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I'm Canadian, ehh - Now let me go back to my igloo

Updated on September 11, 2012

     When I first arrived in Toronto, Canada I was not ready for the society I was to be part of. As an uninformed kid, I was expecting to literally see sky-scrapers everywhere. I suppose the few Hollywood movies I had seen created the wrong impression in my mind about North America.

    Thus, when I saw the flat land and houses everywhere as the plane was landing, I did not know what to think. Where were all the bright lights, the tall buildings and the busyness I had seen in the movies? I suppose I know the answer to that question now: they are all in the movies.

     Another thing that shocked me was that Canadians were not Americans. I did not know anything about beavers, I had never seen a racoon or a skunk and I never imagined them walking around a city. Nor did I imagine that millions of squirrels share cities with humans. I also did not understand why Canadians were haunted by the stereotype that they are backward people, living in igloos. What about the Canadian winter? Winter is winter, I thought to myself: there’s snow. Little did I know …

     Nearly two decades have past and now as a proud Canadian, I am thinking of building an igloo, just so I can fit-in because I still stick-out as a sore thumb and some can still detect an accent. Perhaps, I do need to be more Canadian and blend-in.

     My outrageous thoughts on how a society should work and what should be done to improve our lives are quite extreme for the Canadian mentality. Few people have the patience to listen to me and those who do, eye me strangely with that odd look in their eyes, like saying: “Boy, you’re trouble!”

     Yes, trouble I am. I live in a city of about three million people. I am trying to imply that three million people are a lot of people. I know for someone out of New York City or Los Angeles, three million people is nothing but Toronto is not New York and is by far not comparable to Los Angeles.

    New York has, I don’t know … fifteen or sixteen subway lines? We have three here and the third one consists of only four subway station stops. Our politicians put in bike lanes and every year they add more bike lanes to the city streets. I want to bang my head against the closest wall when I think of that! I think they are trying to be like Paris or Amsterdam but what they do not understand is that European cities are much smaller in the area they cover. Indeed you could cross Amsterdam on a bicycle in about a half an hour. I dare anyone to try that in Toronto.

     I was watching the news the other day and saw that China is putting-in fast speed trains all over the country. We don’t talk about speed trains here though. We talk about canoeing. We talk about our failed sports teams (Raptors, Blue Jays & Maple Leafs) which we support blindly, paying outrageous prices at the box office even though they are quite worthless. All this as congestion, pollution and time wasted in gridlocks is on the increase in major cities.

     About three-four years ago, a buddy and I decided we wanted to hike a trail that starts in Northwest Territories and ends in the Yukon: the Canol Heritage Trail ( When we inquired about details on how we would get from Toronto to the hiking trail in the Northwest Territories, the story changed drastically. VIA Rail only runs from east to west or vice versa, so no train could take us there; nothing going north. Our only choice was to fly from Toronto to Calgary or to Edmonton. From there we would have to take another flight to Whitehorse at which point another chartered flight would be necessary to make it to the beginning of the trail. All in all, transportation would have cost around two thousand dollars just to get to the trail and back so that did not include food drop-offs, equipment, etc. The plan crumbled to pieces as fast as it came into being; all because there was no adequate transportation.

     Our speed limit on the highways is 100km/hr or 60miles/hr if you’re an American. Try talking about increasing that speed limit and you are looked at like you have escaped the mental institute. What kind of a psychotic idea was that? Forget that I even mentioned it. And by no means should we want to improve the driver’s examination test. Having accidents all over the city all day long, creating traffic jams because people get their driving license without knowing how to drive properly is of no importance.

    I know Toronto well. I have lived here now for many years. This city is not doing good. It is hurting. A report done by McMasterUniversity on poverty and pollution ( in the city of Toronto published earlier this year, left me with a bad taste in my mouth. As the population has been on the increase so has poverty in the past thirty years and Toronto has a specific sad story to tell.

