A transplanted Norwegian and her American husband make Toronto their home in just one of the adventures that defines their family life.
My husband and I are part of the 51 percent of Toronto’s population born outside of Canada. I’m from Norway and my husband grew up in Minnesota and Florida. We met in South Beach, Florida while I was travelling alone through the US.
After a year of both travelling across the pond in a long distance relationship, we started the process of deciding if he was moving to Norway or I was coming to Canada full time. That was when I became pregnant with our first daughter. We decided to settle in Toronto, mostly because of my husband’s profession as a Director of Photographer in film and television. My husband already had a lot of connections and the move wasn’t too stressful. we even found out that you could use an American credit card in Canada so we didn’t even need to change our bank accounts which actually came in really handy.
When my firstborn was six months we moved to an apartment in midtown Toronto with only a suitcase. Our furniture was made up of pieces we found on the street and at garage sales. It was fun to live in Midtown and connect with families that just had moved to Toronto from other places in Canada and around the world. I remember my address book always changing because friends were always moving somewhere else. Today we live in the East end of Toronto. We love it here as it is a wonderful community with lots of parks, beautiful nearby beaches and is a vibrant city where you still get to know your neighbours.
Like everyone else, we battle with the struggle of balancing work and raising a family while making sure our kids get exposed to activities without over scheduling. As a family we value our downtime which we fill with outdoor play, adventures and showing our kids the world. We love to explore Toronto urban nature secrets. It is something special to be able to paddleboard at Cherry Beach and afterward eat Chinese takeout from a nearby ethnic supermarket. In the winter we go cross-country skiing in Lesley Spit and afterwards have a sit-down dinner at one of the area’s restaurants. Our family loves cross-country skiing and we adore finding new places for skiing adventures in Ontario.
We are a nomadic family, partly because we have to visit family every year in Europe and in Florida. Both my husband and I have lost a parent and we both know how special family time can be, so we make the effort (both financially and time wise) to spend time with our families on both sides. Every summer we travel to Norway to visit my family but also to spend time at my 90-year-old, off-the-grid backcountry cabin and Christmas in Florida with our American family.
I’m totally without any tech while we forage for berries and mushrooms at my cabin. It is so wonderful to connect with nature this way and show my kids where they come from. Last summer we started with side trips in Europe where we backpacked by train from Norway to Rome. We stopped in Copenhagen and Munich with our highlight being Rome. One of the visual highlights on the trip was the scenic train ride from Munich to Rome through the Alps. This sort of trip is so rewarding and I would definitely recommend such a trip, but it does take proper planning and preparation. If you are planning a similar type of backpacking trip, you might want to use resources such as hotelcamea.com. The advice on there is invaluable whilst you are still in the planning phase.
This year we backpacked by buses and boat to the Greek islands for a week. Our highlight from our Greece trip was the visit to Santorini and riding a mule up the Caldera. It would’ve been even better if we’d had a tour guide to show us all the best sights, such as Greece Tours!
During Christmas break, we do our annual road trip to Florida to see Grandpa. It usually takes us two and a half days to get down, and we always try to find interesting stops along the way. For instance, once we stopped by St. Augustine while visiting Grandpa. We heard a lot about the Old Town Cycle Cruise which happens to be located in the city. One of our friends who recently seemed to have taken a tour on their pedal pub told us that the company offers boat rentals, private tours, and public tours. We were so excited after listening to her experience that we decided to stop by and check it out ourselves. However, besides St. Augustine, we have also stopped in Savannah, Charleston and at a friend’s farm in Tennessee in the past. This year we plan to stop in the Smokey Mountains. Our visit to the Sunshine State does not always include Disney World but we always make a priority of swimming with Manatees and spending time on a beach.
While we’re both a long way from our original homes, life is good in Canada.
This is #1000families post number 154. Do you have a family story of your own to contribute to the 1,000 Families Project? Or do you know a family that might want to do so? Learn more about how the series got started and how to get involved here. You can find all of the #1000families posts here.