Tag Archives: Canada

Landed immigrants – eight years on

Our personal ‘Canada Day‘ falls a little early; we celebrated 8 years since we arrived in Canada as ‘landed immigrants’ on Sunday June 25 (of course, since then, we became Canadian Citizens in 2014).

In honour of the occasion we took in some history at Bellevue House, briefly home to Sir John A. MacDonald (Canada’s first Prime Minister), an unusual and rather impractical house built in the 1840s in the Italianate style. We were delighted that this visit included an exhibition of Indigenous Art in recognition that celebrating Confederation, particularly Canada 150, carries some discomfort about what it is we celebrate. 

We went on to the Agnes Etherington Art Centre at Queens University, particularly delighting in a ‘Road Trip Across Canada with Alan C Collier’. It seemed both appropriate as we reflect on what it is we celebrate about Canada and as we look forward to our own road trip east.

And we rounded the day off with a walk along a wave battered shore to one of Kingston’s Martello towers. Awesome day!

Google Album (more photos!)

(Not quite) walking in the air . . . on snowshoes!

Striding through the forest, three feet above ground level, with snow gently falling, the utter peace broken only by the crunch and slide of our movement and the occasional chirp of an early Chickadee; our first experience of snowshoes felt totally natural and easy, though we were told we kept up a cracking pace.

Snow-shoeing Snow-shoeing

Then creating fire from nothing with a bow and drill to heat up picnic wraps (ambient temperature about -14C), before returning to a room  cosy with the warmth of a roaring wood-stove and dozing the afternoon away. What a magic way to spend a wintry Saturday!

Making fire Making fire Making fire Making fire Making fire Making fire

Evergreen Forest Resort B&B Evergreen Forest Resort B&B (near Wiarton)

Evergreen Forest Resort B&B – a great place to escape to!

It’s not what you think . . .

Today we became Canadian Citizens!

For those who may be unsure, this does not mean we have to renounce our British Citizenship. Dual citizenship blesses us with considerable freedom of movement in both Europe and North America, as well as consolidating our status here in Canada and giving us the right to vote (and hold office). There is also something important to me about embracing the full responsibilities of a citizen – we feel very fortunate to have this opportunity and would like to play our part in helping to make Canada the best it can be.

To honour the occasion, I thought I’d reflect on some of the misconceptions we have come across about Canada and Toronto!

  • Toronto is not ‘the far north’ – it lies way south of the UK, at the same latitude(43 42’N) as Nice and just south of Florence.
  • Average July temperatures are 3.3C higher than in London at 26.1C, though of course the winters genuinely are colder. Temperatures usually hover much of the time around -1 to -5C, though this year we have dipped on occasion to nearly -30C. But we get 2066 hours of bright sunshine on average a year compared with just less than 1500 in London. And that little bit of extra cold actually takes away some of the dampness.

 

  • Despite the recent glare of publicity on the less than savoury exploits of our mayor, Toronto is ranked the second most reputable city in the world, by the Reputation Institute, the world’s leading Reputation Management Consultancy.
  • As far as crime goes, Toronto’s rates are just slightly lower than London’s.

 

  • ‘Canada produces wine?!’ Yes, and much of it is very good! In Ontario, there are three notable wine areas; Niagara, Prince Edward County and the North Erie Shore. I am enjoying becoming increasingly knowledgeable about Ontario wine – it is fun to find winery tours so accessible. And, just for the record, in 2013, the Decanter World Wine Awards judged a wine from the Okanagan valley in British Columbia, Mission Hill’s Pinot Noir, as one of the World’s Best Wines! Echoing Napa Valley’s breakthrough moment, this could herald increasing interest in Canadian wines.

And on that note, it’s time to raise a glass to the country we have chosen to call home.

Erie Shore Wineries - 'Inside I'm a sweet and spicy blond!' Erie Shore Wineries - 'Inside I'm a sweet and spicy blond!'

Cheers!

 

Citizenship celebrations – what a welcome!

I missed the first part of a work ‘cakeathon’ (a colleague’s birthday cake) today because we were at our Citizenship Ceremony, but contributed the second – it seemed only appropriate to order a celebratory ‘Canada’ cake! It was a special moment to cut this in the staff-room, with Bishop Poole (my boss), standing behind me.

Gina cutting the cake with Bishop Poole Gina cutting the cake with Bishop Poole - we ordered it specially in honour of this special day!

