Saturday, December 10, 2011

101 things we will miss about Canada

We have just had the privilege of spending  twelve glorious months in this amazing country. 
What are we going to miss?
(In no particular order)

1.    Wonderful Neighbours – How valuable it was to have neighbours that treated us like honoured guests. Always looking after the novice Canadians. Our wonderful year would not have been the same without the Oleksyn and Germann families.

2.    4 Seasons – Looking out of the back window we could always tell what season it was: White = winter; buds and infant green = spring; full, lush green = summer; a profusion of red, orange and yellow = fall. And when we couldn’t see anything -  it was window cleaning season!

3.    Canadian humour - Low key, understated, often self deprecating always funny; Corner Gas, Vinyl Cafe, This is That, Little Mosque on the Prairie and all those comedy festivals; Montreal, Toronto, Winnipeg, Edmonton. The bar tender asked the fur seal what he wanted to drink; the fur seal replied, “anything but a Canadian Club!”

4.    Tim Horton’s Value: Being able to treat a family and friends for a decent lunch and still have change from a $10.00 note.

5.    “You’re Welcome” – A genuine, warm and affable response from some of the friendliest people on earth.

Grain Elevators – Bittersweet view as we drove through the Prairies. Nostalgia for a simpler, bygone era but optimism that the past is still present. How long before they become fashionable Prairie apartments? 

7.    Hockey Night in Canada – I ‘m not sure what is more flamboyant Don Cherry’s suits or his mouth. Either way, watching the skill, pace and artistry of the men on the ice was a delight.

8.    Fat Fridays -  (and Thick Thursdays, Wide Wednesdays, Texas Toast Tuesdays). At least twice a week (sometimes more) scrumptious goodies would appear on the staff room table or in the classroom. This regular tradition of making sure we have enough ‘internal insulation’ for the cold weather is delicious but I think I now have too much insulation.

9.    Prairie communities – the backbone of Canada. Some hamlets and villages may only have a few hundred people, but each community is clean, neat and tidy; has a variety of churches, a curling rink, baseball diamond and hockey arena and a strong sense of determined pride. Maybe the occasional all weather public washroom would come in handy!
10. Stunning sunrises and sunsets – Blood red skies of sunset and the thin translucent blue turning to burning orange of sunrise. Most days were eye-catching and late fall to early spring the shows were put on at a convenient time.

11. Sensible Shopping Hours – For us the convenience of many shops being open 7am – 11 pm 7 days a week was very welcome. Some of the stores are so big we needed all that time to find our way around. 

12. Cross country skiing – Crisp, sunny, clear days; fresh air; the chance to see Canada’s wonderful landscape and wildlife; all on two thin planks of wood. 

13. Canadian Hospitality – Rumour has it, the Canadians won a gold medal for hospitality at the last winter games – we certainly experienced the truth of that rumour.

14. Smokies – What a sensible idea – pre-cooked sausages with a smoky flavour. Who cares if the gas runs out or it is too cold to light the barbecue, just get a cigarette lighter out, burn the skins and your hot dog is ready. 

15. Caesar  - Who would have thought a cocktail with clam juice, tomatoes, celery and hot sauce  would be worth drinking – believe Hanneke, this aperitif will soon be introduced to Australia.

16. 24/7 Sport – NHL, WWE, NFL, NCAAF, NASCAR, NBA, CFL, even AFL - if it has an acronym it will be turned into a sport and shown on North American TV. 

17. Kids colourful winter clothing – Gee we are glad we didn’t have young children to wrap up warm - winter would be almost over by the time thermals, gloves, toques, coats, scarves, ear muffs are all in place. But seeing the beautiful little toddlers in all their colourful puffed up glory makes the effort worthwhile.

18. Pedestrian priority – Why did the Canadian chicken cross the road – because all the cars stop for her every time she goes near the road. This politeness extends towards pedestrians  as well – we have been caught several times chatting on the side of the road with a mile long tail back of traffic waiting for us to cross.

19.  Satellite Radio – Worth every penny of our subscription. Eclectic range of music, news, comedy and sport everywhere we went. We were even treated to Radio Australia, along with Romanian Radio, Latvian Listening, Polish Pondering and Chinese chatter.

20. Competitive pricing – It is a little ironic really; retail businesses cut down half the Canadian boreal forest to inform customers of their weekly specials. It worked for us though; we had something to light the BBQ with and we could afford to cook something on it.

21. Canadian flag – The ubiquitous red on white. Canadians may be standing and respecting a dead leaf, but at least they not have to display the remnants of a long dead Empire. 

22. Bear spotting – Certainly more exciting for us than train, car, bus or aircraft spotting. Maybe a tad more grizzly! (sorry)

23. Student interest – I will miss being asked how many crocodiles I have wrestled or kangaroos I have boxed. Students demonstrated a genuine interest in the land down. Naturally my answers were embellished with tall tales of snake fighting and spider grappling.

24. 4 way stop signs – When we first came across this traffic phenomenon we envisaged four frozen motorists at each of the stop signs – victims of Canadian politeness. It actually works; everyone stops, patiently waits their turn and confidently negotiates the ice, snow and other road users. If only the same mentality existed at the bar during the Hockey.  

25. Birds feeding in winter – It is just an amazing feat of nature that these little finches and sparrows can flit about in minus something temperatures. They eagerly and appreciatively peck at the wild bird seeds in the feeder; just as well the local cats don’t share the same enthusiasm.


  1. Great article! I enjoyed reading it and I hope I can visit Canada one day.

  2. Thank you for your kind comments Sarah.
    I hope you have the opportunity to visit Canada - wonderful country with wonderful people.
    We are now back in Australia with our many magic memories, hoping one day to visit the whole of North America.
    Take Care.