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Ask me questions about Canadian life and culture.

Discussion forum for expats moving to or living in Canada.

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Ask me questions about Canadian life and culture.

Post Posted: Wed Dec 14, 2005 9:51 pm

Hello everyone.

My name is Jim Bunting, and I am a proud Canadian.

My family came to Canada in 1801, so yes we have been here a bit longer than most people. They came from County Cork in Ireland, by ship to Canada. They were two brothers, with their two wives and six children.

The voyage took 49 days, due to weather and adverse wind conditions. One of the children died on the ship, and was buried at sea. My ancestors were farmers and they were given a 120 acre plot of land, which was completely covered with huge oak and elm trees, all over 40 metres high, which they had to cut down to build their first shelter, which was a log cabin, that was 4 metres square. All four adults and five children lived in that cabin for 4 years, untill they had cleared enough land to be able to build a bigger house, of stone and logs.

They had brought a very few tools with them such as two axes, two shovels, and hoes and saws to cut boards for the floor of the house. They learned how to burn the tree stumps out of the ground to clear an area for planting of their first crops, which were just enough to keep them alive over the first winter. They also had to cut wood for fuel to keep warm. They survived the first 5 years and went on to become established and then brought more of the family out to Upper Canada, now known as Ontario.

By the 1840's, after about 40 years in Canada, they were considered to be well established and had a total of 5 family farms, all in the same district. These 5 farms would have been about 300 acres in total size. They grew crops, scuh as wheat, barley, corn and sugar beets, as well as having an orchard of apple trees and a honey bee operation. They founded a water driven grist mill, that ground flour and bran for the area farmers, and they even began a whiskey distillery, using their own corn and the local spring water to produce a fine alcohol.

One hundred years after that, in 1949, the family had it''s first University garduate, a uncle of mine, who became a Vet, who cared for farm animals for many years and is now retired. Now the family still owns a number of farms , of about 1500 acres in size, and has a combined dairy herd of over 400 cows, some of whom are national champions. One of the Holstein bulls is a world champion, and his stud fee is a huge $25,000 CDN for one of his semen bottles.

So why am I telling all of you this story?

To tell the history of my own family, who immigrated to Canada before it was a country called Canada, and to point out the very long period of time it took for them to be able to say. "we are going to make it here".

Now a days, immigrants to Canada come here in a comfortable air plane and the trip takes less than one day, in most cases. They don't have to worry about their kids dying on the way, nor do they have to cut down a forest to build their own house. They are able to take advantage of a fully developed country with every service and luxury that can be thought of, all at their fingertiops, and never have to worry that they will starve to death or die from a illness with no Doctor within 40 miles of their farm.

I live in the largest city in Canada, and this is where I was born, 59 years ago. During my 30 years of service in the Canadian Armed Forces, I was sent to a number of other countries, for various resaons. I had my eyes wide open, and listened very carefully to the people in those countries and asked lots of questions, to learn what they thought about Canada. They knew some things, and of course, they also knew lots of things that were not true, as facts are like water, they are sometimes muddy.

The overall facts about Canada seemed to be that we are a peacefull and tolerant society that allows everyone to live their lives without too much stress, and that we were not a bully, on the international stage. I like that image of my country a lot.

So , as I said at the top of this new thread, Ask Me About Canada, but lets stay off the Immigration topic and talk about "how we live here".

Jim Bunting. Toronto.


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Re: Ask me questions about Canadian life and culture.

Post Posted: Fri Jan 06, 2006 9:56 pm

I see that 96 people have read this posting BUT nobody has asked any questions here.

If you would like to ask me questions about coming to Canada to live and work by private e-mail, contact me at

jimbunting @

Jim Bunting. Toronto.


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Re: Ask me questions about Canadian life and culture.

