View blog reactions Waiting for Speedway Fowler: More from Canada

Saturday, August 26, 2006


More from Canada

I’m on vacation this week… but the new age of instant communication means I’m not out of touch.

I’m staying at a cottage on a lake in Quebec.

I’ve been coming here with my family for several years now. It’s a beautiful place in a small town just a few miles over the border from Vermont.

Some thoughts on Canada:

The loonie is soaring in value, compared to the U.S. dollar. Right now, you’re lucky to get 10% at the exchange. Just a few years ago, it was up in the 40’s. This is the lowest the American dollar has been against the Canadian dollar in about 40 years. The bargain that used to be a trip to Canada isn’t much of a bargain at all anymore.

Canada is changing. For the first half of the 20th century, Montreal was the center of power in this country. For the second half, it was Toronto. Now it’s all about Calgary. The long shadow cast by Calgary has changed the tone of the whole country. It’s all shale oil money, and I mean big bucks. Calgary’s hiring rate is three times the rest of the country, and the small city of Fort McMurray, to the north, is a boomtown unlike anything this country has ever seen. There is an RV boom going on in Canada. Sales nationwide are through the roof. Fascinating, when you consider that RV sales have bottomed-out everywhere else in this nation, but that that number has been completely off-set by skyrocketing sales to folks in Alberta who are using them as housing because the few houses available for sale in places like Fort McMurray are going for half a million dollars.

Poutine is best eaten on a cold February night… but it’s not bad in August either.

Between “Trailer Park Boys” and “Puppets That Kill”, this place has the U.S. beat in the department of Extreme, Offensive, Hysterical Comedy TV.

The rapid-pace, dog-eat-dog rat race lifestyle of the northeast starts to fade a bit when you hit Vermont, and vanishes even further once you cross the border. Folks here seem to take things just a bit more in stride, and they look and sound healthier. Plus, the air is cleaner and there are fewer fast-food chains and more mom-and-pop “casse croutes”. Those places may still be greasy spoons, but it just seems a little healthier.

Newport, Vermont, is an interesting little town. And that’s all I’m gonna say about that.

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