Goodbye to Canada


Sporting my Canada Day T-Shirt, Markham, ON 2012

After two years of living in the Great White North, it was time for me to travel back across the pond to good old Blighty.

In a way I had very mixed feelings about returning. On the one hand I was excited about seeing my parents again as I had missed them dearly and knew they missed me also. We recently had two new additions to my ever multiplying family since I had been away in the form of two new nieces, Imogen and Leah. The majority of my nieces and nephews are all under five and I was worried that they might have forgotten their eccentric uncle.

I had many friends to catch up with, most of whom I hadn’t seen in well over a year since my last visit to England and no doubt will be catching up with them soon over a game of golf and, dare I say, a few pints of local ale.

I was looking forward to drinking real ale again, that uncarbonated, room temperature liquid that North Americans seem unable to comprehend,  and sitting in quaint country pubs with names like the Red Lion and White Hart, as well as the more obscure and comical ones like the Cock Inn and the Pope and Proctologist. I was looking forward to seeing the colourful flashing lights of quiz and fruit machines in pubs again. I was looking forward to seeing pickled eggs and jars of cockles for sale on bar counters.

Looking back at my time in Canada, there are a few things that I won’t miss, especially working the serving industry:

  1. The Caesar – That odd concoction that is indigenous to Canada. Every pub/restaurant has its own way of preparing the drink and they are a little time consuming to make. The annoying thing about them is that once one person sees one everybody else wants one too.

Containing either vodka, gin or rum, clamato juice (clam broth, tomato juice and spices), a celery salted rim, Worcestershire sauce, Tabasco, salt and pepper and garnished with wedge of lemon and lime and a stick of celery.


2. Coors Light – The beer for people who don’t like the taste of beer. Whilst working at a local golf club in Markham, ON., many guests would ask “What light beers do you do?”

“Light as in alcoholic content or light as in density of liquid?” I would ask in return

“Light alcohol content”

“Well we have Coors Light at 4%, Molson 67 at 3%, Caffreys at 3.8%…” I would then get interrupted.

“I’ll take a Coors Light”

Even though there were other products lower in alcoholic content, and tasted better in my opinion,  guests would drink Coors Light because it has very little flavour.

3. Shepherd’s Pie – For some reason, and I suspect it is to do with the fact that lamb is expensive in Canada, pubs and restaurants would advertise shepherd’s pie (traditionally made with lamb) but actually give you cottage pie (made with beef). That’s like offering Guinness on a menu but getting Caffreys. It not that the product is inferior it is simply false advertising and it used to get my goat. Anytime I read it on a menu I would arrogantly ask the server for cottage pie.

“I’m sorry sir, we don’t have cottage pie on the menu. We do have shepherd’s pie”

“Oh I beg to differ” and would continue on a rant about the differences between the two delicious but different dishes much to the embarrassment and eye-rolling of anyone who was dining with me.

4. Mosquitoes – Believe me, gnats and midges are nothing compared to these annoying insects. I tend to get a bad reaction when bitten by mosquitoes, far worse than any reaction I ever had to gnat or midge.


The Mosquito or as they are more commonly known “Little Fuckers”

However there are many things that I will miss about Canada:

  1. I will miss the fact that the bars and pubs have their kitchens open from 11am to well past midnight so that a guest can always purchase hot food. (The quality of bar food tends to be a lot higher too).
  2. I will miss the clear distinctiveness of the seasons. Summer is hot and winter is cold (fucking cold) end of discussion.
  3. I will miss having an identity as I was always known as the Englishman and now I’m just another bloke.
  4. I miss BBQing steaks on the porch in the dead of winter at -20 degrees Celsius.
  5. I miss being made to feel special in every restaurant or shop with a “Hello Sir, can I help you?” or “Good afternoon Sir, let me know if I can help you at all” within 30 seconds of entering.

So with a tear in my eye I said good-bye to Canada and landed back in England on 15th June 2013 in time for father’s 60th birthday. I have no idea how long I will stay in England before my feet get itchy (No that’s not the athlete’s foot) and wish to head off for another adventure. In the meantime I have a few ale festivals to frequent, stories to tell to my friends and family, and my life to get back on track after a break-up (cue violins).

Where do you think I should venture to next? Have you been to Canada and if so what do you miss? What would you miss from England if you should ever leave?


6 responses to “Goodbye to Canada

  1. Having lived in France for a short while,I missed Pies(they don’t seem to exist in France) Pork pies,pickle, cheddar cheese, orange squash(they don’t have squash drinks that you can dilute), custard, Angel Delight type deserts, fresh single or double cream, good old strong tea bags, the list goes on and on!
    Decent TV-you don’t really appreciate the BBC until you can’t get it! Shops open at lunchtimes,as the French like to shut up shop for about two hours whilst they go home to have theirs!!!
    In fact, you don’t really know how much you miss home until you are away for quite a significant period of time!!
    I love France but I’m also VERY fond of Blighty!!!

  2. think you should spread your wings further and travel all over. you don’t have the ties that we all have and I wish I had travelled before settling down to the mundane , humdrum role that I have.. don’t get me wrong, I love my kiddies, but I know that life doesn’t begin and end in Folkestone. I have only been as far as Majorca, Ibiza and Egypt, but am hoping to see some more of the world eventually . Unfortunatley, I will never be able to live away from England as I couldn’t leave the children (unless I win the lottery and I can take them all with me).xx

    • Thanks for commenting Faye. I would love to go to Egypt but am a llittle nervous about the political situation. I know I’m going back to Ireland in August for a few weeks.
      I have never been to Spain either but it is on the list. Although I feel like I have done so much travelling there is still so much more to see.

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