Post Posted: Mon Jan 09, 2006 7:41 am

Hi Jim,
My email was acting up so am replying to your original question on this thread and would love your views on Canadian life.
I am Australian and live in Melbourne.
I worked in a Summer camp in the Laurentians 10 years ago and fell in love with the region.
I have a bit of a fantasty about moving to live some where near Mont Tremblant.
Since my husband hasn't been to that part of Canada we are planning a trip there for this time next year to see if he like it there too.
I can speak "French" and I know tha tthe kids will have no trouble learning the language as they are husband may take a while!
I have only been there in summer and would liken to get a REAL idea of what it is like living day in day out in the snow.
Snow on yuor house - are there any safety concerns?
Snow around your house - is it hard work to shovel it?
Snow and kids - is it confining to indoors? How do you keep them warm and dry? Is it hard work?
Snow and driving - ?
What is your experience of living in the snow?

Summer looks beautiful with plenty of outdoors activities...which we are used to as Australians.

What I like about canada:
the duality of the culture and language
the history and sense of tradition
the amazing landscape and environment
the respect of people and environment that you all seem to have
the 4 distinct seasons
outsoors activities - from skiing to hiking
I love Montreal
The village like atmosphere in smaller towns and the strong sense of community

Hope to hear from you.


WE Canadians have been living with snow for 400 years.

Post Posted: Mon Jan 09, 2006 11:12 pm


Nice to hear from you down there!

Right off the bat.............Ever since the first explorers came to what is now Canada, we have been living with winter and snow EVERY YEAR. We build our houses with that in mind, we build our cars with that in mind and we dress with that in mind.

Canada has 4 distinct seasons, each with it's own charm and weather patterens. Remember that we are the second largest country in the world, SO weather is NOT the same all over the country on any given day. Regional weather, for instance in the Province of Quebec, can vary quite a bit in one day.

I suggest that you do a Google search for Environment Canada, which is the national weather reporting service here. I will also point out that many people ( millions in fact ) have come to Canada from tropical places like Malaysia, Thailand, Cambodia and Viet Nam, and all of them have learned to deal with the cold and the snow here. So can you.

Houses....WE build them with thick insulation, double pane glass and a basement, and we have 200 years of experience doing that. Snow loads on roofs are not a worry, as we build with a steeper pitch and the materials are designed to let the snow slide off on a mild day.

Children go to school every day thru the week, in the winter, and they walk or ride a school bus to school. The school year in Canada runs from September to June with two months off in July and August. They should dress in layers, and you should CHECK the weather on tv before they go out the door, to make sure they are not OVERDRESSED on a mild day when the temp is only minus 5C or so. Windchill is another thing to be considered,. The faster the winter wind speed the colder it "feels".

Shovelling snow............un-like rain there are lots of different "kinds " of snow. It can be fluffy and light , we call that "powder". It can be very heavy with lots of mositure. It can be "crusty " when the snow fall is quickly followed by a freezing rain storm. And then you get a chance to chop thru it on the sidewalk and the drive way into the garage. Lots of us who have a country home with a long country drive way, of a 1000 feet or more, have a 4 wheel drive truck with a snow plow on it. City houses will only have a 50 foot or so walkway and drive way to clear and in that case, we get a "snowblower" that runs on gas ( petrol) and clears the walk and drive by blowing the snow onto the grass in big piles. Hand shovelling is hard work and should be approached with caution if you are not reasonably fit. Local kids will shovel for a few dollars from you ( $10 )

Kids and snow..........Remember that we live with it EVERY YEAR, so the clothing sold here is practical and designed to be durable for kids. Snow suits, which have a long zipper and come in one piece, with a hood,are OK for small kids up to five or six, but for older ones, seperate pants and jackets are suggested, along with gloves and hats. You loose heat from your extremities first. The feet, hands and head should be covered, and the boots we make here are waterproof and have a felt inner liner that comes out to be dried. It is NOT a good idea to sweat in your clothes, in winter, so try to keep the kids from running around too much at first. By opening the zipper or taking off the hat, you can cool down if you get too warm.

