A New Challenge!

Posted by Ian On June 5, 2009

I'm pleased to announce that I have started my own little company - mare ad mare, which is latin for 'sea to sea' and part of the Canadian motto (check the cover of your new passports). Our goal will be to build a fresh new brand of clothing for Canadian (and wannabe Canadian) girls. I will be using this blog, much as I have in the past - to continue showing people around the globe (over 50 countries now!) what it's like to be a Canadian girl, tracing the footsteps of our 3 girls as we explore more of this great place we call home.

Un petit baiser

Unique shirt for Canadian girls

'Gimme a little kiss' - says it all. Now for big girls! Check www.mareadmare.ca for more details. All designs copyright of mare ad mare.


Fall shirt for Canadian girls

A big pile of leaves for you here! As a Canadian summer turns to fall, the leaves change colours and then fall off the trees. Kids rake them up and play! So go on, Jump into Fall with this Orange T. Check www.mareadmare.ca for more details. All designs copyright of mare ad mare.

Pass the Marshmallows!

Summer shirt for Canadian Girls

Summer in Canada is the time for camping, camp fires and of course - Marshmallows! Get ready to go roast some in this summer yellow T. Check www.mareadmare.ca for more details. All designs copyright of mare ad mare.


Spring shirt for Canadian Girls

After a long Canadian winter, spring can never arrive too soon! Pull on this Spring Green T and go planting girls! Check www.mareadmare.ca for more details. All designs copyright of mare ad mare.

It's not ALWAYS cold in Canada...

Winter shirt for Canadian Girls

How many times have you had to tell someone that it's not always cold here? Well, sometimes it is cold - but to make your point, grab this little winter blue T and let them know that it's not just snow and ice up here all the time! Check www.mareadmare.ca for more details. All designs copyright of mare ad mare.

Un petit baiser

Unique shirt for Canadian girls

'Gimme a little kiss' - says it all. Girls, grab this little white T, and go get your kiss ;-) Check www.mareadmare.ca for more details. All designs copyright of mare ad mare.

Continuing the tale of our 'New to Canada' friend, we went house hunting and car shopping last weekend. He was looking for a home to rent in our area - so the kids could go to school together (ease the impact a bit).
Managed to see a few places on both Saturday and Sunday - some weren't in the right area, others not available just yet, but then we managed to look at a place that was perfect!

It was the right size, in the right area, the right price and AVAILABLE! We were very lucky to find one so quickly - but glad it worked out so well.

I took him to the local Toyota dealership, and we looked at a few vehicles. At first, we looked at the Cienna - but seeing it up close, it was huge! At least to a guy that had just arrived from Germany, where the biggest cars would be considered average at best here... After speaking with the Rep, we started to look at the Rav4 - was a decent size, and had the option of a 3rd row of seating. Also had 4wd, a nice option for someone not used to driving in the winter here.

For a break - we took him to Tim Horton's! It's basically a religion in Ontario and most of Canada... It's about as Canadian as you can get with coffee and donuts as the main attraction. It was one of the places we used to always insist on visiting when we came back from overseas! Of course it's not quite the same as it used to be - it's owned by the Wendy's burger chain now, but we choose to ignore that point. They just about lost me forever with that stupid Tim card - no longer accepting debit etc... they say it's for speed, but we know better...

For you expats out there - what's the furthest you've taken Timmies? I've smuggled some in my car down to my work friends in Virginia...

Anyways - thought I'd grab some video of the 'occasion'. He seemed pretty pleased with the day, and the treats.

BTW - Peanut Butter is VERY uncommon outside North America. You can find it - but you have to really look, and it's not that good either...
Now that I've set everyone up with the niceness of winter... the skating, toboganning...etc time to bring you back down to reality.

It gets cold here. And it snows here. Last year was ridiculous, but Sara will always remind me that I was away for the big storms and that she had to dig them out... which is partially true ;-)
It hasn't been horrible this year - but lately has been pretty cold. And while it hasn't snowed in a week or so - it appears to be on the horizon - so, thought I'd share this little edit...

It's not really that bad - it's good to make me get out of the house and get some excercise every once in awhile!

But there - the awful truth is out. It does get cold here...
In my last post, I told you about touring around a new Canadian - one of his many questions was -

What do you do for fun in Winter?


