Sunday, March 16, 2008

Why Canada?

Space, that’s what we love about Canada – room to breathe, room to stretch your arms wide. Lots of fresh air, especially outside the towns. Lots of countryside and yes, lots of snow but usually lots of summer sun as well. If you think about it, the country we came from, the UK, is a small island and is home to 60,776,238 whereas a vast country like Canada is home to only 33,390,141. You don’t fall over your neighbour at every turn although it always amazes me how many high rises are built in such a huge country.

Opportunity is also available in Canada if you know how to take advantage of it. It is a country of extensive and mostly untapped, mineral wealth of huge wilderness areas and great prairies of wheat which stretch for thousands of miles. One of these days we will take the train across country and see what can be seen.

In Ontario alone we have 3,899 lakes greater than 3 square KM not to mention 3 million lakes in Canada all told. The Ontario Park System covers over 78,000 square kilometers and Algonquin Park alone would swallow up England without noticing it. Hudson Bay would cover the whole of the British Isles without a blink. At the moment we still have lots of animals such as polar bears in the north, caribou and moose and other members of the deer family although they are declining. We only ever saw a female moose once in Algonquin Park. There are also grizzly bears, black bears and brown bears and of course, the lynx. On the smaller side we have squirrels, both black and grey and cute little chipmunks. Of course we also have rabbits and both Gray Timber Wolves and the Algonquin Wolf which I wrote about on this blog. On this list I mustn’t forget the beaver, one of the symbols of this country. I haven’t even started on the birds. The Bald Eagle is an American symbol, but there are plenty of them in Canada too. I watched a live cam of a breeding pair in British Columbia. If you wanted a full list you would have to Google for it but it is extensive I can assure you. We mustn't forget the ubiquitous Canada Goose too, another symbol of the country. I must admit they can be a bit of a nuisance if you are walking in an area where they are in residence. There are some statistics on how often they poop, but I don't recall what they were. A lot, I can assure you.

The distance from the West Coast to the East Coast of Canada is approximately 8,000 kms. It takes a long time to travel across whether by train or air. Canada is actually bigger than the US, by over 100,000 sq. kms. and of course we don’t have the population of the US to fill up the countryside.

People wonder why we left England to come here, I think the foregoing probably answers your question. If you are the type who wants lots of goings on and nightlife Toronto at least is a lively city. As Matt and I tend to avoid cities, I cannot say much about the others although I believe Vancouver to be another modern city full of life.

One thing I was a bit disappointed about when I first came to Ontario, was the lack of mountains. In England, practically all we ever see in pictures of Canada are snowcapped mountains towering over pristine lakes. Unfortunately, they are the other side of the country from here, I am sure you have heard of the Rockies. The mountains look beautiful, but they are not in Ontario. Here we have vistas of farmlands and forests which stretch for miles and have their own kind of beauty. To see a Canadian red barn in the snow is a wonderful sight. On the right is a typical farm landscape in Ontario.

One thing we do have in Ontario is ideal conditions for wine production. The wine region is in the area of Niagara Falls, think you will have heard of them where the climate and general conditions are perfect for the production of good wine grapes. The Niagara Escarpment is part of the reason for the ideal conditions. To read about this click here and read what Wikipedia has to say. When we first got here, we were not too impressed with Canadian wines. 32 years later, they have some of the best wines which have won all kinds of awards but which, for some reason, are not available in other parts of the world, well not according to my friends in Europe, Africa and Australia, I don’t remember ever seeing them in the States either, so I can only assume we drink what we make here. Bit like rum in the Dominican Republic, very little gets exported, but a large proportion there gets consumed by tourists. It always annoys me to fly Air Canada and be given French wine with my meal. I made a fuss about it once and it turned out they did have some Canadian wine on board which they served to us. Talking to the head flight attendant, we also ended up with some caviar and some paté which is what had been served in the first class section.

The wine picture is from Peller Estates which is a favourite of ours in the Niagara region. We have visited the vineyard, or winery as they are called here and dined in their wonderful restaurant. They make some of best ice wines I have ever tasted. Even Matt liked two we sampled and he is not into sweet wines at all. Ice wines are another prize winning feature of Canadian production.

To eat with your wine, how about some nice Crèpes.

Cheesy Ham and Mushroom Crepes
Source, Eating Well

1 tsp
margarine (I always use butter)

1 cup
chopped onion
4 cups
sliced fresh mushrooms (12 oz.)
3/4 cup
2 Tbs
evaporated skimmed milk, divided
1/2 cup
1 Tbs
1- 1/4 cups
lean ham (6 oz)
1 cup
(4 oz) Swiss cheese
1/2 tsp
1/2 tsp
Basic Crepes

1 Melt margarine in a large nonstick skillet. Add onion and saute 2 mins. Add mushrooms, saute 2 mins. Add 1/2 cup milk and beer, cook 3 mins.
2 Combine cornstarch and 2 tbs milk in a small bowl, stir well and add to skillet. Bring to a boil and cook 1 min stirring. Remove from heat, stir in ham, 1/2 cup cheese, salt and pepper.
3 Spoon 1/4 cup mixture down center of each crepe and roll up. Place seam side down in a baking dish or individual gratin dishes. Sprinkle remaining cheese evenly. Drizzle remaining milk over crepes. Cover and bake at 350 for 15 mins. Uncover and bake another 15 mins or until thoroughly heated.

Servings: 6

My apologies, I have no idea why this has decided to capitalise part of the page - nor can I seem to rectify it.

Have a great day.


  1. Canadian wine and a crepe for tea sounds like what one needs on a cold winter afternoon.


  2. You make me wish I could visit Canada, Jo! When I lived in the States I hoped to be able to go to Totronto and travel by train across the country but finances didn't permit. I had to be contenet with a night time touch down in Vancouver instead:-) I did buy a pari of jade earrings in the shape of maple leaves, which all my friends assume to be marijuana! But Cabnada is still on my list of places to visit when I win the lottery...

  3. Apologies for the strange spelling in the above post. I'm a bit hasty in pushing buttons sometimes:-)

  4. Well if you do win the lottery Satima, we have a spare bed which you are very welcome to use. Canada is a beautiful country even if I have only visited two provinces so far.

    Not sure about a crèpe for tea though Marilyn. Dinner maybe. I love crèpes and swear I am going to indulge myself every Shrove Tuesday Pancake Day in the UK) and then I am generally dieting by that time and so miss out.