Posts filed under ‘Canada’

Canada, The First Week

We’ve done a lot over the past week. Signed our lease, got our medicare cards updated and I joined Hart House so I can get back to the gym.

Our apartment is right down town and actually 3 floors directly above our old one. Talk about luck. We move into the place in June. This is our little oasis in the middle of downtown Toronto.

Yesterday, Pearl took us to a park right near her place. Consider this, the park is in an urban area, cycling distance (long maybe) from downtown Toronto. When we went I felt that the ambience and feelings were Canada. This park represented how I felt about Canada. It was great. I had never felt that way before but as Alex explained, sometimes you have to leave and come back before you notice these things. It was so true. There were loons diving for fish, geese flying low over the water and lines of other water fowl flying in formation past the point. The mist was light and the air cool. It really struck me that I was back in Canada.

Not many people around either. After the crowds in Barcelona, this was nice.

The trees had not yet grown their new leaves and most of them held only the hint of green. Some were further along than others but the mixture was lovely. Subtle coloring in the background and calm waters made for a sensuous ambiance.

The boats were ready for another season and people were out cleaning and socializing. For boaters, it was more socializing than cleaning……

Alex exploring the photo ops of bleached driftwood. She bought herself a new digital camera and was testing it out.

We had a great time thanks to Pearl. We will be doing this once a week like we did in Barcelona. We hope to pick a neighborhood in Toronto every week and go exploring with our cameras. I’ll post something about where we went and some photos and if I can, I’ll give a little history. Our friends in Barcelona will be able to know more about Canada. I hope it makes them interested enough to come visit.

May 10, 2007 at 3:32 pm 1 comment


Argh! it seems like the more we pack, the more there is to be packed! When we moved from our apartment on Rosselló to Jacquie and Sebastian’s house we sent three boxes to Canada. We thought we could fit everything else in our suitcases but guess what? We sent two boxes this morning and have two more boxes to send tomorrow and I’m considering getting one last box to put the remaining photocopies and books I have. Oh well, one gotta do what one gotta do…

Only 5 more days!!!! eeeeeeeek!!!!!!

April 26, 2007 at 8:46 pm 4 comments

Kinda scary, actually

I first created this blog, about 13 months ago, mainly to keep in touch with family and friends, and to post pictures and stories of our year in Barcelona. I had a choice or password-protecting the blog but decided not to. There would always be a friend or family member who lost the passport and couldn’t get in and I would have to administer the blog more closely to make sure everybody I know had the access code. Since I didn’t have anything to hide, I decided to leave it open. For the most part everything has worked fine. WordPress does a fine job in filtering spam and I’ve got to meet some amazing people in the blogosphere. Since the blog doesn’t attract that many people – a maximum of 213 per day so far – I never thought it would attract the attention of the media. Well, now I have to think again. Remember this post? Well, these guys read it too:

Radio canada banner

Radio Canada Text

Wow… freaky really… five people have visited the blog from that news report page. If you are one of them, welcome to this very random, idiosyncratic blog!

April 23, 2007 at 11:30 pm 10 comments

25th Anniversary of the Charter

On April, 17th 1982 Canada repatriated its Constitution and issued a Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The Charter guarantees the right to vote, the right to life, liberty and security, and the right to be free from discrimination. It also enshrines many important democratic freedoms, including freedom of conscience, expression and association, and freedom of the press.

As many have said in the celebrations marking the anniversary of the charter, it is difficult to imagine Canada today without the Charter of Rights ad Freedoms. It has been used by many Canadians to fight injustice and lead to many social changes such as equal rights to same-sex couples and the end of Abortion law.

Before acquiring Canadian citizenship I had to learn about the rights and freedoms enshrined on the Charter. I particularly liked learning that among my responsibilities as a Canadians are the need to help others in my community, and the obligation of fighting injustice and discrimination. I was given a copy of the Charter with my Canadian citizen certificate during my citizenship ceremony and I used to have it hanging in my carrell at the library. It speaks of the core Canadian values of inclusiveness, equality, and justice, values that I have learned to cherish as my own.

It’s a shame Prime Minister Stephen Harper didn’t join on the celebrations today. I really wish we could have another election soon to get rid of him… The man really unnerves me!

Click here to read the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedom in many different languages…

April 17, 2007 at 11:46 pm 4 comments

Going back to Canada…

Sorry for the lack of posts recently, but we are in the midst of organizing our stuff to move back to Toronto. We arrived with two carry-on sets and a large knapsack and it’s amazing how much stuff we accumulated in just one year!! We’ve shipped 3 boxes to Canada and bought three more and had to buy a large suitcase.

Here’s some beer commercials that talks a little bit about what it means to be Canadian:

Quebec version:

Wikipedia explanation of the Quebec version for those of you who miss the uniquely Quebec references.

For the I am Canadian rant, go here.

Full text of the Canadian version.

