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Want to Meet Interesting People this Summer

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Harrisburg, PA
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Want to Meet Interesting People this Summer

My wife and I are contemplating moving to Canada in a few years and would like to learn more about Canadians.

We visited Toronto last year and found it difficult to find people who wanted to converse. Are there any places in Ottawa-- besides bars-- where ordinary people go just to chat and pass the time?

We are planning to visit Ottawa sometime between late July and early August.

Thanks.

Ottawa, Canada
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1. Re: Want to Meet Interesting People this Summer

Hi ATiredReader,

Welcome to the OTTAWA (Canada’s Capital City Region) TRAVEL FORUM.

And I see that you are also NEW to TripAdvisor… so a BIG Welcome Aboard as well !!

<< We visited Toronto last year and found it difficult to find people who wanted to converse. Are there any places in Ottawa-- besides bars-- where ordinary people go just to chat and pass the time? >>

I find this statement very interesting...

Especially as Canadians are known to be very friendly and welcoming to Travellers & Visitors. Lol, you line up at the Grocery Store here, and someone is bound to start a conversation with the next guy in line.

Maybe it was just a Toronto thing… as our Biggest City… people can be quite busy hustling from place to place… BUT even then, I’ve met some great Torontonians in lots of everyday situations… like sitting on the Streetcar, Bus, Subway… etc.

Anywhere folks congregate is probably going to be your best bet… Coffee Shops can be a good spot… but to be honest I don’t think there is anywhere better to break the ice than in a Bar (much like our American Cousins… some of us are a bit Sports Nuts). Doesn’t have to be an outright Bar… a Family Restaurant, Sports Bar, Pub etc… Mosey up to the Bar area, and if you’re not a drinker order something to eat, and strike up a conversation with the Bartender, Server or the guy next to you. Something should pan out.

Tell someone you are thinking about moving here from the USA… and I’m sure there will be OPINIONS on the PROS and CONS of our two countries… that could keep things going for quite awhile, lol.

Cheers!

Wine-4-2

PS… Another idea, how would you meet new people at home? Have an interest that you might be able to pursue while here? Example… If you are a golfer… a round of golf can be a good way to spend part of a day and meet some “locals”.

Edited: 06 February 2011, 01:03
Harrisburg, PA
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2. Re: Want to Meet Interesting People this Summer

Thank you so much, Wine-4-2!

Indeed, I did not find Torontonians cold or rude by any stretch of the imagination. Everyone was courteous, but, as you say-- rushed! And way too young a crowd for us. That being said, the relative warmth and safety of Toronto is a stark contrast to an American city of that size-- as was its cleanliness. (The stench in the Philadelphia subway would make a Canadian swoon.)

I had in fact thought about hanging out at Tom Horton's for a while, but I didn't want people to think that I was hanging out with some nefarious aim in mind.

As dull as it sounds, I've made my best friends at school, at work (both of my jobs) and at church. None of those activities typically lend themselves well to a 5-day visit.

As for considering moving to Canada, I would expect some folks to say we're crazy, and others to ask, what's taking us so long... LOL!

Cheers,

ATR

Ottawa, Canada
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3. Re: Want to Meet Interesting People this Summer

Hi ATiredReader,

As Toronto is Canada’s biggest city… and our primary financial centre as well… so it is where most of the “movers & shakers” (and wantabes) tend to migrate to… as such it certainly “seems” to attract a younger crowd.

But in all actuality, according to the 2006 Canada Census the Median Age in Canada is just under 40, and most of our larger cities are infact close to the Average (including Toronto and Ottawa).

There is certainly a different vibe between cities… anywhere you go in this great country. So Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal, Vancouver, etc are all very different from one another.

Personally, I have lived in a variety of places… Quebec Countryside – Montreal – Ottawa – Toronto to name just a few… and I like each place for different reasons. I have lived in Ottawa now for over 25 years, and I settled here originally because it is a great city for families… an amazing amount of Parkland… Safe, Clean, and very Outdoorsy in its nature. It has the highest percentage of University Graduates (including PHDs) that call this town home, and is very much into the Arts, History and Philanthropic endeavours… so it fits my “philosophy” of life as well.

It is a lot colder climate than Southern Ontario (another reason that about 20% of Canadians live in the Golden Horseshoe)… BUT I do think that the city makes up for the weather in so many other ways… it is really nice knowing that even in Rush Hour a commute across town from Stittsville in the West to Orleans in the East will take under an hour !!

Everyone here seems to be involved in some sort of volunteer activity… and many folks take on several… as a way to interact with others, give back to the community, or just find a way to get out and enjoy life.

