Toronto Islands at night

Looking back on 18 months in Canada

Highlights of our Canadian Working Holiday

This week another milestone was reached as we celebrated 18 months in Canada. As always the time has flown by and we wanted to take this opportunity to reflect on some of the best things we’ve done in the last 12 months.

So here we go, in no particular order, 6 of our favourite things from this year:

1. Showing our family around Toronto. We had an action packed summer, with both sets of parents visiting (fortunately not at the same time) and enjoyed showing them the sites and tastes of Toronto. With trips up to Muskoka, the Georgian Bay and Quebec they got the true Canadian experience with plenty of maple syrup and butter tarts thrown in for good measure.

2. Seeing whales in the wild. Another summer highlight was catching up with our good friend Selina in Cape Cod. Here we took the opportunity to head out into Cape Cod Bay on a whale watching trip, spotting several humpbacks and enjoying the fun of running from one side of the boat to the other to get to get the best views.

3. Falling in love with Chicago. Labour Day weekend was spent in the Windy City, a place which has shot to the top of our favourite US cities. We were won over by its stunning architecture and the plethora of sites to explore. Of course the amazing pizza helped too.

Chicago architecture river cruise
We enjoyed an afternoon of sitting in the sun as we gently cruised along the Chicago River

4. Stewart overcoming his fear of ice skating. We kicked off 2016 with skating lessons at the Harbourfront Centre, managing to squeeze it in whilst Stewart was still in his twenties. He’s not quite up to Canadian proficiency yet, but at least he can go skate around without desperately trying to hold onto something.

Ice skating Harbourfront Toronto
Look, no hands!

5. Speeding through the forest on a snowmobile. This year we truly embraced winter, but with El Niño in full force, the weather wasn’t always on our side, giving us warmer than average temperatures and a serious lack of snow. Fortunately we managed to just sneak in our snowmobiling trip just after one of the biggest (and last) snowfalls of the season a few weeks ago.

Snowmobiling Horseshoe Resort
Stopping off at the halfway point gave me an opportunity to recover from holding on for dear life as Stewart sped through the trees

6. Braving the cold at North America’s largest winter playground. Possibly one of the most fun days we’ve had in the last year was spending 6 hours at Valcartier in Quebec hurtling down their fantastic range of snow tubing hills, and allowing snowtubing to firmly hold onto the top spot as our favourite winter ‘sport’.

Honourable mentions as well to Washington DC and its hundreds of museums, road tripping down the east coast of the USA with Selina, the beautiful Quebec City and me finally landing an awesome job in Toronto. All of which we still need to write about!

Lowlights of our Canadian Working Holiday

Like we did on our 6 months in Canada post, we thought it was only fair to balance things out and include 6 not so great experiences:

1. Pizza in Cape Cod. Starving hungry after cycling several miles on the Cape Code Rail Trail, we stopped off at a roadside restaurant for some lunch. There are no words to describe how awful the pizza from Bob’s Sub n Cone was. The only good thing about this place was being able to cool down by sitting right next to the air conditioning unit.

2. Falling over whilst skating in Arrowhead Provincial Park. Whilst Stewart’s skating skills have improved, mine, despite lessons, have somehow got worse. I’d like to blame this on the cheap skates I got on Kijiji which sent me smashing to the ground when we were skating the famous trail in Arrowhead. A month later and I still have the bruises.

Skating Trail Arrowhead
I wasn’t smiling for long!

3. Cleaning up cat poo. Fostering cats has been a lot of fun but does come with its downsides. Take Gracie and her ‘incident’ right before our first Blue Jays game for example.

Disgraced Gracie
That’s right Gracie, hang your head in shame.

4. Still not seeing a moose. My mum may have spotted one when we visited Algonquin in the Spring but some how no one else in the car managed to. We have another canoe trip booked in May and we are not leaving until we see one!

5. Toronto Santa Claus Parade. We learned some valuable lessons when watching the 111 year old parade in November last year, including the incredible number of marching bands in the GTA. Needless to say we probably won’t bother wasting our time this year.

Toronto Santa Claus Parade
The main man himself turned up eventually. He was lucky it was a warm day or we would not have waited.

6. Public transport fail in Quebec City. You’d think a popular tourist destination like Quebec City would have a bus to its airport. Apparently not. Despite there being one from the airport there isn’t one going the other way. Combine this with not one, but two Uber drivers cancelling on us at the last minute, and you get a very stressful journey to the airport. We scraped through check in with literally minutes to spare.

It’s been an amazing 18 months and we have plenty of plans for the year to come, along with several visits from family and friends. We can’t wait!

Emma

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9 thoughts on “Looking back on 18 months in Canada

  1. I also agree about the Santa Parade … yawn, yawn!

    Re the skates, I had white figure skates and my skating was terrible, I ended up purchasing a pair of skates from Canadian Tire that are like high top sneakers with blades, they are so comfortable and my skating improved. They also don’t have that part on the front of the blade like figure skates have that I think was part of my problem. I think unless you plan on doing a triple axel it just gets in the way and causes you to go ass up.

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    1. Haha poor Santa Parade – it’s getting some abuse!

      Those sound like the skates of dreams, I shall get myself some next winter and put my others back on Kijiji where they belong! It was that damn bit on the front that sent me flying face first onto the ice. Fortunately there were some nice Canadians to come rescue me.

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