April 11, 2007 at 8:31 pm 1 comment

Going back to Toronto

In exactly one month, Alan and I will be leaving Barcelona to go back to Toronto. We have come full circle during the past 12 months – we were really looking forward to coming to Spain in the months before leaving Toronto, totally fell in love with Barcelona during the first few months (Alan kept asking me if I was sure I couldn´t get a job here), but now that we have accepted we have to go back, we are really looking forward to that. That´s why you´ve seen so many posts on Toronto and Canada lately. I´ll write a post sometime in the next few weeks about what I´ll take with me from the year spent here but for now, I´ll leave you with the random post of the day on Toronto:

Toronto has been ranked 15th best city in the world to live in a recent survey by Mercer Human Resources Consulting. Vancouver came in 3rd behind the Swiss cities of Geneva and Zurich. Other Canadian cities were Ottawa (18th), Montreal (22nd) and Calgary (24th). The main difference between Toronto and Vancouver is the weather, which is much milder in Vancouver allowing it more points in that category. Otherwise the two cities score basically the same. According to the survey “Canada’s big cities are some of the greatest places in the world to live, according to a global survey of 215 world-class cities”.

Barcelona came out in 41st place ahead of Madrid in 42nd. The top 5 cities in the Americas are all in Canada (Vancouver, Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal, and Calgary) and the top 5 in Europe are Zurich, Geneva, Vienna, Dusseldorf, and Frankfurt.

Coverage from the Toronto Star can be found here.  For the Mercer site go here. Highlights here.

April 2, 2007 at 4:17 pm 1 comment

Two Weeks

Well, it’s been a very busy two weeks. Last week we went out for beers with Keiko, Sarah, Francesca and Matt. Keiko is going back to Japan after being away for over 8 years.

She left on Feb 9 and we all had to say our goodbyes. She’ll be living with her mom just outside of Osaka. We’re all going to miss her. Francesca is heading out to Bilbao and then back to Florence until about mid March so it was kind of an adios for her too.

Sarah is friends of all of us. She was our profesora in Spanish school and we all keep in touch.

And here are the three togather. I call them “las tres chica teeras”. They are great people and I’ll miss Keiko.

After we got home from that little soiree, I received an email from a friend in Toronto. William is teaching classical guitar at York and he had a student, Jordan, who was coming to Barcelona for spring break and he wanted to buy a guitar. I bought mine here and I thought the luthier where I bought was a special place. I sent an email to Jordan and agreed to meet him when he arrived on Feb 10. We actually met up on Feb 11 in Bari Gotic. He was here with his dad, Ron for a few days of relaxation. We hit it off like old friends and ended up showing them the sites for their entire stay. We brought Jordan to the guitar store on Monday and he tried out quite a few instruments.

He found one he really liked, an Alhambra and that was that. We spent the next few days touring and dining and chatting.

For their last night here, we took them to our favaorite restaurant in Barcelona, Wushu’s. During our brief time together Ron and I discovered a link we had from way back. When I was around three or four we lived in Ottawa, just off Island Park Drive. Our backyard bordered with another house that was owned by a fellow named Joe Feller. Well, it turns out that Ron know’s Joe Feller’s son and had actually been inside that house. We had been chatting about links in life and that started me thinking about some other events that happened and put me into a particular space. One that came to mind immediately was the writing of the previous post, Tribute to Our Frineds (Ron and Jordan are part of that group now).

Listen to this, it’s so strange. The reason that post is there is because a female French journalist, dropped a copy of “The Little Prince” in the Sahara desert, during the Paris / Dahkar rally. I won’t go into the sequence of events that led up to the post but I will relate the last piece. We went to see Moussa (see Alex’s blog for more info) and his words really brought the value of things to the forefront. He was the catalyst that caused me to write something I only would think about. I’m sure there are many more I could find out about. Anyhow, that one was cool.

Jordan and Ron have left now but we, both Alex and I, feel our lives are richer for having met them. I must thank William.

February 14, 2007 at 7:55 pm Leave a comment

Tribute to Our Friends

Monday evening, (see Alex’s blog here) Alex and I went to a photo exhibit in a bookstore, Libraria Baïbars, up on calle Muntaner. The author was Moussa ag Assarid, from a nomadic Berber tribe called the Touareg. To read all about Moussa, go to Alex’s site here. You must read about this amazing individual but this post is not about Moussa per se.

Anyhow, we arrived at the bookstore and listened to Moussa tell us “une petite histoire” about how he came to be here in Barcelona. While he was speaking I had a very strong feeling of familiarity. Not a feeling of “deja vu”, but a feeling of knowing. I couldn’t communicate the feeling to Alex because I myself did not understand it. We talked about it and I just couldn’t say why because I really didn’t know.

Well, Alex is very good in getting me to understand what’s going on and after a few days of discussions I think I now know why I had this feeling. Moussa is an individual whose personality is simalar to almost all of our friends here in Barcelona. This connection also made me understand another feeling I frequently get when we are with a group of our friends.