So, I told him about our outdoor arenas where kids can skate and play hockey. In fact, I had my girls out just the other week for a skate.

They haven't done much skating in their lives... I could probably count the times on one hand. Living in Virginia, U.S.A and Germany, not too many chances really. But I can remember skating and playing hockey on the outdoor rinks almost every day when I was a kid... The outdoor rinks provide one of those primieval sounds, that whenever you hear it - it takes you immediately back to what you remember about growing up in Northern Ontario. I used to walk to the rink, and the second I stepped out of my front door I could hear it... the cutting of the ice with the skate blades, the crack of the stick slapping the puck and the thud of the puck hitting the boards. It's nice that we're back now, and I can take the girls to share the same experiences that I had growing up.

There are so many outdoor rinks in the Ottawa area, and you can pick up used skates fairly cheap at places like 'Play it Again Sports' making it a very economical winter activity.


In case you're not familiar with the term, check out wiki's definition for tobogganing. Basically, you find a hill you can walk up, take a piece of plastic - or the old school wooden toboggans, sit on them and race down the hill. Some people also refer to it as sledding...but at the same time, some people say sledding when they mean snowmobiling...
Here's an edit of the girls toboganning in North Bay at Christmas time.

There are hills all over the place in Ottawa, and pretty much everywhere in Canada... and it's another cheap and easy fun winter thing to do...

What else? Well, there's cross country skiing, downhill skiing, snowshoeing, sledding or snowmobiling, ice fishing, hockey, ringette, curling - there's no shortage of ways to stay busy.

With winter taking up a decent chunk of the year - Dec-Mar, it's better to get along with winter than to fight it!
I welcomed a new Canadian into town yesterday. We had met him and his family while we were living in Germany, and he has recently accepted a position with a local company - so is brand new to Ottawa, and Canada...

Having just arrived, and not receiving much in the way of help, I was only too happy to assist. We ourselves had gone through this same life-altering move a few times, and so we know what it's like - and it would have made our lives a little easier (and our time more enjoyable!) when settling in those places if we had had someone to guide us through the process and introduce us to our new surroundings a little better.

It is sooooooooo important to get off on the right foot, and not make those first few decisions bad decisions that end up haunting you...

He had been told that our public transportation system was quite good. I don't know if I'd go that far - hello light rail system... but of course, right now there is NO public transit thanks to our 40 day old strike! It's pretty much impossible to get a car rental or lease now... So I offered to take him around to get a few things done.

Checking out the area

I picked him up from his new workplace yesterday afternoon, and gave him a whirlwind tour Morgan's Grant, Bridlewood and Kanata in general. Also got him up to speed on some of the local customs. He mentioned having read 'How to be a Canadian', but I guess didn't cover everything...

So many questions!

Obviously he's interested in some key things - house or apartment, rent or buy, car - lease or buy and those things we can take our time with - you should not rush into those decisions.
But as I showed him around Morgan's Grant, we discussed townhomes, semi-detached, single family homes... coming from Europe where most people don't buy and sell their homes as we do in North America, there's definitely a different approach. Going from a 100 square meter flat (about 1000 sq. feet) to a home in the area that would be at minimum 1500 sq.ft (plus a basement) is a big change.

The sun was setting, but with the streetlights on, I was able to take him by some of the different types of homes, showed him the schools, some of the parks, talked about the local bike trails, skating rinks...etc It really is a nice area to live and raise a family. And in this neighbourhood, you don't have to worry about feeling like a minority - the minority is in the majority here! So close to the tech park, there are people from all over the world living right here. I can go to the park any day of the week and hear ten different languages!


After that little tour, he needed to get setup with a few things - namely a cell phone and laptop, so I took him to our Canadian based electronics superstore - The Future Shop.
I was afraid that he wouldn't be able to get setup with a phone without a bank account or permanent address, but we managed to go through the options with the sales agent, and he ended up with a Koodo phone, which allows him a little flexibility later, but gets him a phone quick. He also managed to get a nice laptop to stay in contact better with his wife and kids back home. He found it strange to see the staff being so helpful, but quickly realized that as they introduced him to new possible items - the totals very quickly rose!

