Ever since I can remember I've heard the comment that there is "no difference" between Canadians and Americans. I respectfully beg to differ as there is a difference on so many levels! We have unique Canadian culture consisting of Canadianisms, a Canadian perspective on world events, Canadian cuisine as well as products and foods only available in Canada. This blog is dedicated to celebrating all things Canadian from "my perspective" as a Canadian. Please enjoy your visit and be sure to visit often.

Garden Gnome
Americans should never underestimate the constant pressure on Canada which the mere presence of the United States has produced. We're different people from you and we're different people because of you. Living next to you is in some ways like sleeping with an elephant. No matter how friendly and even-tempered is the beast, if I can call it that, one is effected by every twitch and grunt. It should not therefore be expected that this kind of nation, this Canada, should project itself as a mirror image of the United States.
- Pierre Trudeau

Friday, November 11, 2011

Remembrance Day 2011

[Note: This is a repost from my personal blog, My Journey. It was originally posted on November 11, 2008. While I have modified the note I have kept the original contents of the post intact.  This will be the fouth year that I've used this wonderful video tribute to the fine men and women that serve our country.  Not only do they keep us safe they act as amazing Canadian ambassadors helping to maintain peace home and abroad as well as serving in a humanitarian capacity.  Please take a moment to watch the video and ponder the price so many have paid and continue to pay to make Canada the great nation that it is.]

I come from a strong military family with ancestors that were instrumental in shaping the history of Canada. I grew up surrounded by relatives who had fought for the rights and freedoms of this beautiful country. Some of them made the ultimate sacrifice and while they are no longer here they live forever in our memories. When I was young, I used to marvel at my Mom when she got all dressed up for the Ladies Auxilary.  She looked so dapper in her navy blue blazer and grey skirt.  It was about the only time I saw her with tears in her eyes while putting on lipstick.  I can remember as a Brownie how proud I felt to be marching in that Remembrance Day Parade for the very first time.  My Mom was marching with the Ladies Auxilary, behind members of the Royal Canadian Legion and I felt so very privileged.   

Tomorrow I will remember by attending the Remembrance Day ceremony in my home town.  I will stop by the cemetery afterwards to leave flowers for those who lost their lives fighting for our freedom.  I will drive by a couple of the old homes, remembering the good times and the stories they told me as a child.  I will remember!

If this video does not bring tears to your eyes, nothing will.  

On the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month we honour our fallen with 2 minutes silence from shore to shore of our great nation, Canada. Please join our nation in showing our respect and how thankful we are for enjoying the freedom they fought so hard for.

Remembrance Day Tribute
courtesy of
Global TV Edmonton

Thursday, November 10, 2011

On the Eleventh Hour of the Eleventh Day of the Eleventh Month...

Every Canadian citizen has a moral obligation to be at a Remembrance Day service tomorrow to hour those who have bravely fought for our freedom, some paying the ultimate sacrifice with their lives.  There are no excuses, period.  They fought for our freedom despite the cold, the rain, the mud and muck and they were more than likely afraid but they kept on fighting for our freedom and the freedom of this great country, Canada.  They missed their families, gave up home cooked meals, going out on dates, and enjoying sitting around a cozy fireplace to fight for our freedom.  They gave up fashion, comfy clothes and their own bit of unique private space to fight for our freedom.  ON THE ELEVENTH HOUR OF THE ELEVENTH DAY OF THE ELEVENTH MONTH WE WILL REMEMBER THEM!  

You owe your freedom to these brave souls so do your civic duty and attend a Remembrance Day service tomorrow.  Thank a veteran, visit a veteran in a nursing home, show a veteran you appreciate the sacrifices they have paid so dearly for all for freedom!

Tomorrow I will be attending the Remembrance Day ceremony in my hometown.  Yes I have to drive and yes the weather will likely be ugly.  Yet I have to be there!  Several of my family members paid the price for my freedom, the freedom so richly enjoyed in Canada!  I will pay my respects, honouring those who served and those who have fallen.  I don't care if it pouring down rain or blizzard conditions, I will be there!  In tribute, tomorrow I will once again be posting the video A Soldier Cries Oh Canada on this blog.  Let us never forget those who fought so hard for our freedom!

Friday, October 7, 2011

I'm Canadian

A few days ago I talked about some of the differences between Canadian and American telemarketers.  Now being a polite Canadian who spends a portion of her time in the US at our vacation home I get to deal with American telemarketers.  I have got one of the best comebacks for them ever!  See they go into their sales pitch without giving you time to even understand what they are saying.  Now, we just recently moved (Sep 1 to 14) and quite frankly I'm tired so if anyone goes into a sales pitch I'm likely to drift off into a bit of cat nap.  When I awake from the cat nap I simply say I'm Canadian to get a resounding click indicating the telemarketer is no longer interested in talking to me.  I have no idea why since I was polite and the whole bit.  Heck, I hope they call again so I can have another cat nap :)

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Jim Carrey on Canada

We are Canadians spending about three months of the year in the sunny south mainly in Florida where our vacation home is but we also make an annual trip to Las Vegas.  Now officially we are not snowbird but more like somewhat snow birds.  Our trips to Florida are spread out over May, September and December for two to five weeks at a time.  Oh good gosh, I can so relate to Jim Carrey being a Canadian in the United States!  During our recent visit to our vacation home where it was a balmy 90°F (yep they use degrees F not degrees C but quite frankly I prefer degrees K) even though folks at home were turning on their furnaces, I was once again accused of having a Canadian accent.  According to my husband who is first generation Canadian born on his paternal side I do have an accent.  Anyway, I don't.  And for the record I proudly showed our new American friends our Loonie and Twonie too while describing how polar bears frolic in our backyard and beavers build dams in our swimming pool - just kidding!  I did introduce them to peameal bacon, a southwestern Ontario delicacy and rye.  They never had rye as they call it whiskey down here.  Oh yes, and I did show them Canada's newest national drink, the Caesar.  Good gosh, they were mesmerized!  And then I got out my collection of Canadian music - Corb Lund, Celion, Quartette - you know all the goodies.  It was a great time but I'm telling you it would be so easy to pull a Jim Carrey!

