After spending an incredible 3 months in Canada during which we had the opportunity to see at least a small part of the big country – it seems fitting to end with a summary of “the good”, “the bad” and the “what the”.
- We can’t go past the people. They are friendly, helpful, very accommodating and quick to say a genuine sorry. Canadians are some of the most polite, tactful, and peace-loving human beings on the planet. In fact, a stereotypical Canadian is one who apologizes despite not being at fault. In most countries nobody stops for pedestrians at pedestrian crossings. In Canada they stop for you anywhere you look like you are trying to cross a road. In Canada we found one of the few countries who genuinely welcome people from other cultures. Most countries say they are multicultural – but in reality at best, it is ‘as long as you become like us’.
Everyone is equal. Hierarchy is not very evident. Everyone is deserving of equal rights and opportunities in Canada regardless of gender, age, race or beliefs. This was very evident when we discussed the medical profession with a number of the medical professionals we stayed with/visited. Essentially it boils down to if you have a medical need – you see a doctor, get a referral to a specialist if required and/or admitted to a hospital waiting list. It does not matter how much money you have – you cannot buy your way to the head of the queue. For for the medical profession it is a calling, they are truly passionate. They are not as well paid as in Australia. In effect, they are government employees earning rates decided by the government.
- Nature – wow, Canada is so rich in natural beauty. The mountains, lakes, forests and coastline. There is just soooo much of it. Around every corner is an “Oh Wow” moment.
- Taxes and Tipping – Please, can you just tell me the price before I buy or book. All prices are excluding tax. Tax is not uniform across the provinces and are are dependent to an extent on the product/service being bought. Then there are the tips. Just pay employees a fair wage so that tipping can be for truly great service. Why expect someone to pay $80 in a ‘tip’ if our dinner bill is $400 because they chose a $300 bottle of wine vs $24 for a dinner bill of $120 because they chose a $20 bottle of wine. (note – we don’t spend $300 on wine). The service provided is the same. We also discovered that tipping is for all services i.e. Hairdresser, hotel housekeeper, massage/spas etc.
- Bathroom taps. Most of the taps work on a pull up (or out) and turn left or right for hot/cold water. The problem is that is often difficult to pull up (especially with soapy hands) and it is either on or off. We like to be able to regulate the pressure. That said, it was nice having bathtubs almost everywhere we went.
- Cooking meat – We are sorry to say that in Canada we almost always found that meat and fish was overcooked. We like our meat rare (even medium rare is ok). Almost every steak or salmon fillet was cooked through even though we ask for rare.
- Cannabis/Marijuana – As of mid October, Cannabis will be legal in Canada. Currently it is only legal for medical purposes. Without going into whether we agree with this or not – the problem we found (especially in Vancouver) was that smoking of Cannabis was very widespread. It was unavoidable. We joked about having headaches suffering withdrawal symptoms when we left Vancouver. In the rest of Canada we again noticed widespread use – but never as bad as in Vancouver.
- Poutine – Poutine can look pretty unappetizing. Well, it looks like vomit. After all, it’s gravy made from animal fat, or even better, mushroom and root broth that is mixed with flour, and then poured over fries with cheese curds sprinkled on it. So yes, it’s crispy fries with a liquid poured over it, which sounds like a soggy mess. Suffice to say, we are fans (especially Walter)
- Scent – In parts of Canada wearing scent in confined public spaces is banned to accommodate those sensitive to perfumes. Not sure how this can really be enforced. I’m not sure I want to be smelling everyone’s body odour. Having said that, when we go trekking we go without scents and washing. After a couple of days we no longer notice how bad we smell.
- High beds and low chairs – For some reason the beds in Canada are much higher than we are used to – typically waist high. We needed to climb up into bed and be careful when we got out. Maybe it’s what we are used to, but beds at knee level are easier. The chairs at dining tables also seem to be low such that it feels like we are stretching to reach table level. Maybe Canadians are tall people.