1 0 Tag Archives: canada
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At our cottage in Ontario

Last month, after visiting friends in Toronto, Callum and I headed to our cottage on Paudash Lake, in the Highlands East region of Ontario’s cottage country. Yvonne and I bought the place back in August of 2005 when we thought we were going to be moving to either Ottawa or Toronto. However, we ended up moving to the southern States, so we didn’t end up visiting nearly as much as we had originally planned. I have a whole cache of memories of being a kid tromping around Ontario’s cottage country (on the same lake in fact), so it’s definitely something I wanted my kids to experience as well… however, our living in the southern States and eventually France made that difficult.

So I was very pleased when Callum and I had a few weeks to travel to Toronto, rent a car, and take the drive north to spend some time up at the cottage. We visited some old friends, made some new ones, did some kayaking and swimming, went on a hike in Silent Lake Provincial Park (which was pretty buggy to be honest), and relaxed amidst nature’s splendor. Oh, and I did a lot of grilling by the lake of course!

Joe Bay, Paudash Lake

Paudash Lake deck

Paudash Lake sunrise

Lower Paudash Lake

Paudash Lake flowers

Before flying back to Orlando, Callum and I spent a few more days in downtown Toronto, where we went on an open-top bus tour (during a heat wave!) and walked around the city. And I got to see the treehouse from Mr. Dressup at the CBC building! Which is only cool if you happened to grow up in Canada. Which I did, so I thought it was very cool!

Toronto Harbourfront

Mr. Dressup's treehouse

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In Toronto

Callum and I are in Toronto, the city where I grew up. We’re staying with my friend Peter, who has been one of my closest friends since the fourth grade. He and his wife Heather live in a condo at Harbourfront, right near Rogers Centre and the CN Tower. So we’re in a great location to walk the city.

So far we’ve spent a good couple of days staying in the city. Saturday evening we went with some friends to Snakes & Lattes, a board game café at Bloor and Bathurst. Apparently it was the first board game café to open in North America. We played Mission: Red Planet, a competitive board game about colonizing Mars, and Mysterium, a cooperative game featuring dream interpretation. Both were pretty fun.

Snakes & Lattes

Snakes & Lattes board game café.

Yesterday, which was Sunday, we walked around the city. We spent some time at the Art Gallery of Ontario and saw the Thomson medieval artifacts exhibit and model boat exhibit, as well as the gallery of paintings by Canada’s Group of Seven painters. We walked through the Eaton Centre, checked out City Hall and Nathan Phillips Square, and walked to Yonge-Dundas Square where the Toronto Pride parade was happening. And we walked past the Toronto Railway Museum, which can be found at the old roundhouse quite close to Peter’s condominium. So it was a good day of touring the city.

Group of Seven

The Group of Seven exhibit at the Art Gallery of Ontario.

Toronto Pride parade 2018

The Toronto Pride parade at Yonge-Dundas Square.

Toronto Railway Museum

Trains in front of the Toronto Railway Museum at the old roundhouse near Harbourfront.

Today Callum and I are going to ascend the CN Tower and see the city from the observation deck. Then, tomorrow, we will be heading to our cottage at Paudash Lake for a week.

Brian at the CN Tower

Me with Rogers Centre and the CN Tower in the background.

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More people live in California than in all of Canada

The other day someone shared a post showing a list of the various states (and overseas territories) of the United States of America, ranked in order of population, highest to lowest. I find this sort of thing fascinating. I found out that I currently live in the fourth most populous state – Florida. Fair enough.

Being Canadian, I naturally wondered what this sort of ranking might look like for the Canadian provinces and territories. I already knew that my home province (Ontario) and the province where I was born (Quebec) topped the list in that order – but what I didn’t know was by how much. My Calgary and Vancouver friends often mention their frustration that people from Toronto (like myself) feel that Toronto is the center of Canada, if not the universe, but check it out – Ontario is home to almost 40% of Canada’s population.

The natural progression from this point was for me to start comparing American states and Canadian provinces. Where do those Canadian provinces slot into that big list of American states? So I made a chart to check it out.

