An American in Ontario
I am an American, born and raised in small town Pennsylvania. I traded in life in a small northern town for the big city of Atlanta, Georgia for college. I learned about grits, and greens and how to make a good sweet tea, learned how to say ya’ll and sing country music. I thought that would be the extent of my cultural adventures. Last year I decided to take a trip to Ontario to visit with some friends. I had never been to Canada before, but had heard that it was beautiful. Other than that, I knew very little about Canada. Now after several return visits over the past few months, I would like to tell you about my adventures in Ontario – things I have learned and differences I’ve noticed.
One thing I knew about Canadians is their love of the word “eh”. I had heard of this long before I ever visited, and have heard it often in my travels in Ontario. My parents had come home from their fishing trips in Canada saying it, and I knew I was bound to say it too. I was told it sounds better than my “huh” that I use, (and I sheepishly admit, they have a point.) The words “out” and “about” sound different to Americans when spoken by a Canadian, and words have different spellings in Canada with words like “colour” and “favourite”.
Since my first visit to Ontario last September, I made several trips back. I have been able to try many of the wineries in the Niagara region, trying new red and white wines, as well as my very first Icewine. During WineFest in September, I was able to experience these wines with amazing food pairings including my very first Poutine – which are french fries with cheese curds, gravy and oftern other delicious toppings. I loved it. In fact I loved it so much, I made some one night at home.
I have to say the grocery shopping experience in Canada is different than in the States as well. First of all, Canadians have different products on their shelves than we do. I was preparing to cook a meal from my friends and found that some of the items I wanted to purchase were not here. Some of my favorite cereals aren’t here, although I do have a new Canadian favorite cereal, Shreddies. I received a box as a Christmas gift this year. The next new product that I was introduced to were bags of milk. I have never heard of a bag of milk, nor have I yet mastered the art of pouring from a bag. Just recently, I flooded my cereal with milk from a bag that was not properly put into the pitcher. At least I am learning, right?!
I have also learned about how green Canadians are. They recycle and compost so much more than I have ever done in the States, regardless of which small town or metropolitan area I was living in. If I go shopping at the local grocery store here, you need to bring your own cloth bags or pay for plastic. Since groceries are a bit more expensive and I pay additional fees to use my credit card up here, I have learned very quickly to take cloth bags with me.
This past January I attended the icewine festival in downtown Jordan as well as Niagara-on-the-Lake. I fell in love with Niagara-on-the-Lake! It has such a small town feel, similar to where I grew up. I loved the architecture and look forward to return visits in warmer weather. I have plans to attend the Wine and Heb Festival in Niagara-on-the-Lake in May. I cannot wait!
My daughters experiences their first trip to Canada this year during their break from school. We visited Niagara Falls and had a blast. We were amazed at the power of the water. It moved with such force, yet was amazingly peaceful. I look forward to sharing it with my parents and friends when they visit Canada.
I now have “eh” as a part of my every day vocabulary. At first it was to not stick out, now it is just because it comes naturally. I have enjoyed all that I have experienced so far in Canada and am looking forward to all of my future adventures… after all, it is now spring.