Thoughts on culture, education, and having been a Canadian in the US
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Moving to Canada

Every semester, two or three students who don’t know me drop by my office to ask for advice about how they could move to Canada. I don’t usually have much advice to give them, having only experienced the bureaucracy involved in moving the other way. Today, though, as I was diligently casting my votes in the Canadian Blog Awards I discovered a great blog called “We Move to Canada” that over the last few years has documented a couple’s move from NYC to Toronto.

I’ve only read a few postings on the blog, but have added it to my feed list. One of the things I found fascinating was the insights these blogger offer into what Canada is all about. In fact, it all makes me a bit more homesick than usual. Here’s a bit from a Globe and Mail piece that Laura Kaminker wrote about their move North:

We left behind a large, affordable apartment, great jobs, good friends and nearby family. Waiting for us in Canada was a rented house and a small band of well-wishers we met through my blog ( We clutched our résumés, our faith in ourselves and our sense of adventure.
What would we find? Other than Tim Hortons and Don Cherry, the new coins and the new spellings — would it all be pretty much the same?
We knew life in Canada would be different, if only for how we see the United States: foreign wars for profit; unchecked poverty and its twin, rampant violence; increasing government intrusion into citizens’ personal lives; media controlled by the government, and a government controlled by religious fanatics; a corrupt, antiquated election system.
But contrary to what some Canadian cynics say, Canada is not only defined as “not the United States.” Its identity is more subtle than that of the U.S., but then, it’s a more subtle country. Canada doesn’t go around thumping its chest declaring itself The Greatest Nation on the Face of the Earth. Canada speaks more quietly.
I think when Canada speaks, it uses “we” more often than “I.” One might sum up the difference between the U.S. and Canada as individualism vs. community. Of course, both countries have both, but there is an unmistakable difference in emphasis.
The most obvious example of this is national health insurance. Ensuring that every person has access to basic health care requires some sacrifice from everyone — and that’s a trade-off most Canadians willingly accept. Despite whatever problems the system may have, the vast majority of Canadians agree that everyone must contribute toward this greater good.

I’m looking forward to catching up on this blog and to reading it regularly. It got my vote in the blog awards, too.


1 L-girl { 01.16.08 at 11:54 am }

Thank you so much.
You are in Vermont? My partner, Allan Wood, is originally from Burlington. He wrote for the Free Press and some other area papers for a time before he moved to NYC in 1987.
To the students who ask for advice about moving to Canada, I say: Come on up!!

2 Paul Martin { 01.16.08 at 12:20 pm }

Hi Laura,
What a small world! I am in Vermont and teach at UVM. We moved here from Edmonton in 2003. I’ll pass along your message to my students and point them to your blog.

3 Terese Loeb Kreuzer { 08.03.08 at 1:01 pm }

Hi! I’m the co-author of a book called HOW TO MOVE TO CANADA: A PRIMER FOR AMERICANS (St. Martin’s, 2006). Perhaps your students who are thinking about emigrating would find it useful. It’s available on (and elsewhere) for around $10.
In the introduction to the book, we say pretty much what you did in your blog about Canada and the sense of community. In addition, there’s a lot of specific advice about what to expect from a move and how to go about it. — Terese Loeb Kreuzer