‘Greetings from Waterloo, Ontario, Canada! Glad to read your newsletter, we think it is great.’
Ann immigrated to Canada 43 years ago, and her husband, Jack is a Canadian with a passion for England! Ann has two sisters, one in Cleveleys and one in Rochdale, and they come over here every year and stay at The Breck Caravan Park near the River Wyre Pub, for which they are full of admiration!
In her first email, Ann told us that they are intending to relocate to Poulton, and as her husband is almost 80 she wants to get a move on. Whether it’s the clean Canadian air or good genes, his mother is nearly 101 – maybe we should all move over there! We think we’ve got it bad here with the weather, but their winters drop to -25 degrees in winter to +30 in summer, which as she says is very hard on a person.
I was thrilled to get this email. We do get random emails on random subjects, and all of them are very interesting and get a reply, but this is one of our first ones from the other side of the world! I emailed Ann back and thanked her for getting in touch, offered to help if I could, and asked for some more information. Her reply email provided some eye opening facts about the difference between the two countries – the UK Government could learn a lot!
Ann started her reply by saying: ‘As you say being in Canada and being in Poulton is very different. Here there is so much space and only half the population there is in the UK. Lots of trees everywhere, in fact when we have been in Scotland it has reminded me of Canada with all the fir trees. We live about 100 miles from Toronto, capital of Ontario, and it is a busy city, but there are only 2 1/2 million people there, compare that to London. Another thing that is different is we pay two lots of income taxes, Federal and Provincial! Also the health care system is not like the British one, but a heck of a lot better than the U.S. Here you have to pay the dispensing fee plus the cost of the drug when you take in your prescription. Even my mother-in-law at 101 has to pay quite a lot for her drugs and any help she needs.’
Of course, with relocating on her mind, Ann told us about the housing market in Canada, and with each house plot comes a story about wildlife and the weather. Not a lot unlike the UK in many respects!
‘Houses are cheaper for their size than in England, but land is a lot cheaper too. Lots of different wild life too. In our back ‘yard’ that is what they call the back garden, we have lots of squirrels, rabbits, groundhogs, and occasionally a skunk will pay us a visit. Usually at night and if we have the window open the smell that comes in the bedroom will wake you up. It is the most horrible smell you can imagine. If a car hits a skunk on the highway the smell goes on for miles and sticks to your car. Between towns there is nothing but open space, no pubs, no coffee shops, and no toilets! In winter you have to get your snow tires put on the car, and you carry a snow shovel with you and extra clothes and food and water if you are going a distance. However, there are lots of snow ploughs on the highways. However, the smaller streets, like the one we live on, are ploughed last. You have to go out and shovel the snow and the sidewalks within 24 hours or you get fined. There are lots of broken bones especially from seniors in the winter with falls. Believe me when we have a big blizzard and there is a foot of snow each day you get tired of shovelling, and the older you get the harder it is. This winter we have been lucky and not had as much snow, which is very unusual. Must be global warming!’
In the UK, general conversation between acquaintances and strangers usually centers around the weather or the TV. In this digital age UK TV is especially popular all over the world, where you can keep up to date with what’s happening in the news and see our dramas just like we watch Neighbours and the US dramas. Apparently UK costume dramas are particularly popular, so the final word has to be about Downton…
‘We do keep up to date with news on the BBC on the internet and BBC World News on TV. We do get quite a lot of British shows on TV. Just finished watching Downton Abbey told all my neighbours to watch it, was wonderful.’
Best wishes, Ann Hughes
I’m sure we all join in with wishing Ann and Jack all the best in their quest to move to the UK. We’ve asked them to keep us posted so there may be more installments in this story!
Ann and Jack from Canada
What proper snow looks like in Canada!