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My Canadian Experience
October, November, December 2011

Well the month started of with me spending a bit more money.

I purchased a couple of internal oak doors with glass panes which are for the kitchen and sitting room as these doors were missing when I purchased the house. I figured it would make these rooms a little cozier in the Winter time. While the doors have arrived they now need to be stained and hung.

I also purchased a sofa as right now I just have 4 individual arm chairs in my sitting room and decided it was time to get a sofa.  I was quite pleased with my find and here are some pictures from there web site.

It's a double recliner sofa and in the last picture you'll note the centre can fold down to provide a wee table with drink holders. And here is the sofa in situ...

And the final spend is to get my window shutters painted and the brick work on the front of the house cleaned and re-pointed. This is possible now as we've got an entire week of sun and fine weather.

I also reorganised things a bit inside by moving a chest from the library to my bedroom. Then I moved a single bed from the guest bedroom to the library where the trunk was.  And then I was able to move one of the arm chairs from the sitting room into the guest bedroom. So this way I can have two rooms with single beds being a bit more flexible for guests staying overnight. The guest bedroom is large enough to actually add a Queen sized bed in addition to the single bed should that ever be needed. It's quite rare that I actually have anyone staying over so I'm not inclined to add a Queen bed at this time.

This is how the guest bedroom looks like now

And the above two pictures shows the conversion to the library to add another bedroom

And this is the master bedroom with the chest now under the window

All of this just means I have two jobs left to do on the house.  I want to put in double glazing and get the siding under the porch repaired.  And the other job is still to put in an external door into my garage. 

So it's now down to working on my new web site which I must say I'm having fun doing.  I do note however that getting a new web site up and running and getting decent visitor traffic is a lot more work these days. When I launched my site it was probably one of the first 100,000 sites on the web so at that time it was easy to get it well known. Today with millions of web sites it's a whole other story.

I also visited the British Store in London, Ontario for the first time.  As I don't go into Toronto as much these days it was getting harder to get my haggis, fruit pudding and black pudding not to mention my bridies, sliced sausage and steak pies.  They have opened up a second outlet in London and it's now very easy to get to them. It's a straight run from Chatham of around 1 hr 15 mins and the store is on the main road in so not even one turn of Route 2 making it dead easy to get to. Friendly staff and they also have things like British Heinz Baked Beans, HP Fruity sauce and other delicacies!

Today, 6th October, I got in a wee present from the University of Guelph. As you may know the Scottish Studies Foundation completed their $1 million pledge to create a permanent chair of Scottish Studies at the University of Guelph.  It was to thank me for my time on the board of the Scottish Studies Foundation and also as board members and President of the Scottish Studies Society. The present was a Highland Quaich.

So completely unexpected and a nice touch by the University.

As my last cleaning lady decided to quit I was left yet again with having to find a replacement. That's six I've had since arriving in Chatham.  I thus decided time to get a professional so I hired Molly Maids. The arrangement is that they come every other week for 1.5 hours and there are two of them. The cost is $98.00 each visit.

On the left is the franchise owner for Chatham, Janet and the other two are her cleaners who will be coming on a regular basis/

The maids are well trained and bonded so this gives me some security. They started on Friday 21st October and I must say they did an excellent job and you noticed the difference.  The first two visits they give me 2 hours for the price of 1.5 hours just to bring the home up to scratch as they say.  The first visit they concentrated on the upstairs and next they'll focus on downstairs.

I've continued to do some work with Savannah on getting her web site up and running which you can see at I'm now finished with that side of things as Savannah can take it from there.  I did help a wee bit with the brochure she's getting printed which will be hand delivered to all the business owners in the areas of Leslieville and Riverdale in Toronto.

I've decided to take down the chimney as it's been pointed out to me that it is in dangerous condition and could blow down in a strong wind.  That led to me getting a new water heater as mine is over 20 years old.  I've decided to rent one at $21.00 a month.  This gets me free installation and the old tank removed within that price.  I also have the option to purchase it down the road if I wish. It comes with a power vent as I need to get the tank vented through the outside wall of the house as with taking the chimney down that's now my only option.  The new tank is due to go in on Thursday 27th October. It was meant to be installed on the previous Monday but they phoned to say they couldn't make that date so rescheduled to the Thursday.

The person I am using to take down the chimney will also seal the gap and re-lay the shingles and will also install a roof vent. This also includes taking down the chimney in the Attic which means it will be one huge room which I can do something with if I want to.  It is large enough to be a games room with a full pool table and large enough so the cues won't hit the wall.  That means it's also large enough to make it a good sized double bedroom with it's own bathroom. However at this time I don't plan to do anything with it as I have plenty of room as it is.

Here is a video of the Water Tank company...

On Saturday 22nd October the new oak doors were hung and this Monday saw that completed and the oak stained to try and match with the wood surrounds. As the wood in this house are over 100 years old it's been a bit of a challenge to find an appropriate stain. I picked Early American as the closest match we could find. As it dried on the Monday it did come up a touch lighter so will be doing another coat on the Tuesday and then it's just a matter of removing the plastic covering from the glass panes and fitting the door handles.