     This city is considered the heart of the business sector and the ideal place for commerce; most people think that this is where you can cash-in and they come here in significant numbers each year. I do see Lamborghinis and Ferraris but I see even more homeless people and those who are barely staying afloat; working low paying jobs, living from pay-check to pay-check and sometimes even then, falling in debt. There are more people who “break it” in this city than those who “make it”. On the bright side if you want a job as a social worker there are lots of positions available and as more people end-up on the street more positions will open-up. We spend our money on bandages instead of cures.

     How are homeless people supposed to straighten-out their life when going to a shelter to sleep at night can cost them the little possessions that they have and even their life? I think I would rather go to jail than a shelter if those were my two choices. At least in jail there is some sort of security.

     We don’t talk about affordable housing much though. It is a difficult topic and it gives way to strong emotions. If you’re Canadian, you voice your strong emotions for your favourite hockey team; otherwise the government will spend two billion dollars on riot police to straighten you out like they did during the G-8 Summit this past summer. Shut-up and enjoy the rights and freedoms which you still have. If you point-out that there are many things which can be improved in this society, you are seen as a hater to put it in simple terms; one that is unthankful.

     With that in mind, I want to thank our government for the initiative to spend 16 billion dollars on fighter planes (a price which is said to increase to perhaps even 25 billion by the time the delivery of the planes will be made). That’s exactly what Canadians need! I very well know that with the change in climate, more polar bears are endangering our most northern communities and with better and more efficient air-power we can blast these latest nuisances back to the North Pole in one shot. That’s all we need in Toronto, for the polar bears to start scavenging through the garbage, as if the racoons weren’t enough.

     Now if you don’t mind, I got an igloo to build, ehh.


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    • Mr. Happy profile imageAUTHOR

      Mr. Happy 

      8 years ago from Toronto, Canada

      Greetings Mr. Spirit Whisperer,

      Good that You know what a tuque is now. Bring one along if You ever come around here in the winter. Or even in April, as it is still snowing at the moment ...

      I am happy You enjoyed the read.


    • Spirit Whisperer profile image

      Xavier Nathan 

      8 years ago from Isle of Man

      I really enjoyed reading this hub and now have a better idea of your country as seen through someone who lives there. It is definitely a place I would someday like to visit. I now know what a tuque is! Thank you.

    • Mr. Happy profile imageAUTHOR

      Mr. Happy 

      8 years ago from Toronto, Canada

      Mrs. Quero,

      with all this global warming, Canada is not so terribly cold anymore - haven't pulled-out the shovel from the garage last winter and no snow now either ... I think more and more people will move here with time, including the polar bears (from what I hear they are inter-breeding with the grizzly bears) but hey: it is what it is ...

      Thank You for stopping-by again!


    • Mr. Happy profile imageAUTHOR

      Mr. Happy 

      8 years ago from Toronto, Canada

      Cheers Mr. Epigramman! 14:26 Toronto : )

      All the very best!

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Writing with a touch of humour(humor) is always the best choice.

      Nice blog.

      I can t even write down what we think in Europe about that shooting in States but right now I m in Brazil and people here are so easy going, about everything.

      I m thinking about moving to Canada with my husband.We ll see about that....

      Just keep being Mr Happy. ;)

    • epigramman profile image


      8 years ago ..yeah no kidding eh - and give me my Tim Horton's and my CITY-TV (everywhere) and that is why America is the greatest nation in the world because they think they are 'the only nation in the world' lol lol - ever watch CNN? a school shooting in CANADA would barely rate a mention. sending you warm wishes and good energy from another fellow canadian in lake erie time ontario canada 4:35 pm and I have to make a note of checking out your beautiful photography and that will make me a Mister Happy too

    • Mr. Happy profile imageAUTHOR

      Mr. Happy 

      8 years ago from Toronto, Canada

      Greetings Mrs. Quero,

      I wrote this article more for fun than anything else but I did try to touch on some issues which I thought were important.

      Toronto is a great city, I mean ... I would not be here if I did not think it was a good place to live. Yet, there are many things we can improve: the public transit system (subways, buses, etc.), the lack of affordable housing, our infrastructure is getting old ... and it is these things which our politicians seem to overlook.

