Lately I have seen innumerable posts and tweets from all of you asking "Why in the world do we live here?"
Photo credit- National Post
What? You mean you don't like -40 degree weather? Well, I guess that's understandable.
In all honesty, during the five years that we lived in Canada, I often asked my husband (usually after spending several hours outside working on a cold winter day) "Why in the world does anyone choose to live here?" At one point, I even took it back several generations and asked "Why did anyone ever immigrate here? It must have been summer when they settled or they never would have stayed!"
I get it. Cold sucks. It's hard to get motivated to do anything when it's snowing and freezing outside and all you want to do is stay in bed or sit next to a fireplace. It's a pain bundling up every inch of every child to prevent frostbite. It's a hassle to scrape the snow off your car. It gets old removing your snow covered boots every time you go into a home or office. It's even hard to leave Canada when you do decide to take a break from the snow because they have to first de-ice the plane.
But I know why you stay there. I know why you endure a 9 month winter over and over every single year. I know why you don't just pack your bags and buy a one-way ticket to the Bahamas.
The healthcare. Overall, Canadians have really good healthcare. For EVERYONE. Yes, you may pay higher taxes but EVERYONE is covered and you don't have expensive insurance premiums or those pesky co-pays. You get to choose your own doctor and, if it is urgent, you will get seen as quickly as anywhere else in the world. Your doctors are intelligent and well-trained. Your hospitals are modern. You have one of the longest lifespans of any country. And no one in Canada ever loses their home because of a medical crisis that they cannot afford.
The safety. Canada, you're the safest country in North America. Your citizens own guns just like your neighbors to the south but somehow people don't die from gun violence nearly as often. Violent crime rates are also low. Kids still play out in the street and doors remain unlocked in many neighborhoods. Most people die from farm accidents and car wrecks and natural disease and things that our grandparents died of- not shootings, gang violence and drug overdoses.
The scenery. It's breathtaking. Anyone who has seen Lake Louise, the Canadian Rocky Mountains, the coast of British Columbia, the skyline of Toronto or the rocky beaches of Peggy's Cove is going to fall in love and want more.
Photo credit- Huffington Post Canada
The people. The first time I visited Canada with my now-husband, what immediately grabbed my attention (after noticing how damn cold it felt) was how nice you are. You Canadians know how to laugh and you know how to let loose. You seem to have mastered the philosophy of "Work hard, play hard!". You're a jovial bunch and you make life a whole lot of fun.
Tim Hortons. You don't realize how good Tim Hortons is until you move someplace that doesn't have them. Your Timmies is like a supercharged Dunkin' Donuts. They have some of the best food and some of the best TV commercials. They are community-minded and support youth sports and other programs. And you can buy an entire meal for the $4.50 you'd spend at, ahem, some other coffee chains.
Image credit- Tim Hortons
Hockey. If you asked the residents of many countries what they consider to be the national sport, you might get a dozen different answers. Maybe football or basketball or baseball or soccer. Maybe tennis or badminton or rugby. But in Canada, there is no doubt. It's hockey. And, from my hockey-obsessed husband, I have learned that it is not just a sport. It's a national pastime. It's a bonding tool. It's part of your culture and it's in your blood. True story, when my husband and I were dating, I bought a hockey package on the sports channel so he could watch as much hockey as he wanted, anytime (we weren't living in Canada then so televised hockey was hard to find). I'm pretty sure that was the hook, line and sinker for deciding that I was marriage material.
Photo credit- thrivesports.com
Acceptance. You helped write the book in tolerance and, in most places, people of different ethnicity, skin colors, religions and sexual orientations are more than just tolerated, they are accepted. New immigrants from all around the world choose to call your country home and they are welcomed and celebrated. Diversity is more than just a fancy tag line for your company's PR department, it is a part of everyday life.
Summer. As difficult as your winters are, the few short weeks of reprieve that you call "summer" are absolutely glorious. Those of us closer to the equator are envious of your long summer days and the warm, but not usually scorching hot, temperatures. And, grateful that the snow has finally melted and that the sun is shining, everyone moves outdoors. Parks, swimming pools, lakes and mountain trails teem with humanity as an entire nation seeks exercise, Vitamin D and the companionship of friends and neighbors you probably haven't seen as often during the cold winter months. Summer is filled with barbecues, wonderful gardens that are carefully tended, games of neighborhood street hockey, camping trips and bonfires. It renews your will to live and makes you believe that you can do it all over again next year.
Photo credit- Huffington Post Canada
My friends living in places where it is -40 (seriously, do thermometers even measure that low?), my thoughts are with you. If they can get your plane de-iced, you are more than welcome to come visit us in the south.
But if you are seriously questioning why you live there, remember that your beautiful country has a lot going for it. Go grab a Timmies, turn on a hockey game and hunker down. Even with your bitter temperatures, some of us still have a little bit of secret Canada envy.