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My Canadian Experience
August/September/October 2009

Well the first week of August saw me paying a $676 bill for my prescription medicines which is the steepest price yet.  Having said that the pharmacist made me aware of the Ontario Trillium Drug Plan which can mitigate some of these costs and so have sent in an application to see if I'm eligible.

You can get more information on this at

On 11th August they started to fix the woodwork and lattice on my porch...

Porch repair Porch repair

General Carpenter
And this card shows that he is a time served carpenter - T. M. McLean

Porch Porch
As you can see they are making good progress on the porch.  I must say the carpenter has done a very high quality of work in my opinion.
You can see their web site at

Porch Porch

Porch Porch

Porch Porch

and these final pictures show the work done in more detail along with the mulch and flowers and so all that remains is to get it all painted.

On August 20th the painter arrived and has started to do the prep work.  I'm told this is scheduled to take six days to complete.  Bill has been doing painting for some 30 years and so I'm looking forward to seeing his finished work.

One thing I've already noticed is the attention to detail which so far looks to be a standard that the company are working to using time served experienced craftsmen. Some of the siding was coming away from the woodwork so that's been dealt with and he's smoothing out some of the older woodwork so that all will match up with the new wood. He's also sealed up some of the cracks in the pillars so that they'll have a uniform appearance once they are all painted.  I guess that's the problem when you have an old porch that the new woodwork ends up looking rather different from the old.

I might add that Bill the painter is also the organiser of the local dart team and he's promised to send me in a copy of his weekly newsletter :-)

I note that all the local supermarkets are now charging for plastic bags so I've bit the bullet and bought some permanent bags.  Now all I need to do is remember to take them with me when I got shopping.

Was in Toronto on the 18th attending a Scottish Studies meeting.  Took the opportunity to get a few Butchers Steak pies and potato scones while there to fill up my freezer :-)

Also been developing the forums in our Aois Community.  I'm trying to get a handle on why more people don't join their clan or family society.  As I understand it the cost is usually between $20-$35 a year so not exactly expensive. It looks to me as if most societies do not issue out membership cards or membership pins so there doesn't see to be any way you can advertise you are a member.

On 2nd September I found a rather interesting article in the local paper about agriculture in the local area...

Chatham This Week


Harvest economy

Early last Monday morning, the Heinz plant in Leamington started to receive tomatoes as the 2009 harvest began in earnest. The same thing started to happen at the CanGro plant in Dresden, but a few days later, on Thursday. Between now and Thanksgiving, give or take a few days, hundreds of thousands of tons of tomatoes will be processed at the two plants, which collectively make up almost all of Canada's tomato production.

In fact, few people may realize it, but Chatham-Kent actually grows more tomatoes than Essex County, although the Heinz plant processes more tomatoes. And so while Leamington calls itself the Tomato Capital of Canada, Chatham-Kent deserves similar if not equal recognition. The tomato harvest here is a reminder of the tremendous agricultural storehouse that exists in Chatham-Kent, and one that is frequently overlooked by residents who find little in common with agriculture other than the fact they like to eat at least three times a day.

We're always amazed with the lack of recognition that agriculture receives in this municipality, given the fact that Chatham-Kent leads Canada in the production of tomatoes and seed corn, and remains a Canadian leader in the production of soybeans, vegetable crops, commercial corn, Ontario winter wheat and sugar beets.

We're also home to a thriving black tobacco industry, as well as a greenhouse industry that has only in recent years begun to show the depth of economic potential that exists in that sector. These agricultural products have in the past been translated into large commercial enterprises. The most obvious are the Leamington and Dresden tomato processing plants, but there is also Pioneer Hi-Bred's Canadian headquarters outside of Chatham, the University of Guelph's campus at Ridgetown, and Thompson's in Blenheim, which (and few people out of that company may realize this) is a major procurer of dry beans to the Heinz operation in Britain.

Heinz baked beans have been a British tradition for the better part of a century, and it's a Chatham-Kent firm that helps make that possible. Thompson's, of course, is better know for its long-standing seed enterprise.