      On a grand scale though Toronto is a nice place. If You ever get the chance, do visit.

      Thank You for your comment - I always appreciate conversations with others.


    • profile image


      8 years ago

      I m killing time,it s raining in Santos,Brazil.I was reading about Canada and I saw your blog,loved it.

      Interesting point of view.

      I can tell you that lot s of big cities have problems all around the world.

      Here in Santos, Brazil so many rich and opposite so many poor people,I ve seen that in China also.

      It s so sad.

      As I am Croatian woman and I live in Croatia( a small country) I m quite facinated how it is so different but yet in bottom line,it s the same all around the world.Same problems.

      And we do have so many problems right now back home but I wont get into politcs.

      So, what s your point of view these days,about Toronto?

    • Mr. Happy profile imageAUTHOR

      Mr. Happy 

      8 years ago from Toronto, Canada

      Canadian Bacon is a great movie Mr. Thoughtsanwiches! I am not sure about how correct of a perception it portrays about Canadians but I liked the movie anyway.

      And no, things have not gotten better. At least the grass is good up here though. Sit and watch the blue sky ... it helps. : )

      If You're interested in building an igloo come for a visit but I worn You: not much snow here in Toronto in the last couple of winters - we'll have to head up to Polar Bear Provincial Park for that. Haha!!


    • ThoughtSandwiches profile image


      8 years ago from Reno, Nevada

      Mr. Happy,

      I ain't gonna lie...being an knowledge of Canada is skewed somewhat by movies like Canadian Bacon (yada-yada-yada)...anywho...It's nice to get a local's take on things.

      I note this was published almost two years ago and I would like to think that perhaps things have gotten better? If it's like the rest of the world...probably not. It is my understanding that here in the US that there are currently more foreclosed empty homes than homeless people?? That just don't seem right.

      I think we should all get some igloos going. And, of course, by 'igloos going' I mean let's do mushies in the woods and wait for the polar bears to win!

      It's very nice to meet you good sir!


    • Mr. Happy profile imageAUTHOR

      Mr. Happy 

      8 years ago from Toronto, Canada

      No problem, sorry for the fumble on my part: Ms. Lane it will be. Thank You for letting me know. : )

      Regarding on how we can help, I think there are countless ways and each one of us has our own strong points. Even talking about such issues can help in my opinion, in the sense that we are raising awareness.

      Thank You again for stopping-by.

    • snakeslane profile image

      Verlie Burroughs 

      8 years ago from Canada

      Ms Lane please...Yes, to witness something so sad and do nothing is not helping I agree. We each must do what we can, but oftentimes ones own comfort leads to complacency. I struggle with this every day, trying to figure out how, if at all I could help to change things.

    • Mr. Happy profile imageAUTHOR

      Mr. Happy 

      8 years ago from Toronto, Canada

      Happy to meet You too, Mrs. Snakeslane.

      Indeed, as You said gap between the 'haves' and the 'have-nots' is something which can be heartbreaking but at the same time I think it can be a rallying point for those who want to care.

      Thank You for your comment.

      All the best!

    • snakeslane profile image

      Verlie Burroughs 

      8 years ago from Canada

      Mr Happy, I thought I would go to your 'Best' first. I am Canadian too eh, so interested in what you have to say. I live in a small town on Vancouver Island (the playground of Canada) and we have terrible problems with poverty and homelessness here too. It is heartbreaking to witness the gap between the 'haves' and the 'have-nots'. Thank you for visiting my page this morning. Always nice to meet a new face on Hub Pages, and I see you have plenty of interesting articles to keep me busy reading. Regards, snakeslane

    • Mr. Happy profile imageAUTHOR

      Mr. Happy 

      9 years ago from Toronto, Canada

      Haha ... Thank You for the comment CR Rookwood! Made me laugh too - I am actually not sure how my mind works, it's pretty weird. I never cease to surprise even myself.