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Canadian verses American Telemarketers

I honestly detest telemarketers.  For the most part I put them on call block or if one gets through depending on my mood I may have a little fun at their expense.  We live in beautiful Ontario, Canada and recently moved.  I kid you not two days after the phone was connected we got a call from a telemarketer!  Now see this is kind of slow because when our vacation home phone in sunny Florida was connected we got a telemarketing call about 3 minutes later.  So I'm feeling a bit slighted at having to wait two days for my first telemarketer on our brand new phone number.  Canadian telemarkets are slow on the draw likely because they had to wait for Emily from Bell Canada to phone them with our updated info.  They likely had to press all the buttons, sit on hold and twiddle their thumbs until Emily finally gave them our new phone number.  American telemarketers obviously have a direct feed as to when a new phone number goes live.  The last digit comes down and they are in dial mode, connected directly to greet you to your new phone number within seconds.  I can't believe how efficient they are!

Another vivid contrast is in, how shall I say the forcefulness of the sales pitch.  If I had a choice between telemarketers I would choose a Canadian one any day!  They are for the most part polite and know the meaning of no.  While they will promise to take you off their call list that might not happen but they are still polite.  American telemarketers are blunt, to the point of being rude bordering on obnoxious.  They do not comprehend no or I'm not interested and can become quite insulting even abrasive if you use either of these terms.

Speaking as a Canadian who has had experience with dealing with both Canadian and American telemarketers, the Americans could stand to learn a lesson from their Canadian counterparts!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Jack Layton's Farewell Letter to Canada

Jack Layton was a class act, courageous and a true asset to Canada.  He was a man of integrity,  a person who walked his talk, a strong proponent for a greener Canada,  and a great politician.  More important he was genuine.  He was not above himself but rather revealed in making conversation with anyone from the homeless to the politician.  Jack Layton was a truly lovable person who put his family and country ahead of himself.  Even if he disagreed in the political court he remained a gentleman, never resorting to the political mudslinging and bashing.  Jack Layton wrote a farewell letter to Canadians be released upon his death.  Here is his letter in its entirety. 

Dear Friends,

Tens of thousands of Canadians have written to me in recent weeks to wish me well. I want to thank each and every one of you for your thoughtful, inspiring and often beautiful notes, cards and gifts. Your spirit and love have lit up my home, my spirit, and my determination.

Unfortunately my treatment has not worked out as I hoped. So I am giving this letter to my partner Olivia to share with you in the circumstance in which I cannot continue.

I recommend that Hull-Aylmer MP Nycole Turmel continue her work as our interim leader until a permanent successor is elected.

I recommend the party hold a leadership vote as early as possible in the New Year, on approximately the same timelines as in 2003, so that our new leader has ample time to reconsolidate our team, renew our party and our program, and move forward towards the next election.

A few additional thoughts:

To other Canadians who are on journeys to defeat cancer and to live their lives, I say this: please don't be discouraged that my own journey hasn't gone as well as I had hoped. You must not lose your own hope. Treatments and therapies have never been better in the face of this disease. You have every reason to be optimistic, determined, and focused on the future. My only other advice is to cherish every moment with those you love at every stage of your journey, as I have done this summer.

To the members of my party: we've done remarkable things together in the past eight years. It has been a privilege to lead the New Democratic Party and I am most grateful for your confidence, your support, and the endless hours of volunteer commitment you have devoted to our cause. There will be those who will try to persuade you to give up our cause. But that cause is much bigger than any one leader. Answer them by recommitting with energy and determination to our work. Remember our proud history of social justice, universal health care, public pensions and making sure no one is left behind. Let's continue to move forward. Let's demonstrate in everything we do in the four years before us that we are ready to serve our beloved Canada as its next government.

To the members of our parliamentary caucus: I have been privileged to work with each and every one of you. Our caucus meetings were always the highlight of my week. It has been my role to ask a great deal from you. And now I am going to do so again. Canadians will be closely watching you in the months to come. Colleagues, I know you will make the tens of thousands of members of our party proud of you by demonstrating the same seamless teamwork and solidarity that has earned us the confidence of millions of Canadians in the recent election. 2
To my fellow Quebecers: On May 2nd, you made an historic decision. You decided that the way to replace Canada's Conservative federal government with something better was by working together in partnership with progressive-minded Canadians across the country. You made the right decision then; it is still the right decision today; and it will be the right decision right through to the next election, when we will succeed, together. You have elected a superb team of New Democrats to Parliament. They are going to be doing remarkable things in the years to come to make this country better for us all.

To young Canadians: All my life I have worked to make things better. Hope and optimism have defined my political career, and I continue to be hopeful and optimistic about Canada. Young people have been a great source of inspiration for me. I have met and talked with so many of you about your dreams, your frustrations, and your ideas for change. More and more, you are engaging in politics because you want to change things for the better. Many of you have placed your trust in our party. As my time in political life draws to a close I want to share with you my belief in your power to change this country and this world. There are great challenges before you, from the overwhelming nature of climate change to the unfairness of an economy that excludes so many from our collective wealth, and the changes necessary to build a more inclusive and generous Canada. I believe in you. Your energy, your vision, your passion for justice are exactly what this country needs today. You need to be at the heart of our economy, our political life, and our plans for the present and the future.

And finally, to all Canadians: Canada is a great country, one of the hopes of the world. We can be a better one - a country of greater equality, justice, and opportunity. We can build a prosperous economy and a society that shares its benefits more fairly. We can look after our seniors. We can offer better futures for our children. We can do our part to save the world's environment. We can restore our good name in the world. We can do all of these things because we finally have a party system at the national level where there are real choices; where your vote matters; where working for change can actually bring about change. In the months and years to come, New Democrats will put a compelling new alternative to you. My colleagues in our party are an impressive, committed team. Give them a careful hearing; consider the alternatives; and consider that we can be a better, fairer, more equal country by working together. Don't let them tell you it can't be done.
My friends, love is better than anger. Hope is better than fear. Optimism is better than despair. So let us be loving, hopeful and optimistic. And we'll change the world.

