Well meaning friends have often asked why I don’t move to their cities. I have been on the receiving end of invitations to visit and live in several cities that are located out of the United States.
Certainly I would love to live in Amsterdam or Bangalore. However, the most realistic places of relocation, that I could seriously consider, happen to be located in Canada. Not only is that fine nation right next door, but our cultures are quite similar. Mainly, immigration red tape is much less with a move to Canada as compared to the European Union or India requires.
My friend Nick invited me to his, then, new hometown near Toronto, Ontario a few years ago. He was in the process of becoming a Canadian citizen then. He was and remains very enthusiastic about his city and insisted upon having me check it out.
Nick regailed me with factoids such as, Toronto being Canada’s largest metropolitan area. Toronto features everything one would expect to find in any major city, and then some. The museum and restaurant variety is amazing. The parks and common spaces are breathtakingly beautiful and very well planned so that natives and tourists can relax and play in the most pleasant surroundings. I was impressed with how well I could get around the city. Its layout is intelligent and not as confusing as most cities can be. Mass transit is several steps above anything available in the USA. Plus, the citizens of Toronto are much more friendly than I had expected them to be.
Diversity of culture, living spaces and people are very important to me. Toronto did not let me down at all. The place is quite accepting of all minorities. I really enjoyed my visit to the city. The big drawbacks are the winter cold with heavy snowfall, and the rather steep, for my pocketbook, cost of living.
My friend Akira had set up a temporary apartment near downtown Vancouver while he was in North America taking graduate courses. I flew into the city by going through O’Hare in Chicago then flying pretty much over TC Highway 1 on to Vancouver’s beautiful airport. There was a lot of construction at the time, so I had to walk over a mile on gravel and concrete to reach my rental car.
Akira had taken ill, so he couldn’t meet me at the airport. I was astonished at the physical beauty of the city. Water surrounds the place. The drivers are relatively unaggressive compared to their USA neighbors. I was really impressed with the amount of respect given to pedestrians!
After I checked in with Akira I decided to take a quick tour of the city. Akira told me to take the SkyTrain. It’s an elevated monorail that was built for transport during the Vancouver World’s Fair. I was happy with my little tour.
The next day, Akira had returned to vibrant health. I then got to enjoy Vancouver with a resident and not as part of a tour group. I like public spaces, so we checked out two lovely city parks. Stanley Park is great for people-watching and strolling. It’s a haven right off of downtown. Queen Elizabeth Park is great in a different way. It’s a bit more traditional in layout and useage planning. Akira invited some of his friends to join us in a picnic at Q.E. Park. It was very memorable.
Vancouver features neighborhoods that have attracted Asians, LGBT people, Americans and other immigrants into the largest city in British Columbia and Western Canada. In fact, being summer, there were a couple of festivals in progress. The Chinese community was celebrating a cultural fair and the LGBT folks were throwing the gay pride parade and festival.
There was one other Canadian city I visited and enjoyed greatly. Winnipeg, Saskatchewan is a pleasant city and offers plenty of entertainment. The people are especially kind and friendly in a Canadian midwesterner manner. But the place reminds me too much of the USA midwest with its oppressive heat and humidity along with the flat prairie. While Winnipeg is a lovely city, I’d rather live in Minneapolis, USA, if I had to choose. The weather is similar in both of those cities. Plus, the Minnesota location has more cultural and entertainment possibilities.
If I was to actually pick up and move to Canada, Vancouver would have my vote over Toronto. All things being equal, full civil rights and freedoms for all minorities plus the health care system are shared nationwide in Canada. So big city British Columbia gets my vote because of the climate, the proximity to the Pacific Ocean, the mountains, ease of commute and most of all, the people.
Meantime, the latest invite from Nick to relocate to Ontario still sits in my inbox. I’ll daydream a little bit longer here in Nebraska, USA. Who knows? Retirement up north might be a possibility.
The Blue Jay of Happiness tries to croak out “Oh Canada”!