Problems, irritations and gripes about living in Canada

Without a doubt there are problems when you move from one country whose culture you have lived in all you life and are suddenly confronted with a completely different set of cultural standards. It is no surprise that people who take this drastic step do find difficulty and that there must be a certain time period during which one feels that it is not like wherever was home and perhaps it would be better to go back.

This is not an exhaustive list but one that will be added to at regular intervals.

'Carry out' at supermarkets

A grossly annoying trait of Canadian supermarkets is that the checkout operator will load all your shopping back into your cart (trolley) for you, and then ask if you want 'carry out'. What they mean is 'do you want someone to push the cart out to your car for you?'

Why do I find that so irritating? I have pushed the cart all around the store, collecting the items of shopping that I want, pushed the card to the checkout, before finally unloading the cart. Why would I need someone to push the cart out to my car? Do they think that I have suddenly been overcome by fatigue?


While examining lemons in Safeway one of the staff asked if I needed any help

Shop assistants in particular and 'merchandisers' (shelf stackers) ask inane questions if you should hesitate or look at something in a shop. For instance, while examining lemons in Safeway one of the staff asked if I needed any help. I know exactly what I'm looking for, lemons with thin soft skin and a soft texture that indicates that the fruit is ripe and will yield lots of juice easily. So I ask myself 'Is this guy kidding me?'

Expensive television service

There is no BBC in Canada - obvious you may say, but it is not the BBC as such that is missing, it is an equivalent high-quality broadcasting organisation and investigative press that is missing. Television generally comes via a cable and is available as a set of packages that are charged for by the month. The monthly fee for the cheapest package amounts to more than the cost of a UK television licence. I used to complain endlessly that the UK TV licence was too expensive. I take back all those complaints without reservation and if I do return to the UK promise never to complain about the cost. The BBC is without doubt the maker of the finest programmes anywhere. The licence fee is good value for money.

Here in Edmonton, Alberta our cable package comes from Shaw. We have the basic package of about 20 channels, I can say that there are only two that are work watching, the Weather Network - 24 hour weather news and forecasts, and KSPS Public Broadcasting from Spokane. The latter is a US channel that shows some old BBC series and a few interesting series. The remainder are not worth switching on.

I have tried the whole range of hundreds of channels, free for three months when we moved into our apartment. Thereafter approximately 1/3 of the annual cost of a UK TV licence per month. See major problems for an evaluation of that service.