There is an odd happening
that comes along in my day to day life and so as I don't really have
anywhere to put them thought I'd just add this extra page to my Canadian
There was a house fire
2 doors down from me on Lorne Avenue, Chatham on 27th December and I
took a wee video of it which can be seen at:
And here are some
This first group is from
another fire just a couple of months ago...
And here are pictures
from the December fire...
While I was able to
stay in the house my electricity was cut off for some 6 hours and as it
was my newsletter day that put me well behind.
The house was
demolished and a new one is now going up.
I might add that for a
chip pan fire it seemed to take them at least 4 hours to put out the
fire which seems excessive to me. Perhaps they should have used
foam instead of water?
Getting my brickwork
pointed in 2014
The mortar between my bricks was turning to sand and I had a few loose
bricks as well. The way the house is built I have a main brick
foundation and then another course of bricks is laid on the outside and
those were the ones causing concern.
I got a local chap, Lee
Case, who has his own company to do the work. Now I have to say that he
has done an excellent job of work and I have no complaints about that
whatsoever. However his method of doing business is quite strange
but apparently is quite common in Canada.
Essentially this is a
cash job but he didn't do a very good job explaining how it was going to
work. So after the first day he asked for $300 cash. I was
very surprised about that as he had his own company so was expecting to
pay him once the job was completed. Next day I also had to come up
with more cash and this time also had to pay his materials bill.
At the end of the day I had to go to the bank three times to get cash
out to pay him.
He explained that this
was common in Canada as so many people don't pay their bills. I
paid him around $1200 for the entire job which is about what I expected
but it was really irritating to having to go the bank so often and also
have to come up with the cash for his materials.
I wish he'd just made
it plain he expected to be paid each day and given me a reasonable
estimate so I could just have gone to the bank once to get out the whole
sum. And then he wanted me to go pick up the materials for him. At
that point I refused saying that should be part of his work. Like
I have the time to run after him <sheesh>.
At the end of the day
we did have a bit of an argument about his business methods although I
made it plain that I considered his actual work to be first class.
I am only writing this
so that any new immigrants to Canada understand how business in done
Sewer and Drain
In May 2015 I had a leak in my basement and got a plumber out to
find out what the problems was. He indentified it was a blocked
sewer line. So I called out John P. Carey and they came the
following day and fixed the problem.
I was really lucky in
selecting them as they have one unique benefit in that they have records
of all the sewers in Chatham so within just 5 minutes they'd located
where the sewer outlet was.
I was also told that
part of the problem was that I had put in these eco toilets which used
lots less water to flush the toilet. The problem is that they thus don't
have enough force to clean out the sewer line and as I live on my own
there is simply not enough pressure of water going down the sewer and so
over time it starts to fill up.
And so they recommended
that every year I should look at doing multiple flushes of the toilets
and running a bathful of water so that the drains get a good flush.
I found out after the
event that if you are unblocking a sewer line then you are advised to
contact ON1Call on 1-800-400-2255 to check to see if your gas line
intersects the sewer line before proceeding with the work.
Clearing this sewer line
2015 my sewer got blocked again so looks like the job they did wasn't as
good as I thought. This time it was worse than last so also needed a
cleanup done. This time it cost me $380. I used a different
plumber this time and they did do a good job. However they think
there is a break in the main sewer line and recommend that they dig up
the floor so they can visually inspect the pipes and fix the issue
permanently. They estimate this will cost around $800 and so I'll be
going ahead with this in February 2016.
As to Chatham Plumbing
I'd first called them about the leak in the basement and it was them
that recommended the above company to fix the sewer issue. However
they also took a look at my upstairs toilet as the tank wasn't filling
after it was flushed and the water just ran out to the drain.
The charge for this visit
totaled $67.80 including tax.
Now as it happened this
didn't fix the problem so it was back to phoning the toilet company and
in discussions they were able to identify the problem and sent me a
replacement part. I then asked Chatham Plumbing to come out to
replace the part for me which they did and all now works fine.
However what I find
puzzling was for this last visit they have charged me $124.30 including
As you can imagine I was
somewhat puzzled at the difference in cost so I phoned the company and
apparently I was actually undercharged the first time as their standard
call out rate is $110.00.
To be frank I think the
larger charge is excessive and it causes me to have some doubts about
their honesty so I may try someone else if I have to use a plumber
I have been going through the process of applying for old age pensions.
Both in Canada and the UK a form is required to be filled in which asks
for the locations you lived in and in the case of the UK what employers
you worked for.
In Canada I got an extra
questionnaire asking me for more specific information as to my residency
in Canada. Seems they couldn't figure out if I was in Canada
during 2005. And so I completed that questionnaire and took it
into Service Canada where they Photostatted my UK Passport again and the
woman there thought I'd answered the questions well and didn't think I
would have any problems this time around.
I have still to hear back
from the UK.
I will say in the case of
the UK they asked for all the addresses I stayed at when in the UK so
had to phone them as I stayed in Coventry in England for around 5 years.
I stayed at 4 different addresses and couldn't remember any of the
actual addresses but on the phone they said the town name would be fine.