This week I also decided to move this journal from to my new web site as being a more appropriate place for it.  I've actually also been busy on moving over some of my other Canadian material as well so all it all it's been quite a lot of work.

I've just heard that the chimney will be removed on Saturday so have ordered a dumpster to be delivered on Friday so that the bricks can be removed. Once the chimney is down it will just be a matter cleaning the attic of debris and filling in the hole where the chimney went through the floor. That all might a bit of Sunday to complete all this.  I do as it happens have some shingles left over from when the roof was done so hoping there are sufficient.

Went out today, 25th October, to get some Halloween chocolates in preparation for giving out to all the children that make an appearance.  We did as it happens have around a 1 hour electricity outage this evening.  Apparently a car ran into the transformer but they were quick to deal with the outage.

Here is a picture of one of the doors showing the matching stain.  Still a day to go to let the stain dry and then take off the plastic glass protection and add the door handles which in fact got done on the Saturday. 

And here is a picture of my new water heater with the power vent.

Luckily enough I had my camera out so as they left I thought I'd take a quick picture and thus found out that they had tied the electric to my light socket so when switching off the light the power to the tank went of. So I managed to catch them before they left and they are going to get an electrician out to fix that problem. And I might add the electrician came at 8am on the Saturday and fixed the problem. He also noted an issue with the wiring which could have caused a fire so he kindly fixed that at the same time.

I had expected the roofing guy to come on Saturday 29th and had the dumpster delivered on the Friday so they could take the bricks away. However the roofer came down with some illness and couldn't come so looks like it might be next weekend but that will depend on the weather.

On the Sunday when winding up the 8 day grandfather clock I noted the wood support for it was still the bare wood colour so I took the opportunity of applying some stain to that as well to get it batching with the rest of the wood.

On Sunday I decided to try and resolve an issue I am having playing YouTube videos. Sometimes they work fine but sometimes they just lock up my computer.  I'd tried to resolve this issue with iYogi but that hadn't worked.  So I thought I'd try them again and we spent a good hour trying various things and certainly the one that kept locking up each time I tried to play not worked fine.  So... hopefully they've fixed the issue but time will tell.

I might add that on the whole I find the iYogo service to be well worth while. I have a 3 year contract with them and if you have a software issue you just phone them and they take remote control of your computer and resolve the issue. It's like having your own tech support department in your own home. They are based in India but they offer full 24 hours support 24/7.

On October 31st I had a real slow down on my Internet service. I phoned Cogeco business support and they said I was losing packets on my incoming connection. They said they'd send a technician out to fix the problem.  That was fine but it was going to take them a week to send the tech out which for a business class service is terrible.  I can only assume that they must be having problems with their network if it's going to take them a week to fix this issue. I have said that I've been very pleased with their support but looks like I'm going to have to revise my opinion.

On Friday 4th November Nola came down to stay overnight so she could attend the Knights Templar meeting and investiture on the Saturday in Windsor.  Savannah and Jessica also popped in so we all had dinner together. 

On the Saturday we headed of at 9.15 in the morning for Windsor and got there in good time for the meeting.  The investiture went well and everyone enjoyed the banquet in the evening.  We had quite a heavy meeting discussing the progress of the St James Priory in Toronto and some decisions were made as to the way forward.  Essentially the Priory has had problems with the first chancellor having business problems and thus wasn't able to do the work he should have done.  The the next chancellor who showed great promise up and died on us.  As a result of this the organisation in the Priory has suffered and so we are going to put systems in place to get us back on course and also ensure we have a backup position available.  Our last chancellor had done a great job in sorting out the membership and had developed mailing lists for various activities.  However when he died no-one knew the passwords on his computer so all that information was lost.

I thought it might be interesting to include here the investiture program so you can see how these are done...

Each Priory has a mix of charitable works that they pursue. Normally three different aims in that one is usually to do with the Holy Land, another is to do with National Country charities and the third is local to the Priory. This can vary of course but usually the Holy and and local are common to all. In St James's Priory instead of National we chose to drill wells for clean water.

I did get my certificate at the Investiture. The one I got in Toronto they'd mis-spelled my name so this was the corrected one.

And Savannah and Jessica popped in for a wee visit before heading back to Toronto...

Savannah left and Jessica on the right on my new sofa.

While I was away in Windsor the folk came over to take down my chimney and fix the roof. They also added a roof vent so now I'm good for the winter storms. They then came back on Tuesday to take down the rest of the chimney in the attic...

So now that I have this huge space it's been suggested that I at least make it a room by adding a proper floor, plug points, lights, etc.  I'm in no hurry to do this but it would make sense.  I'm told that adding insulation, vapour barrier and then using pine board painted white or off white should make it look good to go. I'll also need to add a handrail for the stairs.

On November 14th I had an eye exam with Dr McCabe and he confirmed that I had the beginnings of Cataracts which they did warn about when I had my surgery a couple of years ago.  So now have an appointment to see Dr Anjema for the following Monday. I did get a communication from him confirming the appointment but along with that got various brochures in about all the treatments I can get at a variety of prices. I confess my initial reaction was that here is a chap that loves money and he'll do the best he can to sell the most expensive treatment he can.  He's also the chap that gave me laser treatment a few years ago but never bothered to do a follow up examination.  I can't say I have a great deal of confidence in him but will see what he says.