All my very best,
Jack Layton

Monday, August 22, 2011

NDP Jack Layton Dies

Today is a sad day across Canada.  NDP Leader Jack Layton died early this morning after a struggle with cancer at the age of 61 years old.   Jack Layton was truly a great Canadian who walked his talk.  Our condolences to his family.  He will be sadly missed by many Canadians.  RIP Jack

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

John Daly Struts His Canadian Pride at the Canadian Open

John Daly's pants at Canadian Open
John Daly's Canadian Pride
July 22, 2010

Pro-golfer John Daly showed his Canadian Pride on the second round of the Canadian Open on Friday, July 22, 2011 in Vancouver, British Columbia.  I was lucky enough to snap a picture from the television.  I absolutely love his pants!  Talk about Canadian pride!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Riots Erupt in Vancouver After Canuck Loss

I recently posted my feelings regarding how Canuck fans were treated in Boston.  In hindsight that pour sportsmanship and inhospitality by some venues in Boston pales after the riots that erupted in downtown Vancouver after the Canuck loss during the final Stanley Cup hockey game on June 16, 2011.  As a Canadian, I am ashamed of the fellow Canadians involved in this horrible display of destruction, personal injury, looting and violence.  This is not the Canadian way!  It saddens me that a few Canadians were able to mar our reputation of being a friendly, polite and peaceful nation.  It is a black mark against a beautiful Canadian city.  For shame!

The residents of Vancouver have set up a website to help authorities identify those responsible.  Please take a moment to visit Identify the Rioters if you think you may someone who was involved in the riots.  The site is based on identification through your Facebook friends but is set up in such as fashion that the identification is done anonymously.  The Vancouver Police Department is asking anyone with pictures or any information on anyone involved in the riots to contact them.  Pictures of the riots can be emailed to info@codefocus.ca, to the VPD through Twitter or through the VPD Tip Line.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Vancouver vs Boston for Stanley Cup

The battle for the Stanley Cup is heating up between Vancouver and Boston.  Oh my gosh though listening to the media and seeing some of the problems Boston gets one heck of a huge fail from this Canadian!  Apparently some restaurants were refusing service to Canadian fans.  Say what?  Canadians bring a lot of money into the US through their vacations, rental properties and day trips.  How dare a restaurant post a sign that Canadians are not welcomed?  I don't care what the reason is but I will guarantee you that when Boston fans come to Vancouver and they will, there would never be a sign to not welcome them into a restaurant.  You see, Canadians have learned how to take the high road and not insult their tourists.  Quite frankly after this horrid display of hospitality, I have absolutely no desire to ever visit Boston and I do mean ever!  So might I politely say in a nice Canadian way, Bostonians are welcomed to visit Vancouver for the game but seriously don't let the door hit your arse on the way out.  Oh and while it would have been nice to bust your chops on your home turf, winning on Canadian soil is even better!  My Canadian perspective...

Monday, June 13, 2011

The Canadian Postal Strike

Canada Post is officially on strike citing lowered mail volume as the causing factor of the strike.  They want to reduce mail delivery to Mondays, Wednesdays and Friday.  Workers have been holding rotating strikes in larger cities since June 8.  Denis Lemelin, President of CUPW claims they have evidence the mail volume is still there and that this is a tactic being taken by Canada Post to force the workers to go out on strike.  He indicated the workers would be seeking legislation to prevent a general strike.

From this Canadian's perspective, Canada Post is out of touch with reality.  On the heels of a recession and a forced federal election, no one other than the postal workers cares about whether or not Canada Post goes on strike.  It is no longer an essential service.  As more turn to online services (ebills, online banking, greeting cards, email) the vast majority of Canadians can easily continue as normal withour being inconvenienced by a postal strike.  Store flyers are available online and they will gladly email them to you.  Magazines are available online as well.  Going paperless is being encouraged because it is eco-friendly.  The  municipal, provincial and federal governments no longer rely on Canada Post with most services being available online.  Even my husband's office does not rely on Canada Post for communication.  Documents can easily get from point A to point B via email and fax AND these methods are immediate and less expensnsive than Canada Post.

We have seen postal rates increase to the point of being rediculous.  We live in a rural location so when away our former neighbours would collect our mail for us so it would not sit in the mailbox.  They moved last December so before leaving for our winter vacation, I put a hold on our mail.  It cost $60 and the worst part was when we collected our mail upon returning home there was less than ten pieces of mail.  Had I thought about it, I should have taken the mailbox off the post then they would have had no choice but to hold our mail.  We spend about three months of the year outside of Canada and I am certainly not going to pay $60 each time I want the mail held.  While away in December I went online and changed anything I could to be received via email to eliminate as much physical mail as possible.  Before our spring vacation I put a forward on our mail to go to my husband's office.  That cost me another $40 but effectively eliminates any mail coming to house, not that I expect to get more than an occasional piece of junk mail.  We are in the process of selling our house and have decided the new house will not have mail service.  I'm sure Canada Post won't like that but too bad.  I am not going to give them one more red cent!  So go ahead, Canada Post...go on strike.  I don't care and I doubt the general public will care either.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Our Recent Dealings with Health Care in Ontario