All of this, however, underscores the importance of agriculture to Chatham-Kent and its relative permanence in the economic landscape. Earlier this year, it was forecast at the annual Southwest Agricultural Conference at Ridgetown that agriculture, and not the automotive sector, would be the engine that pulls Ontario out of the recession. If so, Chatham-Kent finds itself in a highly favourable position.


And on 5th September the porch was finally painted and I also got some electrical work done.

The Electrical work included getting a better sensor for my outside light and an extension socket added to kitchen as well as better undershelf lights in my office.

There is now just one small job to do which is to add more mulch to the garden and spread a bit more to the side gardens so that it is all colour coded :-)

And then on 9th September it was onto the back garden.  It was time to sew some grass seed and get my back porch painted...

These pictures were from day one as the ground was prepared for the rotar machine.

And this was at the end of day 2 with the seed, fertilizer all done and the ground rolled and just a light raking and final watering to do.

Sunday 13th September I at long last put up the Saltire Flag that the Scots Independent Newspaper gave me when I left Scotland...

Grass in now appearing on my back lawn on September 24th...

Some bare spots for sure so not sure if it's just taking more time or if indeed we need to spread more seed.

I also got my back porch painted

Got in Steve's Pest Management to get rid of some bugs hanging around the house.

On 26th September I attend the Fall Colloquium at the University of Guelph and enjoyed the day.  I did a page about the event with pictures and a video of the Fallbrook talk.

On the following Monday I took my car into John Gibbons, the Buick dealers in Chatham. to get a service done on my car.  While they were checking the car out the brake line broke and thus left me without brakes.  Just thinking it was great that it didn't break on my way back from Guelph and as I'm heading to Toronto on Wednesday it seems someone was looking out for me. Mind you I don't know what it is about service shops but you can't help but be a bit suspicious on how these things happen.

They then completed their diagnostics of the car and got into some techie detail but the entire cost was going to be around $1200 + taxes.  The car engine was mis-firing so a plug needed to be replaced and coolant was leaking in somewhere and on it went <gulp>.  I am now certain I won't be buying a Buick again as this is the most expensive car I've ever owned.  In fact I'm pretty sure the Mazda I owned back in Scotland for 10 years didn't exceed this price for it's entire life of maintenance.

This car has already had it's complete wiring replaced and brakes replaced and so on and I guess I must now have spent over $4,000 on this car.  So... no way will I be buying another Buick. I think the next time around I'll go back to Mazda!

My grass has grown well and here are a couple of pictures taken on 8th October...

But wait... as I was taking these pictures I noticed a load of bugs and so that Pest Spray hasn't worked as it should...

On Tuesday 14th October the Pest control folk came back and did another treatment free of charge...

You can see some of the slaughter in the above picture

As you will know I joined the Knights Templars a few years ago.  Today I got in a Fedex delivery giving me copies of court documents and other correspondence about the battle between OSMTH Inc in the USA and the original Knights Templars. It does make fascinating reading. I am not at this stage certain if all this is in the public domain so am checking on this and might post it up for all to read but we'll have to see.

Today, 15th October, I got in my "Notice to Appear - To Take the Oath of Citizenship"...

It's for 28th October 2009 so will be able to report on this by the end of this diary entry :-)

I got a visit from the ADT folk to add a remote control to my alarm system.

On Saturday 17th attended the Knights Templar's St. James Priory Investiture in Toronto at St James Cathedral. After we went to the Babimton & Racquet Club for the banquet. At this event my friend, Nola Crewe, was made the Prior of St. James Priory.

That is me on the right with a new Knight and his wife

And sitting at the banquet beside Nola Crewe who became our new Prior and on the right is Noal's son Derby with his wife Vicky.

And here is a close up of our new Prior

The following Tuesday attended the board meetings of the Scottish Studies Foundation and Society. I have to say I'm getting quite concerned about the direction we are heading in both.  It seems to me that we've achieved our goals of raising the $1m to establish a permanent chair of Scottish Studies at the University of Guelph.  This is of course a huge achievement and everyone involved has to be congratularted.  That said we seem to spend more and more time on minor matters that might raise $10,000 in a given year and reach at best a couple of thousand people. One of the aims of the Foundation was to educate Canadians at all levels on the Scottish heritage in Canada.  Apart from Guelph we seem to be entirely focussed on Toronto and even then in very small numbers. 

