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Has anyone migrated without ever having been to Canada before?

Has anyone migrated without ever having been to Canada before?

Old Jul 25th 2014, 3:35 pm
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Smile Has anyone migrated without ever having been to Canada before?

Hi all

This is my first post - I've been lurking a bit, reading stuff, trying to work out how to ask a realistic question. So here we go:

My husband and I, along with three year old and a soon-to-arrive baby (will probably be about a year old by the time we actually move), are planning a move to Canada from Australia. I'm actually Aussie but only in terms of birthplace - I'm a dual British/Australian citizen and my husband is English, just about to get his Aus citizenship actually. We met in London (UK) and decided to move back to Aus to get married and settle etc. That was in Jan 2010. We've lived in three different cities in Aus now, and have finally come to the conclusion that we will not find what suits us culturally and in terms of weather/climate here in Australia. We feel very much like we belong in the northern hemisphere! And although we both have family back in the UK, neither of us are particularly keen to move back there after the wide open spaces of down under.

So. My husband lived in Canada about 10 years ago (in Toronto - he used to be married to a Canadian, long story) and is completely in love with north America generally. I have never been anywhere near north America. But Canada feels like a good option given it (generally) seems to have the four seasons we're after, it's northern hemisphere, it has a little bit of history and culture (in comparison to Australia anyway) and it provides the space we like. And I'm told people are friendly and laid back which is generally what Aussies are like and a good thing!

After all that background, my question is, am I completely crazy to be considering moving to a country I've never even visited? Especially with two young kids? While I do not feel at home or connected to Australia in the slightest and actually feel as if I'd be selling myself (and my family) short to stay here, I can't help but think I must be mad to even think about moving somewhere I've not been. Has anyone done this?

Just one other thing to mention: our path to migration is going to be via my graduate studies - ie. I'm going to do my Masters in Canada (looking like one of the Ontario universities at this stage), so if the worst happens and we hate it, at least I'll come out of it with a Masters degree.

I'd really appreciate any thoughts/experiences people may have had with migrating 'blind', so to speak. Thanks in advance
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Old Jul 25th 2014, 4:20 pm
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Default Re: Has anyone migrated without ever having been to Canada before?

Most of my girlfriend's Ukrainian ancestors, for a start.

It's probably only since WWII that many people emigrating here have had a chance to visit before the move, and probably only since the arrival of the 747 that most people could.

Edit: even today, there are probably a lot of people like our friend's Indian husband, who I don't believe had ever been able to visit Canada before they married.

Last edited by MarkG; Jul 25th 2014 at 4:24 pm.
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Old Jul 25th 2014, 6:45 pm
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Default Re: Has anyone migrated without ever having been to Canada before?

I'd think it fairly unlikely that anybody from a first world country would spend £25k or so on moving to another country with at least having visited for a week or two first. It could happen, but I'd think it's quite rare!

I'm not sure why you think Canada would have more history/culture than Oz though? One of the most oft mentioned complaints on Canada is the lack of it, particularly for those coming from Europe.

If history and culture are important to you but you want wide open spaces then how about somewhere in Europe? Or even Suffolk or Shropshire?!

Best of luck with it, hope you can find time for a visit first.
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Old Jul 25th 2014, 6:57 pm
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Default Re: Has anyone migrated without ever having been to Canada before?

Our family would be one of those rare ones, then :-)
Our first steps onto Canadian territory were to activate our PR visas on Christmas Day 2012.
We were lucky that we didn't have to give up our jobs to move here, we brought them with us and our kids (5 and 1 when we actually became resident in August 2013) were young enough to not to have made close friendships in the UK.
But as Christmasoompa says, we are certainly in the minority.
So far, so great.
We skype with family regularly, and keep in touch with friends on Facebook.
I should say it's not my wife's first migration, she moved from Russia to the UK already, so perhaps having been through one major move, a second one wasn't such a big deal, and I took inspiration and confidence from her example.
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Old Jul 25th 2014, 10:06 pm
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Default Re: Has anyone migrated without ever having been to Canada before?

Welcome to British Expats Perpetual....now you are out in the open, you need never lurk in the shadows again

A few threads of a similar sort have been posted, but not for a while, and I recall that it was a big definitive yes, in general there seemed to be quite a number who have pitched up here as Canadian virgins so to speak.

The only problem with that is that Canada is so very large, with so much vast emptiness in between the uninhibited bits....so how would you choose where to go? Would you be thinking of Toronto, as your husband knows it?

There are a couple of posters on here I know (me included) that quite like Canada, but are not so sure that they chose the ideal spot to live in...and I visited first!

