Writing about my home on Canada Day

Before we go any further, greetings to all you Canadians far and wide on this, our national day. (And no jokes…)

Writing about CanadaWhether you celebrate it or not, it’s nice to know that we managed to extricate ourselves from total domination by the Brits without having to hurl tons of tea into Boston harbour or by throwing tubs of hot poutine at visiting British dignitaries who wouldn’t know a gravy-soaked cheese curd if it bit them in the oesophagus.

No, we became relatively independent while maintaining a courteous and pleasant relationship with Britain that still means the UK Royal Family can visit without too much formality and enjoy our culture, and our often British-like weather.

So, Canada is freezing, loves wildlife and says “Eh,” right?

Wrong, right and maybe. From somewhere around Alberta eastwards to the Maritimes, winter can be very nippy. Even at southern levels snow can pile up to several feet / metres high and as one of my cousins who lives in southern Québec will agree, overnight your car can completely disappear under several cubic metres of snow, assuming you leave it out in the street. (NB: that’s why nearly all Canadians like to have a garage.)

Writing about Canada Day

We Canadians love anything furry, but not at very close quarters in this case…

Wildlife, yes. We love everything that’s furry and that even includes our more eccentric citizens sporting 3-foot beards and more body hair than an unclipped LabraDoodle. Maybe it’s because a vast proportion of our country is pretty well uninhabitable for humans unless they’re masochists (a large proportion of Canadians live within 100 miles north of the US border.) Anyway we share some serious sympathy with the poor woolly creatures who can inhabit the rest of our country all the way up to the Arctic Parry Islands and beyond.

And “Eh?” It’s a bit like the British “innit.” Innit, eh?

Does Canada ever warm up?

Oh, yes indeedy. British people whining about their poor summers would do well to take note: southern Canadian summers start in around June and carry on to September. Global warming has had an influence that means in southern Ontario it rains a bit in the summer and the temperature can drop a weensie bit below 23 Celsius or so, but otherwise southern Canooky summers tend to be warm and sometimes hot, in the high 30s Celsius.

Writing about Canada Day

Canadian summer holidays are usually just a couple of hours’ drive from home.

Hence the fact that most Canadians in south-eastern Canada, at least, never bother to depart to warmer climes for their summer vacations. All you need to do is rent a cottage by one of our thousands of lakes a couple of hours north of where you work, and there’s your vacation spot … every weekend from June to September so you don’t even have to miss a day’s work.

Ah, but the winters are evil

Right. They are, if you don’t like the cold.

But we’re pretty used to cold weather in Canada – usually nice dry cold that doesn’t turn your bones and soft tissue into Permafrost like the damp cold in Europe. And rather than sit indoors to shiver and whine about the cold as so many Brits do, we Canadians get out there and enjoy it.

Winter is activity time just like summer is, with lots of sports, games and other things to do indoors and out. Skiing, snowboarding, ski-dooing, skating, ice hockey, snow shoeing, tobogganing, you name it. There’s no limit to what you can do when you’re faced with a long winter.

And as for getting around in the snowy months?

Writing about Canada Day

So what’s a metre or two of snow? Not much, to Canadians…

In most towns and cities, the main roads are cleared overnight and during the day as necessary. Side streets are usually cleared by the time you need to leave for work or school – or if not, you use the snow tyres you put on your car every winter and just drive on through. Trucks, vans, buses and trains keep going, too.

Sure, you do get the occasional “snow day” when schools and offices are closed, but remember this. In Britain, this happens when a couple of inches of snow falls. In Canada, this would only happen if a couple of feet of snow falls (that’s well over half a metre in new money.)

Writing about Canada Day

Ready for winter driveway clearing. Come spring, they just remove the plough and salt dispenser and it’s all set to carry lawn mowers and other gardening tools.

Enterprising small businesses make a year-round income from their pick-up trucks running gardening, grass cutting and tree surgery in the snow-free months. Then come the first snow they bang a plough on the front of the truck, load up the back with salt, and clear small side streets and people’s driveways on a contract basis. Talk about win-win.

Anyway Canada Day shouldn’t see much snow fall considering it’s July 1st in the northern hemisphere, probably even if you’re on a Polar Bear sighting trip in northern Nunavut. So it’s shorts, T-shirts and barbecue time.

Hat-tip to Kingston ON, my home town

And please share with me, to celebrate, this selection of videos about of my birthplace – Kingston, Ontario, Canada’s first capital city. (Pick whichever videos that appeal!) In fact in one or two you can almost see the hospital I was born in. These days Kingston is a popular tourist spot with the Thousand Islands just down river and plenty of historical sites and buildings (try Fort Henry and the Penitentiary Museum if you like spooky fun) and is also becoming quite well known as a centre for jazz and other contemporary music. Plus if you’re hungry, Kingston hosts a nationally famous restaurant called Chez Piggy … where I go to pig out when “back home.”

Happy Canada Day!

Have you been to Canada, or would you like to go?

Please share your thoughts and experiences with us here.

photo credit: Brown bear portrait via photopin (license)
photo credit: Catshing a puff via photopin (license)
photo credit: Maine banks via photopin (license)
photo credit: County Snowplough via photopin (license)

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  1. What a wonderful promotion for Canada and we Canadians! Thanks Suzan. And thank you for thinking of yourself as a Canadian first and a Brit second – even though you’ve spent so much of your life in England. I’m going to forward a link to this post when I send a “pre-promotion” of your talk to my network 🙂

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  1. […] ME! Today (July 30th) I disappear into the clouds for a few hours whilst making my way home to Ontario. But if you thought I would shut up and leave you in peace until early September when I return to […]

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