July 30th 2001
It was Canada's 134th birthday on Sunday. July 1st is officially Canada Day in celebration of the first time Canada became a nation. Not all of the Provinces mind you, as Newfoundland only joined as recently as 1948 after a long and bitter debate.
So how did I, as a good new South African immigrant, celebrate this joyful occasion?
By watching my Son play cricket out in Mississauga with a whole host of other immigrants from ex British colonies. Of course the funniest part of that was that he was definitely the visible minority, both in his team and on the field.
Cricket seems to be played mainly by immigrants from the Indian sub-continent and the West Indian islands. Looking around at every game I attend, I see very few white people playing the game. Now this may be as a result of Toronto have a very large immigrant population from these two areas, or it may be that cricket just isn't a favourite sport of those immigrants from South Africa, the United Kingdom and even the Anzac countries. I don't know.
Anyway over the last few weeks I've been going to some of my Son's matches and despite the lower standard of play, really enjoying myself. What they lack in experience and coaching they certainly make up for in enthusiasm. Thankfully without the firecrackers and steel drum orchestras.
Last week was at Sunnybrook Park in Toronto. Amongst all the high rises, strip malls and factories winds a river. Some kind soul decided that a bit of green within the city wouldn't go amiss and so there is this huge area of parkland with playing fields that runs slap bang in the middle. Aside from the odd baseball pitch and football field they also have space for soccer pitches and cricket fields. Even a horse riding stable! Jolly good show what! Etc.
In fact the pitch at Sunnybrook has to be the best one I have seen so far. It actually looks like a pitch as opposed to a spare piece of land with a sand patch scraped out. It even had white markers placed to show the approximate distance for a six thus bypassing some of the more interesting decisions that umpires are wont to make. Of even more use was the slope of the field. Built on a hill with the pitch at the top, the ground sloped reasonably gently away from the playing area. This was probably of even more help than the markers when it came to the fours that abounded during the game. Needless to say this was the first game that my Son's team won!
Sunnybrook also seemed to be home that day to about two hundred percent of the immigrant population of Toronto. It is a two-kilometre drive through the park to get to the fields and everywhere I looked were crowds of people hanging out in the sun.
To be truthful, in most cases it was the men and children hanging out in the sun while the wives and mothers seemed to be recreating the kitchen out on the tables provided or even on tables that were packed in with the rest of the supermarket bought in to feed the five thousand. This is how you know they are immigrants by the way. Canadian women couldn't boil water if their lives depended on it. About the only way to get them to a park would be to put in a McDonalds, pick it up on the way, or tell them that the great outdoors was deemed healthy by some dubious body of opinion. Given the continuous smell of fried, braaied, broiled and curried chicken hanging over everything this is probably not true. Why is it that chicken is the item of choice whenever people congregate?
Which, come to think of it, brings me to another puzzling aspect of life here in Canada. The Samoosa! As a good Durban boy I have a particular liking for samoosa's. Here in Canada you can get what is called a samoosa but which to my mind seems more like a triangular pie than anything resembling the thin crust, spicy samoosa's I am used to. They use thick crust dough for pities sake! Even worse is that this then appears to be backed as well. I mean you can only take health consciousness to a point. Samoosa's need to be deep-fried and have that thin crust that shows signs of only recently having managed to shake off the last few drops of oil. Someone. Anyone out there, please let me know where I can get a decent South African style samoosa for a change. There must be somewhere!
With that little rant aside perhaps I should return to the original subject.
Given that so many of the Canadian cricket teams around here are composed of people from the Indian sub-continent I wonder how long it will be before we wind up with the same problem experienced by an umpire in England recently where all twenty-two members of the teams on the field were named Patel. Which brings to mind some interesting reporting. Patel was caught by Patel off the bowling of Patel. Patel stumped Patel after the third slip Patel threw in the bye that Patel bowled. And so on. Of course to be really record breaking it would have to include the two umpires and the scorekeepers as well. The umpire, who sadly was not a Patel, reported that when he tried to stop some barracking by saying, “Shut up Patel” was rewarded with all the players on the field going quiet. At the moment with all the various languages and dialects flying around in the outfield it really does sound like a mini UN gathering. Even down to the odd bit of Zulu that my son uses on occasion. Well there aren't many people around who would understand that so it does make sense to use a language where so long as you are smiling you can virtually say anything.
The interesting part of all this is that yesterday Canada beat Scotland to take third place in the ICC playoffs for the World Cup in South Africa next year. As the top three teams go to the Cup this means that for a change the Canadian Media and TV will have to make an effort to provide information about cricket. Something they have been woefully appalling at doing for a long time.
