On The Road –Thoughts about Canada

Since I had a laid back  few days of letting my wife savor her view I thought I would pen some of my closing thoughts about Canada and the people we have met here.

  • Canada has a complicated history – It is hard to believe that Canada was not Canada until almost 1860. Before that they were just a conglomeration of territories. They seemed to only come together because they thought they would be overrun by the United States after their Civil war. In some ways they are much like us in that they seem to be equally divided on many issues not the least of which is the French/English one.
  • I can’t understand the French Canadian thinking —  In my cursory view French Canadians seem to be very much as I envision Frenchmen in general. They seem to be a rather pompous bunch who view everyone who is not French with some skepticism. It seems that most of the rest of Canada accommodate them by providing all their road signs and other things (menus, history signs, etc) in both languages. But when it comes to the French Canadians they don’t seem to be willing to do likewise. The English word is almost entirely missing in the Province of Quebec. How the rest of Canada let them get away with that is a mystery to me.  Don’t the Quebec citizens realize how much they stifle their tourism by this attitude?
  • With some exceptions Canadians like their food pretty bland – As we are near the end of our trip through Canada I am going to stick to an early observation. Although we occasionally came across food that was well seasoned as a general rule there is just not much flavor to their fare. We had a pizza that I think was supposed to have pepperoni on it but it tasted much more like bologna than pepperoni.  What they call link sausages taste again like bologna and has a consistency of liverwurst. Those of you who have read my past posts know that one restaurant’s rendition of Mexican food  that we visited was an abysmal failure due to lack of spices.  Of course there are exceptions to this general observation. One was the pub in Ottawa and another was an Chinese restaurant in New Brunswick. And finally there were the blue mussels in Prince Edward Island; those were the best mussels I have every tasted. They were in a very well seasoned with cream and tarragon sauce. In fact they were so good  I ordered a second pot after I finished the first one. I will savor that meal for sometime to come.
  • Most of Canada looks pretty much the same – I know you can probably say this about just about any place so I may be getting myself in trouble here. But there certainly is a lot of pine trees in Canada and a lot of water in the areas we visited. The most notable exception to the pine trees, not the water, was on Prince Edward Island. It reminded me more of the pictures I have seen of Ireland than Canada. I think PEI will become my favorite province we visited.  But one thing I am very thankful for on our visit here is that we escaped the 100 degree temperatures of our home area. I kind of dread heading south from here as we will probably be getting into that heat. Our tour guide on PEI said that many affluent Americans come and buy homes there and live there for five months a year to get away from the heat. The Canadian summer are wonderful but I’m sure the winters are pure dread!
  • Most Canadians are surprised to hear how much we spend monthly for our healthcare – When we tell them that our personal healthcare bill exceeds $1200/month they are totally astounded. They, like most of the rest of the developed world take for granted that healthcare as a right that is regulated by their representatives in government. One lady said that she sometimes gets upset because she has to pay more than the usual $5 for her prescription medicine but given what we pay she will not be doing that any more.
  • Things are just more expensive in Canada – Sales taxes in Canada is generally 13% except for food from grocery stores. Gasoline is costing us about $5.20/gal here and hotels are generally the same as in the U.S. Two #1 meals as McDonalds will set you back about $20.  From what I have been able to discover income taxes on the middle class are generally a little higher in the U.S. and property taxes are about the same. So, it seems to be generally more expensive to live in Canada. But, given that Canadians have universal healthcare they do not have the average $6,000 per person in healthcare costs (which is about $10,000 for seniors) that we have in the U.S.
  • Canadians think that we in the U.S. spend too much and borrow too much – They pride themselves as have much less government and personal debt than we do. They seem to value relationships over material goods. Since they are so tied to our economy (tourism is down 30% in Canada due to less visits from the U.S.) they are suffering much of the same consequences as we are. They are rather resentful of that fact and I don’t blame them.

Since this post is getting much too long I am going to quit here. I think generally life is better for Canadians than it is for us in the U.S. especially with all the political insanity going around us now in the States. Canadians just seem less stressed than we are and that is a good thing. But I don’t envy those in the desolate areas that must cope with the bitter winters! I wish we could learn some of the good things our neighbors to the north could teach us. But as pompous as most of us United Staters are I doubt if we ever will.

And the journey goes on…..

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