Friday, June 17, 2011

Why Canada?

St. Jacobs Farmers Market                Photo by WeiWong

Last weeks blog prompted a question from an old college friend.  Why are you moving to Canada?  Of course this is a question we debated with a long time.  I have lived in Ohio my entire life while Ing has been here for over half her life at this point.  The easy answer is that we have decided to move in order to be close to Ing’s family in The Great North.  However, I couldn’t help but consider the question in a different way.  The fact is many people are trying to come to Canada.  In fact, the papers I described filling out in the last entry are taking longer to process because of the unusual number of recent applicants.  So it isn’t just me.  There are a lot of folks who want to go to Canada.  Why?  I decided to do a little research.
            I typed in “Top Ten Reasons To Live In Canada” and read the many thoughts people have about Canada.  Not so surprisingly there were many that wrote about beer and hockey.  Still others were hyper political in nature and had an ax to grind.  The Canadian writer Wendy Matheson produced a light hearted top ten list that includes snapshots of typical Canadian perspectives.  For example, she makes the statement that getting sick won’t cause you to lose your house.  She also notes that federal political campaigning lasts only a month.  The list is on her blog.
            A few weeks ago Ing brought an article from The Street to my attention.  It’s titled, “How Canada Beats the U.S.  In the article Canada is praised for its regulatory standards for financial institutions.  Apparently they have some rules that we don’t.  Subsequently they not only weathered the financial melt down of the past two years but are actually thriving.  Oh boy.
            Finally, there is the Human Development Index (HDI) published by the United Nations every year.  Newspaper headlines often declare the country with the highest HDI as the best place to live.  The HDI measures four areas for every country in the world.
Productivity: How well people are able to increase their productivity.
Equity: A measure of people’s access to equal opportunities.
Sustainablity: The ability for future generations to have the same opportunities as previous generations.
Empowerment: A measure of people’s ability to fully participate in the decisions and processes that shape their lives.
Anyway, Canada has beat the United States in the HDI for fifteen out of the last sixteen years.  Apparently Norway is the best place to live and has been for several years now.  The Scandinavian countries always seem to do well.
            There are a few things particular to the area we are moving to that I am looking forward to.  Our home is going to be very close to Laurel Creek Reservation which includes a large lake and bike paths.  Waterloo is serious about their bike paths.  From where we will live we could bike all over the city and into numerous parks while staying on bike paths.  In general there are a lot of natural areas that we will get to discover.
            There are many other things I look forward to such as the multiculturalism, ethnic foods, farmers markets, Tim Hortons, Oktoberfest, and eventually when I learn more about  But as I said before we are moving to Canada to be closer to our Canadian family.  I’m not dodging the draft, I’m not running from the law, and in fact, our life in Ohio has been pretty darn good.  But of all the countries that we could be moving to in the world...I’m happy to go to Canada.  It seems like a nice place.

Thursday, June 9, 2011


All moves require loads of paperwork.  Moves from one country to another involves much more paperwork.  Moves from one country to another with a foreigner (me) and two adopted children requires an incalculable amount of paperwork approaching Biblical proportions. 
In attempting to explain to you exactly how much paperwork this is I’ll ask you to think about what it is like to do your taxes. If you are someone who does not do your own taxes then forget it about it, you will never understand.  For you people who do your own taxes, imagine doing your taxes and four other peoples taxes.  Now imagine doing four peoples taxes for the last eight years except you need to do it all at once.  Now multiply that by three physicals, 100 notarized documents, processing fees, photos of yourself and children, that need to have exact dimensions but cannot be done by nearly anyone in the state of Ohio, more processing fees, phone calls, emails, certified letters, FedEx, Passports, birth certificates, deadlines, letters of notification, and on and on and on.
I can’t stress the on and on part.  It really does go on and on.  I applied for Canadian citizenship for my daughters. Actually, I applied for the right to apply for citizenship.  Yes, it is true that one must apply to apply and it is actually called the Application for an Application.  The Application for an Application to become a Canadian citizen isn’t short either.  It required multiple documents and a lengthy form. You can imagine our excitement when we received a letter stating that our “Application for Application” had been received and that we would receive a verdict in three to six months.  Thank goodness I did this in July because it wasn’t until January that we received a letter stating that our “Application for Application” had been approved and that we are free to apply.  But don’t misunderstand me.  I am truly happy that there were no problems obtaining the right to apply because if there were any problems I would have great difficulty contacting anyone from the Canadian Immigration Department to ask them a question.  The only way to contact them is through an 800 number printed on all their documents.  One problem, it doesn’t work unless you are calling from Canada.  That’s right, the number for the Canadian Immigration Department does not work unless you are calling from inside Canada.
But I am happy to report that last week the Consulate General of Canada sent us a letter stating that out “Application for Permanent Residence has been found to meet minimum requirement for completeness.” to my ears.

Thursday, June 2, 2011


I would like to introduce you to our future community of Waterloo.  It is a nice place.  Waterloo is one of those communities where there are a lot of new areas and the old areas are being renewed.  It has about 100,000 residents not including about 20,000 students that attend the University of Waterloo and Wilfrid Laurier University.  It is most famous for being the home of a company called Research In Motion (RIM).  They make the Blackberry.
            As difficult as it will be to leave a place I have called home since birth I feel very lucky to be going to such a nice and oddly familiar place.  It seems familiar because the Waterloo area is very much like Northeast Ohio.  It has rolling hills with hardwood trees and farmers fields.  It has strip malls, suburbs and downtown areas.  I make this point because more than one person has told me I better pack a lot of warm clothes as if I were going to Grise Fiord (the most northern town in Canada).  The truth is the Waterloo area often receives less snowfall than Cleveland.  It is also lower than most of Michigan.  If it were not for Lake Erie it would be less than three hours away from Medina, OH.
            But there are differences.  Imagine if all of the McDonalds in your town were taken away and replaced with Tim Hortons.  If you are a sports fan you would not talk about the Indians, Browns, or Buckeyes.  Instead you would talk about hockey...regardless of whether the season was in session or not.  Finally, your money has rainbow colors.  Obviously there are many more differences but I am claiming ignorance for now.  As I learn more about the Canadian experience from my American perspective I will share it with you.  If you have a specific question I will research it for you.

Northern Shift

As I hope you all know by now our family is moving to Waterloo, Canada.  I’m calling it our “northern shift.”  There are many things that we will miss about Ohio and in particular Medina which has been our home for the past eleven years.  We will miss family and friends the most.  However, we consider this northern shift to be our next adventure and we are going to use this blog hoping that you can share this experience with us.
              Sometime during the first week of August the clan will pile all of their belongings in a truck and travel 330 miles north by way of the Ambassador Bridge over the Detroit River.  There is a lot that needs to happen between now and then and I’m not sure how it is all going to work out.  But it will.  I (Matt) plan on sharing posting a new entry each Thursday evening.  I eagerly await your comments, questions, etc.