In January 2016 I
learned about double taxation which means if I don't do something the UK
pension will be taxed and then I'll also be liable for Canadian tax as
well. There is a form I need to complete and get stamped by Canada
that I then have to send to the UK so that they won't tax the pension
and if they have done so I can claim that back. Yet another
complex form to fill in. Life is certainly not easy when it comes
The agreement on tax is
based on the Treaty between the UK and Canada, Article 17.
All of that said I find
I am in a very good position as right now (January 2016) the looney
(Canadian dollar) is now at a 13 year low and has just gone below 70
cents to the US dollar. As we were at parity not long ago that
means my pension has increased dramatically. Right now 1 GBP buys 2.08
CAD so all in all I'm doing very well indeed. It is projected that the
looney might fall still further and is likely to stay low for another 5
years seeing as the looney is a petrol currency.
I also attended the
Knights Templar Investiture in Windsor and to my mind there is a big
question as to the validity of the Grand Prior of Canada. At a
meeting in Ottawa he and the Vicar General (Past Grand Prior of Canada) and other officers of the
Grand Priory agreed he would serve for 3 years. Traditionally the Grand
Chancellor would then take up the position of Grand Prior. However
his 3 year term is now up and so Grand Prior Peter Kelly seems to be holding onto office without clarifying his position to the order in
Canada. I don't find that honest or transparent so am considering
my position as to continuing as the newsletter editor and whether I
should continue my membership when the boss has now proved himself to be
dishonest. We don't need his kind of person leading us in my
opinion. I also question if he has done anything for the order in
Canada. Three years ago he said we needed to do better at communicating
which is why I took up the job of newsletter editor. However he was also
to fix our Grand Priory web site and that was given to now Deputy
General Secretary Stuart Ross and in my opinion it is now worse than it
was. So its taken him 3 years and if anything it's worse and not better. He also seems to prefer attending
American events and asked at a very late date for Edmonton to change
their investiture date so he could attend an American event. I
could go on but it seems pointless to do so. At least our Grand
Chancellor is now a Grand Croix and so can invest the new Knights and
I got in this letter
along with other information which confirms my eligibility for the ODM
Program. As you may be aware in Canada you do need to pay for
prescriptions although there are various plans that can help with this
cost. However, when you reach 65 these costs are capped at $100
per year plus handling charges for your prescription which is usually
$6.11 per prescription. So as I am a diabetic I actually have 5
prescriptions so my handling charge would be $30.55 which would be a
monthly charge in addition to the basic annual charge of $100. The above
scans provide basic information.
Grass cutting and
I have a new helper called Doug and he now cuts my grass when it
needs done and in the Winter period will also clear the snow from my
pathways. In with this he will do a little weeding where needed.
He charges $10.00 at a time which is a very fair price. He has
also cleaned my gutters of all the leaves and cleared one of my drain
pipes that was clogged and also did a high pressure wash of the siding
on the house. For this he has charged a one off fee of $40.00
which again is a very fair price.
I learned today (December 2016) that I am paying a lot more for my
Natural Gas than I need to. Right now I am supplied by Just Energy
on a 5 year contract and my current rate is 24.9 whereas if I had just
purchased from Union Gas my rate would be 11.0 which is a large
Just Energy is a
retailer that purchases gas from the main supplier and then sells onto
residential and business customers. The idea is that you can lock
in a rate when it's low so you benefit over time. However, this is not
the case and it's clear I would have been far better if I'd just stuck
with Union Gas. So you live and learn.
I can of course cancel
my contract with Just Energy but there is a large penalty for doing so.
I find my contract with them comes to an end in April 2016 and so just 5
months to go. They must under law send you a renewal contract with
the option to not renew your contract. I'm told you must use the
form to cancel or not renew your contract and send it to them otherwise
you might be stuck with another contract.
If you look at your
Union Gas bill near the top on Page 2 it will say "Your gas supplier is
Just Energy". It may of course say another name if your contract is with
another Energy supplier.
Where you are uncertain
about this I'd encourage you to phone Union Gas and ask for their rates
and then compare them with your current rates. Both phone numbers are
supplied on Page 2.
Part of a tree fell down on the house and took out the Hydro in the
process on December 28, 2015 and eventually got things sorted and power
back around 8 pm on the 29th.
Still need another
visit from the Insurance company as the tree needed to be removed before
we could inspect the other damage.
I did in fact get
another inspection and they have agreed to fix the bit of damage to the
porch and also replace the guttering on the porch and the house.
There is also some painting to be done but that's likely to have to wait
for better weather in the Spring.
I might add that the
insurance didn't include clean up but the tree cutting company did in
fact do a clean up for me. They also cut the limb into chunks and
they stacked that on the kerb side. They said they would be gone within
24 hours and indeed they were. Seems many people have wood stoves
and are always on the lookout for suitable wood.
I took the opportunity
to ask for a quote for cutting down the tree and that came to $2000
which included clean up but they advised talking to the council as they
thought it was within their remit given where they were located.
