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

An electronic sign at the Tofino-Ucluelet junction notifies travellers heading towards Sutton Pass that closure windows are in effect Thursday morning. (Andrew Bailey photo)
Survey swirls up confusion around Tofino-Ucluelet highway closures

“The Highway 4 Kennedy Hill Project closure times remain the same for now,” ministry says

Nuu-chah-nulth language champion Tim Masso holds his Rainy Coast Arts Award. (Jessie Masso photo)
Masso and Wenstob receive 2020 Rainy Coast Arts Award

Tla-o-qui-aht brothers share Pacific Rim Arts Society honour

Pamela Evans gazes lovingly at her four-year-old French bulldog Jack on Thursday, Nov. 5. The energetic young pup has regained his usual rambunctiousness after recently recovering from a significant illness brought on by consuming discarded cannabis new Brown’s Beach in Ucluelet. (Andrew Bailey photo)
Discarded cannabis a “frequent” threat to pets in Tofino-Ucluelet

“I couldn’t grab him fast enough to get it out of his mouth before he swallowed it.”

The School District 70 administration office in Port Alberni. AV NEWS FILE PHOTO
Four Alberni schools reporting COVID-19 exposures

Exposures occurred between Nov. 19 and Nov. 25 depending on the school

A lightning strike destroyed a radio repeater on Porter Mountain, shutting down the Ministry of Transportation and infrastructure’s highway cam at Sutton Pass. (BC Transportation and Infrastructure photo)
Lightning strike shuts down camera on Tofino-Ucluelet highway

“One of our radio repeater sites was recently struck by lightning.”

An RCMP officer confers with military rescuers outside their Cormorant helicopter near Bridesville, B.C. Tuesday, Dec. 1. Photo courtesy of RCMP Cpl. Jesse O’Donaghey
Good Samaritan helped Kootenay police nab, rescue suspect which drew armed forces response

Midway RCMP said a Good Samaritan helped track the suspect, then brought the arresting officer dry socks

People line up at a COVID-19 assessment centre during the COVID-19 pandemic in Scarborough, Ont., on Wednesday, December 2, 2020. Toronto and Peel region continue to be in lockdown. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
COVID-19 vaccine approval could be days away as pressures mount on health-care system

Many health officials in regions across the country have reported increasing pressures on hospitals

(Needpix.com)
Pandemic has ‘exacerbated’ concerns for B.C. children and youth with special needs: report

Pandemic worsened an already patchwork system, representative says

Jon Lefebure went back to construction after losing the 2018 mayor’s post in North Cowichan to work on the Cottages On Willow. (Photo by Don Bodger)
Former Island mayor retools priorities with construction project

Fresh air a benefit and satisfaction results from building eight-unit housing complex in Chemainus

Janet Austin, the lieutenant-governor of British Columbia, not seen, swears in Premier John Horgan during a virtual swearing in ceremony in Victoria, Thursday, Nov. 26, 2020. Horgan says he will look to fill gaps in the federal government’s sick-pay benefits program aimed at preventing the spread of COVID-19. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. premier says province prepared to patch holes in new federal sick-pay benefits

Horgan said workers should not be denied pay when they are preventing COVID-19’s spread

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates B.C.’s coronavirus situation at the legislature, Nov. 30, 2020. (B.C. government)
Hockey team brought COVID-19 back from Alberta, B.C. doctor says

Dr. Bonnie Henry pleads for out-of-province travel to stop

Most Read