Heading North

Wubby has asked me to write about being an immigrant to Canada.  I think she would probably bring more to the telling of the story because she’s done most of the detail work.  She’s a whiz kid at paperwork.  She LIKES it!??  I like it when it’s all finished and filed away, but she actually likes to do it.  I don’t get it. 

Back to immigration.  We were happily minding our own business, down in the States, when her visa expired.  She’s Canadian (originally from Rhodesia — now Zimbabwe — via England.)   She originally went down to the “land of the free, home of the brave” as a missionary and liked it so much she went back as a student.  That’s where we met  — at University.  We hooked up (and she liked it) so our worries about how we would stay together began almost immediately.  For those of you that don’t have these worries, be grateful.

We knew her Visa would eventually expire.  We were not in a position, at that time, to live on one income.  And unfortunately, we found out I had some medical problems that were kind of serious.  So then even that one income was beginning to look tenuous.  So we started exploring our options:  Australia, Britain or Canada?  And then Canada legalized marriage for those of us living an “alternative lifestyle” (HA!  Maybe someday I need to rant about how offensive the term “alternative lifestyle” is to me.)  Since she was already a Canadian citizen, and I didn’t possess a British passport, that simplified our choice.

So she headed up North to find a home for our family — the two of us, eight cats (how stereotypical are we?) and two dogs, while I stayed home and took care of getting the paperwork for the pets and trying to keep my head above water (I mentioned that I was very ill, right?)  It took about six months to secure a position that would enable her to support all of us during the immigration process, since I would be legally unable to work, but she finally found a position. 

It turned out that it was in the field she was looking for but it was WAY up North.  So she jumped on the bus and headed up here to find us a home.  That wasn’t very easy to do since I had her truck.  And you have to be able to drive to go look at farms and the like.  About the truck:  they wouldn’t let her bring it over the border because it was in both of our names!  So she called me and I rushed to the DMV (Department of Motor Vehicles) and had it put in her name.  Then I both faxed and over-nighted the paperwork to her at the border.  She went to a motel to wait for the paperwork.  The next day at the border she was told that she couldn’t bring the truck over the border because she had purchased it in the States!  Ay yai yai.  So from the border crossing she had to turn around and drive back South and leave the truck and then fly back up.  There are way too many hoops to jump through and EVERY single Immigration agent we’ve ever spoken to has given us different information — on both sides of the border.

Eventually she found a little farm for us to rent.  That worked well because they didn’t care about pets.  It should also have given us a clue about the state of the place!  It was a dump, but we were together and the pets loved it!  But I’m getting ahead of myself.  So she flew back down to the States to pick up her family.  We rented a U haul, had a garage sale, in the rain, and rushed our packing so she could get back to work.  Poor thing, we were a mess when she got back down to us.  I hadn’t coped very well and I’m not good at asking for help, so we had lots to do still to get us ready. 

Eventually we hit the road, with the two of us and the two dogs in the cab of the u haul, towing tinky winky (purple pick up), with the eight cats in the camper.  We just barely kept ahead of a storm the whole time we were on the road.  Our poor pets were shell shocked by the temperature change!  It was in the 40’s (Fahrenheit) when we left the States, and by the time we reached our place, we unloaded in -28C!  Shocking to the system.  I kept stopping along the way to buy more horse blankets to pile on top of the cats.  They were very warm and snug in their little nest though, so I really didn’t need to worry.  They just didn’t like the part where we stopped every night and transferred them all into the motel room — did I mention that one of our dogs was taking medication for her nerves!

As we got closer to the border, we were nervous that it would be a repeat of the last visit — especially with the pets.   It started snowing just before we got there and I think that made our crossing much easier.  The guards didn’t want to come out into the weather!  So they just checked Wubby’s id and sent us through.  They didn’t even ask me for id!!  Didn’t look at all the paperwork we’d had done for the pets.  Didn’t go over the documents that had been meticulously prepared for the contents of the u haul — we had even listed EACH ONE of our books (those who’ve helped us move in the past know that we have many, many, many books.)  And they certainly didn’t check the contents of our vehicles.  In some ways, I think it was a let down, but we dealt with it.

Our next stop was just on the other side of the border.  We found our motel, transferred all the pets inside and watched them scatter up, under and over anything they could, and then we went to get married.  We secured the license, and found a justice (the first one turned us down).  Turns out you need witnesses.  Who knew?!  So darling Wubby went out and recruited some for us.  The folks at 7-11 were too busy to stop and help, but the ambulance bay across the street proved helpful.  Her pleas were effective and she soon returned with two friendly witnesses.  And then we listened to the very nice woman who married us explain that the paperwork only said “husband” and “wife” so we had to choose which we wanted to be! We let wubby be the husband and then the nice lady performed her role (think she cherished dreams of being an actor) then we signed the paper, the witnesses signed the paper, and the deed was done.  Sound romantic?

The next morning, as we were loading up the pets again, wubby was stopped in the parking lot by a young girl on the way to school.  She asked if we were the couple who got married last night, and then gushed about how cool it was and congratulated us.  We giggled most of the morning over that experience.  Welcome to small town living!  It was a nice introduction to Canada and Canadians, and a funny experience to help teach us one of the joys of small towns, where everyone knows everything about anyone and anything for miles around.

So another day of driving, a night with lovely relatives, another day of driving (we spent our time playing “I Spy”.  I would say, “I spy something gray”, then she would say, “I spy something white”.  That was it.  The extent of our choices, as we drove through the cold, under a lowering gray sky and surrounded by an ethereal white landscape, ahead of a storm), one more night in another motel and we headed to our new home.  We found a way to pull up to the front door, moved the pets into one room, turned the heat up as high as we could and proceeded to unload in that -28C weather.  We don’t usually make a very good team when it comes to moving things together, but I think the cold motivated us that morning.  All of our combined experience from working at UPS kicked into overdrive and we unloaded that u haul in record time.  Then we shut the door and tried to figure out why the heater wasn’t working, and began our learning about living in the North.

I have a feeling that this isn’t exactly what Wubby was looking for, so I’ll have to follow-up another time. Jan 26 04 023 Just for fun, this is a photo of our water tank.  Our water for the house was stored here and a truck would deliver water to fill it up.  This was taken a couple of months after we arrived.  When it dropped down to the -40’sC, our water froze.  That’s what you are looking at in this photo.  Frozen water that wubby has been hacking at.  My mother thinks I play around with the color of these photos because they appear too gray or blue to her.  I don’t.  This is exactly what the day was like.

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~ by byrningbunny on February 5, 2008.

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