I am Canadian and for the most part I am happy with all things Canadian.  Not so when it comes to health care in Ontario.  You see where we live is an under-serviced area so it is difficult to get doctors to come into the small communities.  I was lucky in that I was actually able to fire my doctor but my husband is still with that very same doctor I fired.  Fast forward.  My husband is a relatively healthy guy that glosses over small health problems so when there is a medical problem needing attention you would think he would get it.   On May 8 we flew out to Las Vegas returning on May 14 for eighteen hours.  He was seen in emerg during that eighteen hour period, given a prescription with no real explanation as to the cause of his problem.  We flew out to Florida on May 15 with me hoping and praying all would be well with him while there so as to not have to go to an American hospital.  We have travel insurance, a must when staying outside of Canada.  We returned home on May 25, he was in emerg again on May 27 and last night (May 29) admitted to hospital.  I should have called 911 but ambulance rides cost $80 and it was quicker for me to drive him to the closest hospital.  Now he is 6'7" and I am 5'1" so if he ever passed out especially when I was driving it would be a huge problem.  I took the chance because I have First Aid and CPR certification but it was still a chance.  On admission they wanted an x-ray but being short staffed there was no orderly so I had to push him in a wheelchair down for x-rays and back.  We made jokes about it but you know what it really is a joke the way health care is eroding in Ontario.  Once back to the emerg room with IV set up and pain killers going in, he started drifting off to sleep.  I shut the door to a crack and turned off the lights not to see a doctor until 3 AM.  Given this was a very small community hospital that in itself was a bit of a tick off but the attending doctor who was the same one who saw him for bloodwork the day before seemed through.  The x-rays showed something that warranted a CT scan.  They told me to go home and get some sleep then call at 8:30 AM as he would be going by ambulance to the next community over.  I started calling the hospital at 8:15 AM and never did get through to someone to talk to after five attempts.  The phone rang and it was my husband asking if I could drive him to the CT scan because the ambulances were on hold.  I had less than three hours sleep but was out that door pronto.  Once again I was driving him where things could get nasty, dressed in two hospital gowns holding the cup for the imagining liquid he was to drink, barely able to keep his eyes open from the drugs he had been given.  I honestly felt my anger mounting but managed to keep it in check as we waited for two hours for the CT scan and almost another two hours before being told to return to the first hospital emerg.  When we got there despite the wait I was relieved to see a doctor we have known for a number of years.  The CT scan showed a few problems to follow-up on so there are more tests but not until June 10.  In the meantime it is a wait and see what happens thing.

Here's the tick off.  Dalton McGuinty and formerly Mike Harris have been picking away at health care services in Ontario.  There is no way my husband should have had to go through this.  Those services he is entitled to were simply not there when he needed them and it's not like he has ever abused needing to use the health care services.  In hind sight instead of hoping he did not have a problem in Florida, it might have be better if he had.  Perhaps we would actually know what is happening with him!  We are close to the US border.  I honestly have half a mind to take him over to Michigan  or take him back to Florida where at least they can get to the bottom of what is going on.

My sentiments are echoing those of many Canadian who frustrated with our healthcare seek healthcare outside of Canada and specifically those in Ontario who cannot get decent health care.  I'm not a stupid person.  In fact I have a graduate degree and three post graduate degrees all in the sciences with my area of expertise in medical genetics.  I'm sorry but what we experienced with him in the last 48 hours is totally unacceptable, McGuinty bandage this health care.  And when someone dies because they did not get the healthcare they paid for through their tax dollars, what happens?  It's quietly swept away by the McGuinty government as collateral damage.   Meanwhile Canadians flock to the US for treatment they are entitled to in Canada if only they could get that treatment before the die waiting for the treatment.

And yes, I am mad as hell over this!

Sunday, May 8, 2011

2011 Census

Our 2011 Census forms arrieved in the mail a couple of days ago.  This year there is the option to fill the forms out online.  The census is a shorter form asking only names, date of birth, marital status and language spoken so it is fairly benign.  The form includes the options as to whether the individual agrees to make his or her 2011 Census information available in 2103.  Census information is released to the public mainly for genealogy purposes 92 years after the census was taken.  The 2011 Census is the second census to allow Canadians to opt out having their information released.  Many genealogists are quite upset over this option as census records are widely used as sources of information in genealogy research.

By law, every Canadian household must complete a census questionnaire.  Information provided to Statistics Canada is confidential and cannot be given to anyone outside of Statistics Canada without your consent.  Census information is stored securely and you are entitled to see census information stored about you by contacting the Privacy Coordinator at Statistics Canada [25th Floor, R.H. Coats Building, Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0T6]. 

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Times are Changing in Canada

Over the past five weeks I said very little regarding the upcoming election that was held on May 2.  I think the bottom line is I really did not want to do a lot of bad mouthing.  I purposely avoided some of the political mud slinging.  In many ways it was a rather quiet election BUT given the results a very historical one.  The Conservatives headed by Stephen Harper won a majority government effectively giving Michael Ignatieff and his Liberals about the biggest flipp-off ever.  It's not like Ignatieff and the Liberals didn't deserve it.  After all Canadians did not want this election and that was reflected in the polls.  But Canadians spoke more through their votes that just kicking the Liberals butts.  Duceppe lost his home riding as did Ignatieff but Duceppe took the gentleman's approach  resigning as head of the Bloc Quebecois.  Apparently Quebec has decided that separating from Canada is no longer a great idea so they put their vote over to the NDP effectively snubbing the Bloc Quebecois which is effectively no more.  Not to be outdone, Elizabeth May leader of the Green Party won a seat!  This is huge as it is the first time they have ever wone a seat.  If you look at it, this really was a historical election in Canada!

Monday, May 2, 2011

Election Day

Today is Election Day not that we wanted an election but thanks to Igantieff and his Liberals we got one to the tune of $300 to $400 million dollars.  So rather than worrying about how to keep the hydro on, put gas in your car, put food on your table without paying gas to get to the food bank and not sell your first born to the blood bank be sure to GET OUT THERE AND VOTE!

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Tomorrow is Election Day

Well you would have to be a hermit to not know that tomorrow is election day in Canada.  Thanks to the forced election by the Liberals aka Ignatieff, Canada still trying to get the economy stimulated after a recession is being forced by the Liberals to pay between $300 and $400 million dollars for an election no one wanted and wasn't needed.  I have been very much biting my tongue on the whole issue despite the fact it should have been covered rather extensively here.  At the end of tomorrow Canadians can sit back, twist open a bottle of beer and rest easy that we have paid for a forced election while we worry about how to keep the hydro on, food on our tables and a roof over our head.  I'm calling dibbs to see exactly which politician becomes PM as to how long it takes before they break at least one of their election promises.  You know the Liberals with the no new taxes thing as an election promise last time around where all we do is watch taxes aka term du jour to avoid using the word tax even though it means they are still digging into our pockets.  Call me jaded but I've about had enough.  It will be interesting to see the outcome though and I do sincerely hope Canadians send Ignatieff their heart felt thanks while on their way to the local food bank!

