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!'
A couple of months ago we attended a recording for CARP of an informercial featuring Matt Dusk. As part of the deal, each attendee was asked to contribute a soundbite relating to their interest in CARP – and they used mine! You can view this on YouTube (I haven’t yet watched the whole piece, which is heavy on advertising, but this links to my few seconds!)
CARP is the Canadian Association of Retired Persons,with a remit that covers issues of concern to those over 45 and no bottom limit for membership. It is based around advocacy, benefits and community, though as a non-profit, its close connections with the commercial agenda of Zoomer (magazine and broadcasting, headed up by Moses Znaimer) sometimes feels a little uncomfortable.
My interest is a real sense of passion for changing the way our society perceives and responds to aging and a return to a recognition of the value and wisdom that older people can contribute. So CARP is quite a key organization for me to have connections into as I move forward and find my place in the next stage of my life.
What a wonderful roller-coaster ride! New experiences come thick and fast and I often don’t get around to blogging – the living is more important! So hear is a summary of recent highlights:
Nuit Blanche – an amazing Toronto-wide all-night street party based around weird and wonderful happenings (see my other blog, Passage to Joy, for our impressions).
Our first Thanksgiving – we were very busy working on our garden and deck, but still managed to celebrate with a walk amidst the fall foliage (very much part of the custom here) and the traditional turkey (sweet potatoes with maple syrup, topped with candied pecans will definitely be adopted for future years), followed by pumpkin pie (we prefer butter tarts, another Canadian sweet treat). In Canada, Thanksgiving is earlier than in the US (beginning of October) and relates very closely to harvest festival.
Landscaping - the framework for a back garden for next yearLandscaping - the framework for a back garden for next year - Paul did a fantastic job with the deck and arbor entrance way!
Our ‘Canniversary’ – one whole year in Canada (and only two more before we can apply to become citizens). We celebrated with a party for over 30 of our friends. Even though it was October, we were able to sit outside on our newly completed deck and begin to have a sense of our back yard as the garden it will become.
Halloween Canadian style – although we were here last year, we were still in B&B accommodation and didn’t really experience Halloween. Ours is a young neighbourhood, so it swarmed with small and not so small people in strange costumes, not all of them scary (a football field stands out!). We hung out with our neighbours at the front of our house, enjoying the spectacle and dispensing candy (ours ran out way too soon – we’ll know better next year, though one young friend spent $120 and still didn’t have enough!). Joining in the spirit, Paul fashioned an expert Jack O’Lantern whilst I delved into the traditions of Samhain to create an incarnation of the blue faced crone for our door.
Halloween 2010 - based on Samhain traditions, I created the mask to represent one manifestation of the crone connected to cutting away those things you no longer need.Halloween 2010 - based on Samhain traditions, I created the mask to represent one manifestation of the crone connected to cutting away those things you no longer need.Halloween 2010 - Jack O'Lantern
CARP (Canadian Association of Retired Persons) Conference& Zoomer Show – I volunteered for both of these as a way of developing links within the field of re-visioning aging (Paul joined me at the Zoomer Show). I was given the key role of presenter liaison at the Conference and a similar role on the activity stage at the conference (I will be writing these up shortly!). The events are produced by the same organization as IdeaCity and the conference in particular was similarly inspirational.
This week, our first frosts of this winter; the grey-green of the grass lit up by the blaze of fall trees in the hazy morning glow took my breath away!
Coming soon . . .
Winter – in an El Nino year, rumor has it that we may be in for a particularly cold and snowy winter. The first flurries are expected in Toronto tonight. We are very glad we had arranged for our snow-tires to go onto our car this week and are looking forward to getting our skates on . . . ! I wonder how we will feel by April?
We celebrated our second Canada Day in Canada as landed immigrants yesterday! (Yes, I know we didn’t move here till October, but we were here this time last year on our prospecting visit and to go through the formal landing process). It definitely felt like a milestone.
Eating Poutine, a cholesterol laden Canadian snack speciality consisting of fries (chips), gravy and cheese curds. I wasn’t sure about the idea, but actually we really enjoyed it and will now seek out more authentic renditions.
Becoming annual members of the Art Gallery of Ontario– this will allow us gradually to enjoy and absorb what is a really interesting and well curated collection. The new Gehry Galleria Italia is a fabulous space, currently housing a magical sculptural exhibition of trees re-visioned (we loved this)
Buying my first pair of ‘leisure skates’ – my UK figures boots are just too uncomfortable!
Skating on a natural rink in Glen Stewart park at the foot of a ravine that drops a way just below where we live – steep wooden steps lead down into a magic woodland walk by a stream, currently flowing between snowy banks we were the only people on the ice – magic!
Commitment (voluntary) to a local community arts/regeneration project, Art of the Danforth, an art walk planned for April (I’m sure I’ll write more on this as things develop!)
Entertaining our first guests in our new home on Friday evening, genuinely a delight!
Getting our OHIP cards – we are now covered by the Ontario Health scheme. But with a shortage of family doctors, finding one is the next challenge.
Coming up we have:
Toronto’s Winter Cityfestival – spectacle, music, multi-culturalism and more!
Winterlicious, (part of the above) Toronto’s winter food festival, a fabulous chance to try new restaurants at very affordable prices. We have, over the two week period, booked two lunches and two dinners, including lunch at Canoe, arguably Toronto’s top restaurant (Jess ate there back in September and is still raving about it!)