Snow and driving...........Again we have designed our roads and highways with winter in mind. Our cars are also built with standard things like an engine block heater, that you plug in at night to a electrical outlet that keeps the oil and coolant in the engine at about 20 C so startups are easy even when the outside temp is minus 20 C. Just remember to "unplug " the cord before you drive away from the house !!!. How about a windsheild washer tank that heats the fluid, to get ice or slush off the windscreen? Or a rear view tv camera and dash mounted screen, for backintg up at night?

I'm sure in OZ you have seen lots of people riding big crusier bikes like Hondas, BMW's or Harleys? Here in winter we ride SNOWMOBILES, that have skis on the front for steering, and tracks at the back for power. With a good snowmobile suit and boots and gloves and of course a helmet for safety, we can ride for hours at minus 20 on the thousands of kilometres of snowmobile trails in the country, It is possible to ride for more than 1,000 k's in ONE direction, stopping at night to stay at the motels along the trails. Many of the winter trails are maintained and groomed by the Provincial government here in Ontraio. Outdoor recreation is a BIG business in Canada, in all 4 seasons of the year.

I spent 30 years in the Canadian Army and of course we trained in the Arctic, and again we have learned how to fight and survive in a very harsh part of Canada. Remember the farther North you go in Canada, the fewer people and the colder the climate.

If you look at a map of canada you will see that MOST of our population lives with-in about 400 miles of the USA border. That is NOT accident. It is a fact of life that we are a huge country with a very small population ( 33million now ).

Now for the bad news...............Quebec does NOT want you and your family as Immigrants. WHY? Quebec is the only Province in Candada that controls it's own Immigration flow. Even though you speak "french", you are not going to get a job there, due to your English language background and your ( probably ) English family name. Unless you speak French at a machine gun pace, AND have a Quebecois family name, you won't fit in and will eventually wind up moving to anothert part of Canada to live. I am NOT kidding about this.

Example" The city of Montreal USED to have a large Anglo population that had been there for over 150 years, mainly Irish and Scots. At one time the Irish in Montreal were the MAJORITY of the Population( about 1870). In the last 30 years that has all changed, and about 400,000 English speaking Quebecers have MOVED to Ontario, to live. They were forced out by the Government of Quebec, who made it so uncomfortable for them that they sold up and moved out of the Province.

How were they made uncomforatable? The Quebec Government passed a law about what schools kids had to go to. No more English language schools even if the Parents had been educated in English in Quebec. No more English on any commercial signs or business locations ONLY FRENCH signs are allowed now. No more business operations in English even if the company had been in Quebec for over 150 years, and no body can write a business contract in English, or sell anything with English instruction sheets in Quebec.

This systematic elimination of the USE of English chased people out of the Province of Quebec. Please remember that this was in Quebec ONLY, not in the rest of Canada. This program was so successful that many Montreal area English speaking high schools now have their class reunions in Toronto, as that is where MOST of their grads now live

Immigrants to Quebec now are from French speaking nations like Hati and Ghana, and Mali. Quebec is like a small huddled group of scared paranoid people who are trying maintain an island of French culture and language ( seven million people live in Quebec ) surrounded by 330 million people ( Canada and the USA ) who speak English as a first langauge.

I know that you are in love with the "Memory " of Mt Tremblant. BUT you need to find out for yourself that Quebec is NOT the place to live in Canada. If you have been reading my posts here you will all ready know that I am a big booster of Canada, and I don't put the country down for fun, BUT I strongly advise AGAINST going to Quebec to live.

You would be treated as a second class Immigrant and your Husband would simply be ignored for jobs as he doesn't speak the language. It is aganist the law in Quebec now to hire someone who is unilingual English speaking, you HAVE to be able to speak French fluently And THEY decide if you are fluent in French, or not.

