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Welcome To Canada

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After driving all night, we reached Canada.

And it was a beautiful morning. Upon presenting to a Customs agent our passports and a wad of paperwork from our immigration lawyer, a quick explanation/introduction and "pre-interview", we were directed to a nearby building for the permits. There, a friendly sort listened to our repeated introduction and took ALL the paperwork, including our passports, birth certificates, marriage license and primary applicant's Work Permit. After a reasonable wait, I was first handed my Spousal Work Permit and then, one by one, the children's Visitor Permits. As each passport was returned to me with a permit stapled in it, I was given time to check the accuracy of the birthdates and permits' expiration dates, as our lawyer had advised us to do. Study Permits, it turns out, are not required when both parents have Work Permits. I couldn't help a smirk when the immigration officer informed me that my Work Permit allows me to take pretty much any job except in child care, teaching at the primary and secondary school levels, agriculture or the health services because I hadn't had a health exam. It also prohibits me from attending school. My credentials qualify me for working with older children and adults. All that aside, it seems to me our immigration lawyer did a decent job of speaking for and representing us within the paperwork.

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Hey, where are the Permanent Resident Cards? We'll get to that.

And still another immigration officer needed to talk to us...mostly about our car and what to do about our belongings arriving later on the truck. It should be noted that this issue belongs in "The Most Confusing" category. As mentioned previously, we had spoken to people about transporting and receiving goods, how we should initially communicate the information, and whether or not we meet the truck anywhere besides our house. As it turns out, everyone's right. This isn't helpful. The conclusion I draw...we'll find out when it happens. What else can we do? Get acclimated.

First, a cheer. Next, get home. After catching our breath and touring the house for the first time as a whole group, we immediately started giving some basic business to the locals, which ultimately included this laptop. We also went into downtown Toronto for our debit cards. And before my husband's return to the U.S. to move what I couldn't, as well as to train a replacement, I needed to start getting familiar with driving in the territory around our home. It will be necessary in getting to some basic places on, albeit, friendly roads. This isn't driving through the New York City boroughs, after all.

Also high on the list is contacting a doctor, a dentist and the schools to register the children, though, under the circumstances, I prefer chairs before school supplies. The floor is cozy, but not everyone in the family is simpatico towards the flavor. And since a good witch can be hard to find, at times like this, the distractions of a decent playground and hospitable neighbors can be priceless. The dears at our realty attorney's office, last we spoke, were trying to move the closing on the house in New York to allow the movers and garbage truck(s) to do their jobs. Still, it does lighten the spirit to support an economy that stands for the same issues we're supposed to be working for. Combining sensibility with reality, we've transferred funds for getting by.

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While purchasing staple items at stores, we gave support to local youngsters with a purchase of candy. Two children, approximately ten years old, were selling candy door-to-door. I also saw a child who appeared to be younger than fourteen get into the front seat of a car ready to leave a parking lot. In New York, that's illegal. I know some of the laws in Ontario are the same regarding children, but, aside from seatbelts being mandatory, I haven't checked, specifically, about children younger than fourteen riding in the front passenger seat. For all I know, it is legal, at least in Ontario. One thing I am reminded of here and there is that Ontario's laws and holidays aren't necessarily all-Canadian. While not wishing in the slightest to analogize with the U.S., it does seem at such times like the (United) Provinces of Canada. Sorry. Downtown Toronto, on the other hand, struck me as distinctly "Europe meets North America", or vice versa. With cable cars, many narrow streets, and styles of architecture that spoke European...I like Toronto.

A vexing issue, though, was the presumed absence of a mailbox. It was then up to anyone in the family who saw the closest neighbor outside (I'm only into ringing doorbells on Halloween) to ask. And while I prefer a mail slot, it may now be a matter of my paranoia carried in from the U.S., though safety is on the minds of the Canadians in our area. And after our beyond-kind neighbors told us where to find the mailboxes for the houses, there came two inconvenient details: three possible boxes and no key. Now for a drive to the post office for both details.

Another vexing issue has been on-line communication. Internet security in Canada beats the crap out of that in the U.S. E-mail had been getting in but not out. After considerable effort, it's been taken care of...for now.

And on an unexpectedly educational note, the cable guy took off his shoes before coming into the house-without being asked. From viewing other houses before choosing this one, people in this area are in the habit of removing their shoes while at home, a familiar custom to us and one that may, I wonder, go beyond the respect from the cable guy.
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Rachel emigrated to Canada in the summer of 2006.- She has an M.A. in Teaching ESOL, and her poetry, short stories and articles have appeared in print and online. Rachel is a member of Fair Vote Canada.

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