Confuse a Canadian

How do you confuse a Canadian? Simple – use a word or phrase that they don’t know, or even one that they do know but in the wrong context or accent. Result: silent stare and you being ignored.

Want some tips on how to do this?

Go to the supermarket and ask where the trolleys are? Their open mouthed response might remind you that they are not picturing the cart that you wheel around (with the left front wheel that sticks) but a trolley bus taking tourists up and down the hills of San Francisco.

Or on your next trip to the swimming pool, tell your Canadian buddies you need to pick up your swimming costume. While you are thinking of your cute new bikini or board shorts, they are more likely to be wondering whether you are hoping to get a part in Bard on the Beach (Vancouver’s summer Shakespeare festival).

Want something easier? And sure to make you the laughing stock (especially recommended for high school students). Ask someone to pass you a rubber. You will do this only once and from then on you’ll wish you had an eraser to rub out your mistake.

OK that was a cheap shot. Some words mean different things. But why does using “car park” confuse a Canadian, especially when you are trying to find somewhere to park? Can they not work out that a car park is somewhere you park a car and has nothing to do with the provincial park? I managed to work out that they meant by parking lot and even parkade. It seems that Canadians struggle with generalising.

Sometimes a British accent is an advantage. It still has associations with being posh (not the spice girl variety) and so we often hear British accents in the voice overs in adverts (commercials). But when you say “toe ma toe” and they say “toe may  toe”, you may well be treated to silence or “eh?”  Come to think of it maybe that’s where the Canadian love of ending sentences with “eh” comes from. 


Beach as therapy

One of the pleasures of living in Vancouver is having the beaches to visit. When you think of a city, you probably don’t imagine a beach since there are not many cities where beaches are so handy. I know that when we first came to Vancouver we had not pictured ourselves taking the kids down to the beach.

Now that they are older the kids take themselves off to the beach of their choice. Locally there are a few hidden gems where you can get to a quiet beach for a few hours. When we walk down to our nearest beach at this time of the year we always see groups of young kids playing happily in the sand by the water. The beach is definitely a local meeting place for Moms and their youngsters. It looks like they spend the whole day there, with their cool boxes and picnics.

We tend to get down there later in the day. We are not alone as we often see fathers coming along after work to meet the rest of their family. Our beach also has a few kayaks and canoes stored there. And it is not unusual to see one or two people setting out in their kayaks for an evening paddle in the warm summer evenings.

 Even if we only spend a short time on the beach in the late afternoon, it picks us up and reminds us of one of the reasons we wanted to come here in the first place.

Welcome back to the Buyer’s Market

Anyone who has been following my real estate news snippets that go out with our newsletters will have seem me mention that we are moving into a buyer’s market. The press in Vancouver, largely quoting from the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver (REBGV), have also been telling the same story.

How do we know it is a buyer’s market? The main indicators is that there are more listings on the market, there are price reductions appearing and the number of sales are slowing.

To quote from the REBGV’s press release:

“Increased property listings and moderating home prices have eased the Greater Vancouver housing market into a buyer’s phase. The Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver (REBGV) reports that residential property sales in Greater Vancouver declined 42.9 per cent in June 2008 to 2,425 from the 4,244 sales recorded in June 2007.

New listings for detached, attached and apartment properties increased 18.3 per cent to 6,546 in June 2008 compared to June 2007, when 5,533 new units were listed.”

What is the effect of the Buyer’s Market? For sellers the main issue is to price their homes realistically. This means moderating expectations of achieving huge increases in the value of the home. Our recent history of year on year double digit price rises has left many sellers expecting more money for their home than the market will bear. We are seeing sales slowing down and more choice for buyers, so an over-priced listing will tend to hang around on the market. But it is still possible for well-priced homes to sell quickly and even last week we saw competing offers for a townhouse in Kitsilano.

For buyers the market is less crazy than it has been. More choice is certainly welcome, as is the chance to take a bit longer over making decisions. Making offers below the asking price is now to be expected especially where a property has been on the market for a long time. When I did a quick look at the statistics for the last 2 months, I saw sales at between $5,000 and $25,000 below asking across most of the area.

For people moving into the province, this market is good news. Being able to choose your home and get it at a discount will be some compensation for the long wait to get here.

Our Canada Day

In past years we have gone to one or more of the celebrations held around Vancouver. In fact last year, Sue and I were handing out cake on the Macdonald Realty stand at Ambleside. That was enjoyable, especially seeing the long line of kids (and adults) waiting for their cake.

This year we spent the day with friends and family. We all met up at my cousin’s cottage for a game of baseball on the neighbouring field. There were people of all ages, ranging from 5 years up to 80 something.

The weather was hot and sunny. It was funny to see the kids, and enthusiastic dads playing baseball. Some of the younger kids, ran around a lot but with little direction. Some even sat down on the grass, more intent on playing with their toys than fielding. For a change, the parents watching from the sidelines were chatting rather than shouting encouragement – though there was some of that too.

In the garden behind the cottage, we’d set up a BBQ. Bruce was the grill master, earning kudos for his mastery of the grill and more so for controlling the hungry line up of kids who clustered around the grill. Sitting in lawn chairs watching the kids running around, with a cold beer and a hot dog proved to be a very pleasant way to spend Canada Day.

One of the young boys, had a pack of temporary tattoos. He was determined that everyone would have a Canadian flag tattoo. He was very serious, carrying his pack of tattoos, his bowl of water and cloth from one adult to the next. His persuasive powers were evident all around us, especially so on the bald head of one of the older guests. Knowing how hard I had to scrub to get my tattoo off my arm, I wonder if Bob will have to wear a hat for the rest of the week – or will he be proudly Canadian!

Canada Day

Today is Canada Day. July 1 is Canada’s birthday. All across Canada you will see families dressed in red and white to match the Canadian maple leaf flag. Their enthusiasm for Canada will probably also show up in the form of temporary tattoos of the Canadian flag.

The other thing you will see is birthday cakes. Corny as it may seem for those from other, older countries, Canada is young enough to remember when it was born and to still be counting the years. There is a definite sense of pride to be seen on the streets, in the parks and at the fireworks ceremonies that mark the end of this public holiday.

One other thing that will be happening across the nation is citizenship ceremonies. This is the official end of the road for anyone who has moved to Canada. Now you have been here for long enough (a total of 3 years, not necessarily consecutively) and are ready to swear allegiance to the Queen.

The whole experience of becoming a Canadian experience must be quite moving. I am going to say a lot more about this when we go for Sue’s citizenship ceremony – we are waiting for her application to be processed. I expect it will be a very moving moment, with the family there, the Canadian flags, “O Canada” and seeing all the other immigrants, from all over the world, proudly becoming Canadians.

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