<< Hanging out at Tim Hortons >> lol, ok that might seem a bit weird in the Summertime… although strangely not so much in the Winter… lots of folks will spend some time cuddled up to a coffee (or bowl of chilli, or homemade soup on a COLD January day).

You haven’t said how old you are… but there are certainly a variety of activities here for people of all ages.

And don’t discount what has worked in the past, as something that won’t work when you are here (even on vacation)… you mentioned meeting people at Church… that is still a good way to meet new people. Most churches here have a Coffee Hour that happens Before or After Services… in hopes of reaching out to Newcomers to the area … you could always look for a congregation when you are here, and call and ask the Administrator if they have such a thing.

Or look at taking a workshop in something that interests you… there are plenty of one-day things that go on in this city… Cooking Classes, Wine Appreciation, to name but 2 (albeit they are things that I’ve found favour with in the past).

Unfortunately, my knowledge of your hometown… Harrisburg, PA is pretty scant… if I knew more, perhaps I could give you more ideas… sad considering that I actually drive by Harrisburg a couple of times annually… lol, the scenery is pretty enough (those bridges)… and the current reconstruction on the I-81 is a bit of a pain (been going on too long)… but for the most part that is it… we always seem to overnight either North or South of there (Enola – Fredericksburg – Bethlehem – Clarks Summit).

Lol, and yes some fellow countrymen will certainly think you’ve lost your marbles if you move to Canada… our two countries are similar enough… but also quite different (Government – Politics – Economics – Language – Culture – History – Geography – Weather – Sports etc). I once heard the best description… “We Brothers, but from different Mothers”

Cheers!

Wine-4-2

gxp
Niagara
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4. Re: Want to Meet Interesting People this Summer

Have you considered going to a resort outside the cities. When you're at a resort for a few days, you tend to meet people and chat.

Harrisburg, PA
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5. Re: Want to Meet Interesting People this Summer

Thank you, Wine-4-2, for another wonderful post, and the terrific advice.

Your description makes Ottawa sound *much* more congruent with what we're looking for in a new home. Why didn't I think of the coffee hour thing? <Blush>I guess it's been too long since we went to church.

And I'll try to track down some workshops. I'll even take a tatting class if need be.

Harrisburg, Pennsylvania's state capital, is lovely from a distance. The bridges over the mile-wide Susquehanna river (one of the longest rivers in North America) are breathtaking. (The bridges were on an opening clip for a famous soap opera, the name of which escapes me.) The running joke is that Harrisburg is a great place to live because you are within a tank of gas of Baltimore, Philadelphia, Washington D.C., and New York City. Nevertheless, we do like living here very much, but Pennsylvania's high property taxes are hostile to retirees and you must drive a car to get around, something we don't care to do too much in our dotage. We won't stay here, even if we don't move to Canada.

Next time you're in the area, I invite you to stroll through our "palace of art" Capitol building (rebuilt in 1906) or swing over the Gettysburg National Battleground. Both spectacles may be enjoyed at no cost.

I've been reading some Canadian history books. It boggles my mind that our two countries were ever at war. (Even more that you soundly "whupped" us. :-) Wise decision in giving Detroit back to us.

Cheers,

- ATR -

Harrisburg, PA
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6. Re: Want to Meet Interesting People this Summer

Hi gxp,

We do plan to do a little day-hiking in the fabulous parks and reserves that dot the Ottawa area. I expect to run into some nice people in those venues. And, of course, the tour of the Rideau canal is not to be missed!

Great advice! Thanks!

- ATR -

Ottawa, Canada
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7. Re: Want to Meet Interesting People this Summer

Hi ATiredReader,

Thank you for your kind words...

Yes our histories do cross paths in a variety of ways... BUT I find the most fascinating stuff is how we were different right from the get go... being founded by different Countries, Religions and Reasons / Philosophies.... (France - Catholic - Fur Trade - and to "save" the Savages with Religion).

Consequently I think our very early roots have shaped the fact that although we are quite similar, we also seem to be very different in our basic "ideals" as two countries.

As for your statement...

<< Nevertheless, we do like living here very much, but Pennsylvania's high property taxes are hostile to retirees and you must drive a car to get around, something we don't care to do too much in our dotage. We won't stay here, even if we don't move to Canada. >>

Not sure that you'll find Canada much better tax wise... Property Taxes are high here too... but even if they don't do you in... Income Tax (15 – 35%), Provincial Sales Tax and GST (now known in Ontario as HST = Harmonized Sales Tax 13%)… they surely will... we literally tax EVERYTHING here (sometimes twice)... the one exception is the Lottery... Win BIG in Canada... and EVERY PENNY is yours to keep TAX FREE !!

Somewhat funny to think of anyone wanting to retire here (lol, except for Hockey Players… they seem to love hanging up their skates in the Capital City Region).

