Oh, Canada…

Yesterday was Canada day.

[Church bells chime in the distance. Insert tumbleweed.] No, I’m kidding. 🙂

I’ve lived in this country for ten years this year, and though I may have the occasional moan about disliking Winnipeg, Canada Day always kicks my arse into gear with fireworks, flags, performances and MORE cake, since it also happens to fall on Sweet’s birthday.  You all know I’m pretty patriotic when it comes to England. I post videos all over the place, burst into tears of pride at Britain’s Got Talent, have BBC radio accompanying me a good 12 hours out of every day, and am on an ongoing mission to convert all my friends to Dr. Who loving Anglophiles. I’m probably going to be rocking Union Jack socks at my own wedding. National pride is something I think the Brits do really well – they still flock together to support things their nation does brilliantly. And not so brilliantly, if you count their last World Cup game.  It really makes me proud! But this week, on Canada Day? I wanted to take a second to forget all the things I dislike about where I live, join in with the rest of the nation and really appreciate the great things about this country to make it a day worth celebrating.

I love Canada for the education it’s given me, both scholarly and socially. I arrived fresh from a school of tucked in shirts and scoldings for more than one pair of earrings, where everyone was part of a sea of conformity. I was blown away on my first day in a real high school, where there were people of every clique or style imaginable. Sure, I spent my lunch hours in the physics room with the other IB nerds making science jokes and eating pizza with a knife and fork. But it doesn’t mean I wasn’t introduced to an enormous variety of people. I got to geek out in a program designed for kids who loved learning. I got to take classes with people who did improv and wore blue Mohawks and let me join their punk band. I got to experience a culture so drastically different from everything I’d grown up with, and I loved it.

Nobody hates Canada. I’m living in the friendliest country in the world! In France, the natives will turn their noses up at you. In America, they’ll tell you to go back home and throw things at your baseball supporting, Canadian flag-bearing classmates. (Yes, I can vouch for this first-hand.) In England, you’ll walk cobblestone streets – covered in gob, pigeon poo and old chewing gum. But in Canada? Even the homeless tell you to have a nice day!

Living here, I get to experience a real white Christmas. Nothing can top spending Christmas eve huddled up inside with a warm mug of Baileys and hot chocolate, or popping out to grab some milk in deserted, twilit streets, freshly covered with the softest, sparkliest, most ABUNDANT snow I’ve ever seen. Sure, it sucks that we spend 8 months a year below zero. But there’s something magical about December in Canada, when the world almost transforms into the forests of Narnia.

It’s cheap to live here. Like, beyond ridiculously cheap. Allow me to demonstrate my living expenses for all my international readers. I live in a two-storey, pretty new house with hardwood floors, two big bedrooms, ten minutes away from downtown on a beautiful little street facing the river, with the downtown skyline in the distance. There’s no crime in my area, it’s close to everything, and the view is gorgeous. There’s a riverside path leading anywhere you want to go, and you can walk for miles under canopies of trees. Sure, there’s about a bazillion mosquitoes. But that’s small peanuts. (Ask me this again in a month.) My rent? $950 per month. Split between two. That’s $910 US. Six hundred quid. People are astonished when they hear how cheap it is to live here.  Every time I want to move back home, I stop in my tracks and remind myself I’d have to work three jobs just to be able to afford a tiny little flat.

Summers here are beautiful. The skies are forever blue, the streets filled with festivals celebrating the arts, theatre, music, diversity and culture.  I’m so excited there’s still another two months of it. And maybe best of all? It’s DRY. (No frizz!)  But most importantly, Canada has brought me everything that’s shaped the last ten years of my life. It’s brought me culture. It’s where I learned I had a passion for design, for learning, and for writing. It has made me realise how much I love England, which, maybe I’d never have appreciated had I remained there. It’s dragged me through hellish situations which have given rise to a huge desire to grow. It’s where I shaped my friendships, grew closer with family, and learned of the kind of person I want to be. It brought me pain and passion, highs and lows, longings and gratitude, all the while giving me a landscape of natural beauty and extreme seasons. This country does battle together. Anyone who lives in Arctic conditions for two thirds of their lives are pretty tough cookies. But they’re also the friendliest, nicest people I’ve ever met.

Lastly – Arcade Fire anyone? Most of you know I’m passionate about great music, and though I am guilty of favouring British bands, Canada has produced one of the most amazing bands in a very long time. This is the band that was formed by a husband and wife team, went on to add tonnes more members, along with harps, accordions and string sections, and became nominated for 5 Brit Awards, 3 Grammys and 6 Junos, and more. They recorded their stunning second album in a defunct church, including the haunting Intervention, full of church organs, choirs, and lyrics that continue to wrench at the heartstrings half a decade on.Way to go Canada, for producing something this brilliant.