Friday, April 29, 2011

The Royal Wedding

Like many Canadians I was up bright and early to watch as well as tape the royal wedding.  As a former Commonwealth country under monarch rule with still strong overtones of monarchy, the Royal family is of great interest.  It was an absolutely spectacular wedding!  What a wonderful, happy event for the world to be able to share in when there are so many negative things happening.  It was a beautiful distraction for just a short time for what is happening in Canada and the world.  What a lovely couple and we wish them the very best in the years to come.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Copper Wire

[from my email files because a little laughter aside of the political clowns is a good thing]
After having dug to a depth of 10 feet last year, British scientists found traces of copper wire dating back 200 years and came to the conclusion that their ancestors already had a telephone network more than 150 years ago.

Not to be outdone by the Brit's, in the weeks that followed, an American archaeologist dug to a depth of 20 feet, and shortly after, a story published in the New York Times:  "American archaeologists, finding traces of 250-year-old copper wire, have concluded that their ancestors already had an advanced high-tech communications network 50 years earlier than the British".

One week later, Canadian Dept. of Mines and Resources in Newfoundland reported the following:  "After digging as deep as 30 feet in NE Canada, Jack Lucknow, a self-taught archaeologist, reported that he found absolutely nothing.

Jack has therefore concluded that 250 years ago, Canada had already gone wireless."

Just makes you bloody proud to be Canadian, doesn't it?


Monday, April 11, 2011

Weird Questions Asked of Canadians

[from my email files - just a bit of humour]
We get some weird questions here in Canada too, so we decided to post on our tourism web site some Questions that we received from international guests, and the Canuck answers: (oh....and my apologies in advance to anybody who might feel offended)

Q: I have never seen it warm on TV, so how do the plants grow? (UK)
A: We import all plants fully grown and then just sit around watching them die.

Q: Will I be able to see Polar Bears in the street? (USA)
A: Depends how much you've been drinking.

Q: I want to walk from Vancouver to Toronto - can I follow the railroad tracks? (Sweden)
A: Sure, it's only six thousand km, take lots of water. . .

Q: Is it safe to run around in the bushes in Canada? (Sweden)!
A: So it's true what they say about Swedes.

Q: It is imperative that I find the names and addresses of places to contact for a stuffed beaver. (Italy)
A: Let's not touch this one.

Q: Are there any ATMs (cash machines) in Canada? Can you send me a list of them in Toronto, Vancouver, Edmonton and Halifax? (UK)
A: What did your last slave die of?

Q: Can you give me some information about hippo racing in Canada? (USA)
A: A-fri-ca is the big triangle shaped continent south of Europe. Ca-na-da is that big country to your North . . . oh forget it. Sure, the hippo racing is every Tuesday night in Calgary. Come naked.

Q: Which direction is North in Canada? (USA)
A: Face south and then turn 90 degrees. Contact us when you get here and we'll send the rest of the directions.

Q: Can I bring cutlery into Canada? (UK)
A: Why? Just use your fingers like we do.

Q: Can you send me the Vienna Boys' Choir schedule? (USA)
A: Aus-tri-a is that quaint little country bordering Ger-man-y, which is... oh forget it. Sure, the Vienna Boys Choir plays every Tuesday night in Vancouver and in Calgary, straight after the hippo races. Come naked.

Q: Do you have perfume in Canada? (Germany)
A: No, WE don't stink.

Q: I have developed a new product that is the fountain of youth. Can you tell me where I can sell it in Canada? (USA)
A: Anywhere significant numbers of Americans gather.

Q: Can I wear high heels in Canada? (UK)
A: You are an American politician, right?

Q: Can you tell me the regions on British Columbia where the female population is smaller than the male population? (Italy)
A: Yes, gay nightclubs.

Q: Do you celebrate Thanksgiving in Canada? (USA)
A: Only at Thanksgiving.

Q: Are there supermarkets in Toronto and is milk available all year round? (Germany)
A: No, we are a peaceful civilization of vegan hunter gatherers. Milk is illegal.

Q: Please send a list of all doctors in Canada who can dispense rattlesnake serum. (USA)
A: All Canadian rattle snakes are perfectly harmless, and can be safely handled and make good pets.

Q: I was in Canada in 1969 on R&R, and I want to contact the girl I dated while I was staying in Surrey, BC. Can you help? (USA)
A: Yes, and you will still have to pay her by the hour.

Q: Will I be able to speak English most places I go? (USA)
A: Yes, but you will have to learn it first.


Monday, March 28, 2011

May 2 is Election Day in Canada

In a historic Liberal non-confidence vote on Friday March 25, 2011, the Harper Government was defeated 156 to 145.  The following day the Governor General for Canada dissolved Parliament.  The Canadian House of Commons found Prime Minister Stephen Harper guilty of contempt of Parliament which under parliamentary law (Canada Elections Act, 2000) is a federal crime that bars Harper from seeking re-election on May 2, 2011.  The media coverage of this historic event has been extensive.  Several issues come to light.