      I love the comment your daughter made regarding the homeless people. I have spent quite a lot of time with such people and I try to help as much as I can, on an individual level. Toronto is a big city and there are a lot of homeless people sitting on the side-walk downtown. I often sit with them and chat for a bit, shake hands ... I am not sure if I want to cry or get really angry when I see how many people just walk around those begging for change on the sidewalk downtown, in their thousand dollar suits, with their shoes shinning away. Total ignorance for too many ... I do not agree with that. Things will have to change.

      Thank You for yuor comment and for the conversation. I enjoyed, as always! All the very best!

    • CR Rookwood profile image

      Pamela Hutson 

      9 years ago from Moonlight Maine

      You made me laugh out loud Mr. Happy, thank you. I love the way your mind works. When my daughter was about six and she discovered there were homeless people, she was horrified and confused. She thought for a minute and then said, "Let's go get them, we've got room." If everybody thought like this, things would be better. Sometimes I think we complicate stuff that isn't really complicated. Great hub, thanks for the laughter.

    • Mr. Happy profile imageAUTHOR

      Mr. Happy 

      9 years ago from Toronto, Canada

      Hey Notasheep,

      thanks for dropping-by. I do think we should all work on improving the problem of poverty - if one suffers, we all suffers. Everything is connected: it is the Law of One!


    • Notasheep profile image


      9 years ago

      Well, this hub teaches me a little more about canada. I know that America isn't the only country in trouble. Its everywhere! Poverty is very sad. Your right, people are busting their backs just to make ends meet, and still are on the verge of being homeless. Somethings just not right about that! Enjoyed reading this, voted up.

    • Mr. Happy profile imageAUTHOR

      Mr. Happy 

      10 years ago from Toronto, Canada

      I'm coming! Got my flight to Kelowna at the beginning of July. About time to make it out west too.

      This province is great though - I drove for one month straight (a few years back), camping and getting lost. I drove as far as the roads went and then, I took a boat further north. Ontario is huge. I come from a country that is a third of the size of Ontario.

      I also traveled to Attawapiskat, Ontario earlier this year - this is a community only accessible by air or water. There is so much to Ontario alone, never-mind about the whole country. It will indeed take a life-time to get acquainted, I think.

      You and Mrs. Lynda are right though: Torontonians need to get-out more. They really, really do!


    • profile image


      10 years ago

      I'm a westerner so have to agree with lmmartin. Torontonians should get out more, and see there is a big country beyond Mississauga. They could go to Montreal for an exciting expressway experience. There are concrete barricades between the lanes there that make doing 140 m/hr more exciting hahahaha. Affordable housing? Ha! That's in Florida and Las Vegas. Loved this!

    • bbnix profile image


      10 years ago from Southern California

      Everything you mentioned is caused by entrenched political and cultural forces, so entrenched, in fact, it is, quite literally, impossible to force them to change, but there is an answer - invention.

      Invention is a slow, painful, brutal process with a ratio of successes to failures at a thousand to one, or worse. But we learn from our failures and get stronger and stronger, while the powers-that-be slowly consume themselves.

      But I believe in our potential. I often tell myself as an industrial designer, "if I was really good, I could solve this problem with dirt alone."

      If we were really fed up, then we could invent a new future with no resources, no support, and a unwavering, well implemented plan to stay ahead of the entrenched forces who would seek to destroy us.

      There are resources cast aside by those in power for lack of profitability.

      Capitalistic and bureaucratic forces can never compete, for their motivation, for money alone, can never compete with those who's motivation is to save the world...

    • Wesman Todd Shaw profile image

      Wesman Todd Shaw 

      10 years ago from Kaufman, Texas

      I did the button dance on your buttons. Yes, surely those fighter planes are just the thing for the polar bears, I think we've got so many of them here in the states just because of the polar bear threat to democracy. Keep those elk and Arctic wolves of yours up there too, I'm told those creatures worship a different God that the one's we pay lip service to here.

