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My Canadian Experience
Additional Information

Winter 2018 saw more snow than I've experienced since moving to Chatham.

In March 2018 I found a new shop in Chatham that can do alternations like shorten trouser legs, sew on buttons, etc. and all at a very reasonable cost.  The Company is Rojena's Alterations at 181 King St W, Chatham, N7M 1E4 Tel: (519) 937-4846.

I got a new pair of trousers shortened and 3 pairs of trousers with replaced buttons and all for $12.00. Took then in on the Friday and could have got them back on the Saturday but decided to pick them up on the Monday.  Excellent service.


Got some electrical work done from a local company, Wrights Electrical, and while doing the work they found that a plug socket and ceiling light wasn't grounded and that had to be fixed to bring the job into code.

I might add that I asked Maple City Electric to look at doing this job for me but they were useless when it came to communication.  They send someone to look at what I wanted and said they'd be in touch to give me a quote.  Well not only did they not get back to me but I even phoned to remind them but wasn't phoned back.  Frankly I wouldn't trust a company that is rude enough not to get back to you in a timely manner. So my advise is not to use this company.

I might add that after Wrights Electrical left I found all my upstairs lights were not working and neither did the kitchen light.  While I'm not that technical it seems they put in a ground protector to protect the nob and tube I still have in the house. It appears that when the lights surged slightly it blew the fuse and hence all those lights went out.  The father came out at past 7pm to see what the problem was and said his son would be in in the morning to fix the issue. While his son was able to explain the issue it was clear to me he hadn't tested the system before leaving so hopefully he has learned a lesson. We all make mistakes but hopefully he won't repeat this one in the future.

New sockets so that I can have both deep fat fryer and microwave on at the same time and not trip the fuse.  Also a new light under my cupboard to provide better lighting onto the counter.

Installing the new sockets.

I might add that when i purchased the house I asked the contractor to upgrade my wiring so this goes to show this wasn't done.

 Showing the light switch and ceiling unit which wasn't grounded.

Fire Brigade visited

In June 2018 I had a frying pan fire and the alarm went off.  For some reason my ADT service did not call me but I found afterwards they'd left a voice message.  That resulted in the Fire Brigade being called out which was not needed as I'd already sorted out the problem.

I have an electric cooker and I was frying up some bacon for a bacon sarnie and while making the coffee I smelt smoke and turning around I saw the frying pan was on fire.  I removed it from the heat but then the fire alarm went of and I then had to do the usual process in having to switch it off.  Of course it keept going off as smoke is still in the house.  Just as I got that sorted I head the fire sirens and yes it was the fire brigade <sheesh>.  They came in to check all was well which it was.

However I had to figure how it had happened and I remembered that when I took the pan of the hob it was bright read just as it would be if I'd put it on max.  Well I then put in back on at medium and lo and behold it went to max.  That meant something was wrong with my cooker.  I phoned the company and they had me on record as buying it in 2005 so clearly out of warranty they gave me a service contact number to get someone out to fix it.

I was put onto James Beecroft's Appliance and Refrigeration Repair  (519 674 0704) and they came out the next day ($95 call out fee).  He identified the problem as being a sensor issue so he arranged to order the part and came back on Thursday 21st June and fitted it and so I'm back up and working albeit $207. 32 out of pocket.

However I still had the same issue so decided to just purchase a new cooker so some $300 of so down the tube for nothing.  Also don't recommend that comany either.

A financial windfall

Got in some good news to compensate and as you'll see from the above letter I'm to get some extra money from Service Canada.

Around 2 months ago I got in a letter from them telling me I might be eligible to receive a Guaranteed Income Supplement and they included a form which I had to sign and send back to them which I did and this is the result.  So from what the letter states I'm due to get a $7,004.31 lump sum payment and my monthly pension will go up from my current $165.00 to $664.81 with quarterly inflation increases. 

This was totally unexpected but of course very welcome.

Diabetes and health issues

I've had some issues of late with having loose bowel movements while I am sleeping at night.  Not a pleasant experience for sure.  Talked to my Doctor about it and she recommended that I stop taking my 2 metforman tablets at night but continue to take the 2 in the morning.  A month into this new regime the loose bowel movement is cured - thank goodness.  However I am finding I am now having to almost double my dose of short acting insulin to keep my blood sugar levels under control.

