What they didn’t tell me about moving to Canada

When I lived in London I was close friends with 3 Canadians, two from Winnipeg, MB, and one from Sault Se Marie, Ont. One of which I in fact lived with for a year. So I had a pretty good head start to what to expect when moving to Canada.

I had already learnt that I was to take out the trash, and to stop off for gas and to carry a back pack. I had a vague idea of the difference between a loonie and a toonie and that Poutine was in fact life and you do not question what is so great about cheese and gravy on fries.

Before my move to Canada I was warned of a few things:

  • Canada is really, really big, and flights are super expensive
  • Cell phone bills are incredibly expensive compared to UK
  • Justin Trudeau is just a pretty face

Do not admit I was a fan of Nickelback

However, after nearly 18 months of living in Canada, I don’t think there was anyone that could have warned me for what was to come of moving to a mountain town of 4000 people from a city of over 8 million people.

Even though I am now very settled in Invermere and cannot imagine moving back to the city, I do often enjoy looking at the contrast between the two styles of living, and have most fun telling my tales to my friends and family back home.

Tourism Survival

I have worked in hospitality for all of my adult life, and I thought I had seen it all before I moved to Invermere. My town of 4000 people, well this increases to over 60,000 in the Summer months. Yes you read that right. Within a month you can walk down the street and see tumble weed rolling (not a metaphor, I actually saw this) to feeling like you are at a London street market.

Invermere downtown where it becomes a ghost town after 5pm.

You go from begging your boss for more shifts to your boss begging you to work more shifts. You work shifts where you are constantly cut and counting pennies to working shifts where you feel like you could make it rain with the amount of tips you leave work with.

I knew that skiing and snowboarding were major Canadian Sports, however no one told me that Golf is a treasured past time. Not only am I surrounded by Golf Courses, I live next to one of the Top Listed in all of North America! Still not tried it though, me allowed to hit a ball with a club, that’s just a liability.

The Four Seasons

In the UK, we don’t seem to really have 4 seasons, we just seem to have warm humid weather, or cold rainy weather and not much in between. So as you can imagine to my surprise on experiencing the Canadian Four Seasons. (I mean the 4 seasons as living in a Mountain Valley)

The cold and snow, I was fully prepared for when moving here. So prepared in fact that I didn’t even pack Summer clothes. So when Summer hit, 30+ Celsius daily, every damn day , I was a tad surprised.

I feel like I am taking a risk everyday just by living here. If it is not wild fire warnings in the Summer, its Avalanche and flood warnings in the Spring, or ice and snow warnings in Winter, and even still having wildfire warnings in the fall.

There is a short time period you can all go and sit around a fire from when the snow has melted to when the fire ban comes in place. When the snow has melted you just see a wave on plaid shirts and guitars running to trucks to have tailgate parties.

Wildlife

Yes we have bears, deer, elk and moose, and the cougars were a tad scary, but I am not talking about them. I am talking about the mosquitoes. The goddamn mosquitoes are the bane of my life.

While I was already suffering from the worst hay fever of my life, (who knew I would be allergic to Canada eh?) I was allergic to the mosquitoes. Well not the mosquitoes, more the bites that I get. Not only am I bitten but the bites themselves react so I look like I have some disease that parents move their kids away from me when I pass them in the street.

I have at least 20 bites on my body at anyone time, bug spray repellent and bite cream are staples in my hand bag along with me wearing a very stylish mosquito bracelet.

So even though I am covered in bites, sweltering in heat and the fire ban going, I would not have it any other way.

You Look Canadian Now

There I am, standing in my plaid (pronounced plad) shirt, dusty jeans and Blundstone boots, a regular outfit of mine, my friend turns to me, ‘Do you know you dress Canadian now?’

Until that point, I had not really thought about how I dressed and how different it is from when I lived back in the City. Now a shirt, jeans and boots are my staple outfit, whether it is grocery shopping, a night out or coffee date.