Us Canadians dream of retiring (or at least snowbirding to warmer climates)... Canada is a great country... and I love her dearly… and know I’d probably never want to live anywhere else permanently… but I certainly could leave here every November thru April (our Winter Season) for somewhere a lot sunnier, and less FRIGID !!

Getting around by public transit in our cities is pretty good… and safe, and clean. But anywhere outside of the core, and you pretty much have to use a car a lot (I live in the burbs, we drive the car to everything… Mall, Grocery Store etc). Do use the Park & Ride Service though if I want to go downtown for a busy event during one of our Festivals... Winterlude - Tulip - Bluesfest etc. Or, if there is ever a time that I think I might have a wee bit too much to drink (lol, Wine & Food Show - Ontario Wine Expo, etc).

BUT overall the nice thing about getting around Ottawa is we don’t have a lot of traffic, and I’d say for everyone who lives here… get in the car, and 15 Minutes you can be out in the countryside (really out in the countryside) enjoying activities… Gatineau Park – Rideau Canal – Campgrounds & Beaches – Hiking & Biking – Farm Country etc.

Ottawans tend to take advantage of that… most of us love to go on short jaunts out into the countryside for a weekend drive… at about 1 Hours time, and I can be at any of the following… the Champlain Lookout in Gatineau Park – the Chateau Montebello – the St Lawrence Seaway & the 1000 Islands – Rideau Lakes District – or up “the Valley”.

And each place brings something new to see and explore… I must say I feel blessed to live in one of “the most overlooked cities in Canada”… lol unless someone is complaining about our Federal Government… at which time I will likely hear “Ottawa hasn’t got a clue” or some other “generality” that has more to do with our Politicians than the actual city (lol, never ceases to amaze me how many Canadians… near or far… have never been here). And on TripAdvisor… how so many Travellers when planning their Canadian visits skip right on by us… driving Hwy 401 between Montreal and Toronto (lol, the amount of folks who think that Toronto is our Capital City is staggering !!)

Yup, we are a quiet little secret… maybe that is why those who live here, have it so great… we just aren’t as busy busy and get to enjoy all this splendid beauty at our doorstep (and the fact that we can drive across the whole city in under an hour… beats sitting in Montreal or Toronto’s traffic any day… and I’ve had lots of experience with both). Certainly makes for a less stressed lifestyle.

Cheers!

Wine-4-2

Edited: 07 February 2011, 03:03
Harrisburg, PA
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8. Re: Want to Meet Interesting People this Summer

Wine-4-2,

What a great post! You make me smile.

You are so right about the philosophical differences between our two countries-- that persist to this day. As I understand, if we do end up taking Canada, we will be among several thousand other "values refugees" who are increasingly finding ourselves alienated in our homeland. (So it's not just the taxes.)

In most states, the local funding source for the public schools is nearly entirely based on property taxes. If you can't pay your taxes, they will seize your property. While I am working, this is a nuisance (at $3200/year) but not a crisis. When one is on a fixed income, it's another story.

We also have income and sales taxes. I bring home about 2/3 of what I earn. I understand that would be about 50% in Canada.

Back to the philosophy thing-- In reading the Canadian history, I was struck by the mostly respectful relation between the first inhabitants and the British and French settlers. We were out to "conquer" our native peoples. "Native Americans" who live on reservations generally have a hard life, unless they build a casino.

I hung on every work of your description of Ottawa. I just can't wait to get there.

- ATR -

London, Canada
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9. Re: Want to Meet Interesting People this Summer

<<My wife and I are contemplating moving to Canada in a few years and would like to learn more about Canadians.>>

Canadians are, for the most part, friendly but rather reticent about becoming too chatty with someone they don't know personally. Celebrities like visiting because no one bothers them for photos, autographs or conversation.

As already mentioned a 5 day stop in large cities isn't really going to allow you to actually meet anyone on a personal level ----except perhaps someone from tripadvisor----but you can be assured that all in all we are much like you......though a bit less patriotic, and perhaps a little more reserved. :)

Your bigger issue will be about finding a place to call home, and choosing a city/town/village that suits your needs. As strange as it sounds, many people have found the British ex-pat forum very helpful when asking questions about relocating to Canada. You may glean some information there if you have a look----and welcome!

britishexpats.com/forum/forumdisplay.php?f=56

Harrisburg, PA
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10. Re: Want to Meet Interesting People this Summer

Superb, Tobie!

I'm hardly expecting to find a lifelong friend, I'd just like to hear more about the Canadian worldview, to test some of the things I've read in books.

I had stumbled on an American ex-pat site, bit it looked like no one had posted there in years.

Thank you so much.