Dear Aunt Agatha,
Canada is a modern technological country, with state-of-the-art electronics, consumer goods, and many public and private organisations embracing the online world.
Nevertheless, since arriving here, we've often commented how in many ways this country is a bit like the UK was several decades ago.
Many of the differences are good. Like the gentler pace of life, uncrowded roads, and returnable bottles (encourages recycling).
Some differences are quaint, like top-loading washing machines. I remember Mum having a top-loader back in Guernsey when I was only a few years old, but I haven't seen one since outside of commercial laundromats. I don't think they're sold for domestic use over there. Ali freaked when she saw one sitting in the corner of our temporary apartment last year.
Then there are the occasional ugly reminders of years gone by. Over the last few weeks we've been hit by industrial action that brought back unpleasant reminders of the 1970's. First the teachers went out on strike, so Megan was at home for a couple of weeks. Then I turned up for work one morning to find a picket line outside the office. This is where the ugliness hit home. They are all highly vocal about the rights of workers to join a union. But the hypocrisy of the union movement showed through very clearly in their outright bullying and threatening attitude to keeping their members toeing the union line. I felt way more intimidated by the shop stewards supposedly looking after my interests than by any employers (unionised or not) that I've worked for. And, of course, they are amazingly tight-lipped on any questions of an individual's right to NOT belong to a union. Closed shops were made illegal in most civilised countries years ago, but union membership is compulsory in BC Government.
On a brighter note, we held a party to celebrate a year in Canada. We had a full house, with friends, neighbours, and a few work colleagues.
Another small landmark...I used my new credit card for groceries last month. Ali was able to get one in her name early on, thanks to her having held a card in Guernsey that the local branch of the company were prepared to recognise for credit check purposes. But it's taken a while to get me on the American credit map. This is a critical catch-22 for newcomers, something which I was able to overcome by talking to our friendly local bank staff.
Then Halloween reminded us once more that we were in North America. In Guernsey we came to dread this time of year, with evening knocks on the door and surly demands for cash, often starting out in mid-October. Over here, we love the family party atmosphere of the evening. And Ali got into pumpkin carving, inspired by the displays at Government House last year.