Comparing Life in Different Locations in Canada

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  • 0:02 Life Around Canada
  • 0:25 Toronto
  • 2:05 Halifax and Vancouver
  • 4:35 Fort McMurray and Nunavut
  • 6:05 Moose Jaw and Montreal
  • 7:30 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Christopher Sailus

Chris has an M.A. in history and taught university and high school history.

In this lesson, we fly around Canada, meeting several different Canadians. In the process, we will learn a little bit more about what life in Canada is like in each region. Then, test how well you know life in Canada with a brief quiz.

Life Around Canada

Canada is a big place. The second largest country in the world by land area, it accommodates a wide range of climates, economies, ecosystems, and people. In this lesson, we are going to meet seven different Canadians who all live in different cities in Canada so we can learn a little bit more about Canada and what life is like in Canada's various cities and regions. Without further ado, let's get started!

Toronto

Steve lives in Toronto
A man

This is Steve. Steve lives in downtown Toronto. Surrounded by around 2.6 million people, Steve lives in Canada's largest metropolis. Steve, as you might presume by his slick suit and briefcase, is an investment banker. All day, he monitors his clients' investments on the Toronto Stock Exchange, Canada's only stock market, which is also based in downtown Toronto. Toronto is Canada's financial hub, and tens of thousands of banking professionals and lawyers live in the city. Most of the companies he invests in are manufacturing companies that are based in and around Toronto and throughout the province of Ontario, Canada's manufacturing capital.

It's a good thing Steve makes as much money as he does, because living in Ontario, especially in Toronto, can be pretty expensive. Ontarians pay high rates of taxes but they get plenty in return: a completely free healthcare system, numerous social services available to the public at low costs, and even monthly checks mailed to new parents by the provincial government to help offset the expenses of child-rearing. Even indirect taxes are high in Ontario; Ontarians pay a 13% sales tax, high property taxes, and even proportionally high taxes on gasoline, alcohol, and tobacco. The average package of cigarettes, for example, costs well over $10 in Ontario!

Steve enjoys similar weather to his American neighbors across Lake Ontario in New York: relatively short, hot summers followed by longer, colder winters that often see Steve spending his weekends shoveling snow! Steve likes to spend his summer weekends bicycling and hiking through the numerous deciduous forests that cover large portions of southern Ontario.

Halifax

Dave is a fisherman
A fisherman

Let's leave Steve behind for now and meet Dave out on Canada's East coast. Dave lives in Halifax, Nova Scotia, on the coast of the Atlantic Ocean. As you can probably tell from the galoshes and net, Dave is a fisherman. He spends large periods of time out on the open ocean on his boat catching tuna, halibut, and other fish for the commercial fishing industry. As much of life and the economy in Canada's Atlantic provinces revolves around the ocean, Dave's wife and most of his relatives work in the fish canning plant a few miles outside Halifax.

Dave and his family don't make a ton of money. The commercial fishing industry in eastern Canada has steadily declined over the past half century as domestic fisheries and growth in fishing in other areas of the world have hurt demand for Dave's products. Indeed, the Atlantic provinces of Canada (Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and Newfoundland) only account for roughly 5% of Canada's GDP.

Dave's winters are even longer and harsher than Steve's. Storms referred to as 'nor'easters' often storm up the East coast of the United States and into Atlantic Canada, dumping feet of snow in the process. Summers are cooler in Atlantic Canada as well.

Vancouver

Leaving Dave to his fishing and snow, let's jump all the way to Canada's west coast and meet Sally. Sally lives in Vancouver. Sally works as an executive for a foresting company. Though Vancouver is one of Canada's largest cities, it is surrounded by mountains and expansive coniferous forests that cover most of British Columbia. Various lucrative forestry and mining companies operate in British Columbia and throughout western Canada and many are headquartered in Vancouver. Vancouver is more economically diverse than other cities. Pacific fishing operations are also a big economic motivator in the city, as well as shipping and logistics. Meanwhile, Telus, one of Canada's 'Big Three' telecommunications companies, is also located in Vancouver.

Sally's job as an executive gives her a big salary, which makes it possible for her to live in downtown Vancouver, the most expensive city in Canada. Indeed, Sally's rent and utilities would put Steve's in Toronto to shame. Property values here are higher than anywhere else in Canada. At least Sally can save some money on winter clothing in comparison to other Canadians. Vancouver, much like Seattle or Portland in the United States, is kept warmer during the winter than other areas at its latitude by the warm Pacific currents on its shores. It rarely, if ever, snows in Vancouver. The same feature also keeps it cooler and rainier in the summer than elsewhere in Canada.

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