The whole tournament was played in Toronto and after some fine games Canada was in fourth place and had to play Scotland for the last place available in South Africa 2003. Despite not being the pundits favourites Canada beat Scotland by 5 wickets with 10.1 overs to spare. The final score being
Scotland 176/9 from 50 overs; Canada 177/5 from 39.5 overs.
The other two teams to go through being Namibia and Netherlands. The Netherlands beating Namibia in the final.
Now of course I have a slight dilemma. I notice that Canada has been placed in the B Pool where they come up against South Africa who are ranked number 2. Canada being ranked fourteenth.
The problem is this. What do I do when the two countries play each other? I think that this is a problem that faces many immigrants to any country when it comes to support national teams. One that I will ponder over for a while. At least until they meet themselves in the final when the quandary becomes very important.
July 23rd 2001
Lots of birthdays and celebrations taking place all over the place recently. In addition to Canada Day and Victoria Day and any other excuse Day, we also had the 25th anniversary of the final erection of the world's largest Phallic symbol on June 26th.
In 1976, on June 26th obviously, the final touches were put to the CN tower down at the bottom end of Toronto, a stones throw from the harbour front. At the time, and ever since, the CN tower has been recognised as the worlds tallest “free standing structure”. Until 1996 that is, when it was recognised by the Guinness Book as the “tallest Building” as well. Not bad for what is essentially a communications tower with a few added attractions like restaurants and glass floors. And gift shops.
The CN Tower oddly enough is not named for Canadian National Railways despite being right next to Union Station, overlooking the daily to-ing and fro-ing of various trains and even despite being built on land purchased from them. It stands for “Canada's National” and was named only in 1997 when a corporation called TrizecHahn leased it from Canada Lands Co. I bet that many Canadians are unaware of that little piece of useless information as well.
At the bottom of the Tower there is 12,500 square feet of shopping mall which has three floors and contains shops, games space, virtual reality areas and of course the obligatory interactive museum. Now, to my mind, when you are going up to a glass floor six hundred and fifty metres high, why on earth you need an interactive museum or even virtual reality game on the ground floor beats me. Obviously there is something in the visitors psyche though, because I notice that once you do get up to the observation area there are more virtual reality rides. So lets see then…You get in an elevator that travels at 22km/h, thus going from ground floor to 1,136 feet up, which takes about fifty seconds by the way, and get out and go into a virtual reality ride. Why not just travel in the elevators all day? The feeling in the pit of your stomach as it descends is quite interesting anyway. Oh well who can fathom out the minds of some people.
Technically the only time you pay admission charges is when you wish to use the elevator. Sixteen Dollars to get to the top. Now to my mind it would be so much more lucrative to allow unlimited access to the up elevator and then charge an exorbitant amount to get back down. Canadians are too nice. Although I have a sneaky suspicion that they thought of that and then worked out how many of the homeless would realize what a good place this would make to sleep and panhandle. Anyway once you've paid your money you are free to roam around in the clouds at will. Take a stroll over the glass floors and look straight down eleven hundred feet. Nothing like that for a testicle tightening experience I can tell you. There's 256 square feet of solid glass on the lower observation deck. The facts booklet claims that it will hold the weight of 14 hippos but I would like to see them prove that. Mind you it may take a bit of convincing on the hippos part and I have this sneaking suspicion that the lifts may take a bit longer to reach the observation level. Conversely they could just herd a hundred American tourists from Iowa into a section and see what effect that would have.
For some reason Canadians have this need to measure weight in African animals. I noticed that the Tower weighs 130,000 tons. Added to this interesting fact was a comment to the effect that this was the same as 23,214 large elephants. How they came to the conclusion that a large elephant weighs 5.06, and many other figures, tons, is beyond me. And why not Rhinos I ask you? Is it because they are an endangered species and as such even thinking of comparing them to enough glass to hold a horde of American tourists would be an anathema? Maybe it's the whole powdered Rhino horn and intensely phallic shape of the Tower that makes any use forbidden. Who knows?
I do know that a Sikorsky Skycrane helicopter, called Olga, was used to place the last pieces of the Tower in position. For some reason having Olga lower pieces onto the Tower invokes some seriously naughty jokes through my mind. It's no wonder that the Tower has never been referred to anything other than “he” when you see it. The last remaining bastion of masculinity in a feminist country. Not in your wildest dreams would you want to refer to the tower as a “she” believe me!