I also visited the Diabetic Clinic which is an annual visit and I found out that there is a form you can send in to get help with the cost of needles.  Needles are not covered by a prescription so you need to pay for them and so this payment which is around $170 a year does help to mitigate the cost.

M&M Food Market

I was recommended to try this freezer chain as I was told they did an excellent Butter Chicken Curry meal.  And I can confirm this is totally correct.  I've purchased several since my first one.  I also tried their breaded fish product which is also excellent and will buy it again.  If you haven't visited them you might want to check out their web site at

Doug Ford sworn in as Premier of Ontario on Friday 29th June 2018
The Conservatives took over from the Liberal party's 15 year reign in Ontario today. 

Doug Ford, Ontario’s new Progressive Conservative premier, named 20 ministers to his cabinet before he was sworn in on Friday on the steps at Queen’s Park..

Mr. Ford won power earlier this month with a campaign that was focused heavily on cutting taxes, curtailing government spending and helping the “little guy” at the expense of what he called the province’s elites. His swearing-in ends 15 years of Liberal rule in Ontario and signals a major shift in the province’s politics.

Mr. Ford has named his former rival for the PC party leadership, Christine Elliott, as his deputy premier and minister of health. Caroline Mulroney, who also sought the Tory leadership earlier this year, has been named Attorney-General and minister responsible for francophone affairs.

Vic Fedeli was named finance minister, a key role in Mr. Ford’s government as the new premier has promised to slash income taxes, cancel the province’s cap-and-trade system on carbon emissions and return Ontario to a budget surplus by the end of his four-year mandate. Mr. Fedeli is the former mayor of North Bay and was the PC Party’s interim leader after Patrick Brown resigned in January amid allegations of sexual misconduct.

Mr. Ford’s cabinet is leaner than that of outgoing Premier Kathleen Wynne, which had 28 ministers including Ms. Wynne.

“I promised the people that I would make our great province the best place in North America when it comes to business, creating jobs and raising a family. And I am going to keep my promise,” Mr. Ford said in a statement before his swearing-in by Ontario’s lieutenant governor, Elizabeth Dowdeswell.

The full cabinet of 21, including Mr. Ford, is:

Doug Ford, Premier and Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs

Christine Elliott, Minister of Health and Long-Term Care and Deputy Premier

Peter Bethlenfalvy, President of the Treasury Board.

Raymond Cho, Minister of Seniors and Accessibility

Steve Clark, Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing

Vic Fedeli, Minister of Finance and Chair of Cabinet

Merrilee Fullerton, Minister of Training, Colleges and Universities

Ernie Hardeman, Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs

Sylvia Jones, Minister of Tourism, Culture and Sport

Lisa MacLeod, Minister of Children, Community and Social Services and Minister Responsible for Women’s Issues

Monte McNaughton, Minister of Infrastructure

Caroline Mulroney, Attorney-General and Minister Responsible for Francophone Affairs

Rod Phillips, Minister of the Environment, Conservation and Parks

Greg Rickford, Minister of Energy, Northern Development and Mines, and Minister of Indigenous Affairs

Laurie Scott, Minister of Labour

Todd Smith, Minister of Government and Consumer Services, and Government House Leader

Lisa Thompson, Minister of Education

Michael Tibollo, Minister of Community, Safety and Correctional Services

Jim Wilson, Minister of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade

John Yakabuski, Minister of Transportation

Jeff Yurek, Minister of Natural Resources and Forestry

Air Conditioning
At the start of September 2018 my air conditioning failed.  Luckily it was on the last really hot day so I could actually live without it until next year but decided I may as well look into replacing it now.

