Dr. Nicole Basaraba

Assistant Professor in Digital Humanities, TCD

Nicole Basaraba


O Canada – I’m home and was glad to land!

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Ok so I didn’t start singing the national anthem once I landed in Canada, but I was practically dancing down the terminal suitcase in tow.  I was a little disappointed that I had a five hour layover in Montreal (pronounced Mon-tree-all in English) because its is in the small French part of Canada, but once I saw “Welcome to Canada” I was instantly cured of thinking of it as French. It was home. There were even commercials running on the multiple TVs in the airport saying “Welcome home”.

I asked one of the security officer’s if I should pass through security or stay out since I had such a long layover. Of course I asked in English and his response was: “yeah, you could go through and chill there, but there isn’t much in this airport.” Umm YEAH I will chill because that’s what Canadians do. For those readers from warmer climates, we don’t really mean “chill” as in get cold, but to hang out and relax, which is exactly what I did.

I have to say passing through Canadian airport security, I was surprised to discover all the new procedures I had to go though.

1) An airport security officer for Air Canada greeted us in the line before we checked in our baggage and to get our boarding passes in Brussels. After she asked me where I lived, why I was going home and for how long, she put a green sticker on the back of my passport. I passed the first test.

2)   When I landed in Montreal and waited at the baggage claim area, an officer was walking around the baggage carousel with a dog that was sniffing each and every bag. It really makes me wonder if they have a lot of drugs or other dangerous goods entering Canada lately or is it for terrorist reasons? I know I had to resist the urge to bend down and say, “come here you. Aren’t you just the cutest thing ever?”

3)   When my bags went through the scanner in the Montreal securty, they scanned my laptop twice, they opened by carry-on to check for any sharp items and then they let me pack up.

4)   Before I put my jacket on to leave the security area, a man asked me to turn my palms up to swab them. A palm swab?? What is that about? I looked at the guy questioningly and he said “don’t worry its nothing” but refrained from telling me what it was for. Cocaine maybe? Explosive powder? I have no idea what they could have been checking for.

Now it was time to chill. I checked out the gift shop. I wanted to see what Canadian souvenirs they had since I’ve been to all the gift shops in the cities I’ve visited in Europe. First of all I have to say that everything was high quality. There was nothing made in China as far as I could tell and there wasn’t anything plastic in sight. A t-shirt or sweater with “Canada” embroidered on it ranged from 20 to 80 Canadian dollars (or if you wanted to use Canadian slang you would say “bucks”).  Everyone was so beautiful I wanted one of each.

All things maple

So in the gift shop there is a whole section dedicated to all things maple. Now living in Western Canada, the only thing maple we have on occasion are the maple Girl Guide cookies that are sold door to door. So maybe they make an appearance twice a year. Other than that there aren’t maple goodies consumed regularly. Unlike Belgians, Canadian’s aren’t big on waffles. They are more of a Sunday morning once a month – but for my family maybe you see pancakes once a year. I don’t like pancakes, and even those who do, I think its safe to say that they aren’t often the first choice for breakfast little alone topped with maple syrup. I think you have to go to a specialty grocery store to find maple syrup or go to a fancy brunch restaurant. Then you can even try maple bacon, which taste pretty good even though you would think that sweet and savory don’t tend to go well together, its worth the try. Anyways, you get the point, we don’t eat maple stuff.

In the maple section I saw: maple syrup of course, maple fudge (YUM), maple chocolates (really?), maple suckers (no, just no), maple nougat (I’d try it), maple nuts (almost bought a bag…might on the way back to Brussels) and maple tea (doesn’t sound like my cup of tea). While browsing thought the clothing, maple section, the sweet section which had a can of “moose droppings” which is actually small round-shaped chocolates, a bar of “Canada” chocolate which I’ve never seen before in my life, there is Christmas music playing in the background. I don’t know what it was, but the Christmas music at home sounded so much happier and they played the right kind of music and the right level so it took everything I had not to start singing in swaying in the store.

I really wanted to buy a little stuffed moose wearing a sweater with “Canada” printed across the front or a Mounty teddy bear (“Mounty” is slang for Royal Mounted Canadian Police – you know the ones who ride the horses – anyways you don’t see them in my city). They are the cutest stuffed animals I’ve seen, they have curly brown hair and their eyes are perfectly aligned, not lopsided and their outfit just made you want to squeal “awwwwe”.

Tim Horton’s

Most of you might be familiar with Starbucks. I have to say that I will not purchase a Starbucks coffee in Europe again – unless I’m in Paris because a Starbucks coffee is often cheaper than a regular coffee, which is actually an espresso in a Parisian café.