I may have been waving my England flag strong and proud during this World Cup, but this Canada Day? Here’s to you, Canada, for everything you’ve taught me, shown me, and been to me. I know I’ll whinge when the mosquitoes hit hard, and I know I’ll whinge harder when I’m stuck at a bus shack next February picking icicles off my eyelashes. But today, I’ll celebrate with the rest of the nation, for all the great things this country really is.  It’s important to count our blessings every once in a while, after all, right?  Happy birthday Canada – and happy birthday Sweet!

Advertisements

54 comments

  1. What a wondeful tribute to Canada! I have seen so little of your country but there are many cities I would like to check out. First up will be Vancouver which I will see in October! (insert squeel – I can’t wait). 🙂

    I think we all get sucked into complaining about our cities/countries/etc. I know i am guilty of whining incessantly about the craptastic winter weather that we get, but there really is so much to appreciate about where I live. Also, for me, traveling outside of the US always makes me appreciate it even more when I return home. When I got back from a trip to the Dominican Republic in 2006, I literally wanted to kiss the ground when we landed. I had a great trip, but was visiting a friend in the Peace Corp so got to see what it was life to live without hot, running water and electricity. Def made me realize that I really do not have it that bad! 🙂

    1. I’ve never been to Vancouver but I know people that live there and it sounds lovely 🙂 I wish you could come visit MB!!

      Good point about falling into that trap – I remember about 5 or 6 years ago I was working for the summer out of province in the middle of nowhere at a fishing resort, and I lasted about 2 weeks before the homesickness got too much, and I remember feeling JOY as we drove back towards Winnipeg and saw the downtown skyline, and just feeling relief. 🙂

  2. happy birthday to sweet and what a nice tribute post to canada. when you wrote about wanting to move away i felt kind of bad for you because i know it’s hard when you’ve lived somewhere else being somewhere that isn’t “home.” you’re right its very important to count our blessings sometimes. and i cant wait to see your first giveaway!!!

    ps. arcade fire are fantastic!

  3. I’d love to live in Canada! J and I always talked about it, but we fell in love with London and stayed on well past our initial 12 months that we’d planned.. ah well. I can’t BELIEVE your rent. You’d die to hear what our weekly rent is (before bills!) in our 1 bedroom flat. Seriously. Die.

  4. A couple of things:

    1. I’m astonished at what you are paying – seriously that is SUCH a great deal!

    2. Arcade Fire is simply awesome. I’ve loved them for years.

    3. I have never been to Canada, but I really want to go. You make it sound magical indeed!

    1. It’s magical at some parts of the year. Summer is fantastic and EARLY winter, I think in the lead-up to Christmas, is pretty special. It’s just the gross cold and slush from Jan – April that’s a little hard to live with, but other than that it’s pretty good! I think I need to see more of Canada though – when I visited Banff and Toronto I LOVED them, and I’ve heard great things about Ottawa and Montreal, too 🙂

  5. That view from your place is spectacular and I can’t believe how cheap it is to live there! I can see why you stay – as great as England is you’re right, you can’t enjoy it because you spend too much time working just to be able to stay afloat. Not to mention the chavs! Speaking of which… what is it now, a month til you get here? Can’t wait! Happy Canada Day!

    1. I don’t know if I’d say spectacular but the rent definitely is, and it’s lovely having a place that faces the river and the “skyline” as mini as it may be 🙂

      One month on Monday!! 😀

  6. This was such a wonderful tribute to Canada! I would love having dry weather (there is SO MUCH humidity where I live, so FRIZZ is constant). However, I don’t know how I’d adjust to the below zero weather for so many months of the year! It’s funny because I used to live in Pennsylvania, which isn’t quite as bad, but it’s pretty darn cold there for probably 6-7 months out of the year. My husband has the option to move there next year, and although there are things I like about it, I just cringe a little bit thinking of all that cold weather! But you made me remember one good thing – december in a place that snows a lot is absolutely magical. 🙂

    I’ve only been to Canada once, and it was more like just taking a quick stroll into Canada (when we went to Niagara Falls). I’ve never gotten the chance to really explore it, but I’d love to one day.

    1. That’s another thing that’s better about living here – in England it was raining and humid all the time so I could never have a good hair day 🙂

      I’ve still yet to visit Niagara Falls! It looks breathtaking. You should come visit sometime 🙂

  7. Love this! It’s always interesting to hear what people who weren’t born and raised here have to say about our country. It is a great place to live, and it’s so easy to forget that sometimes. We’re not typically a proud country, we are known for being humble and modest, but give us Canada Day or the Olympics (this year anyway) and the pride just oozes through the streets. I love it!

  8. I’ve only ever been to Toronto in Canada but would love to have the opportunity to explore your country a bit more. It sounds so beautiful! I would definitely have to come in summer though. =)

    1. Or Christmas! The snow isn’t so bad in early December – it’s all sparkly and quite warm, but other than that it’s bitter and icy! Summer… mosquitoes 😦

  9. Canada is a huge “must travel” destination for me and my husband. I’ve heard nothing but wonderful things about it. I can’t wait.

