Five Lessons from Life in Canada

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air-canada, arriving in CanadaWell, it’s nearly two years since we touched down at Pearson International Airport, full of optimism and nervous anticipation –  big smiles plastered across our faces, eyes shining. I’ll never forget the contrast. We left a grey and rainy Heathrow, and eight hours later we followed our driver out onto the concourse and into the hot and humid embrace of the Toronto summer. The heat made everybody’s movements seem slower and more relaxed, as though we were all moving through treacle.

It took a year for me to stop welling up whenever I was reminded of home, and I still miss my house and garden; but Canada is providing some strong incentives to stay. Read my article in today’s UK Telegraph to find out what they are…

 Five lessons from life in Canada – Telegraph.

Whitby Shores, Whitby, Ontario

By Aisha Ashraf

Aisha Ashraf is a nomadic Irish writer of creative non-fiction and poetry, currently based on the traditional territory of the Anishinabewaki, Haudenosaunee, and Mississauga First Nations, in Ontario, Canada. Her work has been published in River Teeth, The Huffington Post, and the UK’s Independent and Daily Telegraph newspapers.


  1. That was good, it seems like all is well in Canada and in some ways it reminds me of Norway. Especially the love of nature, in all seasons. I just wish we had those warm summers 🙂

    1. Thanks Maggie, yes, all very different to what we were used to in the UK. With the temperature on the humid-ex predicted to be nudging 40 degrees tomorrow, I think going back to British weather would plunge me into depression!

      1. Lovely! I just read your article and it is very upbeat, although I notice not all the readers agree with you! Very well written, and congrats.

  2. Hey! I just left the following comment on the Telegraph. Congrats!

    Hi Aisha! Lovely to read your article on the Telegraph.
    Although not as an immigrant, I’ve spent almost a year and a half in Toronto and I agree with your opinions. However, since I live in Texas and the Pampas, I’m not afraid of distances and they didn’t faze me 🙂 The rest is exactly as you describe (but I have to say I did meet one mildly racist Canadian who was opposed to mass immigration. The funny thing was that he was talking to me, a foreigner!

    1. Thanks for taking the time to leave a comment Ana, much appreciated and glad you concur 🙂 At least some of the more bad-tempered Telegraph commentors will know I’m not making it up!

  3. That’s fantastic – an article in the Telegraph! I am going to read it now! Greetings from 85 degrees and 80 per cent humidity in Jamaica (we just had 24 hours of glorious rain so not complaining!)

    1. Thankyou Emma! Proof that pester power works! I awoke in the middle of last night to the sound of a torrential downpour, so today, despite the high temperatures, it still feels verdant and almost tropical!

  4. I guess I am too late to see all the comments but I did notice some numpties when I first read it who thought you were trying to make Canada seem like Utopia. Those are people who selectively read and then add in stuff that was never there.

    I completely agree with everything you wrote. We all know things aren’t perfect in any country but more and more I think of returning to Canada. I think everyone assumes that Europe is super progressive and open minded and generally yes but in the case of attitudes towards immigration in Britain I’d say those who are opposed to it based on prejudice seem to be a little bit louder these days than those who are just genuinely concerned for other valid reasons.

  5. Great article and spot-on observations!

    Funny to see that I made some of these observations too, as a French (and new Canadian) in Canada, including the one about the flag. In France too, the flag has become the symbol of far-right movements and blind patriotism… in Canada, it’s something that bind people together.

    I agree with the distances too! Although you do get used to it. But it took me a while, for sure!

  6. The very first notation of your story of the touchpoint with nature is so very much appreciated even if you are an indigent Canadian – when traveling abroad I sometimes find the memories of Canadian wilderness as an island of serenity in the midst of wherever I happen to be! Recently we went up to Muskoka country at a nice resort called Deerhurst that was quite reasonably priced through Suitelife Vacations and had an amazing time simply enjoying not only the natural surroundings but all the activities made possible thereby – whether it be boating on crystal clear lakes, mountain biking through the forest trails or enjoying the wide open spaces and quaint little towns. There’s alot to be said for the opportunities Canadians have, especially when experienced through memories when far away.

    1. Canadians are indeed the lucky stewards of a beautiful country. It great to see that, for the most part, they appreciate it. Thanks for such a heartfelt comment, I hope you get plenty of future opportunities to return, and I loved the thought of you pausing in some busy thoroughfare somewhere in the world and dreamily imagining the rugged Canadian landscape. I know Canada will stay with me forever.

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