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

Courtesy of the World Health Organization
UBCO researchers interview caregivers for rural adults’ mental health concern

The researchers are looking for participants who live or have relatives in rural communities

Protesters in support of farmers against the Indian government's recent agriculture bills took a drive through Penticton before standing in protest outside the Cherry Lane Shopping Centre on Dec. 5. (Brennan Phillips - Western News)
Rally in support of India’s farmers travels through Penticton

Around 30 protesters participated in the rally

Two Canadian petitions are asking to have elected officials removed from office. (Pixabay.com)
COLUMN: Petitions show loss of faith in democratic process

Online petitions from third-party sources have taken aim at elected officials in Canada

Summerland’s cenotaph was originally installed in front of the high school. The old school was located close to the corner of Rosedale Avenue and Jubilee Road. (Photo courtesy of the Summerland Museum)
Cenotaph and parks in Summerland honour fallen soldiers

Community memorials pay tribute to those who were killed in military service

A snow moon rises over Mt. Cheam in Chilliwack on Feb. 8, 2020. Friday, Dec. 11, 2020 is Mountain Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of Dec. 6 to 12

Mountain Day, Dewey Decimal System Day and Lard Day are all coming up this week

A laboratory technician holds a dose of a COVID-19 novel coronavirus vaccine candidate that's ready for trial on monkeys at the National Primate Research Center of Thailand. (Mladen Antonov | AFP)
WEB POLL: Will you take a vaccine for COVID-19?

Doses are expected to arrive in the new year

Travis Hirlaka, Vernon
PHOTOS: Sunrise paints Okanagan skies

Residents in the Okanagan captured stunning shots of a colourful start to Saturday

Robert Riley Saunders. (File)
First Nations Leadership Council demands justice for victims of B.C. social worker

Union of BC Indian Chiefs calls actions of Robert Saunders ‘nothing short of complete depravity’

(City of West Kelowna)
Large housing development in Central Okanagan back on the table

Council considering rezoning to accommodate 184 housing units, project hopes for ~933 by completion

Staff and students at Vernon’s Fulton Secondary School were evacuated due to an electrical short that sent one person to hospital Friday, Dec. 4, 2020. (Kerry Hutter photo)
Vernon high school evacuated, one person injured by electrical short

Incident at Clarence Fulton Secondary forced brief evacuation Friday afternoon

Chinook salmon spawning in the Fraser River near Tete Jeune Cache. ((Shane Kalyn photo, property of the Upper Fraser Fisheries Conservation Alliance)
North-Okanagan Shuswap MP petitions government to reform salmon management

Mel Arnold tables petition to allow more angler access to non-threatened Fraser River chinook salmon

Shuswap Cider Company has applied for a licence that would accommodate a cider manufacturing facility, a tasting room and patio/lounge area at Westgate Market in Salmon Arm. (File photo)
Cider manufacturing facilty, tasting room and patio proposed for Salmon Arm

Council asked to raise a virtual glass to a licence for a cidery and amenities in Westgate Mall

It was an opening day filled with blue skies, sun and COVID-19 protocols at Vernon’s SilverStar Mountain Resort Friday, Dec. 4, 2020. (Brendan Shykora - Morning Star)
VIDEO: Passholders enjoy sunny opening day at Silver Star Mountain

Resort staff say parking reservations, COVID-19 protocols went smoothly Friday, Dec. 4

Most Read