And on 21st November I had my exam at the Anjema Institute in Chatham. I will say it's a very plush building so obviously lots of money in the eye industry.

I thought I'd scan in some of the material I got from them...

The health care industry is very good in Canada but in this case they only provide the very basic service for cataract surgery.  Reading the literature it's pretty obvious that when it comes to our eyes you want them to be the best they can be and thus the most expensive option is clearly the one you want to go for.  In my case this is going to cost $6,000 which is a chunk of money and I'm quite sure a high percentage would be challenged to find the money to pay for it. 

While I was there I got an injection in one eye and laser treatment in both of them.  I'm booked in during December for eye surgery on one eye and in January for the second eye. That injection and laser treatment cost $260.00. I did have a wee problem driving back as my eyes were quite blurry but I made it home safely. While they will remove the cataracts they will also implant a multi-focal lens in the eye to improve my eyesight and that should mean I won't need glasses as it will deal with both long and short sight. 

They have a web site at

On St Andrews Days, 30th November, we got our first wee fall of snow.

On 1st December we were having a real battle with Verizon the telecom people. I have to say that for a huge corporate they are totally pathetic when it comes to resolving technical issues and disputes.  It's now been three months since we had all that downtime on our bandwidth and they are still nowhere near resolving the issues. Our contract states that for every 1 hour we are down they will credit 1 days billing. I should state here that as soon as this is resolved we will move to another Telco as their service is unacceptable. 

On the web side of the business I am having a hard time keeping things moving between my main Scottish site and the new Canadian one.  While building content for the Canadian site I made use of my reserves of content on the Scottish one but of course that could only last so long. That means I am now down to just a weeks work in reserve so need to get back to my Scottish site to build more content so I can get back to work on the Canadian side of things.

The key to this is that I get pretty well all my revenue from the Scottish site and get around 180,000 visitors each month from there.  As the Canadian site is still very new it is only getting around 1,000 visits a month so a long way to go for it to serve up any kind of income. My intention is to build up a decent base of information on the Canadian side of things then leave it alone for a wee bit to focus back on the Scottish side. Right now I've got decent histories up for all provinces in Canada but still need to do a bit more. I also have some decent information on the First Nations, am making good progress on the Makers of Canada. Have good information up on Pioneering and have started to make progress with a few accounts up for the armed forces including both the RCMP and the NWMP along with a couple accounts of army regiments. I have also found a collection of pdf files on various Canadian regiments which I've also added.

I do also have some accounts up on transport and have made a small start on Transport, Industry and Commerce and some work on Religion.  Also have a few other pages up under the Lifestyle section. So all in all already a decent body or work but tons more to do.

On 15th December I got surgery done on my right eye to remove the cataracts and to implant the new multi-focal lens. They say it can take around 4 weeks for these to settle in and so I'm not really seeing any improvement at 19th December but I go for an eye checkup on the 20th so will see what they find.

I did at last get a few pictures in from the KT Investiture in Toronto so I include them here...

This is a picture of my table at the banquet. On Savannah's left, looking at the picture, is Nola's son Derby with his wife Vicky on his left.

This is a picture of the Grand Prior of Canada, Ron Matthewman with Prior Nola Crewe and her grand daughter Savannah Johnston getting her certificate on becoming a Dame of the Order.

And this is me getting my certificate for becoming a Grand Officier

I would also note here that I am very disappointed with Savannah as she has made no progress at all with her web site. Having got her all setup with her web site and getting a brochure organized to take the next step of getting the local businesses onboard she's done nothing at all.  I will acknowledge there is a great deal of work to do but to have made no progress whatsoever is incomprehensible to me. I can only conclude that her lack of work ethic is the main reason she is not being successful.  I think the saying... you can take a horse to water but you can't make it drink... is most relevant.

On Friday 16th I signed an agreement to move our T1 leased lines to Comcast. We're hoping this might get the new lines installed before the end of this year.  It's now some four months since we had the dispute with Verizon and it still isn't resolved.  I simply can't understand how such a large organization can be so useless in resoling technical and customer support issues.  I certainly would not recommend that company to anyone.  I just hope that Comcast will be better.

A further note to the above just to say that the lines were installed on 22nd December so hopefully by the end of this month we'll have our servers moved over to the new Telco.

On 20th December I went to have my right eye checked and the eye specialist said he was pleased with the implant but told me the eye was still swollen from the operation. He said it was likely to take another week or two for the eye to stabalise and to keep putting in the eye drops.  He also said that I was rather in between things as the left eye would be contributing to the lack of crispness of vision but that should be solved when I get the operation for that in January.  So at least he's pleased so we'll see what next month brings.

As we're now virtually at the end of this quarter I think it's a good place to complete this quarters journal.  Should anything of note happen prior to the end of the end of the year I will add it later but other than that this will bring this journal entry to a close.

Return to my Canadian Experience Index Page

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