Tim Horton’s is a Canadian café and bakery. It’s famous for its wide selection of donuts and “timbits” which are small ball-shaped donuts. I opted for a medium French vanilla cappuccino and a 12-grain bagel with herb cream cheese, all for under the price of $3; yeah, a fancy coffee and a snack for less than a latte at Starbucks. I would have gotten a donut, but the bagel had to last me the rest of the day as I had three hours of waiting time left until my next leg of the flight scheduled for four hours.

I was pleasantly surprised to find out that Montreal airport has Free Wifi so of course I spent the remainder of my waiting time talking to family and friends on Skype – one of the best inventions on the internet. So the long layover wasn’t so bad. The one hour delay in the Ottawa stopover and finally getting home at 2:00am, not so pleasant.

But then I woke up the next morning to this:

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22 thoughts on “O Canada – I’m home and was glad to land!

  1. Welcome home!
    I must say, being from Western Canada, you’re right…not huge on the maple. BUT…Moose droppings!?! hook me up!

  2. Welcome Home, indeed! That morning scene you woke up to is simply stunning. We only get that if we drive hours and hours in the winter.

    I’m still quite curious what the palm thing was about. If you ever find out, please do let us know!

    1. I forgot just how beautiful it is here. I find myself just stopping to look around. Never used to do that I don’t think.

      Apparently I was right. They swab for traces of explosives. Really guys do I look like I make bombs in my spare time? LOL. anyways.

  3. Welcome home. And what a sweet home it sounds like. Maple anything… yum! Wishing you the best of the holiday season and many blessings in 2012!

  4. Welcome HOME!!! Woot woot – glad your travels were safe and fahhhbulous.
    Maple – well over here on the Estern side of Canada we are BIG into the maple. Pancakes, waffles, French toast, salmon – whatever – we put maple syrup on it! And we have sugar shacks everywhere making the darn stuff…you can’t get away from it. LOL!
    As I child, our family used to “tap” trees around the property and make our own maple syrup. Oh yes – we were old school! The store bought stuff was always better though….ours always seemed to have a smoky flavor…LOL!
    ENJOY your time with your family and have a very happy holiday seasons…here’s to a million more laughs and blog lovins in 2012!!! HUGS!!

    1. I’m sooo happy that maple syrup is big somewhere in Canada. I was starting to think that it was a legend…like we all live in igloos. We have maple salmon over here too. I MUST visit Eastern Canada someday soon.

      Love to hear you tapped the trees. Sounds like so much fun even if it doesn’t taste that good.

  5. I’m so excited for your time at home for the holidays!! That photo is priceless, worth all the effort of your journey. Being a transplant from upstate NY near the Canadian border just south of Montreal, your descriptions and lingo reminded me of my childhood home. Thanks for the memories. Merry Christmas, Nicole, and welcome home. 🙂

    1. Yeah, I felt instantly relaxed coming home. You don’t realize how stressful life is in Europe until you spend a total of 5 mins in Canada. LOVE the lingo. I miss it so much. I’m going to talk soooo much Canadian English while I’m here to make up for lost time.

  6. Yay! You’re home! Glad it all went pretty well. That photo is gorgeous! Being from central New York we are definitely maple lovers. A lot of what we see in stores and at the State Fair is tapped here. In fact, when my daughter was 7, I took our Brownie troop (Girl Scouts here-like Girl guides there) to a maple sugaring demonstration in a local natue preserve. We tasted the syrup right from the tree. Anyway, how can one not like maple syrup?
    Have a wonderful holiday at home with your family! Wish you all the best for the new year and for your trip back to Belgium.

  7. Welcome home Nicole. Nice to have you back in Canada – however briefly! We lived in the middle of a maple forest (near Toronto) for 15 years when my children were young and tapped our trees every spring. The maple syrup was AHHH-mazing! Natalie, we will have to talk!
    Enjoy every minute of your visit. Warmest wishes!

  8. Nicole, long flights like that are rarely fun, but I’m glad you made it back home again despite the delays. Wishing you *wonderful* holidays (with breakfasts that are pancake-free 🙂 ) and a very happy New Year ahead!

    1. I like the long flights because I get to catch up on all the new movies. A definite benefit. And this year I was in the first row so hello leg room. Thanks so much for the warm wishes. Funny thing is Mom is making french toast for Christmas breakfast….I will be eating the hash browns and bacon.

  9. Welcome home Nicole! Maybe we will get to see you and the family at New Years, but if not enjoy your stay and welcome back to the winter wonderland. Gord, Mary, Alyssia, Deanna & Melissa 🙂

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