While my dress sense may have changed, there are still a lot of aspects to my life, where I remain ‘English’

Even in the gym…

English v Canadian English

You say tomato, I say Tomato. Unfortunately this is a true story. We have one particular gentleman who comes into our restaurant and always asks for the soup, I had to repeat Tomato several times before the grandson interjected and said tomato. Second occasion I served the guy, I checked the soup, and it was tomato. Exact same story.

I have travelled to quite a few countries where I could not speak their language, and survived, Iceland, Norway, Egypt to name a few, however I have had more Lost in Translation moments in Canada than anywhere else.  

I have written emails at work where I was told that my email was far too ‘British’ and that I need to adjust my writing style as the client will not understand. There’s Google Translate so I dont’t see the issue!

There are some terms however I have become accustomed to, just so every time I speak I am not met with blank stares. For example, I now say (while cringing inside):

  • Sweater instead of Jumper
  • Wallet instead of Purse
  • Cell instead of Phone
  • Backpack instead of Rucksack
  • Trash instead of Rubbish
  • Parking Lot instead of Car Park
  • Trunk instead of Boot

My favorite thing that people say to me is ‘well you don’t sound English?’ Yes, sorry I don’t sound like I have stepped out of a scene from Downton Abbey, ‘I from Essex mate’, for you that don’t know, an Essex accent as a unique twang to it.

Telling the time here is also very different. When I say I will meet you at half 7, they think I am saying half 6, as in half way to 7.  There have been several times where I have been late to something.

Double Fisting. When I was first told I was double fisting, I spat out my drink. What it actually means is you are holding a drink in each hand. Who knew eh?

Talking of which we say eh practically after every sentence, along with ‘for sure’.

“Can I get another coke?” “For sure you can”

Luckily I am taking my English test soon so I am one step closer to becoming Canadian. Ironic thing is the test is in Cambridge English.

Winter

I used to think I had quite a high threshold to being cold. Turns out I am a bit of a wuss.

In the height of Winter, I would have several inches of snow on my car every morning. It takes a long time getting all that snow off your car, then you have to sit and wait another 10 minutes for the inside of my windscreen to defrost. Everytime I opened my car door, the snow would fall into my seat, so I would have a frozen bum driving to work. By the end of winter I mastered how not to do this.

My laundry room used to be outside. Only in Canada where I would have to wrap up like I am like I am hiking to the North Pole, just to walk 2 seconds to the laundry room.

I did not enjoy when my hair would freeze, (yes this actually happens) mainly because I thought I suddenly had turned grey and panicked.

Stop Signs

I look at stop signs, and often see these as an optional instruction rather than the law. Half way across a junction, I often remember that I should have stopped 100 yards before, so I think stopping in the middle of the junction is a good idea. I assure you it isn’t.

What we call a T Junction is called a 3 way stop here. 3 cars will stop and all look at each other, because they are too polite to just go and I am screaming in the car behind, JUST MOVE!!!

Don’t get me started on 4 way stops, lets just say this would have been a lot easier if you put a roundabout there instead.

Tim Horton’s Lingo

Asking for a Double Double (Coffee with 2 cream and 2 sugar, a staple drink here in Canada) in the Tim Horton’s drive thru. My friend wanted a coffee with 2 cream and 3 sugars, so I asked for a double double with an extra sugar. Simple right? Oooooohhhh no. ‘Well that’s not a double double mam; it’s a coffee with 2 cream and 3 sugars!’

Another time I asked for 12 mixed doughnuts, the guy did not understand, I kept explaining to which he responded, oh you mean a dozen? No mate, I mean 12 doughnuts.

I am now not allowed to speak to the server at the drive thru when I am in the car with other people.

Sassy v Sarcastic

Being British, you are born with a very dry sense of humor no one else in the words seems to get. Unfortunately this got me in a lot of trouble when I first moved here, and well, still does. Back home I am sarcastic, here, the sarcastic term is rarely used and you are called sassy, which I find far more glamorous.

I will say things so convincingly that I then have to reassure the person that I did not mean it, and that I am actually a nice person. Convincing someone I am nice is actually quite hard to do when I take the piss out of them (make fun) all the time.

