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Edition 342 – O Canada

My wife and I have just returned from a fabulous 10 days in Canada – part business and part leisure. After more than three years, it was great to be back overseas, taking in different scenery, enjoying different food and wine and, more than anything, engaging with different people from different cultures and backgrounds.

Here’s some things we noticed during our travels:

  1. Long haul flying takes a lot of getting used to again and not only for the traveller. It appears the airlines could learn a thing or two as well.
  2. Canadian wines are extraordinary and will certainly give the Californians more than a run for their money.
  3. Canada’s ARRIVECAN app is brilliant – meaning you fill out all your pre-arrival information before boarding the aircraft. From the time we stepped off the aircraft in Vancouver, to standing on the street having cleared Customs and Border Control and collected our luggage was 30 minutes. Australia could take a leaf out of that book.
  4. There’s a huge green wave underway on Canada’s West Coast right now. From electric vehicles to green energy, just about everywhere you look, green is now commonplace. There’s a message there for Australian businesses who continue to ignore environmental credentials.
  5. Homelessness is a big issue in some parts of North America, and certainly in places where we Australians would consider it too cold to venture. Victoria, in British Columbia, was certainly different in this respect than on our last trip there in 2013.
  6. Unemployment in Canada is running in the mid 5% range. In Australia, it’s running in the mid 3% range. The impact of “labour shortages” in Canada seems more acute than it does in Australia…so far.
  7. Whistler does a sensational job of being a resort destination almost like no other I can place my finger on, other than Las Vegas. From outdoor activities in all seasons, to food, accommodation and entertainment, it’s a town that has done so much to create it’s own identity – and is less than 60 years old.
  8. Just talking to people you run into opens your eyes up to what others are doing with their lives. One morning at breakfast, a mid 30’s gentleman on the adjoining table told us he’d recently returned from a 9000km round trip from Calgary to the Arctic Ocean. His story of his travels, in a very remote part of the world, was fascinating.
  9. If you take people on face value, you do so at your own peril. One of the valets at the Pan Pacific Hotel in Whistler was French, who’d lived in Canada for 8 years. He was working to save for a Commercial Pilot’s License – a CAD$100K investment. He’s already achieved his Private Pilot’s License, yet was on a journey. The world over, people have dreams and aspirations.
  10. A lot of the new homes under construction we observed, certainly on Vancouver Island’s west coast, were made of timber. Other than the abundance of timber, it struck us as odd given how close in proximity to forests subject to wildfires they were located.
  11. On more than one occasion, we spoke with someone who was being sponsored by their employer to remain in Canada permanently. Perhaps that’s a Canadian Federal Government initiative. Perhaps it’s an employer initiative. However, almost everyone in this boat was out of the UK or Europe. There’s food for thought for Australian businesses finding it hard to find people.

I’ve long been a fan of travel. From the early days of heading off on Scout Camps to places where my family had never been, to reading atlases (remember those?) and wondering about the great places of the world, I’ve loved the opportunity to experience something different, somewhere different. After three years, the giddy enjoyment was back for both of us.

This Week’s Tip

“We’ve always picked up a car when we’ve travelled overseas.
Going even slightly off the beaten track often brings the greatest experiences.”