My Property or the
I forgot to mention that my lawn was dug up so the Telco's could lay new
fiber optic cable. Now while I have no basic problem with this I do have
a problem with the process. Firstly they just appeared and
commenced to cut a trench and a pit in my lawn to allow them to do this.
I was quite unhappy
with this so phoned the council and they told the council has the right
to come in 5 meters into my property to do this type of work.
However there is no requirement for them to inform me that they would be
doing this. I feel this is not acceptable that people can come
onto your property and start to dig holes into your lawn without having
to notify you. That in my mind is just sheer bad manners.
However as the two
trees that caused the above fall of limbs that damaged my home are also
within that same 5 meters I'm now asking the council to cut them down.
At time of writing I haven't yet heard back from them as they need to
inspect the trees before they can decide if they are responsible.
I figure if they can cut into my lawn without my say so then they should
also take responsibility for the trees. I'll keep you informed of
On 18th May 2016 I
still hadn't heard back from the council so phoned and this time was
given a work order 80108 and was told someone would get back to me.
I also thought I'd find
out who my local councilor is and was told there are 6 that represent
the city but not one specific to my area which I thought was a bit
weird. I was given the name Michael Bondi on 519 436 3246 as a
On this date I also
learned that the Insurance company was waiving the $500 minimum
deductable for an insurance claim due to me apparently not claiming much
in previous years. So that was certainly good news.
I've been driving past
a shoe repair shop ever since I came to Chatham and I just discovered a
hole in one of the soles of my brown pair of leather shoes I decided it
was time to visit them. They are going to resole them and to give
them a couple of weeks and they should be ready. They are Hems
Shoe Service at 256 Queen Street on 519 351 3716. They only accept
payment in advance but they do take debit and credit cards.
In September 2016 I
decided to get the tree at the back of the house cut down as the bark
had come of the tree and frankly it didn't look very safe. I got
two tree companies and the council to check it and they all agreed it
needed to come down. So biting the bullet I went ahead at a cost of
$2,000 cash. It took them around 4 hours to remove it. They did
also inspect the tree where the large branch had come down and declared
that it looked ok and they also removed one branch which was beginning
to sit on my roof.
The British Shoppe,
This is around an hours drive from Chatham and on Friday I headed to
Sarnia to purchase some purely British products like sliced sausage,
fruit and black pudding, bridies, cheese and onion pasties, etc.
As it happens the British Store there were celebrating their 50th
anniversary and as a result I got some free Yorkshire tea and a 20%
After completing my
purchases I decided to try The British Shoppe...
I tried the Celtic
option as I wanted black pudding but on reflection I think next time
I'll go for "The Full Monty" and get black pudding as an extra. I got
there around 2 pm and as I'd only had a slice of toast for my breakfast
I was well able to try the all day breakfast.
Note: This cafe
is now under new ownership and no longer does the Scottish breakfast.
In October 2017
I noted the steps up to the porch at the front of the house had rot
setting in and they didn't look that safe. I thus got my garden
guy, Doug, to replace them for me. The wood, etc. cost almost $200
and the labour was $65.00 so I now have brand new steps. I decided
to get the "green" wood as they are specially treated to resist rot and
this time I've decided not to paint them as even when you do a primer
and a couple of coats of paint it seem to only last for a couple of
years before needing a new cost of paint. He also fixed my fence in the
back garden which cost $30.00 all in. So externally I am sound
once again. Once the leaves have come down Doug will also clear
the gutters for me so I'll be prepared for Winter.
I might also add that
last week I went to London, Ontario to the British store to purchase a
stock of Irish type sausage links. They are almost identical to
the thick Richmond Irish sausages I used to purchase in Scotland. I no
longer purchase their sliced sausage or their black pudding as they
weren't that good. They have also stopped stocking the cheese
pasties. So I really only go there now for the sausage links and a
couple of packs of 2 bridies which I do enjoy with baked beans and
In Chatham I can
purchase black pudding from the local Dutch market as also smoked back
bacon and they also do a jar of baked beans which in my view are almost
identical to the old British Heinz baked beans. The Canadian store in
Chatham also stocks Melton Mobury pork pies. Note that they do
freeze them so if you don't see them on sale ask the staff for them as I
find when they aren't on display they still usually have them in stock
in the freezer. So apart from the sausage links I can get pretty well
everything I need in Chatham. As to haggis I either order the lamb
version from Caledonian Kitchen online or pick up tins of it from the
British store. The 1 pound steak pies can be purchased from the
British store but I've taken to making my own now but if I was in Toronto
I would buy them from But n Ben but I'm rarely there these days and the
shop doesn't open on Sunday or Monday so that means it's very rare I can
Given the number of
Scots in Canada I am surprised that Canadian butchers don't make these
as almost every Scottish butcher used to make their own. I mean
all you need to do is stew up some beef with options for adding onion
and/or kidney and put that in the one pound aluminum tins and then just
roll out a puff pastry top and then bake it in the oven. You can
then freeze them and so have a few on stand by as they can then be
cooked from frozen in about 40 minutes in a 350 degree oven.