    • profile image


      10 years ago

      Toronto tries hard to portray itself as a leading city but the gap between poor and rich is widening and before you know it the city will crumble under itself...without a strong foundation the house will collapse....great post fam i agree completely with your views on this

    • Mr. Happy profile imageAUTHOR

      Mr. Happy 

      10 years ago from Toronto, Canada

      You're never too old for anything Mrs. Darlene. Well, maybe for jumping hurdles or something but not even then. Yes, I am lucky to be in Canada ... I am lucky in many aspects that's why the pressure's heavy.

      Thank you for your beautiful words. All the best!

    • Darlene Sabella profile image

      Darlene Sabella 

      10 years ago from Hello, my name is Toast and Jam, I live in the forest with my dog named Sam ...

      I have only travel by car to go on vacation in Canada. I have so many friends their, and Aaaa what did you say? So yes, I really want to move their, but now I am too old and my time of gypsy days are over. You are a lucky man to life in Canada, thank you for your awesome narrative of this great country...rate up peace & love darski

    • Mr. Happy profile imageAUTHOR

      Mr. Happy 

      10 years ago from Toronto, Canada

      Thank you Mrs. Storyteller! Thank you indeed for taking your time to read my nutty stories.

      The grass is not always more "lush" on the other side of the fence. You will know what I mean when I will be done posting my next two blogs/articles. Cheers!

    • Storytellersrus profile image


      10 years ago from Stepping past clutter

      Hey Mr. Happy! I loved reading your Toronto living experience. I don't know where you originated, but I have a naive impression of Canada similar to what you might have had when you made the move, i.e., life is simpler there. I am sad to discover it is not! I suppose the grass is always more lush on the other side of the fence... tempting, until you get out the lawnmower? I enjoy your writing style.

    • Mr. Happy profile imageAUTHOR

      Mr. Happy 

      10 years ago from Toronto, Canada

      Mr. Mickey! Many people ride the bike in this city but it cannot be done all the time. The city is too big. Running errands on a bike would be criminal for me. I am a dead man without a car, I know it;s sad but it is true. That's why I keep talking about improving the subway system or putting in speed trains. I really enjoyed the public transit system in Paris this summer and I see no reason why Toronto cannot do the same: have asubway system that could take you to any part of the city. Then, I would get out of the car. Until then, I am hookering the roads in my car, destroying the environment while I am at it.

    • Micky Dee profile image

      Micky Dee 

      10 years ago

      I voted you all up in this - but I love the bike lanes and I will rejoice if the poison belching gasoline engine is dead. God bless!

    • Mr. Happy profile imageAUTHOR

      Mr. Happy 

      10 years ago from Toronto, Canada

      Nightwork, " the fighter planes are needed because our military deserves to have good planes for protection"?

      Who is the Canadian military protecting itself from with these fighter planes? The polar bears?

      This line of reasoning lacks logic. Nobody's invading Canada - we have NO use for fighter planes as Canadians except to have somewhere to dump more of our tax money while making corporations who sell us these planes richer.

      It's a myth my friend, we need no fighter planes for 16 billion. We need programs to put people back to work. We need to help students achieve a post-secondary level of education without falling in debt tens of thousands of dollars. We need afordable housing; we need to spend money on infrastructure because our cities are crumbling.

      Thanks for your comment amigo.

      Thanks for stopping by Amy. Homelessness is a huge problem in every major city and most people just ignore it. There is very little done to actually try to solve this problem.

    • Amy Becherer profile image

      Amy Becherer 

      10 years ago from St. Louis, MO

      Here in St. Louis, the homelessness is exactly as you describe in Canada. The people living from park to park, describe the deadly fear of the shelters...not only the loss of their belongings, but their lives. One homeless man here kept a homeless dog for companionship when a homeless couple battered the man and took his dog, leaving him not only emotionally beat, but blind in one eye. His story was published in the local paper and he did get his friend back and offers to live with some generous samaritans, but fear and an independent spirit kept him on the streets. Thank you for a well written, humorous, informative piece. I enjoyed reading it.