From this Canadian's perspective:
  • the election - This election comes on the heels of a recession that still has many Canadians feeling the pain of hard economic times.  It will be the fourth election in seven years.  In particular, despite promises new taxes have been introduced and old taxes increased.  Essential living costs (eg. home heating, gasoline) continue to rise and in particular hydro costs in Ontario alone are to rise by 7% annually for the next five years and at least one major retailer, Loblaws has announced a 5% increases across all food products in their stores effective April 1.  The election will cost Canadian tax payers $300,000,000 to $400,000,000.  It is hard to justify this type of spending when food insecurity is a growing issue for many Canadian families.  This is an election the Canadian people do not want and the Canadian economy does not need.
  • Stephen Harper (Conservative)- Essentially Harper was impeached from government of Canada for the federal crime of contempt of Parliament.  The Harper govenment was dissolved and Harper deemed unfit to be the Prime Minister of Canada.  As a result an election was called to choose a new Prime Minister.  Since Harper was found guilty of contempt of Parliament under the Canada Elections Act he is prhibited from becoming a parlimentary member for five possibly seven years after conviction.  Why then is Harper running for the very same office that he was removed from? 
  • Michael Ignatieff (Liberal) - Ignatieff's sly smirk and avoidance of answering reporters' direct questions gains him no popularity points with the Canadian people.  In fact according to a recent IPSIS poll, in order of popularity for next Prime Minister is Harper (49%), Layton (34%) and Ignatieff (17%).  No one believes his sugary sweet "I'm for the Canadian family" nonsense because they can see the wolf behind the cloak.  Under the Dalton McGuinty's Liberal leadership in Ontario we have seen new taxes added to 17% of consumer goods and services including new taxes on home heating fuel and internet services.  Food costs will rise by 5% and hydro will increase 7% annually over the next 5 years.  We have watched as the Liberal government in Ontario alone has introduced tax after tax (eg. HST, eco-tax) and thinly veiled taxes coyly called user fees as if we are too stupid to realize it is just another tax.  Make no never mind, if the Liberals get into power the Canadian people will be taxed to the point there will be nothing to give.  That's how much Ignatieff really cares about Canadian families.  The Liberals see Canadian families as a cash cow and nothing more.  Ignatieff has indicated that the Liberals will not form a coalition with the NDP and Bloc Quebecois.  Yep, and the Liberals also said no new taxes.  Their track record for lying and gouging Canadian families with more taxes stands for itself so we are supposed to believe him when he says they won't form a coalition?  Stephen Dion in 2008 said he would not form a coalition either just before he did.   Out of curiosity, how did Ignatieff become the leader of the Liberal party without a leadership race and uncertainty of a free vote?  Isn't that showing a lack of respect for democracy, the very same thing he accuses Harper of?  Why did the Liberals wait until now to force an election with a non-confident vote rather than when Harper proroged Parliament in 2010?  If the Liberals are so concerned about the Canadian family why force a costly election no one wants?
  • Jack Layton (NDP) - The NDP are smelling like roses in comparison to the Liberals and Conservatives.  Layton comes across as being genuine and unlike his counterparts he does walk his talk when it comes to environmental issues.  He even lives in a green home, retrofitted for solar and low energy use.  The concern I have with Layton is why did he join the Bloc/Liberal coalition voting to defeat the government?
  • Gilles Duceppe (Bloc Quebecois) - It is abundantly clear that Duceppe is not interested in what is best for Canada.  He is interested only is striking a deal that will be most beneficial to Quebec.  To this end, he is a bit wishy washy ready to sell out to which ever party tosses the tasties cookies Quebec's way.  The primary goal of the Bloc Quebecois is destroying Canada.  He has already been in a coup with Ignatieff over installing Stephen Dion as  Prime Minister.  Duceppe has no respect for democracy!  Why do the people of Quebec tolerate Duceppe? 
  • Liz May (Green Party) - May has been almost invisible since the last federal election in 2008.  The problem with May is her campaign topics will likely focus on climat change, alternative energy and putting a price on carbon emissions.  While these are all very valid concerns, the focus needs to be on what Canadians are most concerned about and that is rising food, fuel and electicity bills.  In short her campaign is the same as she ran in 2008 with nothing new to say or offer.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Harper Government Defeated

The biggest news today is the defeat of the Harper government to the opposition by the non-confidence vote signing contempt of democracy of 156 to 145.  Prime Minister Harper will meet with Governor General Johnson tomorrow to dissolve Parliament.   Canadians will be going to the polls in about five weeks in early May.  It will be the fourth federal election in seven years!  More to come as this breaking news unfolds...

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Canadians Warned of Increasing Food Prices

On the heels on a recession and skyrocketing electricity prices combined with the federal and provincial governments' heavy handed taxation, Canadians are now facing inflated food prices.  The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization recently reported its food price index increased 2.2% in February, the eighth straight month of food price increases.  George Weston, owner of Weston Foods Ltd. and Loblaw (parent company of several grocery store chains) announced the first week of March that there would be a 5% price increase in all of their stores to offset rising commodity prices.  Fifteen percent of the average household spending is on food so even this seemingly small increase will have a large impact. 

Food prices are predicted to continue to rise as a result global effects including economic and weather conditions.  The unrest in the Middle East has resulted in huge increases in transportation costs and that will certainly be reflected in the cost of food in the grocery stores.  Global bad weather has resulted in wheat and corn prices doubling.  Rapidly emerging markets in India and China are using resources we once considered our.  Britons were warned last week that food riots may be part of their future as food insecurity increases.  It is unsure what effects the recent events in Japan will have on food prices as well.

From this Canadian's perspective, the issue of food insecurity in Canada is an ever growing one.  It is not one that is going to be helped by the ever rising cost of food.  It is time for Canadians to get back to basics.  Canadians must get into the mindset of growing whatever they can to help supplement their food, much the same as the war time efforts of Victory Gardens.  A small plot of land about 6' x 8' or the same sized balcony can produce an amazing amount of produce.  Municipalities should encourage community gardens as well as pass bylaws allowing backyard chickens with restrictions.  Seed banks should be established in each community with home gardeners contributing extra seeds to be made available for those who cannot afford to buy seeds.  Each community should have at minimum weekend farmer's markets where local farmers can sell their produce.  Supporting local growers is good for the economy and it's cheaper for the consumer when food is bought locally.  Finally, Canadians need to take responsibility for their own food supply.  This means that in addition to growing what you can and buying local, in season produce, learn how to preserve the extra for low cost food during the winter months.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Battling the CRTC Decision to Allow Usage-Based Internet Billing

Recently the CRTC made the decision to impose new fews on the majority of internet users in Canada.  The result of this decision would allow usage-based internet billing that many across Canada are seeing as price gouging, and rightly so.  The OpenMedia team is working with some of the best public interest lawyers, citizens groups, content creatores, indie ISOs and online service providers to campaign against the CRTC's decision.  Industry Minister Clement has taken the position that he will not allow the decision to be passed by the CRTC bu has not indicated as to whether he will accept the water-down version of that decision.  In the meantimes, as concerned Canadians there are three things you can do to get involved:

  • send comments to the CRTC via OpenMedia
  • 100,000 letters to the CRTC are needed so the Commission, Clement and other key decision makers know that we will accept nothing less than a fundamental change in the way phone and cable companies operate; send your letter now
  • support the campaign by making a small donation to Stop the Meter Fund

Friday, February 11, 2011

The National Do Not Call List is a Joke

Thanks to the ineptness of the CRTC, Canada's National Do Not Call List is about the biggest joke Canadian taxpayers have ever paid for.  Now here's how it works.  You give your phone number to the CRTC to be listed for no calls from telemarketers.  If telemarketers call you after you phone number is on that list you can file a complaint with the CRTC who at their discretion may fine the telemarkerter.  Well that sounds all fine and dandy doesn't it?  EXCEPT:  The CRTC sells the do not call list to telemarketers who in return sell that list as numbers to call to other telemarketers who sells it to other telemarketers.  Which ultimately means the CRTC sells out Canadian taxpayers.

