Summer in Canada… it’s my happy place, but don’t tell anybody, as I want it all to myself.
I was lucky enough to marry a Canadian and visited her homeland three times in the mind-numbingly freezing winter before she gently suggested we might spend a summer there. I was on board even before I discovered Muskoka. Two and half hours north of Toronto are Canada’s Hamptons: three large, interlinked lakes – Muskoka, Rosseau and Joseph – peppered with wooded islands, staggering scenery and jaw-droppingly enviable homes.
All summer the temperature hangs at thirty degrees and I live by the lake, zooming around in my speedboat in a state of almost permanent bliss. But this is Canada – the Ned Flanders to America’s Homer Simpson – so there are some rules you need to abide by if you want to enjoy your Canadian vacation to the max.
When passing another boater, you must wave frantically at each other as though you are old friends. Try not to do this to passing waterskiers as they will feel obliged to wave back and fall in. Ditto with jet skiers. Do not wave at them, first with one hand, then with both. That would be wrong and it’s unfair to Canadians as they legally have to respond, often with tragic consequences.
When exiting a building, say a supermarket; be decisive. Make the first move. Otherwise you can end up in what is known as a “Canadian stand-off” whereby somebody trying to enter the building meets somebody trying to exit and both refuse to go first. Everything comes to a halt and you can apologise to each other for up to an hour before a Frenchman barges past you and breaks the deadlock.
When entering a public space, make sure to say, “Good morning, lovely day isn’t it?” to every single person in the place. It’s also good form to shake everybody’s hand and ask whether you can pay for anything as “it’s really no bother.” Warning – do not do this when back home, especially if you live in the UK. You are likely to be punched for even attempting conversation with a stranger.
I was once invited to stay at a Canadian friend’s cottage on a remote island. “It’s always unlocked,” she said, while giving me directions. We got there, settled in and spent three lovely days in the place before a confused family turned up and asked us what we were doing in their cottage. It turned out that we were in the wrong place. This being Canada however, the family insisted we stay on as they had another place down the road. We had to almost force them to let us leave.
Canada really is a special place full of special people. It’s absolutely stunning, there’s lots of room and nobody voted for Trump. Frankly, it’s heaven (and did I mention what a lovely day they’re having today?)