Now walk across the Provincial boundary into Ontario, and all of that stuff disapears, instantly. No other Province has such oppressive langauage laws as they do in Quebec. WHY is this? Quebec thinks that it is a "country" instead of one of 10 Provinces, and in order to maintain civil order, the Federal Government has allowed them to push people around in Quebec. There have been two previous Quebec votes on "seperation " to become a sovreign country. Both failed by a small margin, and the next time they may seperate from Canada. I say let them go so we are not forced to continue to prop them up with our fedreal tax dollars, as we have been doing for ever. Quebec has learned how to "Wag the dog " by blackmail and threats to "leave Canada". Big federal Government contracts have been given to Quebec based companies, to keep them happy.

If you want to live in a geat place with wonderfull skiing, look at Midland Ontario, 100 miles north of Toronto. It has 12 ski hill operations, and a booming economy winter and summer, with lots of new jobs and places to live being built. New recreational locations are being bult there and so are dozens of condominium weekend cottages and low rise apartment buildings for peope who live in Toronto, and will drive 2 hours to go ski, or sail in summer on Georgian Bay.

What types of work are you seeking ? Any professional qualifications? Work experience and education are two of the things that we look for in Immigrants to Canada.

Let me know your reaction to my " Bad news " about Quebec. I am giving it to you straight, without any sugar coating.

Jim Bunting. Toronto. Ontario. Canada.


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Re: Ask me questions about Canadian life and culture.

Post Posted: Tue Jan 10, 2006 4:58 am

Thanks for your reply Jim.

I appreciate the "real" picture of an English speaking foreigner in Quebec...or rather...NOT in Quebec.
For me one of the attractions to Canada is the dual culture and language of French and English.
Is french spoken much outside of Quebec?

You asked about our professions:
I am qualified Naturopath (grad 1993) - I am trying to ascertain whether or not I can practice in canada with my Australian certification. I have contacted the Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine re this issue (but if you have apointers I'd appreciate them).
I also am a Life Coach/Counsellor/NLP Trainer - I work one-on-one with clients and also present workshops on health, parenting and relationships.
My husband, Chris, assists me and co-presents alot of the workshops.
Chris is a qualified carpenter and has worked for himself for the last 10 years. He also is contracted to a company in the USA that travel the world doing huge seminars - he does all the logistics for the show.

We would be coming to Canada as perhaps "investors" "sel-employed/business" immigrants.
I believe there is a certain amount of money we need as assets to do the move would be about 3 years away so we can build up our assets.

I would like to run a Wellness Centre.
Chris will continue to travel for work internationally.
We can both create our trainings as part of the Wellness Centre.
And we aim to continue to invest in property.

As for the snow sounds like we can learn the ins and outs!

I am looking for a lifestyle that includes:
- family and community orientation
- healthy living
- natural environment with proximity to major city
- contrasting seasons
- I love snow!
- I love water - lakes!
- I love mountains!
- a village style community with restaurants, cafes and great facilities
- a community that is health and environment focused
- outdoor activities all year round
- a community that we can contribute to
- great schools for kids

Hearing that Quebec is so closed is disappointing.
I almost married a Quebecer 9 years ago...hence my discovery via travel to the Laurentians.
I do love the French language too!
I have a particular love of Sainte Jovite and Tremblant (and Montreal) ...but if it is as you say, then A) we probably won't get in and B) if we do it sounds like we would find it difficult to develop "Community" which is one of my core values.

I am very grateful for this site and this discussion.
Could you tell me more about Ontario or about anywhere you think would be a good fit for us?

Many thanks


Re: Ask me questions about Canadian life and culture.

Post Posted: Thu Jan 12, 2006 11:06 pm


I am glad that you understood my point about NOT going to Quebec. It is hard to explain the history that has brought us to this point, but believe me it is long and convoluted for sure.

Now, instead of going to Quebec let me tell you about a place that may just be what you are looking for.

