It’s time to start to be generous and share with those less fortunate.
If you know a family in Canada in need this Christmas, please private message the information: firstname.lastname@example.org and we will see how far the funds raised will go.
Thanks in advance
For those who are new, Charles Clayton was by all accounts a truly wonderful man, who was integral to the South African community in Toronto. He wrote many entertaining and informative pieces about Toronto and every day life in Canada. We have shared some of his work here for you to read and enjoy.
Now it’s your turn to stand up be counted!
These are a few of my favourite things- By Mr Charles Clayton
My daughter, who often acts as my copy editor, pointed out to me that I should be careful that my style of writing is not misinterpreted This in answer to the question as to why, when I try to point out that Canadians should appreciate the beauty of Canada, people insist on seeing it as a direct attack upon themselves and find it necessary to seek me out and tell me of every trip they have personally undertaken to Hudson Bay, the Yukon, Newfoundland and all points in between. Mostly in detail!
So in order to show that I do appreciate the opportunity to reside in what is arguably the best country in the world let me spend some time pointing out what it is that I enjoy about living here.
The first and most telling would be the safety aspect. The freedom to go for a walk in the evening knowing that you can look at the scenery and that when you see a stranger the most that is likely to happen is that they smile and say hello. The smile being the most important part of that transaction. When I landed I was astonished one night at about ten pm to see young teenage girls walking around the neighbourhood. My host found that most amusing and spent some time pointing out that perhaps my coming from a country which has the highest murder and rape rate in the world was colouring my viewpoint.
I carried a gun around with me for well over ten years. It was nearby every day and night. Perhaps you don’t realize what a part of everyday life this can become. As you know I have been in Canada now for just over two years. The other day I got into my car at the shopping center and automatically felt for my gun. I have no idea why. I can only assume that something was wrong in my subconscious. Something made me uneasy and automatically I reached to ensure that the weapon was at hand. When I couldn’t find it I actually broke out into a sweat. I had to sit there in my car for a good 5 minutes while my pulse returned to normal. That is probably a feeling that the average Canadian won’t understand and hopefully never will have to either. For me then this is a very safe country.
I think I have made reference to the beauty of this land already so lets look at a few of the simple everyday reasons why Canadians are so lucky to live here.
When it comes to variety in the food stores there is a wealth of options from erotic to exotic. I must admit to finding it amusing that what is regarded as an exotic fruit and costs a small fortune is the sort of item that would be regarded as an everyday item back home. Mind you we never got fresh Blueberries and Cranberries so I suppose that fresh pineapples at 10c a queen would seem just as amazing to a Canadian as it is to me to be able to pick fresh blueberries. The other aspect which I enjoy here is the year round variety of fruit available. I am used to seasonal fruit so being able to get oranges, apples and peaches all year round is enjoyable even if the prices aren’t sometimes.
As for the ability to get, and enjoy, cultural variations in food, well, in Toronto at least, the range is phenomenal. You can eat at a different restaurant every night and still not have sampled all the variations of cuisine in any given year. Unless the food police give out more Red cards that is. I enjoy dropping into different areas in and around town and being able to buy foods, fresh and preserved, from other countries. Hot sauces and cheese being the two that get me going the most but I will admit to coming home with all sorts of weird stuff that I just have to try out. 100-year-old eggs and dried squid being some of the more memorable. As a confirmed capsaicinophylic the ability to add interesting variations to my collection of hot sauces has only been curtailed by my lack of money. Which is probably good news for my stomach.
Still in the food area are the great wines and beers you get here. Having tried them for the first time over here I have a particular liking for the Honey Brown and Red beers especially. Canadian wine is very good but I think it tends to suffer a bit in that the price is fairly high and so you have competition from overseas wines. I try to sample a new wine from a different country every month or so and again the range available here is large and the quality is generally good. Except for one memorable Bulgarian Merlot that is.
When it comes to motor vehicles not only is there a large choice but the prices are generally inexpensive compared to other countries. At the most it is in the region of a years salary rather than the normal lifetimes penury elsewhere. I don’t think I have ever seen so many new cars driving around. I suppose this is more as a result of the ability to lease than it is as a result of a need to change cars every year.
While I am on the subject of transport I am also impressed with the local transportation systems they have here in the GTA. The system works and works well. It is also at a reasonable price again. It is also clean. The underground here is the cleanest I have ever traveled on. Maybe I have been lucky but I have only ever been late once using the GO train and that was as a result of some fool cutting signal wires ahead. While I am at it may I also say that I like the “double-decker” carriages for the GO train as well. A bus on wheels almost. Given a choice I almost always use the GO and the TTC when coming into Toronto. Fast, clean and efficient it is a treat to use them.
Houses here are huge and once again, like cars, they tend to be inexpensive. I am still amazed at how they put them up. I am used to bricks and mortar rather than the new wood and cardboard types but maybe that is how the prices are kept in check. Low cost affordable housing. That is one of the really good plus points. Yes I am aware that in certain areas the prices are exorbitant but overall the housing and cost in this country is impressive.
As I am on value for money I would also like to point out that contrary to popular belief Canadian taxes aren’t the highest in the world and what you get for your money is helpful and, for a change, mostly put to good use. To put it into perspective where I come from I paid 48% personal tax and then paid an extra 14% GST on everything except bread. I then had to pay for schooling, health, insurance and my own retirement fund. Yes taxes are high here. You do get a lot for them though. Given the depth of emotion here perhaps that may be all I will say on that though.
Like most of you I have a love of books as well and this country is a bibliophiles heaven. Worlds Greatest Bookstore and Chapters being what I classify as a safe haven for my sanity. The range and depth of available books being huge. I can, and have, spent many enjoyable hours browsing. I haven’t got into the habit of taking coffee into the store and sitting down reading a book or magazine yet. Must be ingrained fear more than anything else.
Actually these are only a few of the things I like about this country. Oh dear I feel a Sound of Music moment coming on. Time to finish.
So there you have it. You live in a safe, beautiful country with nice people and virtually every conceivable creature comfort available. At a reasonable price. Is there any doubt that having done my homework properly I wouldn’t want to immigrate here?
(Last word department.) That still doesn’t mean that, when necessary, I will refrain from pointing out that the Emperor has no clothes on!