Thursday, April 05, 2018

National Read a Road Map Day

I never heard of “National Read a Road Map Day”, observed yearly on April 5, until I saw it recently in the “Calendar of Ideas” at GeneaBloggersTribe. It provided a good topic and gave me a chance to tell (and preserve) a little story about Dad and I. (Note to self: check regularly the “Calendar of Ideas” for other topics of interest to write about.)

Maps. Ugh.

Reading a paper map when I want to is one thing, but being made to read one on the spot, well, that’s another thing.

Toronto map
Toronto map [1]

I remember vividly one occasion (I was about 16 or 17 years old) when Dad and I were in our family car approaching Toronto. We were probably on the 400 or 404 when Dad, who was driving, suddenly told me to take the road map out of the glovebox and give him directions. He wasn’t lost, but needed guidance as to which road would be the best to get to our destination – downtown TO.* (Dad lived in Toronto when he and Mom were first married, so he knew the lay of the land, so to speak. I think he just needed a reminder to refresh his memory.)

Average Afternoon on Highway 401
Average Afternoon on Highway 401 (2) [2]

As the only passenger, I pretty much had to be the map handler. I didn’t like being put on the spot like that, though, and felt pressured to not screw up. I can still see myself opening that large, multi-folded sheet, orient it so that I could see where we were, and then figure out which road we would next need. I preferred to be passive and watch the traffic zooming past. It didn’t matter that I told Dad I didn’t know how to read the map, he just told me in a calm, but firm voice to go ahead and do it anyway. (Good ol’ Dad. He felt there wasn’t anything anyone couldn’t do if he or she really tried.)

And so, I did. After getting over my initial nervousness, I was surprised to realize I could read that darn map and give Dad the directions he needed. We got to our destination just fine, thanks to Dad’s skilled driving and my new-found ability to read a road map!

Oh, and I married a man that did the same – get me to read a road map on the spur of the moment when I least expect it. 😊

* Dad never admitted to being lost when we travelled by car. It didn’t matter to him if he took a wrong turn, he’d say it was somewhere he hadn’t yet been, so he might as well explore until he got back on track.

Image credits:

1. Wikimedia Commons contributors, "File:Toronto map.png," Wikimedia Commons, the free media repository ( : accessed 31 March 2018).

2. Wikimedia Commons contributors, "File:Average Afternoon on Highway 401 (2).jpg," Wikimedia Commons, the free media repository ( : accessed 31 March 2018).

Copyright © 2018, Yvonne Demoskoff.


  1. Fun memory and I wonder how many of the younger generation could read a map, as you did, when it really counts?!

    1. I know my son probably wouldn't be able to manage a paper map, but he'd know how to use the map feature on his cell phone :)