The town of Collingwood, Ontario, is located on the shores of Georgian Bay, about 100 miles to the north of Toronto. In the far distant past it was a ship building town, making bulk carrier ships that transported cargo on our Great Lakes. In the last 30 years it's tourism and recreation sectors have really boomed. The town sits at the northern end of the Niagara Escarpment, a long ridge line that runs up from Niagara Falls to end at Collingwood. This ridge is about 1200 feet high and guess is great for SKIING.

In the 1950's people used to go up there by snow train to ski, for the day. In the 70's the number of ski hills had doubled, and the highway was improved and th3 drive was now only about one and a half hours. The number of ski clubs doubled again in the 80's and they started to build permanent year round chalets for sale to city folks.

Now Collingwood's year round population has doubled to about 25,000 and there are a wide range of large housing projects being built. Houses, low rise apartments, condo town houses, and single floor bungalows are all being built as well as new ski clubs, and cafes and shopping malls. Collingwood has an anuual ELVIS impersonator contest that draws over 100 ELVIS impersonators, from all over the world, and a week end crowd of over 100,000 people.

The summer season sees hundreds of fishermen every weekend, fishing for fresh water salmon and lake trout. Personal water craft and motor boats and sailing boats are filling the harbour and the docks. Many people are retiring to Collingwood and buying houses after selling a big house in the city. They live there in the summer and go to Florida in the winter, if they don't ski.

Your type of business would fit right in up there, as many of the people who have bought and started a business there are into that healthy lifestyle. Collingwood is well situated to be a home base for your husband too. The Pearson International airport is 70 miles away and it is the main Toronto airport with direct flights to all of North America, Europe and the Pacific rim countries. The weather in Collingwood is nice and all the ski slopes have artificial snow making machines, so the conditions are great all the time.

Lots of arts and crafts people live up there and painters and sculptors as well. The annual art week is a big tourist attraction.

For further general information about Collingwood, go to this web site.

This town is close to the longest fresh water beach in Canada, located at Wasaga Beach, which is 9 miles long. That town is a big tourst destination all summer long with 100,000 people on the beach on some days. Also in the area is a Jesuit missionary settlelment dating from 1611. This is called St Marie Among The Hurons. The Huron were the dominant Aboriginal tribe in this region 400 years ago. The St Marie site is open all summer and is staffed by University students who dress in period costume, and perform many daily living tasks with original tools and pottery. The site is made entirely from logs and tree limbs, so no smoking is allowed. The Jesuits were killed by the Mohawks, who were enemies of the Huron. The three Jesuits who were tortured and burned alive, were the first Canadian Saints.

I see that you mentioned mountains..............Not quite mountains at Collingwood but really nice just the same. Lots of trout streams, places that raise bees for honey and maple syrup operations, every spring when the sap is running. Do you know that it takes about 40 years for a sugar maple tree to start to produce sap in good quantities? That is why it is soo expensive to buy, but so nice on pancakes and waffles.

You will like Collingwood as it has been a town for over 120 years, and has a "main street" area as well as the new malls and stores on the outskirts of town. Lots of big old houses, as well as the newly built ones. As I said the year round population is now big enough to carry new business start ups and remember that the town has TWO tourist seasons WINTER and SUMMER. The people who are buying there are well to do and have disposable income. There are NO bad parts of town. Many of the designer type clothing and shoe shops have opened up in Collingwood, and are doing well.

A wellness centre would not be a bad idea, with the number of 30 something women that live there now.

Let me know what you think about this, OK?

In the meantime, how would you like to take a look at some Canadian photos, on my personal picture web site? If so go to this address


Cheers to all of you down there......................Jim B. Toronto.


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Re: Ask me questions about Canadian life and culture.

Post Posted: Fri Jan 13, 2006 4:44 pm

Thanks.. that sounds great.
I checked out the web for Collingwood and it looks wonderful.
I had a Collingwood is the name of the football team that we go for here in Melbourne. How funny.
I couldn't access your photos from the link. I'd love to have a look.
This has been a great help.


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