Lived In Canada For About 3 Years (from a Brit)

I lived in Kingston and in Toronto. I found Canadians in general to be rather friendly and helpful, but (particularly in Kingston) a bit prudish for me. They are definitely a little more open and less reserved than British people, but they were shy about anything that could ever be interpreted as slightly sexual. I didn't agree with the general attitude and beliefs, but I did find the people nice. The land was beautiful, but I did not like the winters. The wind can feel as if it is blowing straight through your coat and clothes in the middle of winter. Even when you have the right clothes for going outside, the cold still gets to you. If you prefer warmer weather, like me, you'll easily end up being stuck inside half the year!

The fashion was awful! Returning to Europe I feel as if I am in shopping heaven compared to what I saw in the average stores in Canada. Sorry Canucks, but it just wasn't my cup of tea at all. I also found the vanity sizing annoying. According to most conversion tables I should be a size 4 in Canada, but I was all over the place! I was anywhere from a 000 to a 6 depending on the store. Most of the time I was usually safe going for a size 2, but there was never a guarantee. Here in Europe the difference in sizing between stores is almost non-existent.

Some things are old-fashioned or impractical. For example, they still have a string you pull on the buses when you want to stop. They had a system where you would buy milk in bags and put a bag into a pitcher then cut the corners of the bag off to pour it. I found this to be awkward and even my husband, who has lived there for 5 years, often ended up spilling milk because the bag suddenly folded in on itself in the middle of pouring.

It's close to impossible to find roll-on deodorant and I found that all the stick ones stained my clothing! In the end I had to resort to my mother bringing me a whole box of British deodorant. Had to toss a lot of my clothing away in the end though...

I found groceries to be quite expensive. I was always under the impression that it would be far more affordable, but I was wrong. The same goes for clothing.

If you like going to a cafe to drink on the terrace, you won't like it in Canada. It doesn't really exist. Eating out is a completely different experience here too. In Europe you don't just come to eat: you come to talk with friends and family and to have an enjoyable time. This means there is soft music in the background, space enough for some privacy, slow service yet good quality food. There are also many unique restaurants that do not exist anywhere else. In Canada you come to eat. The music is usually very loud, it is cramped and it is obvious the restaurant is looking for a quick turnover rate. Get the customer in, feed them and get them out as quickly as possible so they can have new customers. Many of them are chain restaurants that look almost identical to each other.

After having lived in Canada I also understand why people whine so much about Jehovah's Witnesses! Not just those, but all sorts of religious people would be knocking on the door every few days hoping to convert you. I find it disrespectful. 'Hello! Did you know your beliefs are a load of bollocks? Well, guess what! We're here to save you from the fiery pits of hell!...' etc.

If you are a feminine woman who usually wears a dress or skirt and high-heels, you will be stared at. Most women are in jeans, T-shirts and flip-flops or trainers. Many are in T-shirts and jogging bottoms. Comfort trumps appearance for many Canadian women and they flat-out refuse to believe that the sort of outfit I described can be anything less than medieval torture. A minority of men may think you are a prostitute. I have had this assumed about me a few times even though I was not revealing anything apart from my arms and calves.

I enjoyed living in Kingston. Although there was not much to do there and the majority of the population were elderly, I had a nice time. We lived in a nice neighbourhood with lovely people. It was boring, but we were quite happy. Everything was within easy reach and we could cycle everywhere. We had a gym, a swimming pool and a balcony, so plenty of exercise and an opportunity to enjoy the sun in the summer.

Toronto was another story. It was so expensive we ended up living in a ghetto. We had no balcony, gym or pool. Everything was so far away it was always necessary to take the bus. We hardly slept due to the noise from inconsiderate neighbours. We heard gun shots several times. We were afraid to go out at night.

Sorry for such a long entry, but hopefully it gives any Brits/Europeans an idea of what to expect if they are thinking of moving to Canada.

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1 Response Mar 9, 2009