The Tower has 1760 steps, which you can use to climb up to the observation deck as well. If you are so inclined. The major use of these steps appears to be to help the weird and wacky to claim records or alternatively to help raise funds for various causes along the way. United Way has a sponsored “stair climb” every year. Of course what happens here is that everyone collects at the bottom and proceeds to run up the stairs in what they hope will be a record time. Currently it stands at around nine minutes. But this is boring and it is the other records that catch your attention.
How about the stuntman who “fell down” the stairs rather. It took him an hour and fifty-five minutes to achieve this honour. I'm tempted to wonder how much quicker it would have been to merely remove his padding and push him down instead. It might even have beating the record set for going up the stairs on a pogo stick, which only took fifty-six minutes. Which I think was probably quicker than the 72-year-old Frank Kennedy who walked up the stairs backwards without holding onto the rails. Luckily neither were doing it at the same time as the stuntman going down.
For sheer lunacy there are people who find the need to take things up the steps as well. So far this has included a 440 pound piano, 200 pound pumpkin, a refrigerator, stove, dishwasher and, in one memorable instance, a Suzuki Jeep, which took three hours to get up the stairs in pieces where it was reassembled. I would be more impressed if they took fourteen jeeps up and put them on the glass just to test a hypothesis but apparently only one was necessary.
Of a morbid bent sometimes I looked around to see if there was any mention of suicide attempts but either out of respect, or because of the well covered decks, I couldn't find a comment on this. I must admit that even on the outside observation platform there is a strong wire mesh covering any possible area that could allow a body through so maybe someone actually thought of the possibility and took precautions. Mind you it could just be because of the breathtaking view that you get on a good day. Supposedly you can even see the spray from Niagara on a really good day. A very good day! After any winds have cleared the smog but then even then the Tower will withstand it. The claim being that it will withstand 416kmh winds. By which time the sky should be totally clear anyway and, as it toppled over, you would then get an extremely good view of both Niagara and, I suppose, either the sky or the ground depending on which side you were clinging to.
So when you come to Toronto I recommend an excursion over to the Tower. It is well worth the effort.
In the meantime Canada can justifiably state with some pride,
“Mines bigger than yours!”
Can buildings get penis envy I wonder?
July 17th 2001
Sometimes you don't know whether to laugh or cry. In this crazy multicultural city that is Toronto it seems that everyone has had too much sun lately.
No sooner have our politicians taken their snouts out the trough for long enough to vote themselves a forty percent pay increase, give Nelson Mandela honourary citizenship and moan that the Queen didn't ask permission to knight a few Canadians (Yes! I realise the incredible hypocrisy inherent in that statement!), than the Mayor of Toronto opens his continually flapping mouth to make an off the cuff statement that has the politically correct brigade rushing off to foment revolution.
Mayor Mel, as everyone seems to call him, was off to Kenya to “help” boost Toronto's chances in their bid to host the 2008 Olympics. During an interview with a reporter, he made a comment to the effect that he didn't know why he was going because he disliked snakes and had this vision of himself in a “huge pot surrounded by cannibals”. The story was buried in the sports pages of the Toronto Star for a while until someone deemed it necessary to drag it up and make a song and dance over the “racist” comments. Note please that it was the “racist” aspect that was played up as opposed to the utterly stupid ignorance displayed by Mel. Even if it was an off the cuff attempt at a joke.
This of course bought out the “multicultural freeloaders of Canada” industry as well as sundry hangers on. From the Mel-haters to anyone who felt it necessary to add their ignorant half cents worth to the debate. None of course more strident and demanding in their outrage than the many “multicultural” organisations that depend on the Toronto Council for their free handouts. I am sorry, I mean “grants” of course. Nothing like biting the hand that feeds you.
Interestingly the most vocal of this lot were not the organisations representing “African-Canadians” but the groups mainly representing the Asian and East Indian communities and of course the “Trendy Left guilt-stricken white Canadians”. Never ones to let accusations of racism go amiss these are always the groups who jump onto whichever bandwagon currently is closest to the cause.
I find it amusing that there is this distinction between West and East Indian. East Indians coming from the Indian sub-continent while West Indians come from the Islands. Of course those people who can classify themselves as West Indians are mainly of African descent and prefer to be called African-Canadians which sort of defeats the purpose of having a distinct split in the category. But then no one said that logic must be applied when it comes to Canada's “multicultural” obsession!