    • nightwork4 profile image


      10 years ago from ontario. canada

      actually it was the G20 summit where the real money was spent on security. lol. toronto is like any big city but compared to living in vancouver , toronto is cheap. the fighter planes are needed because our military deserves to have good planes for protection. if the Liberals had it their way we would be using twin engine cesnas. toronto isn't the center of canada but rather it shows what can go wrong when we try to be too american. but what do you mean you've never built an igloo, damn man you can't even be called a canuck until you have.

    • gregas profile image

      Greg Schweizer 

      10 years ago from Corona, California.

      Mr. Happy, go back and check my hub for my reply to your comment. I appreciate your comment, but I think you took it a little wrong.

    • Mr. Happy profile imageAUTHOR

      Mr. Happy 

      10 years ago from Toronto, Canada

      Mr. Tony, what bothers me is that we have two billion dollars to spend on riot police to beat people who are protesting peacefully. We have 16 billion dollars to spend on fighter planes but we don't spend even ten percent of that on afordable housing or on programs to train people and get them back to work ... I get so angry when I think of this ...

    • tonymac04 profile image

      Tony McGregor 

      10 years ago from South Africa

      Mr Happy - I really enjoyed this Hub - funny and wry and clever! I visited Canada once for two weeks about 12 years ago. Spent most of the time in Ottawa but did get taken by my cousin and her daughter to spend a day in Montreal which I really enjoyed.

      I think cities all over the world are buckling under the various strains that they suffer from. Some cope better than others. Our city bus service is erratic at best and we don't have a subway. The consequence is overcrowded roads which are crumbling and dangerous! But I still like living here - what, am I a masochist or something? Mad, I know, but there you are!

      Thanks for sharing - and good luck with the igloo! Hope you fit in!

      Love and peace


    • Mr. Happy profile imageAUTHOR

      Mr. Happy 

      10 years ago from Toronto, Canada

      Mrs. Lynda, do you mean Toronto is not the reason why Canada exists? I always thought the eastern provinces are there to provide our seafood; Quebec provides our headaches, Saskatchewan and Manitoba get us our food and the western provinces are our playground. Yukon and the Northwest Territories are good for cutting trees and poisoning lakes/rivers when we're bored. I thought it was pretty simple: all roads lead to Toronto. : /

      (That's what the Toronto Sun says anyway.)

      Mrs. Petra, your city is going down the drain too? That does not make me feel better. I know it should. I used to watch Jerry Springer every time I thought my life was in ruins and suddenly, I'd feel better. That no longer works.

      At least I am convinced the squirrels will carry-on after we, humans will kill ourselves off due to our negligence.

    • Petra Vlah profile image

      Petra Vlah 

      10 years ago from Los Angeles

      Here comes the familia Happy; if you think Toronto has problems (and I am sure it does), come see Los Angeles. All you have left is great weather, so the homeless in Venice Beach are doing a little better than the ones who are fighting the bitter cold of Canada.

      I visited a friend in Toront a few years ago and I actually liked the city; it looked to me like a big park and not all that difficult to get around it. The apartment my friend has is gorgeous and cost 1/2 of what a similar one would cost in L.A and she has a much better health insurance than most Americans.

      There are problems everywhere, but hey, we have squirrels in the middle of the city, so we must be friendly people afterall

    • lmmartin profile image


      10 years ago from Alberta and Florida

      In Alberta the speed limit is 110(Kph) or 65(Mph), but it is only a suggestion. No one pays any attention. Calgary has a great mass transit system... We call it the C-train and runs above ground. You know, the rest of us in Canada are so sick of Toronto thinking it IS Canada. It ISN'T!!!

      Love the hub. Lynda

    • Mr. Happy profile imageAUTHOR

      Mr. Happy 

      10 years ago from Toronto, Canada

      I always appreciate comments from la familia. Cheers cuz!

    • profile image


      10 years ago

      I've gotta say, you hit the nail on the proverbial 'head' with some points. Toronto is great, if you're wealthy, but it is mightily difficult to go from poor to wealthy. The increasing amount of homeless people is quite sad to say the least, but we do not seem to care. I always enjoy your work!


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