I feel we have lost the plot and right now it would seem that once the balance of monies has been paid to Guelph there is little point in the Foundation continuing.  Most of the members are retired and so no longer have the connections they once had.  We are not bringing in new blood and we just don't seem to be going anywhere.

As to the Scot of the Year and Tartan Day it seems to me that in the last 5 years only one event actually make us decent money but each of the other four seem to have done little more than break even.  All of this means we are not raising enough funds to do anything important.

I thus think it is time to review what the Foundation is all about and where it should go in the future.

On October 22nd I downloaded and installed Windows 7 and had a terrible time with viruses, products not working at all or in an indifferent fashion.  Took many hours of work over several days to recitfy all this.

On 28th October I was made a Canadian Citizen and here are a few pics from that event...

Alastair Alastair
Both without and with my customary cigarette waiting for the door to open :-)

Jim Jim
Jim was kind enough to drop in to see me take my oath.

Alastair Alastair
Being taken to my seat and me sitting waiting for everything to start. I took my Bible that I got in Ahmadi in Kuwait and as it happens the person sitting to my left was from Kuwait!. Entering the room we were given a Canadian Flag lapel pin and later a wee Canadian Flag.

Clerk of the Court Clerk of the Court
This is the Clerk of the Court giving us a talk about what we could expect when things for started.

The Judge In queue to get my citizenship card
Here is the Judge and I am standing in the queue to get my citizenship card

The Judge
The Judge giving us a wee talk. I might add that she told us 68 people got their citizenship and they came from 32 countries.  Her mother is in fact a Scot!

Alastair with the Judge, Police office and Clerk Nola
Pictures with myself, Police Officer, Judge and Clerk of the Court. The second one is with Nola who kindly took most of these pictures.

More pictures Jim
Jim couldn't be found for the official shot so we took one of us outside the court room.

citizenship citizenship
These are the two letters I got from the Judge

I also received my citizenship card which you need if you are applying for a passport.

Nola sent me in a wee email on what it means to be a Canadian so I thought I'd copy it in here in celebration :-)

An Australian dentist wrote the following editorial to help define what a Canadian is, so they would know one when they found one.

A Canadian can be English, or French, or Italian, Irish, German, Spanish, Polish, Russian or Greek. A Canadian can be Mexican, African, Indian, Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Australian, Iranian, Asian, Arab, Pakistani or Afghan.

A Canadian may also be a Cree, M?tis, Mohawk, Blackfoot, Sioux, or one of the many other tribes known as native Canadians.   A Canadian's religious beliefs range from Christian, Jewish, Buddhist, Muslim, Hindu or none.   In fact, there are more Muslims in Canada than in Afghanistan. The key difference is that in Canada they are free to worship as each of them chooses. Whether they have a religion or no religion, each Canadian ultimately answers only to God, not to the government, or to armed thugs claiming to speak for the government and for God.

A Canadian lives in one of the most prosperous lands in the history of the world. The root of that prosperity can be found in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms which recognize the right of each person to the pursuit of happiness.

A Canadian is generous and Canadians have helped out just about every other nation in the world in their time of need, never asking a thing in return. Canadians welcome the best of everything, the best products, the best books, the best music, the best food, the best services and the best minds.

But they also welcome the least -  the oppressed, the outcast and the rejected.

These are the people who built Canada. You can try to kill a Canadian if you must as other blood-thirsty tyrants in the world have tried but in doing so you could just be killing a relative or a neighbour. This is because Canadians are not a particular people from a particular place.  They are the embodiment of the human spirit of freedom. Everyone who holds to that spirit, everywhere, can be a Canadian.

And so this pretty well sums up my activities this quarter.

I did get in a letter from my local MP...

Citizenship letter

Return to my Canadian Experience Index Page

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