In the summer of 2002 my friend Jan, his wife and his two kids drove across Canada in a big red Buick. One night, on their way east, they set up camp in the nearly deserted campground at Kakabeka Falls in northern Ontario. They were just getting comfortable in their deck chairs when a car drove up and pulled into the site beside them, annoying my friend who liked his space. Why, with the so many sites to choose from, would these people choose the site right next door? Then the doors of the car opened and out climbed Jan's neighbours from Denman Island in the Strait of Georgia, population about 1000. The second family was on its way home and so were driving west. I've always loved this small world story because it seems like it should be mathematically impossible for it to happen.
The other night Jan told me another story, this one involving a Denman Islander named Kevin who Jan has just discovered is the half-brother of a girl that Jan hung out with in high school back in Ottawa about 30 years ago. The story involves a wedding in Ontario and a guy named Cooper who was also Jan's friend in high school and who, as Jan told me, "used to work at this weird magazine up north. I think it was called Up Here."
"Hey," I said, "I know Cooper! I met him one time when he was visiting Vancouver—he's a friend of my friend Barbara."