Post Tagged with "Canada"

A look into Our Parents

Mark McLean, a Canadian prairie boy who moved to the West Coast, has spent the past few months living in Michigan and sixteen months prior in Dominica. His time abroad has allowed him not only the opportunity to meet locals and expats alike, but also to get writing. May we all be especially grateful for the latter.

Mark’s newest project involves taking a look into, not the people he meets, but the parents who raised them. He was inspired to start the blog Of Our Parents. (more…)

April 10, 2012 4 comments

Picture Postcards: Food van in Toronto, Canada


We are taking a fun look at food vans around the world this month. This week we kick off with a photo of a van in Nathan Phillips Square in downtown Toronto, Canada. Our photographer, Ana, says, “They sell ice cream, burgers, hot dogs, fries and poutine. ”

Read more:
We really do dogsled in Canada
A Wedding on Yukon Time
How to be a Canadian

March 5, 2012 1 comment

The 4-Way Stop Courtesy

This traffic pattern was never something I had considered before. I grew up with it. We learn how to take advantage of the situation practically as soon as you learn to drive. Then, I had some friends visit from Australia who just had to know how this amazing display of courtesy actually worked. I also heard, recently, that this may be a purely Canadian phenomenon, not North American as I assumed. Maybe someone can chime in.

All streets have their own stop signs.

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March 2, 2012 5 comments

Happy Valentine’s Day!

This day honors one or more early Christian martyrs named Saint Valentine, and today it is celebrated in over 100 countries around the world. Take a look at what some of our contributors have to say about it!

Valentine’s Day in the USA (By Jason, our contributor from the US)

As I child I remember getting a packet of Valentine’s cards and hand writing the names of every child in my class on the back of factory-made cards and putting each one inside an envelope addressed to each kid in my class.  I carried these to school in a brown paper bag then I put one on each classmate’s desk.  At the end of the day, I collected the exact same number of cards from my classmates and carried them home in the same brown paper bag.  I enjoyed reading each one.

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February 14, 2012 6 comments

We Really Do Dog Sled in Canada.

Canadians love to joke about how there is always snow, we all live in igloos, and our main source of transportation is the dog sled. While, it is definitely not a main source- there are roads, highways, airports- dog sledding is a part of the culture in the North.

A small sled meant to carry one rider inside and one driver on the back.

The Yukon is north of 60° (latitude). It’s a 2.5 hour flight up from Vancouver. It borders Alaska, USA to the west and British Columbia, Canada to the south. It was home to the Klondike Gold Rush in the 1890’s. And, in the winter, boy is it cold there!

One major winter event is the Yukon Quest: a thousand mile race from Whitehorse, Yukon to Fairbanks Alaska. This race follows the gold rush route and is called the toughest dog sled race in the world. The race can take between 10 and 20 days to complete, with limited checkpoints between. This is not a winter sport for the faint of heart. Yukoners are hearty, strong, and adventurous.

Tourists can partake in this cultural sport without facing the sure death that would befall the inexperienced musher (sled driver). A resort just outside of Whitehorse offers day trips and short expeditions. It is called Muktuk Adventures and is home to experienced mushers of the Yukon Quest. We did a quick 2 hour trip that followed a very small portion of the Yukon Quest trail. It ran on top of the frozen Takhini River.

The trip starts with a major bundling up in winter gear: wool socks, winter boots, thick snow pants, giant jackets, warm hats with ear protection, hoods, and, of course, water and wind proof gloves. We then learn the easy basics: a sharp “Let’s go” will get the dogs moving, a low “Whoooaaa” will bring them to a stop. Two to a team, we each have one driver and one rider pulled by five dogs.

Let me tell you, if I was as excited for a day’s work as these dogs, life would be perfection. Every dog in the yard wanted a turn to get out for a good run. Imagine 100 dogs barking and running in circles for attention. Even on the trip, their excitement never dwindled. They barked and danced. They ate snow and played with each other. They constantly seemed tangled in their lines beyond repair during breaks, but always seemed to sort themselves out in time to start up again.

I am more clothing than person!

The dog village.

Overall, it was quite a fun experience. I did fall once, but managed to pull myself back up onto the skis of the sled, find the brake, and give a “whoooaaa”. No harm done. Being on the river, most of our trip was flat. The way back up to the cabin, though, was a short uphill. Here, the driver is expected to jump off and run with the sled to help out the dogs. Hopping back on is the tricky part.

The team pulling us across the frozen river.

I am very glad to have been able to join in on such a stereotypically Canadian winter sport. Though I am years of training off of running a race, maybe next time we will try an overnight expedition.

Eager to keep going!

January 11, 2012 6 comments

A Wedding on Yukon Time

Whitehorse, Yukon

Northern Canada is its own special place. It is our true north, strong and free. You NEED to be strong to bear the temperature (I, personally, have been in a wind chill of -35 Celsius). And the people there are definitely free. They seem free from those big city pressures. A main one being, that sense of urgency, that insistence on being punctual. In the Yukon, they have their own time: they have “Yukon Time”. Things will get done when they get done.

I was up in the Yukon this past week for my big sister’s wedding. She has lived up North for several years now, and it was my third winter visit. Her wedding, to the shock of some of my friends here in Vancouver, did, indeed, include a traditional white dress and me in a short-skirted bridesmaid dress with heels. I do not, though, ever again recommend walking in snow in open-toe shoes- brrrrrrr! Only in the Yukon will one have to clean the snow out of the bride’s shoes before she can walk down the aisle.

The wedding did have typical North American traditions mixed in: bridesmaids in matching dresses, the father walks the bride down the aisle, vows are said, rings are exchanged, a first dance for the newly wed couple. Yet, it also had that fabulous air of relaxation that simply comes with everything in the Yukon. Guests trickled in at their leisure, many popping in to the special back room where the bride “hid” before her grand entrance to walk down the aisle. Photos and conversations with the bride before her entrance are typically unheard of! Our flower girl (daughter to the bride and groom) was one of the last to arrive with an aunt, pushing the ceremony start time well back, as it could not go on without her. She, being just three years old, also spent much of the ceremony dancing around, yelling, and trying to play with her mother’s dress.  The wedding ceremony was performed by the groom’s long term friend, who also happened to make the cake, who also happened to be their elected government official- as is the case in all good small towns. And, finally, my sister managed to avoid having a slew of toasts and mushy love stories dedicated to the happy couple. Instead, people mingled and kids played under tables.

I will admit though, I could have done with a little less Yukon experience when, at the end of the night, I had to help push our taxi cab, as it was stuck on the snow and ice of the driveway.

December 29, 2011 Comments disabled