Blog - Canada (part 1)

Added on Wednesday, 2018-07-18 19:54 CEST in category Traveling
A few years after the end of World War II, my grandmother's parents decided to emigrate to Canada. My grandmother, who then had only recently gotten married and was expecting a child, decided to stay, but most of her siblings went with to Toronto. At the time, emigration was pretty much a permanent thing, and her siblings live there till this day.

Every once in a while some family members would come visit the Netherlands from Canada, so we had already met a few of my Canadian family members, but with such an extensive family over there (eight of my grandmother's siblings moved there, each now with a family of their own!), we thought it'd be nice to get to know more of them. Also, they say Canada is quite beautiful, so off we were!

The flight

On our vacation to Sicily last year, our daughter was still very small, and pretty much slept the entire time. Now a year old, she's become very active, and our flight, a transatlantic one at that, had become a bit more of a challenge. Lucky for us, Air Transat had given us an extra seat for our daughter where she could sleep. It's hard to tell :), but she's there, under the blanky. When she's asleep anyway.

Our daughter under her blanketOur daughter trying her luck on the in-flight entertainment systemOur daughter playing hide and seek?

Arrival in Canada: meeting Henk & Veronica

After a long and early flight we were happy to meet my great uncle Henk and great aunt Veronica at the airport. We had only shortly met Henk once before, so it was good to spend a few days with them, where we mostly relaxed and tried to get over our jet lag.

The first basic impression we got of Canada was that of a nicer U.S.: friendlier customs, cleaner streets, but also a lot of U.S. influence: big U.S. chains like Walmart & Best Buy were everywhere, everything was set up in a very spacious way, we could use the high-occupancy vehicle (HOV) lane :), prices didn't include VAT, we tried I Can't Believe It's Not Butter, and so on.

Over the course of our trip, though, we got to appreciate a lot more of what exactly makes Canada Canada, like its gorgeous nature, very friendly people, maple syrup and poutine, and the English-French divide.

Family meetup

Henk had invited all his siblings and their families to their home to meet us, which proved to bring quite the turnout! I never knew quite how big my extended family in Canada was, but during our trip alone we met more family members than I have direct family in the Netherlands. It's a pity we live an ocean apart, because we got along very well.

It was interesting to see how the generations started spreading out over time. My youngest second cousin is 8; younger than my oldest nephew. (But clearly older than our daughter, as you can see below :P)

On uncle Henk's lapOur daughter in front of family portraitsWaving with Henk Our daughter with DaxWelcome to Canada cakeOur daughter with Levi Me with uncle GerardMeeting aunt Augusta

Niagara Falls

I never really knew where exactly Niagara Falls was (somewhere on the U.S.-Canada border), so it came as a very pleasant surprise it was only an hour and a half drive from Toronto. (The drive itself went fine, but it was a bit of a surprise Canada has so many bad drivers: I constantly saw people speeding, cutting other people off, or crossing double solid lines…)

Ever since I was a kid "Niagara Falls" evoked an image of fantastically mighty waterfalls in the U.S. Little did I know that 1) the Horseshoe Falls (below on the right) are actually in Canada, and that 2) the picture in my head was of a completely different waterfall… Nevertheless, the falls completely lived up to their reputation: they were a fantastic sight to behold.

American FallsWetHorseshoe Falls

The U.S. was only a bridge away, so we decided to check out the other side as well.

Pedestrian entrance to U.S.A.On the bridgeInternational boundary line Goat Island streamView on CanadaAmerican Falls from above

For the night my wife had booked a room with a view, from which we enjoyed this spectacular view.

Niagara Falls daytime viewNiagara Falls nighttime view

The falls light up in different colors when it's dark, which creates a fantastic effect.


Since not everyone could make it to the family meeting, we visited a few more family members on our way back up north.

Rhonda and familyGreg and familyAnna and family

We had a lovely time meeting Rhonda, Greg, and Anna with their families, and the pleasure of having Greg show us around Toronto. It's great having someone local with, who can show you the parts of the city you'd otherwise easily miss.

Banksy portraitLake Ontario shorelineDog fountain

Of course Toronto also has plenty of cool things that are quite hard to miss.

Royal Bank PlazaOld city hall

Shiny, isn't it, the Royal Bank Plaza on the left? That's because the window panes were colored using actual gold!

CN TowerCN Tower view

Of course the view from the CN Tower was even more impressive :)

To be continued…

In Toronto we bade our family farewell, and headed east towards Ottawa, Montreal, and eventually Quebec City. Soon you can read all about them in part 2 :)