The maple life The maple life

Category Life in Canada

Seasonal Signs… It’s Beginning to Look Like Christmas in Vancouver

I never used to get into the festive spirit: the sound of sleigh bells and carols on the radio left me cold, those supposedly-heart tugging Christmas adverts made me feel even more Grinch-like than usual and really, it just seemed so… ugh. Not for me. No thanks. But all that changed when I arrived in Canada. It felt less commercial here and really just more about being joyful and enjoying

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Pondering Canada’s Complications Deep in its Desert

It’s the kind of sunshine that warms bone-deep. I close my eyes and feel soft morning rays as comforting as a cashmere scarf wrap me in a delicious warmth. I’ve missed the sun. I’ve dreamed of seeing Canada’s desert since I first knew it existed. It sounds like the most ridiculous of contradictions: to think of Canada is to imagine snow and skiing, moose and mounties, but here I am

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How To Stay Warm in Canada

I’m a firm believer in the maxim that there’s no such thing as bad weather, just the wrong clothes. Coming from England, I had no idea at all when I first came to Canada what truly cold weather felt like. I vividly remember it, I was staying at the Germain Maple Leaf Square in Toronto in late December. I’d taken a cab to the hotel from the airport, so hasn’t

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Aboriginal Adventures Part 5: Storytelling with Yolande in the Wendake Longhouse

I looked up over my breakfast and pondered the stuffed lynx staring glassy-eyed into the distance as I spooned up my yoghurt. I thoughtfully licked my spoon and turned my head a little and spotted a stuffed owl. The clink of china and babble of slow morning conversation mixed with a CD of rhythmic chants and tribal songs of the Huron Wendat people. Welcome to breakfast time at the Hôtel-Musée

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Aboriginal Adventures Part 4: Ice Fishing with the Atikamekw

I guess I’d imagined that ice fishing would be like one of the cartoons that I’d seen when I was a kid. I had some Hanna-Barbera eskimo in my mind, a guy in a parka sawing a hole through the ice, baiting his hook and lowering the line. But this, if you’ll excuse the pun, was a different kettle of fish altogether. The Atikamekw way of ice fishing means that

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Aboriginal Adventures Part 3: The Story of Saint Kateri

I wasn’t expecting to see her when I walked into the tiny church, but there she was, in pride of place on the wall, just above photos of the new pope and the old one. Who is that? I asked my guide. It’s Saint Kateri, she told me. The world’s only First Nations saint. Truth be told I’d not wanted to bother with the church at all on my tour

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Chinese New Year in Richmond

The last time I can remember this scent in the air was in Sri Lanka; the smoky perfume of incense mixed with the sweet smell of flowers left as offerings to Buddha. But this time I’m not in Kandy’s Temple of the Tooth, there is no elephant tethered outside, no mischievous monkeys clambering the temple walls, nor gaudily-painted tuk tuks or King Coconut sellers ready to take your money. No,

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Aboriginal Adventures Part 1: Travel to Manawan, Quebec

“Do you like to live so far away from everyone?” “Yes. It’s nice to to be with the nature here, the city is too busy.” I don’t think I’ve ever known what it meant to travel somewhere truly isolated before. Spending time in Manawan, a First Nations reserve for the Atikamekw (pronounced ah-tick-a-mick) nation some five hours away from Montreal pushed my limits like no other trip has done. You can only

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Storm Watching in Tofino at the Wickaninnish Inn

The waves break first on the rocks that jut out to sea before crashing and flooding over the ones which lie directly below my window. The spray soars in the air–higher than my balcony– before falling back into the swirling white-foam waters. I snuggle up, swaddled in my Hudson’s Bay stripe woolen blanket and revel in that joyous feeling of watching a storm rage while I’m warm, dry and toasting

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Challenge 10: Watch a hockey game

Canadians are obsessed with hockey in a way that makes even the British love of football seem like an idle fancy. I’ve tried my best to get interested but when it takes me around 10 minutes to spot the puck on-screen (it’s so small and moves too fast!) it’s hard to sustain an interest. However, recently I got to watch the Vancouver Canucks play live and I think I may

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