If I ask a colleague for a favour, they will do it, if I promise to be nice for a day. To which other colleagues respond ‘Never gonna happen’

They don’t realize the meaner I am the more comfortable I am with you, if I am being nice, that’s when you should be worried.

I went Skating and Snowshoeing…

We have established in my previous posts that I am somewhat graceless. So as you will gather from the title of this post, my attempts to Snowshoe and Skate were an absolute disaster.

Snowshoeing

We know I didn’t get very far without snowshoes in Vancouver on Grouse Mountain. So when I went snow trailing up Panorama Mountain, I sensibly hired some snow shoes.

Snowshoes for those people back home that do not know…look a little bit like this:

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This time, I was lucky to not be on my own. (means perfect insta pictures) Gemma was charmed with my presence at this point did not know how vertically challenged I really was. Mawahahahahaha.

So Gemma and I set off with our Snowshoes and walked to the beginning of the trail. Or what we thought was the beginning of the trail.

What was lying ahead of us was a wall of snow. When I say wall of snow, I mean as soon as you step into it it goes up to your thighs. I am no expert or anything, but I was pretty sure this was not the way to go. But Gemma and the lady in rental place was convinced this is the way. So of course we carry on.

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Me standing (not kneeling) in the snow after fishing out my snow shoe…

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When I Lost my Visa and Other Important Things

Me trying to not loose stuff is like me not walking into something for a whole 30 minutes.

I am a very organised person. I run events with military precision, I have been known to do spreadsheet itineraries for holidays, and I have never ever missed a deadline.

However when it comes to keeping hold of my things, important things, I am absolutely incompetent.

I have lost countless oyster cards with A LOT of money on, I have had about 4 drivers licenses in the past two years, and do not get me started on the amount of bank cards I have had replaced.

You would think that while I was travelling around Canada earlier this year I would find a way to keep my important things safe.

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Snow, Ice and Me

Everyone knows I can barely walk 100 yards without tripping over the floor or walking into a lamp post.

So as you imagine me moving to Canada, in January, where there is a shit load of snow and ice, did not go down well with my friends and family. When I say not go down well,  I mean:

Mum: “Promise me you will not go skiing, you cannot not even walk up the stairs”

Dad: “Does your travel insurance cover high risk activities!?” (A.k.a walking)

Best Friend: “…yeah you are just going to die…”

There was plenty of other rude remarks but you get the general idea. Thanks friends.

I have been in Canada for over 6 weeks, 4 of which were spent up to my knees in snow and I am sorry to disappoint you all that I did not have ANY falls! (Slid, tripped, and glided do not count as falling ok!)

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Welcome to Winnipeg

If you follow me on instagram you would have seen I have spent some time in Winnipeg. Many people, in fact mostly the people that live there, ask astounded “Why are you in Winnipeg?”

Winnipeg is the capital of Manitoba, and thats about all the facts I can give you. Actually that is a lie. Manitoba is in fact the Slurpee Capital of the World and WINNIPEG holds the No2 Spot for the World Slurpee Store. You will see most people drinking these frozen drinks in Winter and not Summer. No I do not understand why either.

Welcome to Winnipeg.

Reason I decided to visit? Because my two awesome mates, Sara and Katherine happen to live there. I was lucky to enough to meet them when they were living the dream in London. The most amazing thing was that as soon as I stepped off the flight they were both there waiting for me, and engulfed me in a, very much needed, bear hug.

Welcome to Winnipeg.

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They didn’t even know Winnipeg had a sign….

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I attempted to make gin for Christmas…

This year, I wanted to do something completely different for Christmas gifts. I was tired of giving the same old body gift set, and felt the need to go homemade this Christmas. As most of you know, I love gin, and I love to create, so why not but the two together.

Naturally, I named it Clumsy Gin

If you didn’t know already, gin is essentially flavoured vodka, but must have the juniper dominant flavour, otherwise it really is just flavoured vodka. The gin boom over the past few years is because of this reason. My gin however if you notice is a lovely golden haze, which is because I do not have a distillery in my back garden. But it all tastes the same right?

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