As we needed to wait for the laptop to be setup with everything, I introduced him to our supermarket - Loblaws. I also had to inform him that he wouldn't be able to get beer, wine or liquor and the supermarket - which gave him a bit of a surprise. So then I had to show him one of my favourite stores... the liquor store...

Still needing to kill some time before picking up his computer, we stopped into Chapters - the Canadian equivalent to Barnes and Noble I suppose, where he picked up a few city maps and some books for his kids. I had to recommend some Robert Munsch books to him, being new to Canada - he's lots of Canadiana to get caught up on - and for kids, Robert Munsch is the king of Canadian kids books. His books are great, and if you get the chance - have a look at this vid - he's slightly crazy, but that's the great thing about him - and when he reads his stories, he's so animated very fun to listen to and watch.

And that was pretty much it for the night... he was starting to fade - jet lag setting in!
If there are new canadians out there looking for tips...just ask!

With the World Junior Championships going on locally, and Canada having taken it to everyone - including Germany - I thought I'd share our experience going to a hockey game in Germany!
We lived in Dresden Germany for two years, and knew that there was a local team - but were just not that motivated to see them. There was a Canadian player on the team, who had kids at the same school, and he mentioned that he was one of those bruising type defensemen - but that you couldn't hit in this league! He wasn't quite sure what he was supposed to do... After we heard that, our desire to see a game was really low. However, feeling the itch for anything hockey - I finally decided to take the girls to see the Eisloewen's.
Right off the bat, we knew it was going to be different. They basically had the equivalent of what we might call 'tailgating', but it wasn't in the parking lot - it was in front of the arena. A number of beer and bratwurst stalls - and happy customers - surrounded the opening, concealing the ticket counters. It was so crowded, I was just about ready to go home because we couldn't figure out where to buy the tickets! But the girls wouldn't let me... Finally found our way, bought our tickets and headed inside. The tickets didn't have seat information, so we weren't exactly sure what to do... We did our best to fit in, so bought a couple of pretzels, some hot cider and a nice big beer and went for the seats.

There was absolutely no one inside. And no seats - just benches, going about 20-30 rows back on our side, while the other had maybe 10 rows and were mostly 'boxes'. Place probably held a few thousand, so close to a major junior sized arena I suppose... Since we had our choice of seats, we snagged front row and watched the players warm up.

A big siren went off - which I guess meant to everyone else that it was just about time to get started, as people started to pour in... Our front row seats went from great to crap as apparently they're able to stand at the boards and smoke! The house lights went off, and a big rock'n'roll entry show with screaming announcer, cheerleaders (of all things), entry lights...the whole ball of wax to introduce the teams to the ice. And in the stands - they were lighting off fireworks and flares! Not exactly what we would expect going to a game in Canada, and it through me a little off guard.

The smoke from the flares hung over the ice, as it had nowhere to go in the building that was maybe 3-4 stories high... The players had to carve their way through a fog through to the end of the second period before it started to clear!

Don't believe me? See for yourself!

The action was like watching a rec league game - without hitting... 90% of the 'action' was one man rushes and the odd shot. Even more infrequent, was the passing. And the passing was so poor - I could see why they didn't bother...

After the first period ended, I had no interest in sticking around to watch more - but at that point, I was there for the experience.

I look back on it, and shake my head at the very strange combination of cultural habits that was on display that night. On one hand, the fireworks going off indoors - seemed very unsafe and disorderly for the Germans - but I do know they love their fireworks... (a story for another time). On the other hand, the absolute spotlessness of the floors and seating - given they were smoking, eating, drinking...etc. everything that was brought into the arena was brought out and disposed of in an orderly fashion. Now that's the Germany I know...

So, after witnessing this strange dichotomy for an entire two periods - as well as the generally poor showing on the ice - the girls and I had had enough - and went home... never to return.

Was interesting enough though - once ;-)

    About Me

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    It's not about the money you make, the toys you have, the clothes you wear - it's about the life experiences you go through, the challenges you face and the stories you tell... Having just moved back to Canada (after almost 8 years in the U.S and Germany), we have lots to show our girls and our friends around the world about Canada. We're going to be telling our stories, hope you enjoy our adventures. Mare ad Mare means 'sea to sea' and we want to show the world, from Sea to Sea - this is what it's like to be a Canadian Girl!