Posts Tagged ‘Canada’

ameriCanadian

January 13, 2009

Relocating from the U.S. to Canada is an adjustment, not only in attitude but in thinking. I have to admit my knowledge of the Great White North area is limited. As I venture out I am stricken by the similarities and the contrasts to SW.Florida, where I have lived for the past 36 years. They have Walmart, Mc Donalds, Shell gasoline and Sears. We don’t have Canadian Tire, Tim Horton’s, Petro Canada or Zeller’s. In SW. Florida we have palm trees; straight, flat landscapes and miles of white, sandy beach. In Ontario they have Maple trees; winding, hilly streets and miles of dark, jagged rocks. They have vast blue skies, fiery sunsets and seagulls, we have vast blue skies, fiery sunsets and… seagulls. Hmm, what do these birds know that we don’t? Common ground. There is more to my adjustment here than meets the eye.

As I write this the wind is howling, whipping the tiny snowflake frisbees into a frenzy. The temperature is a frigid -19 but with the wind chill they say it is -31, that is in Centigrade. In order to convert to Fahrenheit you take the degrees in C. and multiply by 1.8 then add 32. So zero degrees C. equals 32 F. So that doesn’t sound too bad, does it? -40 C. equals -40 F. In other words, cold is cold… in any language. It was the first time since 1971 that the entire Canadian landscape enjoyed a white Christmas. People here say it was for my benefit. One of the most frequent expressions I have heard since I have arrived here is, “It’s not too bad outside” contrary to what you might hear further south, “It’s friggin’ colder than a well diggers ass!” I don’t know if that makes Canadians tougher than Floridians, maybe they just take it in stride. I have been on the beach in SW. Florida in January and heard visitors from up North complain of it being cold at 50 degrees F. So again, cold is cold no matter how you feel about it.

Since I live in Ontario there are many French speaking residents and they have their share of advertisements. It is odd to look at a box of Grains entiers Lucky Charms Chocolat or to see road side signs in kilometers and the French equivalent impasse. Kilometers are slower than miles per hour, right?

I am also told I have an accent. I have maintained my Mid-western drawl but embellished it with a southern ya’ll that kind meshes into a Mid-west/southern golly gee willickers. Generally I look like most Canadians do but when I start speaking I get the, “You must be from the States, eh?” or others say they would have guessed my country of origin after listening to me speak a while longer. Which, of course, makes me feel self conscious and also a little bit superior. I don’t know why that is but my French Canadian sweetheart tells me that we Americans have a superiority complex. We have to be the best at everything. For example: our championships are WORLD championships even if there are none other than American teams playing in them. But I’ll post more about that at some future date.

Most people cannot believe I would re-locate from sunny SW. Florida to the frigid North. Usually it comes out something like, “WHAT ARE YOU DOING HERE?” which isn’t at all accusatory … just blatant bewilderment. I have enjoyed what I have seen so far and the people I have met have all been very friendly. In Florida we put up with 5 months of summer and in Ontario they put up with 5 months of winter so it kinda evens out. I suspect I’ll like Canada even more when the snows melt away and my clothing is not 4 layers deep. I also suffered my first cold in over a year and a half as an initiation of sorts.

The currency resembles Monopoly money and they have no $1 bills. There is a $1 coin (the loonie) and a $2 coin (the toonie) which always makes me feel I am getting short changed. I like the all French television channel even though I cannot understand what they are saying. And don’t even get me started on hockey… Canadians LOVE hockey and I have found that I enjoy it, too. (go Habs!)

One thing I did marvel at that probably would not have happened in the United States was while we were shopping in a liquor store buying wine. There was music being piped in over the intercom that I wasn’t really paying attention to until I heard, Sweet Little Shoe by Jesse Winchester. Canada was his adopted home for a number of years and when I recalled that, all my apprehensions swiftly dissolved away. I knew I could make a home here with that sort of recommendation. In fact, there is a virtual treasure trove of Canadian artists I might never have heard of (and some that I have) if I had not relocated here… which kinda sweetens the deal.

It will test my mettle, I have no doubt but I do it for love and that is the soundest, most relevant motive I can think of. I do it with humility and good old fashioned Yankee ingenuity, along with the unfaltering support of my beautiful girl… which makes any test worthwhile.

Aurevoir!

peace.