So who is this person who currently represents Toronto? Mayor Mel Lastman, previously Mayor of North York and, since the amalgamation of North York, Etobicoke and Toronto, currently the Mayor of what is known as the Greater Toronto Area, or GTA for short. He sprang to prominence as the founder of a string of furniture stores across the GTA known as “Bad Boys”. The advertising byline of the stores being, “Who's better than Bad Boys? NooooooooBody!” This has led to some pretty funny jokes at Mel's expense whenever he opens his mouth to change feet. Which is something he is fairly good at. Often!
I have never quite worked out why it is necessary to have crooks advertising his wares either. The people, or puppets, in the adverts always wear the striped pyjamas associated with prison garb. Although I have my suspicions given the low prices and stories that surround the early days of this enterprise.
Mel has always surrounded himself with controversy. Most of which has been of the failure-to-engage-the-brain-before-opening-the-mouth variety. Including making comments about people, groups and occasions that have almost always been as an attempt to show him as a “Man of the People”. In most cases all it did was cement the image of him as a lovable buffoon. The Clown Prince of Toronto.
He threatened to kill a reporter who was about to expose his wife for shoplifting and when he came through that by portraying himself as a dedicated husband worried about his wife's mental health was suddenly, and recently, hit with a lawsuit by two middle aged men who claimed he was their father and wanted millions in back payment for support. Almost everyone realised at once that they had to be his son's by the stupidity of the claim. Mel however proved that even back then he was a shrewd street fighter. He had had the mother sign a document accepting a hefty sum in exchange for a clean walk away. Needless to say he won the case. Also needless to say, the appeal is pending.
So despite saying he was sorry for his remarks, over and over ad nauseum I might add, the calls for his resignation have increased.
Interestingly many of these have come from people who are more worried about Toronto's chances to host the Olympics than about the “racist” aspect. Of course the funniest part of the affair has been the abrupt about face from those groups who were dead against the Olympic bid now finding themselves using the apparent loss of the Olympics as an excuse to pillory Mel.
Seeing as Beijing is the other main contender for 2008 I don't know where Torontonians got the idea that they even had a chance. Even without Motor mouth Mel stepping in. Let's be realistic here. China is a totalitarian dictatorship that murders it's citizens, won't allow dissidence and doesn't allow human rights, let alone pay lip service to them. It's a given that they get the Games. Mind you I bet Mel wouldn't mind being able to send in the tanks and round up a few of the local vocals. It's just a pity that he lives in a democracy where people are allowed to voice their opinion. And we don't have to spray the grass green either!
Even more bizarre has been a report that we had here that some South African group is threatening to take Mel to court. No sorry I believe it was “try him” in court on hate speech. As if there aren't enough problems back there. And a classic case of the Cooking Pot calling the kettle multicultural!
Equally bizarrely the only truly African grouping here in Toronto has actually accepted Mel's apologies and been roundly condemned by the mainly white groups for selling out. The heat has definitely fried more than a few brains around here. The upshot of all this is that I think that in the long run Mel has cooked his goose as far as re-election as mayor goes.
I just hope it wasn't in the pot with him when he went to Nairobi.
July 14th 2001
At the beginning of this month Toronto passed a law stating that ALL restaurants will from now, and forever, onward be “Smoke Free”. All those filthy, foul, air polluting, anti-social miscreants will be banished, banned and generally kept away from all areas that can remotely be described as an eating establishment.
Now you can go into an eating establishment to dine out on meat that has been filled with hormones, vegetables and fruit that are covered in pesticides, water that may have come from Walkerton, chemical filled beer, antifreeze added wine and of course germs at the salad bar added by the ever sick Canadian populace who sneeze at the drop of a hat. All this while breathing in even more germs recycled through the ever-present air-conditioning. If you get through all that there is still of course the dodge-the-spit run to the gas-guzzling car to get home to use all the appliances created at the local factories spewing pollution into the atmosphere. All of this of course assumes that you are eating in a place that has passed the local inspection and now only has the required minimum allowance of rat droppings.
As you may have gathered I am a bit of a cynic when it comes the anti-smoking fascists and their current victory. You see, part of the law has a loophole in it that allows eating places to reclassify themselves as bars. Bars have another two years in which to become non-smoking establishments. Bars are also not allowed to serve anyone under nineteen years old, which is the legal drinking age here in Ontario. But…you may still smoke in bars so long as there is a non-smoking area. So what has happened is that many previous “eating establishments” are now “Bars”. As such where before you were able to take your whole family out to eat now you have to choose carefully because the local diner may now be a “bar” and as such children are not welcome! Of course there is always the local Mac or Burger King but lets talk actual nutrition for a change.
