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

A Midway RCMP officer and a Grand Forks Search and Rescue volunteer ready a tarpaulin-wrapped burglary suspect for an airlift by a military helicopter Tuesday, Dec. 1. Photo courtesy of Grand Forks Search and Rescue
Grand Forks, Okanagan search and rescue teams helped RCMP at Bridesville airlift

Twelve volunteers provided frontline assistance, according to Grand Forks Search and Rescue

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
Bridesville civilian helped Midway RCMP nab burglary suspect

Cpl. Phil Peters said the civilian helped police track, apprehend and eventually rescue the suspect

An RCMP cruiser looks on as a military search and rescue helicopter winds down near Bridesville, B.C. Tuesday, Dec. 1. Photo courtesy of RCMP Cpl. Jesse O’Donaghey
Boundary Mountie and suspect airlifted from ravine after foot chase

Military aircraft were dispatched from Comox, B.C., say RCMP

The grant from Ottawa and Victoria comes with certain stipulations, according to a letter from the province. Photo: Jensen Edwards
Feds, province give Greenwood ‘COVID Re-start’ grant

The funds come with spending directives, transparency requirements

From the left: Greenwood councillors Jim Nathorst and Colleen Lang listen to a delegation by the city’s board of trade Monday, Nov. 23. In the background are Chief Administrative Officer Wendy Higashi and Mayor Barry Noll. Photo: Laurie Tritschler
Greenwood partners with Board of Trade on Christmas project

Board of Trade VP Vicki Barlow addressed mayor and council at the McArthur Centre Monday, Nov. 23

Pickleball game in Vancouver on Sunday, November 8, 2020. B.C.’s public health restrictions for COVID-19 have been extended to adult team sports, indoors and outside. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
711 more COVID-19 cases detected in B.C. Friday

‘Virus is not letting up and neither can we’

Demonstrators, organized by the Public Fishery Alliance, outside the downtown Vancouver offices of Fisheries and Oceans Canada July 6 demand the marking of all hatchery chinook to allow for a sustainable public fishery while wild stocks recover. (Public Fishery Alliance Facebook photo)
Angry B.C. anglers see petition tabled in House of Commons

Salmon fishers demand better access to the healthy stocks in the public fishery

(Hotel Zed/Flytographer)
B.C. hotel grants couple 18 years of free stays after making baby on Valentines Day

Hotel Zed has announced a Kelowna couple has received free Valentines Day stays for next 18 years

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

Farmers raise slogans during a protest on a highway at the Delhi-Haryana state border, India, Thursday, Dec. 3, 2020. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau rejected the diplomatic scolding Canada’s envoy to India received on Friday for his recent comments in support of protesting Indian farmers. Tens of thousands of farmers have descended upon the borders of New Delhi to protest new farming laws that they say will open them to corporate exploitation. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Manish Swarup
Trudeau brushes off India’s criticism for standing with farmers in anti-Modi protests

The High Commission of India in Ottawa had no comment when contacted Friday

Nurse Kath Olmstead prepares a shot as the world’s biggest study of a possible COVID-19 vaccine, developed by the National Institutes of Health and Moderna Inc., gets underway Monday, July 27, 2020, in Binghamton, N.Y. U.S. biotech firm Moderna says its vaccine is showing signs of producing lasting immunity to COVID-19, and that it will have as many as many as 125 million doses available by the end of March. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Hans Pennink
Canada orders more COVID vaccines, refines advice on first doses as cases reach 400K

Canada recorded its 300,000th case of COVID-19 on Nov. 16

Apartments are seen lit up in downtown Vancouver as people are encouraged to stay home during the global COVID-19 pandemic on Thursday, Dec. 3, 2020. British Columbia’s deputy provincial health officer says provincewide data show the most important area B.C. must tackle in its response to the COVID-19 pandemic is health inequity. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Marissa Tiel
Age, income among top factors affecting well-being during pandemic, B.C. survey shows

Among respondents earning $20,000 a year or less, more than 41 per cent reported concern about food insecurity

Interior Health says Salmo’s COVID-19 cases have been contained. Photo: Wikimedia Commons
Interior Health: Salmo’s COVID-19 cases are contained

Every person who tested positive has recovered

Victoria-based driving instructors are concerned for their own and the community’s safety with the continued number of residents from COVID hotspots in the Lower Mainland coming to the city to take their driving road tests. (Black Press Media file photo)
Students from COVID hotspots travel to Vancouver Island for driving tests

Union leader calls on government to institute stronger travel ban

Most Read