I grew up in the ’burbs of Toronto until my family decided to move to Scottsdale, Arizona when I was 12. At first, the culture shock wasn’t really much of one, aside from a few quips about “ehs” and “aboots.” As I got older—and especially after I ended up living and working in NYC—I started to pine for my home and native land for reasons both political and otherwise. Here’s a (non-definitive) list of 10 things that drew me back to the Great White North.
No densely populated city is going to offer you the fresh air of rural outdoorsy areas, but some metropolises DO allow you to inhale without choking. Many of them are in Canada.
2. Canadian Junk Food
It’s a fact: Canadian candy bars and snacks are far superior to their U.S. counterparts. To me, Coffee Crisp is the Holy Grail of mass-produced candy bars. Jos Louis? My mom never let me have them as a child, so I’m making up for it now. I’m not going to even talk about poutine because it’s too obvious, but poutine. And Timmy’s.
Canadian cities aren’t immune to urban rudeness, like rush-hour subway confrontations and cyclists who think they own both the road and the sidewalks, but it never seems to come to the same boiling point as it does on hot summer nights in New York, when sticky weather—and the ensuing wardrobe choices—can lead to intense cat-calling and your chances of stepping in human waste are doubled.
4. Quality of Life
Though many Canadians would agree housing is becoming unaffordable, Canada is still substantially better than the U.S. in this regard. Whereas skyrocketing rent is a reality in most major American cities, it seems like it’s still possible to have a normal job (i.e. not sell your entire soul to a corporation) and live like a human being (and not a caged rat) in a major Canadian city. In Toronto it is entirely possible to have a house with a yard (and a basement!) in the middle of town. Do you know how insane that would be in NYC? A combination of citizen awareness, municipal planning and a decent minimum wage gives Canada the edge when it comes to quality of life.
In terms of arts and entertainment, Canada’s got high, low and everything in between. And sports? Done and done. Oh, and the food! It is delicious and nearly every cuisine in the world is available. I’m constantly surprised by the inventiveness and quality of ingredients.
I don’t care how much people complain about the winter, Canadian summers are completely glorious and make suffering through the cold months totally worth it.
7. Government Services
It’s a no-brainer that nationalized healthcare is a huge plus. No system is perfect, but there’s a lot of good in what happens here. Things like social service and welfare programs, education and funding for the arts and sciences are a much higher priority.
I know I already mentioned them in #4, but basements are a fixation of mine. All the fun things happen in a basement. And in Canada, they are still quite ubiquitous (lucky me!). OK, yes, you can have basements in a lot of places in the U.S.—but not really in NYC or LA. I don’t actually own the basement in my new place in Toronto, but there IS one. And one day it will be MINE!
I enjoy not feeling like I’m an alien because I’m an Indian woman. In Canada, that is possible.
10. Babe Prime Minister
Because Justin T. ain’t too hard on the eyes.