In their blind hatred the anti-smoking brigade decided that there would be no choice. They will make up their minds for everyone and as such the ability to actually make a decision as to whether your business had a smoking or non-smoking policy was taken away. Market forces notwithstanding.
Personal liberties were dispensed with out of hand. Never mind that we are talking about thirty percent of the populations rights here, more if you include the people who own and work in trades that support these places. Never mind that no one has conclusively proven the link between cancers and second hand smoke either. Never mind personal choice as well. The nanny state and its storm troopers have spoken. You vill obey!
I find it ironic that, in many cases, the same people decrying smoking cigarettes are the ones who support the decriminalisation of marijuana. Even better they are the ones who demand that junkies are given free needles to inject themselves. Never mind that nicotine is the most addictive drug around. I have yet to see any attempt to make anti-smoking courses or medicines available on the health services. At this stage we are told that it was your choice to start smoking so you must pay to stop. This from the very same people who decry the cigarette companies tactics when it comes to getting customers addicted and then tell you that you have “no choice” when it comes to the decision that they have made for you! The convoluted logic that comes into play when it comes down to “personal choice” here is also mind-boggling. Why should I be allowed to have personal choice as to whether I smoke or not but not where I may smoke or, even worse, whether I may allow others to do so in a business that I run privately?
I can't quite fathom out the mind that say's everyone must suffer for my beliefs. My choice say's that if a place has smoking allowed I won't go in. I will look for a place that is non-smoking and enjoy myself there instead. Why on earth would I want to go into a bar that has smokers and demand that they mustn't smoke because I don't? I would rather find a place which has clean air instead. Given that more and more people are opting for a healthier lifestyle I believe that market forces would have sorted out the different places fairly quickly. If I run a place that is non-smoking and have a steady clientele I wouldn't suddenly allow a smoker to come in and pollute the air. Smokers would soon get the message. Conversely non-smokers would understand that certain places have a smoking policy and would avoid them like the plague. A fairly well placed notice alerting patrons to the places policy should be sufficient. Mind you so should the cloud of smoke and coughs emanating!
Now we have the ludicrous situation where a group of local restaurant owners have got up a petition demanding that “bars” are forced to become non-smoking earlier because their business has fallen off following the ban! Patrons have moved on to those eating establishments who designated themselves as “bars” rather. Which makes a total mockery of the claim that business increased wherever a non-smoking ban was enforced. Vancouver is often cited when this is mentioned. Unfortunately the facts are a little different but then the facts have never bothered the anti-smoking brigade much. If they had then they might have studied the so-called medical trials a little closer. They may also have put a little more effort into trying to stop other forms of more assiduous pollution as well. Motorcars and trucks being a major contributor to the mass smog and pollution that hangs over Toronto almost daily lately.
The most sickening part of this is the complete hypocrisy surrounding the Governments actions when it comes to being involved. But then what can you expect from beauroucrats who recognize a captive form of taxation when they see it? And a neat platform for the next election as well.
The most frightening aspect of all this though is the single-minded way the whole issue has been handled. To the extent that I ask myself what will happen when they have managed to eradicate smokers entirely. Who will they set their narrow minded little brains on then?
July 7th 2001
There are a whole lot of new South Africans floating around Toronto lately. At a picnic I went to last Sunday at least three families there had arrived within the last six months or so and one lot had only been here for two months. It's funny to think that after two and a half years here I'm starting to be considered a long-timer! To hear someone gleefully say that they are not the newest and, when asked, point out that they've been here all of six months, is now funny.
The reason I know they're new is that they still have that shell-shocked look on their faces whenever you meet them. No. It isn't because of the situation back home. It's what I call the “Newbie factor”. They are still converting Dollars to Rand's in their mind and watching the money that was bought over being devalued and diminished.
It's one of the areas of living over here that takes time to conquer. If you are unlucky enough to arrive without a job and have to start using the money you bought with you it can be quite a while before you manage to start thinking in dollars as well.
Those people who have a secure position, or in some cases a lot of money, have less of a problem. Once you start earning dollars and buying in dollars you quickly overcome the shock at what everything costs. In fact at that stage you will be pleasantly surprised to discover that in most cases it is quite cheap to exist in Canada. Converting Dollars to Rand's at 5 Rand to the dollar makes everything seem way out of reach and yet in reality there are many areas that still astound me when I look at the prices. My best advice to newcomers is to try to think in Dollars as soon as possible. If possible look at the exchange rate as being 1:1 and it will make the pain a lot easier.
