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My Canadian Experience
New Year

Just thought I'd bring myself up to date on my Canadian Journal to Thursday 6th of January.

I had an excellent New Year and seeing as my host Nola Crewe was officiating at the local Anglican Church here in Toronto I let myself be persuaded to attend the New Year eve service. I think that is the first time ever I've been in church to see the New Year in so Nola should get some brownie points in her Divinity class for persuading me to attend [grin]

Not that I'm particularly religious but being as I'm really a Church of Scotland person it was interesting to note the differences between the two churches. I had commented that our Church of Scotland has a much more simple service. I found I was juggling between the hymn book, book of common prayer and the service leaflet... a bit much for a simple chap to cope with but I did manage despite dropping one or other of the books twice during the service. As they also had communion I did participate and found they use the wine cup... or whatever they call it... whereas back in Scotland we get wee individual glasses. I also noted that Nola had a firm hand on the goblet as I just managed to wet my lips before it was pulled back... sheesh! Have to say I also prefer the real bread we get in Scotland rather than the waifer they supply... first time I've tried one of those. You also participate a bit more in that you need to read bits of the prayers during the service. Everyone was very friendly and you were encouraged to turn around and greet folk. At the end of the service you were invited to stay back for EggNog, coffee or tea and a bit of Christmas cake.

Into the New Year it was time to get my name sorted out and I went to the Immigration dept at 55 St. Clair E and got my new work permit with my correct name spelling. So after being in a line up for around 40 minutes I was on my way just down the road to No. 25 where I went into another line up to get my SIN Card changed. That was around an hour. I then heading back to the driving licence centre to get my driving licence changed and that was around 40 minutes. So all in all a lot of Queuing. BTW When I got back to the house I mention the time I had waited in the queue and was asked what that was. It appears that in Canada they use "line-up" to describe waiting in line. I should add that there was no charge in any of the three places for getting the name corrected.

I noted quite a change between the receptionist at the Immigration building ground floor and the SIN card place. A real sour puss if ever there was one at Immigration although the folk were nice and helpful when you got to the dept. The man at the SIN card place was the complete opposite and a real pleasure to deal with and very helpful as was the driving centre. In actual fact considering that was the immigration dept. I would have thought an unhelpful person at reception was the last person you'd want there as so many must have questions to ask.

I also noted again the taxi service. It does help if you can give the taxi driver a better idea of where you are going like the nearest cross section road names. It's amazing how many of them just don't know the city. You also have to be careful of your diction as all of the taxi drivers I have got while being here are not native English speakers and so a regional accent can confuse things. I took the precaution of writing down the name of the street I was going to.

We've had a fair bit of snow in the past week but nothing really bad to keep you indoors. I was told that if you are leaving your home in this weather for several days that you can purchase an external light tied into your water heater system. This means you can get a neighbour to just check for the light and if it is seen they'll know the water temperature has gone down 5 degrees meaning you could get frozen pipes. So an interesting idea which I pass on to you :-)

As to house hunting... I am currently looking at Sainte St Marie and if you've been reading my travel journal over the past year you'll likely remember I stayed there for a couple of days with Linda Sorensen and John Muir. Well Linda has kindly agreed to view a few houses that look like possibilities for me. She has three houses to look at on Friday afternoon so am looking forward to hearing her report. I might add that while this is a good 7 hour drive to Toronto there are around 5 return flights from there to Toronto each day and if you are booking a few weeks in advance the flight is actually cheaper than the train was from much nearer to Toronto. The flight time is only around an hour and a half and I think you can actually fly into the Toronto City Airport instead of Pearson and that makes it much cheaper to get into Toronto.

I've also been working on my year end accounts and have everything printed off for the accountants so I just need to find one that can work with email. They are actually quite hard to find and have already been turned down by two in the USA as being too busy. The one I was introduced to in Canada that said he could help doesn't respond to email so that is really not helpful. I am now considering just waiting until I see if I should head for the Soo to buy a house and if so get a local accountant there if I can.

As to the social life... I am being introduced to the membership folk at the Canadian Military Institute as a prospective "out of town" member. Apparently it's very cheap and you can then get a room at the club for only around $50 a night and you also get associated membership with other clubs including ones in London, Edinburgh and Aberdeen. So all sounds interesting. I am also being tempted to join the Press Club here in Toronto and that also gives you access to other facilities around the world. And so I will be pursuing these over the next few weeks.

I haven't as yet got myself a car as it would only sit here as I don't need to get around too much and even if I did parking is not easy in Toronto. I will however be heading out in the next few days to see what is available so I can figure out the best options. Remember that having no credit history in Canada means you don't get access to all that low interest finance. I've already been told that I'm likely going to be offered rates around 17% which is terrible considering local folk can even get 0% finance.

The more I consider it the more I think that prospective immigrants should get some help from Immigration as to being tested for financial resources so that they could issue some kind of helpful letter that would then allow you to get credit at reasonable terms.

This week also saw me doing a formal tie in with the Scottish Studies Foundation in Toronto so that the site content will go to them on my demise (which I hope won't be for a long time yet). I just felt that all my hard work in adding all the content to the site should be safeguarded so that folk in the future will still be able to read it.

So that's about it for now...

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