Case in point, we are on the do not call list.  Telemarketing calls increased to the point I turned the answering machine off.  Recently we have been getting phone calls from 1-866-362-8165 aka a well reputed scam by Georgian Manors Resort.  Now why on earth would they be calling us when our name is on the do not call list and they were one of the reasons I put our phone number on there in the first place?  And our last call from them was at 5:48 PM EST on February 11, 2011.  Our phone number has been on the do not call list for over two years and thanks to the CRTC we still get phone calls from these scammers?  The CRTC who is supposed to protect consumer rights for telecommunications in Canada is about the biggest farce and waste of tax payer dollars there ever was!

Thursday, February 3, 2011

A Few of My Thoughts on the Food Industry in Canada

From this Canadian's Perspective: 

The vast majority of Canadians buy all or a good portion of their food in a grocery store.  That's a given because let's face it, in Canada our growing seasons are such that we could not possibly grow all the food we want in any given year.  I am emphasizing want because for the most part many Canadians could grow what they need to help reduce food insecurity in Canada.  The food industry is considerably larger than all of us mere mortals.  They have single handedly convinced Canadians that home cooking is too much work and yet our higher powers (Canadian Food Inspection Agency, CFIA; Health Canada and through imports the USDA/FDA) that be routinely subject Canadians to:
  • excess food additives
  • allowing BPA (bis-phenol A) to contaminate commercially canned foods and drinks via a mandatory plastic coating - actually this is a USDA mandate that CFIA and Health Canada tolerates even though this chemical is harming Canadian children
  • allowing preservatives like sodium benzoate (in products like RealLemon) that when exposed to acidic and heat conditions breaks down into benzene, a known carcinogen
  • an acceptable level of bug and other contaminates in commercially canned food (imported and home grown)
And that is just the tip of the iceberg!  For decades the food industry has brainwashed Canadians into believing the food source is secure and safe.  If it is so safe, why then do we get regular warnings regarding Listeria, E.coli and Salmonella ranging in everything from fresh salad greens imported from the US to homeland contaminations in meat packaging plants.  If it is so secure, why is food insecurity in Canada one of the biggest concerns?  In many ways just as with the recent rulings from the CRTC, the CFIA does not have the best interests of Canadians at heart and neither does the food industry.  The bottom line is the food indusry and governing agencies care about one thing and one thing only, the almighty dollar.

Canadians need to say enough is enough.  I'm not trying to fearmonger but rather inform.  I honestly believe that the Canadian food industry is trouble because they simple don't have the balls to stand up and say we are Canadian rather than follow blindly what the Americans do.  The USDA says they want the BPA plastic lining so our kids have to suffer?  The USDA says high fructose corn syrup safe.  Where are the Canadian tests meant to protect Canadians?  I was saddened to see that my government of which I pay taxes to tells me to use the USDA for canning advice which would be so bad except that their last major overhaul of recommended canning practices was in 1994.  By any standard data that is now 17 years old is more than outdated!  Why is it in a country where home canning does play a larger role in many families lives that we are referred to old data not even compiled by our own country?  Why is it we don't have enough food inspectors to check out our meat processing plants?  Lord know we have enough unemployed so perhaps some of them could pick up the slack.  Why is it in a country where food insecurity is a growing concern there aren't programs to help those less fortunate grow their own even through community gardens.  Many communities have open space why not use that space to grow food for those who need it.  Teach them the skills so they can teach someone else while helping themselves.

I firmly believe each individual has the responsiblity to ensure a safe food supply for themselves and their family.  How you do this will depend on your life skills, your willingness to learn and get involved.  Here are a few ideas to get you started:
  • grow what you can yourself
  • buy locally from local farmers
  • learn to preserve what you grow buy locally
  • contact food  manufacturers - It is surprising how much one person can actually change how a food producer makes or markets their product.  If you see an ingredient you don't like in a product, let them know about it.  Contact them if you don't like their packaging.  Write them if you don't like how they are not doing business in a socially responsible manner.  
  • get involved! - As Canadians we tend to be a rather passive lot letting everyone including our elected officials (you know the ones eating $1,000 a plate meals while we can barely afford to put food on our table, the very same ones our tax dollars pay their huge pay cheques). There are at least 4 levels of government every Canadian can address their concerns to - municipal, county, provincial and federal. You can address each concern at every level of government.  If you don't like something the CFIA has done get in touch with your MP.  If you don't like that Joe the farmer dumps chemicals into the ditch let the municipality know and be sure to follow through. 
  • get the media involved!  - Our country is dotted with all kinds of ways to get your message out through media from local broadcasting stations to local newspapers to larger publications and if that doesn't work you can always blog about it where the message will get out well beyond Canada's borders.
  • be persistent - One letter, one complaint, one comment is easy to overlook.  These get passed to the wayside.  But the squeaky wheel is the one that gets fixed so be that squeaky wheel.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

The Great Snowstorm of 2011

swans and ducks on the water
Winter Life on the Water
January 30, 2011

We live on waterfront property on the Great Lakes waterway in beautiful Ontario.  Winters here are quite pretty!  The ice on the water never full freezes so there are pockets of open water that the various waterfowl take advantage of.  Pictured is the view from our kitchen a couple of days ago.