All my life, I have been conventional, ok, almost conventional. You know, the mainstream ideology. Since we arrived here, not one person we have come to call a friend is from the same background as me. They are all fiercely independent, adventuresome, free spirited individuals who do what their hearts drive them to do, doing what they enjoy doing, being in places they want to be part of. They are all extremely creative as scientists, chefs, artists, cinematographers, fashion designers, musicians, educators. Their educations range from high school to Phd’s and they are all share the same drive and passion as Moussa. I suppose while listening to him speak I had a subconscious link to those personalities but couldn’t consciously figure it out.

It explains also why I sometimes feel like a fraud when I am with my friends. I feel like I am only there because of circumstance, not through any planning on my part.

I realized too, that the same applies to our friends in Toronto. They have those same adventuresome characteristics

and Montreal …..

Anyhow, this is a tribute to you all (and you all know who you are). I’m very proud to be your friend.

February 7, 2007 at 9:47 pm 7 comments

Canadian citizenship

Browsing through the blogosphere – something I really shouldn’t get into – I came across the blog of a Brazilian couple (Mirella & Christian) who immigrated to Canada in 2000, in which they talk about the immigration process, the arrival in the new country, adaptation, moving around (they lived in Toronto and Ottawa), deciding to stay for good and finally gettting Canadian citizenship in 2005.

Thinking the citizenship ceremony would be a cold, bureaucratic event, Mirella was surprised at the behaviour of the judge officiating the event (translation below):

A juiza foi extremamente atenciosa, de forma extremamente informal e carinhosa ela nos contou sobre os direitos e responsabilidades dos cidadaos, da importancia de participarmos ativamente junto a nossa comunidade etc… mas acima de tudo ela disse que nos admirava, pois independente da razao que tenha nos motivado a mudar para o Canada (aventura, profissão, qualidade de vida, refugio politico, casamento etc), nos eramos vencedores e dignos de honra… pois poucas pessoas seriam capazes de arriscar ficar longe de família e amigos e deixar tudo o que construiu para trás. Juro que quase chorei nessa hora, não por mim, mas por alguns amigos que conheci na escolinha de inglês no passado e que eram refugiado politicos, que deixaram tudo, que tiveram tempo de apenas fazer uma mala, entrar no avião, chegar no Canada e pronto… deu um aperto grande no coração… mas me sinto orgulhosa ao mesmo tempo!

Trans: The judge was extremelly attentive, in an extremelly informal and warm way she explained the rights and responsibilities of citizens , the importance of participating actively in our communities, etc… but above all, she said she admired us, because independently of the reason that lead us to move to Canada (adventure, work, quality of life, political asylum, marriage, etc), we were winners and worthy of honour… since few people would be capable of risking being away from family and friends, leaving everything they built behind. I swear I almost cried then, not for myself, but for some friends I met at English classes in the past who were political refugees, who left everything, who hardly had time to pack a bag, get into a plane, arrive in Canada and period… it tugged at my heartstrings… but I felt proud at the same time!

Me at my citizenship ceremonyThat’s exactly what my citizenship ceremony was like!! If it had happened in the same city, I would have thought it was the same judge. Mine was in June/2005. I was hoping the process would take a couple more weeks so I could have become a citizen on July 1 (Canada Day)! It was indeed a very emotional event and like Mirella & Christian, I applied for Canadian citizenship not only because it might have made life more convenient for me, but mostly because I came to identify with Canadian culture and values. Particularly with the sense of social justice, equality and the strong belief in the positive aspects of multiculturalism.

This attachment to Canada has become even more evident in recent weeks, as we start planning our move back home. Despite enjoying every minute I have spent in Spain and cherishing all the many friends I’ve made in the past few months, Alan and I are both looking forward to going back to Canada.

February 2, 2007 at 8:59 pm 8 comments

Barcelona vs Toronto

I once compared Madrid & Barcelona to Toronto & Montreal. In that post, I made the point that Madrid’s beer culture more closely resembled that of Toronto, while Montreal was more like Barcelona. But having been in Barcelona for almost 9 months now and getting ready to leave, I find more and more points in common between Barcelona & Toronto.

Take multiculturalism, for example. Barcelona is the most multicultural city in Spain and it has been so even during Franco’s regime when most of Spain was practicelly shut out from the rest of the world. Of course Toronto is more multicultural since it is not only the most multicultural city in Canada but was the most multicultural city in the world accoring to the UN. I find this aspect one of the best things about each place.

Both cities are located next to large bodies of water. OK, maybe the Mediterranean is much bigger than Lake Ontario, but it still gives a nice flavour to the town. I just wish our politicians in Toronto could see what was done with the waterfront here and do the same in Toronto… Also, the grid-lock pattern of the Eixample resembles much the map of downtown Toronto. Streets that cross the entire city on a straight line and the practice of giving addresses by naming the closest intersection are some things the two cities have in common. In Toronto we lived on Yonge & Wellesley, here we rented a place on Bruc & Rosselló.

A friend from Canada has warned us that it might take a few months  for us to get used to living in North America again. I don’t know, I think if we focus on the positive sid, it might not take so long 😉

Toronto skyline seen from the ferry

January 21, 2007 at 7:09 pm 6 comments

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