Here is his story:
I want to thank Ayak for giving me this opportunity to be a guest speaker about my moving to Canada from Turkey and some of my adventures. I enjoy reading her Blog and her adventurous and 'not' boring life with her husband and dogs. And her daily life, as I'm always curious as what her next action and adventure in Turkish life she will stumble upon.
I moved to Canada in 1986. It was to Montreal, Quebec to be exact with my cousin .
We both had just gone under divorces and were seeking a different and adventurous life as we were still in our 20's and wanted to see the world.
We had heard people mention they were taking in new immigrants to Canada and it had interested us.
So off we went to a new adventure and life, after thinking it over and leaving everything behind. Mind you I had a good family and good life growing up but just I needed something in my life different.
I just intended to stay maybe 3 years or so. But as you can see I'm still here for the last 27 years. Funny I think a lot of people heard about coming to Canada because at the airport on my way we met up with a few friends also who were on their way here. Some have returned and some have made quite good lives here and are very prosperous
My idea of Canada was that it was very cold, lots of snow, moose running around, beavers around the lakes, and the Royal Canadian Mounties on horses, with lots of Cowboys, Indians and farms......well I was wrong we were in a large city of Montreal with skyscrapers. I guess I watched to many Roy Rogers movies. To this day I have never seen a Royal Canadian Mountie on a horse except on post cards.
Hardly anyone spoke any English in Montreal but French . Really it didn't matter as our English was limited anyways.
Our first day was December 26 so we were fascinated with all those Christmas lights and decorations. Never had seen any so many before. People were running around stores with lots of shopping bags and the stores were jam packed with line-ups at the registers. Well I learned later it was Boxing Day and that's when they had their big sales after Christmas. I thought to myself do people love shopping here so much.
Looking for food was very shocking on our first day. We saw in the window a sign for 'Hot Dogs', well one of our friends interpreted that people here were eating 'dogs' that were heated to go. I got very squeamish and thought how are we going to eat any kind of food here.
It was very difficult to find a job in Montreal. After 6 months in Montreal I had made some friends Turgay and Erol...both of which were from my city of Izmir.
We had heard about and decided to move to Toronto a bigger city in another province with more opportunities. There they only spoke English and right away we found an apartment for the three of us together and jobs. In the meantime we befriended some more Turkish friends and they directed us to find some Turkish cheeses, sausages, olives, etc......well you know the regular Turkish foods. So we didn't have to eat those darn 'Hot Dogs'. Hehehehe!
It was very cold here not like in Izmir.....snow, wind and ice. Wasn't too happy about that, a very big weather shock. It was sort of a very different culture here. There were people from all corners of the world, you could hear many different languages and so different from anywhere where I came from. So different that on our second day in Toronto we heard a knock on the door and there were kids standing with costumes and saying something. In their hands they had bags, well we didn't have a clue as to what they wanted. We looked into their bags and saw candy. We didn't have any so we gave them money. They were happy. So happy that all night the doorbell kept ringing, I guess word had spread that house was giving out money. Well........we were running out of money so we closed the lights and waited it out. This event was Halloween. Now on Halloween every year I have the best decorated home in the area. I get up to over 400 kids a Halloween night. I make it nice and spooky, with lots of spooky and scary characters and my daughter and my wife's nieces and nephews come to help.
What I found interesting was when going to work I would see women reading books on the buses and subways and I thought what a bunch of studious and smart women. Their noses in books totally ignoring the world outside them. Well I found out later they were reading romance novels on their commute to work. I noticed my wife had a full book shelf of them, that is how I put it together. She said she read them on her way to work on the subway....like everyone else she said
After a while the Turkish Cafe's and Tea shops would pop up like mushrooms and there we found more and more friends. So it didn't feel so lonely and like I was away too far from home.
One day at a Disco (popular in those days) after a few months in Toronto, I met my wife Erica. I asked her to dance a couple of times and then somehow we separated on the dance floor. Little did I know that she came back the next weekend to see if she could see me again. Well we did meet up and 2 months later we were married.
The first time I went to her house I was scared for she had 2 big dogs greet me at the door barking at me and jumping. I'm not use to that having such big dogs and especially in the house. But I did get to love them and as they passed away it was very sad and I still think about them.
Later we got another dog a Siberian Husky who totally took over our lives.....it's the nature of those dogs. We loved her, she lived to be 17 years old. When my Mother and Sister came to visit from Turkey they were always afraid of the dog as they were use to them roaming the streets....but after a while they would come out of their rooms.
It was funny because people were taking bets at work this marriage wouldn't last as we both could really not speak the same language and we only knew each other 2 months. We did each have a small English/Turkish dictionary though, so that helped....my English was limited and she only spoke English. As the years went by as you can read I can do English now and my wife knows Turkish.
When we first got married we lived with my in-laws, it wasn't bad b/c they owned a big rambling house so we really didn't bump into each other. Only at the dinner table.
3 years later we had a daughter..... Who is now into Law School this year.
After a couple of years we bought our own condo on the 14th floor. Not a good idea with a child.
After that we bought a house and have been here since.
Now I'm in the home renovating business for the lastv20 years or so. I buy century old homes in a bustling area of the city and break them up into 4 apartments or so and that is my job. My wife Erica does the paperwork and helps look for tenants. It keeps me busy, with those tenants. The tenant and landlord laws sure are different here then in Turkey. So may laws, paperwork and extreme rules to follow.
I now am so use to living in Canada that when I go back for a visit I miss it here. I guess I've been here too long. I also notice the difference in people. In Turkey neighbours are more friendly and helpful. Here because it is so diverse that everyone keeps to themselves basically. Which sometimes is better.
My wife loves cooking and makes Turkish food all the time so I'm not missing any of that.
She makes boreks all the time as that is my favorite especially the spinach and cheese, actually hers are better then some women I know in Turkey would bake.
We also have a large community of Turks here so lots of grocery stores and restaurants have opened up. Any kind of Turkish food or basics you need they import . But I do miss the bazaars for they almost don't exist here. Only in the summer months some local farmers will sell their vegetables and fruits. There is no screaming from the vendors selling their wares and fruits like in Turkey, everybody is calm and you pick out yourself what you want and NO bargaining.
Canada is so vast and large that every corner you go to visit has quite different scenery with mountains, prairies, forests and fisheries and lakes with two oceans surrounding both sides. I'm quite fortune to live an hour away from Niagara Falls, one of the wonders of the world and one hour from the USA border which we love to go shopping there. Same stores and people and basically the same culture but the prices are a lot better.
In my opinion I think that Canada is a great country and the best in the world for living standards and peaceful. Our medical is free, lots of benefits we can get.
The standard for living is one of the best and highest in the world, and I'm very grateful to be a citizen.
I do miss my family and in the future hope to live there in Turkey for 6 months of the year.
A big thankyou to Dogan for sharing his story. I hope you found it as fascinating as I did.