Life is a bit of a lottery and sometimes it's your own attitude and that of your family that will determine if the move will go well and the outcome will be happy. There are lots of positives here, but it's very far from Neverland, and the negatives hide in the undergrowth waiting to bite when your spirits and self confidence take a rest.

Very best of luck with your exciting plans and forthcoming birth!
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Old Jul 26th 2014, 12:45 am
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Default Re: Has anyone migrated without ever having been to Canada before?

I arrived in Halifax, NS in March 1969 in a snowstorm. I had no idea what I was getting into or anything much about Canada, except that it was a vast land with weather ! It just seemed like a good idea at the time. I was young and single, knew no one but I had a job to go to. Forty five years later I'm still here. Back in NS after 30 years in Ontario. Would I do it again ? You bet, in a heartbeat, knowing what I know now. No complaints really. The country has been good to me.
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Old Jul 26th 2014, 2:45 am
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Default Re: Has anyone migrated without ever having been to Canada before?

Good idea on waiting for OH to get his Aus citizenship before coming here, that could always be a future asset Now was the older kid born in Aus? Only reason I ask is if he (and his new sibling) was/is born in Aus, they will have received UK citizenship by descent from their British father, who I am assuming was born in the UK and thus a British citizen otherwise than by descent.

What all that means is if your kids are born in Aus, their children if they choose to have any will not be automatically British unless you live in the UK with your children for 3 years of their childhood life and make documentation that you have done so (school records, etc) . This would make your childrens future children eligible for British citizenship.

Just thought i'd comment on that, but now that I think of it, as long as the UK ancestry visa programme stays in place your children's children would be able to live in the UK using either a Canadian or Aus passport on an ancestry visa on the basis that their grandparent (your husband) was born in the UK. But that's only if the ancestry visa programme stays in place. They could remove it at any time. Not sure why they would, but they could.

Anyways, besides that, good luck with your move to Canada, by your post it sounds as if you are optimistic about the move and Canada seems a right fit for you. Welcome to BE and i'm sure you will be back with visa questions! There are lots on here who can answer those for you.

Oh, and FWIW - I never visited before arriving here, I was born here
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Old Jul 26th 2014, 2:59 am
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Default Re: Has anyone migrated without ever having been to Canada before?

My wife and I moved to Canada in 08 from Holland, without having ever set foot on Canadian soil before. That was all part of the adventure.

We are moving to Halifax from Calgary in 4 weeks time, and while we had considered going out there for a short visit to check it out, we haven't bothered.
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Old Jul 26th 2014, 4:08 am
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Good answers above. I would add that I guess it also depends on your own and family predisposition. Some people don't mind rolling with the waves. But given the vastly different styles of Canadian towns/cities, I dom't think a visit would hurt. (Unless the Masters program is only in one place anyway).

Ps Good luck

Last edited by Siouxie; Jul 26th 2014 at 4:53 am. Reason: merged your posts - you can edit posts if you need to add within 2 hours :)
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Old Jul 26th 2014, 4:53 am
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Default Re: Has anyone migrated without ever having been to Canada before?

Actually, thinking about it, I was talking to a guy at work last week who said his parents moved from South Africa when he was a kid about twenty years ago, and their only knowledge of Canada beforehand was VHS tapes aboout polar bears at Churchill from their local library.

My girlfriend also worked with some Somalian refugees about ten years ago who'd never been to Canada before they arrived here, and had never seen snow before. Their first winter was a bit of a shock.
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Old Jul 26th 2014, 4:57 am
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Default Re: Has anyone migrated without ever having been to Canada before?

Originally Posted by MarkG
Actually, thinking about it, I was talking to a guy at work last week who said his parents moved from South Africa when he was a kid about twenty years ago, and their only knowledge of Canada beforehand was VHS tapes aboout polar bears at Churchill from their local library.

My girlfriend also worked with some Somalian refugees about ten years ago who'd never been to Canada before they arrived here, and had never seen snow before. Their first winter was a bit of a shock.
My sister, her husband and 5 children moved to Canada from S.Africa back in the 80's without having visited (well, her husband came over for an interview but was only here for 3 days). All still here.


Last edited by Siouxie; Jul 26th 2014 at 5:00 am.
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Old Jul 26th 2014, 9:03 am
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Default Re: Has anyone migrated without ever having been to Canada before?

I moved to Canada without previously visiting. The company I worked for was opening an office in Toronto and I was asked if I wished to head up the tech support department in the new office.

A few of us were asked the same thing and we all decided to move. We were told that if for any reason we did not like it we could return back to the UK and maintain our jobs. So that was a massive safety net and did factor highly in our decision. As I was single at the time I didn't really have many attachments.