I think that it might be the right time to talk a little about what general costs can be.
It's cheaper to buy a home than to rent one. And it is definitely cheaper than renting accommodation. Rental units are not easy to come by and when you do find a reasonable flat, sorry I mean “apartment”, expect to pay in the region of $700 and upwards. Got a family? Decent apartments in the two-bedroom category will go from $1000. Yes you can get cheaper accommodation but, as with anywhere in the world, this is because of a variety of factors, not the least of which is that the area may be unsavoury.
There are however two areas of concern that you can eliminate immediately. Well almost immediately. In the case of healthcare, actually it will only be after three months, when you become eligible to get coverage. It's from the day of your landing as well so you have a bit of time to provide details and get your OHIP card.
As far as schooling goes though there is an immediate advantage. It is free. All you have to do is enroll your children in the nearest zoned school. Should you be further away than a decent walk then the “Yellow School bus” is always available. Bearing in mind that in Canada children can walk to and from school in safety. It's laziness more than fear that stops that form of exercise.
Unless your children go to a Catholic or Private school, uniforms consist of whatever passes as fashion. The Catholic schools have uniforms but sometimes I wonder why they bother. There appears to be remarkable laxity in what is supposed to be grey slacks for the boys and a plaid skirt for the girls and a white shirt for both. The most amazing part of this being the girls' skirts which on occasion resemble a plaid belt rather than anything remotely bowing to catholic modesty.
If you can get away from having to clothe everyone in name brands then clothing can be very cheap. Wal-Mart and Sears providing a range of clothes that are well priced. The real trick here being to watch for the sales. Sales here are just that. Sales! Real price-drops, which allow you to buy items at anything up to 50%, or more, off. This is the quickest and easiest way to re-equip yourself with all the necessities as you begin to re-establish your life. It isn't only clothes by the way. Virtually everything will go on sale at some stage. Careful planning, judicious buying and you can have all the creature comforts like your neighbours and at half the cost.
Of course in order to survive you need food. Even here you can watch out for sales and do a bit of stocking up. The big supermarkets here have weekly “cost-cutters” or as they are known in the trade “ loss leaders”. The idea being that you come in for the sale items and wind up buying all the other extras. This means that in most cases the special priced items are what we would look at as staple food items. When you are counting every penny, sorry..Cent, this helps a lot and many times I have gone in to buy the weekly groceries and found everything I needed on a special.
To give you an idea of prices let's look at a few items. Ordinary white bread costs $1. For those of you paying attention earlier think of it as R1. Of course as you decide to add seeds and other roughage it gets more expensive. Even the fancy breads though only cost about $2. Milk comes in 1.5 litre bags and packed in three's. It works out at roughly $1 a litre.
If you are a big meat eater then be prepared for a shock. Unless you eat the tougher cuts. It goes from $7 a kilo to, in the case of steak, anything up to $20. Red meat is definitely not a poor mans meal. Mind you neither is chicken for that matter unless you buy in bulk. The cheapest cuts, which are normally legs, start at $2 a kilo. Interestingly chicken wings, which are a delicacy, as in Buffalo wings, are very expensive because of the demand.
Pasta on the other hand costs about $1 a kilo. So in the beginning expect to eat a lot of spaghetti. There is a huge range of ready-made sauces available.
Canadians tend to “eat out” a lot. By this they mean fast food mainly although going to the local steak or chicken house happens often as well. At other times when they “cook” at home it is generally ready prepared food. Every supermarket you go into has aisles loaded with instant meals of one sort or the other. This is probably why foods that need some preparation cost less. It is also why there seem to be more fast food outlets than people.
In the beginning it pained me to even think about spending $20 on a Kentucky 15 piece bucket when I knew that the same $20 would provide me enough food to feed a family of four for a week. In my case that's three teenage children and me. Not exactly small eaters I might add. Which brings me to the small necessities. Crisps cost 79c for a small packet and up to $2 for the big packets. A 2 litre cold drink from 99c to $1.50. This depends often on the specials available. Sweets like a KitKat cost 79c. Which is only 20c less than a McDonalds hamburger and a hell of a lot tastier and more nutritious. I still have a hard time trying to tell where the burger stops and the box begins.
After a while, as you earn a wage and begin to treat yourself to a few of life's luxuries, all the past worry over comparative pricing disappears. At that stage you begin to complain about the price of goods for a completely different reason. This time it is because of the comparison between the prices paid in the States compare to those in Canada.
But that's a whole new story.