I got three quotes in from Postma, QPS and Handy Bros.  I decide to go with Handy Bros as they impressed me with the care they took to check out my home.  For example Postma just came in and quoted me for a 2.5 ton unit as did QPS but QPS did check out my furnace and checked the power panel.  The Handy Bros chap, Jake Myers, took the time to calculate the square footage of the house and whereas the other two just said I needed a 2.5 ton unit Jake told me I only needed a 2 ton unit which is actually the same size as my old one which is 29 years old.  He explained that too much tonnage can be as bad as too little.  He also checked out my furnace and power panel but he also checked out my duct work.  He explained I do have a duct issue and he's going to send someone over to take a closer look at this to see if it's practical to fix the issue. He pointed out that older homes like mine make it more difficult to add duct work and so it might not be cost effective to resolve the issue.

Jake Myers

He also make sure I knew the Seer efficiency rating which on the unit I am purchasing is 18 SEER.  This means I should save around $400 a year on heating and cooling costs.  He also pointed out that the new unit should do a much quicker job of cooling the house and should do a better job as well than my old one.

On the whole he spent around 1.5 hours with me and I decided he'd done a better job than the other two companies so decided to go with him.

The total cost of the unit is $5,253.83 including tax and he gave me the option of paying for this at 0% interest over 2 years at $218.88 a month and I can also pay this off at any time. As I've just paid off my car loan which saved me $350.00 a month I am in a position to pay this off over the two years from income rather than take it out of capital.

I will say I could have saved some money by going with either of the other two companies but I think I have a better overall price when you take into account the efficiency rating of the unit.  The one I am getting is...

Stop Press:
I got a visit as promised from Lawrence at HandyBros to check out my duct work.  In the process he discovered that my air conditioning unit breaker on my main panel had tripped and thus was why my air conditioning had failed.  [sheesh]


And so they are now cancelling my order.  I did say I'd take out their monthly maintenance plan to check both the furnace and air conditioning unit each year.  Least I can do given the situation.  Mind you that's the first time that fuse has ever tripped so guess why I never even thought of checking it.

The maintenance plan is a one off payment of $59 and then $20 a month thereafter. They come twice a year... once to check my air conditioning and the other to check the furnace. So start of the Summer my air conditioning will be checked and at the start of Winter my furnace will be checked. The first visit will be later this month to check the furnace.

And Lee turned up on 17th September to do my furnace check. As part of the service they also provide a new filter for the furnace. However he did note that my thermostat wasn't working properly as there was a lose wire which he fixed so am good to go as they say. He did say my humidifier filter needed replaced but that was an extra cost of $62 + tax which I Paid.  He said that should last me 2 years.

Lee from England

I might add that my current air conditioning unit is 29 years old and so they built them well in them thar days!

I am having some issues with my guttering in that when we get heavy rain I note the water runs over my gutters and of course they do also get clogged with leaves and other matter.

I decided to do a serious job to get them fixed and after a lot of looking around decided on using Leaf Filter gutter protection.  I am doing this in two parts.  The first which is going to cost me $1372.25 incl. Tax is to fix the gutters which includes cleaning all gutters and downspouts, inserting hidden hangers, seal the system, realign them and do any repairs needed.  They will do this after all the leaves are off the trees so sometime in November. 

The chap that visited was Paul Godden, a Newfie, who now lives in London.

Paul Godden

In around a years time I will then look at purchasing their filter guard product which could cost another $2,000.  You can find them at:

He took a photo of me and here is a copy   

Paying off my car loan
I mentioned above that I've paid of my car loan.  I was saving money in a high interest account at my bank and noted this was giving me 1.8% interest BUT my car load was costing me 4.5% interest and so of course it made sense to take money out of this high interest account to pay off that loan which is what I did.

The Irish Link
In Scotland my favourite pork sausage was Richmond Irish Pork Sausage. Since coming to Canada is has been very hard to find a sausage similar to it.  In fact I've talked to many Scots and British ex-pats that when going back to the UK often say they are most looking forward to getting the Great British Breakfast.

Well the good news is that I've found a good sausage which compares very well with the British Banger and it is the Irish Link...

And so you might try searching for them to find a supplier near you.

New web hosting company

I had a lot of problems getting Steve to fix problems with my web sites so I decided it was time to resolve this and that meant dumping him and moving to a new web hosting company. 

The problem of course was getting a hosting company that would provide Front Page extensions on  the server.  I eventually found the company 4goodhosting which is based in Vancouver although they also have a Toronto office.