  10. It depends partly on where you live. In Victoria, everything is more expensive. Granted, it’s on an island and the only way in or out is by plane or ferry. Canada is a great place though, I will agree. I love living so close to the border simply because I can go to Canada for cheap whenever I feel like it. Also, Union Jack socks…I would like to see that under a white dress.

  11. All these posts about Canada just make me want to pack my bags and move there! Seriously, you guys seem to have it all! Then again, I can barely handle myself when the temperature drops below 60 degrees (Fahrenheit!) so I have no idea what I would do during those 8 months! Maybe a visit in December? I’ll road trip with Hannah to you! Hehehe.

    1. Haha blame Canada indeed 😀 I can’t wait to see more of the “prettier” parts of Canada – Montreal, Victoria, Niagara Falls… maybe I’ll do a road trip next year

  12. What a beautiful tribute to this country.
    I was born in Winnipeg, and have lived here all of my life, but my parents are English, and so I feel a great connection to it as well. I dream everyday of being able to visit more often.
    Still, it is so refreshing to hear such praise from someone who has lived both places.
    (One thing though. Arcade Fire is brilliant, but don’t forget; there is an awful lot more great Canadian music to be found. 🙂 )
    Happy (slightly belated) Canada Day!

    1. Thanks! 🙂 I’m such an English music snob but I can’t deny there are definitely great Canadian bands too. Arcade Fire are incredible, I’m really enjoying Metric as well.

  13. Pingback: Personal Care 101
  14. I’ve read your previous posts on how you kinda disliked living in Canada. But this post is totally telling me that after all Canada is still one of the best places, for you or for anyone.

    Canada is where I’d probably go and reside next to my own country.

    1. I think it’s good to remind ourselves of the good things about where we live – it’s easy to see the bad things and have a “grass is greener on the other side” mentality but I heard a great quote recently, about the grass being greener where it’s better taken care of… focusing on the good things about where you live can really make things seem good 🙂

  15. I want to live in Canada. Haha. A friend of mine lives in Canada. When she first got there, she hated it but she has grown to love the country as time went by. And now, she loves Canada so much that she doesn’t even want to go back here!!! 😀

    Happy belated Canada day! And happy belated birthday to your Sweet.

  16. Happy Canada Day! Canada is a great country for many reasons! A little further North than I prefer, however a beautiful place none the less.

  17. What a wonderful tribute! I’ve never been to Canada but I’ve always wanted to go, it just seems like it would be a nice place to visit. I actually never knew a whole lot about it until I took a Canadian Geography class (I was a social studies ed. major for awhile and this was a class that was offered). After taking the class I realized I found a new love: Canada! I totally need to visit there someday.

  18. The boyfriend is forever trying to convince/beg me to move to Canada with him! You certainly make the case for it well! Didn’t realize it was so freaking cheap. He’s in love with Nova Scotia, though… probably not as cheap?

    I’m just not so sure about the winters. I’m a Florida girl and only saw snow fall once, in late April, in Dallas, Texas. In other words, have never seen a REAL snowfall or been in temps below 20F haha.

    Oh and I have a mosquito tip! Aaron has this gadget that uses a butane cartridge (like from a portable curling iron?) to heat up a mosquito repellent pad. You just keep the gadget on your person and it keeps you in a mosquito-repellent bubble! It’s a godsend for me–aka mosquitos’ favorite treat–in our long summers.

    1. I think it definitely depends what part of the country you live in – and I think there are other more beautiful/historical places in the country I might enjoy a bit more, but it’s definitely cheap and easy to live here!

      I would LOVE to hear more about this mosquito bubble!!

  19. Canada is one of the places I want to visit before I die! If you’re still there we’ll have some tea or coffee and talk. Deal?

    I also loved the song you embedded! Awesome, awesome awesome. 🙂

  20. I’ve only heard good things about CAnada so far, so it’s definitely a place I would like to visit sometime!

    I can’t believe how little rent you’re paying. UNBELIEVABLE!

    Happy belated Canada day!

  21. £600 isn’t that much in comparison. we were paying £575 for a 3 bedroom house (the 3rd bedroom wasn’t big enough to hold a cat let alone swing it! lol) and our two bedroom flat that we lived in before that was £525 (or maybe £550 I’m not sure now)

    I became an adopted Kiwi the other day while watching New Zealand play in the World Cup with my Kiwi housemate

  22. Was that picture taken in front of you place? If so, you’re right, that view is gorgeous! If my view looked that way, maybe I’d be inspired to go out and run!!! But instead I’m sitting here wondering if it’s too hot to do that. I’m thinking it is. But man I really need to!

    Anyhow, who’s a rambler? This girl. I like that you are liking where you live. That’s big! 🙂

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s