What I didn’t yet know was that, one floor up, my work area had been decked out with a flag and piled high with Canadian themed gifts; a red and white tulip, a mug, a pen, a special photo frame with the Prime Minister, just for the occasion, masking a lovely group photo of my colleagues taken at our summer BBQ, a towel embroidered with the flag and ‘Bearne’ (a gift from a priest friend), maple syrup, maple tea and maple filled chocolates, cards and a brooch made from copper that originally was used in the Parliament buildings in Ottawa . My Bishop reckons that if you can be over-whelmed, you should be able to be ‘whelmed’. He instructed  me that I was to be whelmed rather than overwhelmed!

Surprise! This is how Gina found her work space when she returned from the ceremony! Surprise! This is how Gina found her work space when she returned from the ceremony! Surprise! This is how Gina found her work space when she returned from the ceremony! Surprise! This is how Gina found her work space when she returned from the ceremony!

What a wonderful welcome from my fellow Canadians, eh!

 

Summer Reflections 1: A Watery Affair

Our photo album tells the love-story of a summer’s kayaking . We paddled (and I swam) in three of the Great Lakes (if you count Georgian Bay as the extension of Lake Huron), as well as exploring rivers and marshes. Always, here, good weather lures us outside; now, in the warmer months, I hunger to get out on the water.

The Beaver River - getting underway The Beaver River The Beaver River - I did it! The Beaver River The Beaver River The Beaver River

The Beaver River - Bald Eagle The Beaver RiverOur longest paddle to date took us 12 km down the Beaver River, skirting submerged hazards and occasionally cutting back the dead-fall; all around us was the rich summer-green of early July woodland, wild and timeless. As we journeyed, a relay of kingfishers called their warning of our passage. The sighting of a bald-eagle nest was a truly special gift.

For more photos, see our Gallery (Beaver River and Nicolston Dam)!

Gull Lake, Gravenhurst Gull Lake, GravenhurstA gentle exploration of Gull Lake (Gravenhurst) warmed us up for slightly more challenging expeditions on Manitoulin Island, the biggest freshwater island in the world. On Maintoulin, we circuited Manitouwaning Bay (which opens onto Georgian Bay) from Two O’Clock to Manitouwaning and back across open water. And we paddled up the Kagawong River into Lake Kagawong, fighting the wind back down the lake, then floating lazily with the river’s gentle flow to our start point above Kagawong’s Bridal Falls – time disappears out on the water as the peace, the light and the reflections seep into the soul.

The Norisle at Manitowaning, Manitoulin The Norisle at Manitowaning, Manitoulin The Norisle at Manitowaning, Manitoulin (and Paul!) The Norisle at Manitowaning, Manitoulin (and Paul!) Playful Paul in Manitowaning Bay Playful Paul in Manitowaning Bay
Paddling the Kagawong River Paddling the Kagawong River
Paddling the Kagawong River Paddling the Kagawong River Lunch on Lake Kagawong Lunch on Lake Kagawong On the Kagawong River On the Kagawong River

For more photos, see our Gallery (Summer Trip 2013)!

At Canada’s southernmost tip, the marshes at Point Pelee were almost eerie in their quietness (or possibly Erie – sorry, bad pun!) and the light was especially awesome; but it was the paddle from our B&B, with a short portage across a sand bar, into Wheatley Provincial Park that delivered more herons than we have ever seen and a white wonder of egrets.

Kayaking in the marshes at Point Pelee Kayaking in the marshes at Point Pelee Kayaking in the marshes at Point Pelee Kayaking in the marshes at Point Pelee Kayaking in the marshes at Point Pelee Kayaking in the marshes at Point Pelee
Swallowtail at Point Pelee Swallowtail at Point Pelee Plantlife at Point Pelee Plantlife at Point Pelee Plantlife at Point Pelee Plantlife at Point Pelee
Heron Heron Sandpiper at Point Pelee Sandpiper at Point Pelee Heron Heron
Egrets everywhere! Egrets everywhere!
Cormorant and kayak Cormorant and kayak Kayak capers! Kayak capers! Kayak homecoming Kayak homecoming

For more photos, see our Gallery (Essex County – Ontario)!

Nearer to home, from our local beach, a sunset paddle along the shores of Lake Ontario below the Hunt Club amazed us again that we can live in a city yet, with very little effort, feel so far away from it all! And the return view of the down-town lit red and gold still takes my breath away.

Sunset kayaking on Lake Ontario from our local beach Sunset kayaking on Lake Ontario from our local beach Sunset kayaking on Lake Ontario from our local beach Sunset kayaking on Lake Ontario from our local beach