Expat: What I Miss from Canada

Stade Olymique de Montréal

To celebrate Canada Day, La Presse (a Montreal newspaper) asked Canadians expatriates to send a list of things they were missing the most from our country. I answered, but my text was not published as the journalist was overwhelmed with contributions (see article in French)!

That gave me the opportunity to publish it here on Sur a Boeing Bleu de Mer where I can add a few pretty pictures. While reading my list, you might find it tinted with nostalgia for Québec. Canada is a big country from which I have seen relatively little (Québec, Ontario and New Brunswick). One day, I hope to perfect my Canadian culture and get know the Rocky Mountains as well as the Great Plains or the Canadian Shield.

The last time we camped at La Mauricie National Park, I was sick. Unfortunately, I took only a few pictures.

1. Going Camping in One of Our National Parks

These parks are fully equipped for campers, but you still feel surrounded by wilderness. My favorite is La Mauricie National Park where I often camped in my youth. The prices for a camping spot have drastically increased since the 90s, but the scenery remains breathtaking.

If my body had been strong enough this summer, I would have liked to visit the park, once again, for a completely wild adventure: canoe-camping in the back-country.

Tire d'érable québécoise
Delicious maple toffee

2. Real Maple Syrup Sold in Tin Cans

canne-sirop-erable-purNowadays, maple syrup can be found in any French grocery store. Is it as good as the one found in Québec? Nope. They sometimes contain additives and they are sold in clear-glass bottles which is not a great idea for a product that is sensitive to light. I buy real maple syrup in tin cans when I travel back to Québec, otherwise I do without!

Ruelle bordée de neige du quartier Hochelaga-Maisonneuve à Montréal
An alley with fresh snow in the neighbourhood of Hochelaga-Maisonneuve in Montreal

3. Snowy Winters

I might have cursed winter in the past, perhaps even called the snow “white shit”, but I now realise that winter is part of my identity. I dearly miss the cozy atmosphere after a snow storm and full moon winter nights. One day while I was at my in-laws in the French Alps, my sister-in-law caught me lying in the snow and watching the starry sky … she thought I was weird! However, I am well aware that Canadian winters are not like those of yesteryear and that there are fewer snowfalls these days.

When I dream of moving back to Canada, I see myself in Yellowknife, Whitehorse or buying an outfitting business in Northern Québec. As Robert Charlebois sang:

I will return to Montreal
In a large sea-blue Boeing
I will return to Montreal
To marry winter
To marry winter

4. Bureaucracy that does not drive you crazy

“So to get my residence permit, I need to send you a telegram copy of my great-great-great mother’s national custom certificate on the sixth Thursday following the first full moon of the summer, and later come back to sign the form with the blood of a virgin?”

Akira, chien canadien au lac Berthier
Akira is a Canadian dog, he moved to France with me in 2008

5. My Family in Québec

They are simply irreplaceable even if I get lots of love from my in-laws. I miss Quebecers’ sense of humor, always ready to play a prank or to tell a joke. Fortunately, in this modern era it’s easy to keep in touch with Facetime and free long-distance calls.

6. The Sound of Wind Rustling through the Trees

Apparently, I can get weirder than lying in the snow alone at night. It’s hard to explain, but wind passing through trees does not make the same sound on this side of the Ocean. Maybe it’s because of Canadian tree species reprensented in our forests?

Lac Berthier au Québec
Where I cut my foot on a bullhead fish at Lake Berthier, Lanaudière region

7. Spending Time Close to a Lake

What a joy it was to take a boat, paddle away from the shore and to dive into fresh water! The lake of my childhood had a slimy floor, was rich in algae and its depths were obsidian black. Despite leeches and bullheads, I prefer swimming in a lake than in the sea … except when it comes to snorkelling.

I dream of one day renting a cottage by a lake with singing bullfrogs in the evening and beautiful sunsets over a water mirror.

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