Here’s what I found, with American states in black and Canadian provinces in blue:

US and Canada population ranking

Some points of interest:

  • The 2011 census estimated that the population of all of Canada in July of 2013 would be 33,476,688. This means that there are more people living in California than in all of Canada. How crazy is that? And Texas isn’t too far behind.
  • Out of all provinces and states, Canada has the bottom five in terms of population. That’s five provinces and territories with fewer people than Vermont, Wyoming, or even the District of Columbia.
  • Aside from Ontario and Quebec, most Canadian provinces and territories are well down the list. I didn’t realize that British Columbia has fewer people than South Carolina? That doesn’t seem to make sense to me. And if you add up the populations of both British Columbia and Alberta – home to largish cities such as Vancouver, Calgary, and Edmonton – that still doesn’t equal the population of North Carolina or Michigan?
  • Ontario is up there with the heavyweights (go home team!)

At any rate, an interesting study!

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on breakfast

“I will need to eat a good nutritious breakfast in order to crush all those who oppose me!”

– unknown conqueror

there is something magical about a good breakfast. I’m talking all the breakfast food groups – bacon, sausage, eggs, home fries with ketchup, toast with strawberry jam and a big mug of coffee with cream. So some of the food groups are underrepresented and others have stolen the spotlight, but that’s just how it is.

this morning I took my Honda to Canadian Tire to get (wait for it)… some tires. We live in a rather snowy part of Canada and the car was in dire need of some better traction so that I could spend my road time driving my car rather than freezing my butt off in a ditch waiting for a tow truck (I’ve been there, believe me). I chose the Michelin X-Ice, a tire made by a company whose head office is located, believe it or not, in Clermont-Ferrand, France, home of one of my alma maters! I’d say it’s a small world, but I’m still recovering from the 28-hour trip from there to here so I happen to know otherwise.

after dropping off my car I walked over to a nearby diner to grab a mug of coffee and do some writing (and here I am!) and I noticed that they had a Big Breakfast item on their menu – 3 eggs, 2 different meats, 3 slices of toast and home fries all for $5.99 Canadian. Since I’m still used to crazy expensive Irish prices that sounded like a pretty good deal to me so I went for it. It was just what the doctor ordered – although in this case the doctor actually ordered you not to eat it. Still, it was darn good.

the magical thing about big breakfasts is that they only work at breakfast-time. That is because you need the rest of the day to recover from eating them. While you’re shoving down those forkfuls of goopy egg-covered toast and greasy sausage you’re saying to yourself, “I’ll work this off during the day; maybe I’ll have a light lunch and go for a long walk later this afternoon.” This is mostly wishful thinking of course, but big breakfasts are a catalyst for good intentions.

in Ireland the restaurant at Allied Irish Banks used to serve the occasional breakfast at lunchtime. They called it a “Mixed Grill” which is the Irish term for “Big-Ass Breakfast”. I tended to avoid the Mixed Grill when they had it; for one thing, 12:30 is rather late to be eating such fare, and for another thing whenever I did choose to partake of the Mixed Grill at lunchtime an hour or two afterward I could be found snoring with my head on my desk and drooling all over my keyboard. Sleeping at your desk is a well known productivity killer so no Mixed Grill, thanks, at least at lunchtime.

in another hour or so I’ll walk back to Canadian Tire to pick up the car. You may not believe this but it is snowing outside – again – so the new tires should come in handy during my drive home. Although if I do go into a breakfast-induced coma and fall asleep at the wheel I might very well end up in a ditch anyway. I’d better call and pre-order that tow truck.

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big news

yesterday our offer was accepted on a cottage on Paudash Lake (the same lake that my parents’ cottage is on, but in a different bay – it’s about a 15 minute drive by car or by boat). For those not familiar with the area, Paudash Lake is in the Haliburton Highlands region of Ontario, located near the town of Bancroft. If all goes well we will be closing on the property on October 7th. I won’t be here of course – I’ll be in France. But it will be nice to know that the place will be here for us when we get back.

we are very excited about this – in my opinion, cottage life in northern Ontario in the summer and fall is pretty close to paradise. My parents live at their cottage full time, and who knows, in the future we might want to retire here as well – though Ontario winters can get pretty chilly to say the least. Regardless, this is a very long term investment!

here are a few pictures of the place – note that all the furniture and water toys are theirs and not ours!

the view of the cottage from near the lake
the deck in front of the cottage
the living room
the docks at the waterfront
the view of the lake from in front of the cottage

(bonus points if you can identify which province’s flag that is – the answer is here)

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