVID-19 on Nov. 26, 2020. (Westerly file photo)
Ahousaht First Nation on lockdown over COVID-19

“Emotions are high. The anxiety is high. We want our community to pull through.”

Most Read