I did take a few weeks to think it over. My parents were great, full of encouragement and though they would miss me they would love to have a good reason to visit Canada (they had been on holiday in Canada many times before and really liked it)

Some did indeed return to the UK as they didn't like it. I stayed and am still here and though there have been ups and downs (as there would be anywhere), I do like it here, am now a Citizen and have no plans to go back to the UK on a permanent basis.
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Old Jul 26th 2014, 1:53 pm
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Default Re: Has anyone migrated without ever having been to Canada before?

Wow, thanks SO much for all the replies everyone, so much good info and advice!

Re. the culture thing - trust me, Australia is devoid of culture. Or at least, it has these tiny pockets. Actually, that's unnecessarily harsh and damning, it does have some culture, but that culture doesn't really match me or my husband, if that makes sense. Maybe it's just because it's southern hemisphere, I don't know. Like we are not beach people, for example, and living somewhere like Sydney where we were when we first moved back, the beach is pretty much central to life there, and everyone loves lying around on the sand trying to avoid getting fried, dodging all the Irish/Brazilian backpackers and they'll happily spend an hour trying to find a parking spot half an hour's walk from the beach up a really steep hill in order to do that. Cool, but not my cup of tea. We are in Melbourne now, and we really do like this city, it is by far the best Aus has to offer (for us) but... it's in Australia! We just feel like we'd be giving up if we didn't bite the bullet and do something to find the 'right' place that fits us.

I've lived in London for a few years, travelled round bits of Europe, South Africa, South East Asia - I have a fair idea of what 'real' culture is about, so don't worry, I'm not under any serious misconceptions about some kind of rich cultural heritage that pervades every corner of Canada! It's really more about choosing snow, hockey, seasons, Christmas in winter, the possibility of a big house with two storeys, and a variety of other random and seemingly insignificant things that just kind of happen generally in a place like Canada. And it's newness, a blank canvas, something we can make our own. Forgive my naivety and generalisation, as an Aussie most of my images of Canadian life were formed through watching the 1980s teenage highschool drama Degrassi Junior High... perhaps not the most accurate and well-rounded picture of 21st century family life in Canada!

Anyway, I digress - thanks for the thoughts about moving where you've never been. You've made me realise this was the case for both sides of my family when they came to Australia as migrants, one side ten pound poms in the 50s and the other post WWII from Germany.

Looks like we'll be aiming for Ontario, given the three different Masters program options I've narrowed it down to are at three Ontario universities. We like the idea of the east coast as it's so much closer to Europe and therefore family in the UK.

Yes, Gozit, thought about that re. the UK citizenship. Both kids born here, so both will begin as Aus citizens and we'll apply for British passports at some point too. I've got both because my dad is English, so same deal. It's like we're collecting citizenships here!

Thanks MillieF. It's heartening to think that even some who had visited prior to migrating ended up in the wrong area and moved again within Canada. As you say, it's a lottery, regardless of how much prep work you do. I figure if this is the case for us, then we can decide once the study is complete. My husband had that experience coming to Aus really, as he'd previously been five times but as a tourist, and it was vastly different living here. A rude shock really.

I must stop, this is getting long. Thanks again for the responses - I will be back, and with more questions no doubt!
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Old Jul 26th 2014, 2:36 pm
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Default Re: Has anyone migrated without ever having been to Canada before?

Originally Posted by christmasoompa
I'd think it fairly unlikely that anybody from a first world country would spend £25k or so on moving to another country with at least having visited for a week or two first. It could happen, but I'd think it's quite rare!
I disagree. I came without knowing anything about Canada, we arrived in Toronto expecting a big bustling city. I think we're typical of immigrants to Canada in having no idea what we were in for. At work (that is, at client's location), there have been half a dozen people hired over the past month, none had been in the country more than a few days and none had been here before. I think people who visit southern Ontario and decide it's where they would like to live must be a small minority; for most people it's just where work took them.
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Old Jul 26th 2014, 3:31 pm
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Default Re: Has anyone migrated without ever having been to Canada before?

[QUOTE=dbd33;11349063]I disagree. I came without knowing anything about Canada,

Likewise.

I came in 1957 with my then OH. We had been offered jobs and knew nothing about Canada. It was an adventure. We came by sea, 'The Empress of Scotland' from Liverpool.
A few years ago , I posted this experience including photos of leaving Liverpool on BE. . Another BE poster at that time , his name was Keith , came later but also by ship and we shared our experiences on BE. In our time travel was very expensive and certainly doing a preliminary trip was not an option . So yes, I did migrate without ever having visited Canada before.

I have not seen any posts by Keith recently . He lived in Ottawa, but spent winters in the US. I do hope he is still with us.
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