Steve as usual was less than helpful so it was a struggle to get everything moved over to them but eventually managed to get it all over and their support people did an amazing job getting everything working and especially stuff that hadn't worked for ages.

So.. everything is now working apart from my mailing list software but hopefully that will be fixed shortly.

My only complaint is that I got an unexpected bill of some $2,600 for programming work.  The thing is that while I knew they charged $100 an hour for that work I never knew they were actually charging me for this within the support ticket.  In fact if you read through the entire ticket log there is not one mention of anything that was chargeable.  When you go to get some support issue at most companies if the first line support folk can't help they'll escalate you to the next level at no cost. And so I didn't expect any bills for the support I was getting.

Here is the bill explanation I got from them...

Hi Alastair,

Below are the paid programming hours owed to date. Let me know if you have any questions or require clarification.

The following tasks were done on

1) Fixing the RSS feed display on the required pages
The RSS feeds were not being displayed properly. The code for that had to be added on the pages that showed the feed. This was later told by the client not to work on them.
Time Taken- 4 hours.

I in fact fixed this myself and it only took me half an hour to do it.

2) Fixing the print friendly button.
Print button was pointing to a blank page which was a perl file. Wrote an equivalent js code to take the print of the necessary portions. Issues in propogating the shared borders onto the rest of the pages. 
Time Taken- 10 hours.

This is a script that worked on my old site and I am convinced that it was a simple pathing error.  Like on my old site it ran from /escgi but on the new server this path was not available.  So I would have thought it easy to fix yet it took them 10 hours to do this work and in the end I go an entirely new program which in my view is not as good as the old one.

3) Creating Campaigns on admin end.
The campaigns were not being added on the admin end. Issue was due to an incorrect insert query.
Time taken- 2 hours

4) Creating Maillists on admin end
The maillists were not being added on the admin end. Issue was due to an incorrect insert query.
Time taken- 1 hour

5) Browsing Members/Campaigns/Maillists.
Members and mailists created were not being shown due to an error in the structure of a column
Time taken- 2 hours

The above three points were to do with getting my mailing list program to work and despite spending 5 hours it still isn't working. The outstanding issue is that while the program reports it is sending out the emails they are in fact not being sent.

6) Games not being displayed properly
Games were not being run on chrome. Created a separate page for Dress the Chief game to display the swf formated game on the browser itself.

The other 2 games are written on java, did not look at the issues of those 2 games due to insufficient knowledge in java.
Time taken-1 hour

I can accept this charge as it is reasonable.

7) Mails not being sent from the settings_test.php
Mails were not being sent using swiftmailer due to no authentication given. Since the version of swiftmailer installed was outdated I installed a new one and rewrite the existing code.
Time taken- 6 hours

I assume this was to do with my mailing list program but I don't actually know but can't think of any other issue that it could be connected with.


Sue (the programmer)



Michael Torner (the Boss)

So while I would be happy to recommend them as a hosting company you would need to be very careful about any issues they report being escalated as that probably means they are going to charge you.

I have negotiated a 50% discount on the bill but feel really let down by this company and feel I have been conned.  However given the heavy support I received from their normal support people I decided to accept this lower offer. 

I might also add that you shouldn't use their own mailing list software to send out a newsletter.  I found to my horror that having sent out the first mailing that when folk replied to it their message were then copied to the whole list.  I ended up getting over 1000 emails flooding into my inbox and I was not a happy camper.

So all is now working apart from my mailing list software.  And I managed to fix the postcard program and the Arcade in our community through my own efforts.

Their site can be found at

So on balance I was happy with their service and can give them 10 out of 10 for the response speed and how well they got my domains moved over and registered as a secure server with https.  As to the programming I do feel that the boss of the company is being conned by the programmer which I don't think did a good job and it took her far too long to resolve any issues with one still not resolved. So on the programming front perhaps 2 out of 10. I also feel they need to be more transparent on any charging work as it was not clear that I was receiving any charge at all and not one word was mentioned about this.  That is simply wrong and that policy needs to change in my view.

I might add as an update that I ended up installing a new mailing list program which is working fine.

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