Today is Ground Hog Day.  Wiarton Willy's prediction this year is an early spring which I'm sure made a lot of people happy as they were digging out from last night's snowstorm.  It was the worst snowstorm of the season hitting southern Ontario rather hard last night with continuing snow, freezing rain and poor road conditions due to high winds causing drifting and low visibility.  The weather forecast for today is for at least another 10 cm of snow.  Watching our neighbours on both sides of us dig their long driveways out from a good 30 cm of snow I am glad we had the foresight to arrange ours to be plowed out!  There were a lot of cancellations but my husband decided to go into the office for the afternoon.  The great snowstorm of 2011 was not as bad as predicted here in our little corner of Canada.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Chemical Valley in Sarnia, Ontario

Chemical Valley, Sarnia, Ontario
Chemical Valley in Sarnia, Ontario
January 21, 201

Sarnia, Ontario is home to Chemical Valley named after the large number of industrial petro-chemical plants on the south side of the city.  Sarnia is a border city on the St. Clair River just at the mouth of Lake Huron across from Port Huron, Michigan.  A major highway artery (Hwy. 402) connects Sarnia to London, Ontario allowing the easy transport of goods from the US and southern regions of Ontario to the Greater Toronto Area and eastern Canada.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Zellers - The End of an Era

source:  Toronto Star, November 7, 1931

On November 7, 1931 Schulte-United Limited announced it would be re-opening as Zellers Limited headed by Walter P. Zeller (a native of Kitchener, Ontario) on November 12, 1931.  Zeller was a Canadian businessman offering customers quality merchandise for everyday needs as well as fashionably styled merchandise.  He pledged to the buying and selling of Canadian-made goods.  Walter Zeller died in 1957 and by 1959 the major intrest was held by American discounter W. T. Grant.  By 1978 full ownership of Zellers was in the hands of the Hudson Bay Company (HBC).

HBC announced on January 13, 2011 that the US based discount department store chain Target Corporation has agreed to purchase the leases of up to 220 Zellers stores for a rumoured $1.82 billion.  As many as 150 Target stores will open in 2013 or 2014 in locations currently occupied by Zellers.  Target Corporation is not purchasing the Zellers chain outright, they have only purchased the leases.  The remaining sold locations will be transferred to other retailers.  Fifty to sixty locations will continue to operate as Zellers stores owned by HBC.  So Zellers is not going to disappear entirely but the locations will be greatly reduced likely to larger urban centres. 

From this Canadian's Perspective Zellers was never quite as good as the old K-mart or Woolco stores but it was still a good place to shop for a decent value.  As a young mother we lived within walking distance of a Zellers so I would pack the kids into the buggy to do any necessary shopping for an occasional afternoon outing.  There was a nice little booth style restaurant (the Skillet) at Zellers that sometimes I would meet up with a girlfriend along with her kids we'd enjoy a milkshake and fries.  Our kids loved going to Zellers because they knew if they were good they would get a treat in the restaurant.  Zellers came out with a rewards program called Z-club where they gave collectible points for your purchases.  My very first reward cash-in was a Bissell steam cleaner that unfortunately we had to toss last year.  My second cash-in was a huge Igloo cooler that is still in remarkably good condition for its age.  Zellers had a lay-away plan that was perfect for young families planning for holiday gift giving.  It was the first store in our area to install closed circuit video to guard against shop lifting.  Zellers employed several from the community so when they announced they were closing the doors in our small community it was a huge deal.  The store sat empty for awhile then was torn down to make way for a new Wal-Mart complete with a McDonald's instead of a cosy, booth restaurant.  And so life went on.  I miss the old Zellers as do many.  The new Wal-Mart is too new, too bright, too clean and just too everything!  I am saddened to once again see a Canadian icon taken over by an American company.

The writing has been on the wall for the demise of Zellers for quite sometime.  They could no longer live up to the pledge of buying and selling Canadian-made goods when consumers were demanding cheaper imports.  The stores had a reputation for being a bit on the dingy side especially compared to their newer counterparts of the Real Canadian Superstore and Wal-Mart.  Zellers though was part of Canadiana, something to be held onto.  In this day and age, business icons can only survive if they are profitable and Zellers was not.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

New Poll Shows Canadians Are Often Tired

A new poll by CBS New has shown that Canadians are often tired.  Now this is not breaking news by any stretch of the imagination.  Canadians have been tired since the advent of electricity that allowed us to stay up past our bedtime watching our 2 channels of television.  Moving forward television moved up to cable and satellite access giving us many more channels to avoid going to sleep.  In addition to television many parents are up in the wee hours of the morning dragging little Johnny to hockey practice.  Who in their right mind feels like skating at 4 AM?  Canadians are tired of their roadways that in between larger communities are so flat and boring that you can't help but drift off.  I'm sure that doesn't help those heading to hockey practice.  For those not into hockey (do they even exist?) there's lacrosse.  Canadians are especially tuckered out thanks to the internet.  Our internet service is so great you can actually clean the entire house waiting for one file to download!  So it is no surprise that more Canadians are reporting they are tired more often than before.  Such is life!

Monday, January 3, 2011

Another Canadian Controversy in 2010

In addition to the world's focus on Ontario and British Columbia in 2010, both provinces created further attention for themselves by bring the controversial Harmonized Sales Tax (HST) into effect on July 1, 2010.  While this tax was supposed to simplify accounting for businesses by combining federal and provincial taxes into one tax, the HST effectively added 8% tax to 17% of consumer goods and services in Ontario.  The HST was so unpopular with the constituents of British Columbia that their Premier Gordon Campbell resigned from office and no one wanted to take his place.  In Ontario we could not be so lucky as to have one of the most hated Premiers, Dalton McGuinty to step down.  The full effects of the HST have still not been felt although it has had an impact across Canada.  The HST issue will drag on into 2011...

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Two Contrasting Events in 2010

Two major events happened in Canada but with very different outcomes.  The Winter Olympics hosted in Vancouver, British Columbia brought fame and admiration world wide.  Canadians were impeccable hosts to the many visitors to this wonderful event.  For the first time, Canadians even showed a strong show of patriotism causing some International newspapers to comment on this uncharacteristic display.  The G20 Summit was held in Toronto, Ontario.  This event brought shame to Canada as Canadian rights and freedoms were eroded in a rash decision that for one weekend turned Toronto into a police state.  Rather than pride and patriotism some rebel Canadians displayed a very ugly side during the G20 Summit.  Two major and yet contrasting Canadian events in Canada in 2010...

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Happy New Year 2011

Happy New Year
Wishing all the best in 2011!