Tuesday, May 26, 2009
In early May our Crab Apple was just twigs, with no leaves or flowers. Since then though, the leaves have been coming on gradually and the flowers seem to have come out in just a few days! This plant (we can't remember what it is!), didn't even lose its leaves over winter and now looks as though it is going to surprise us further with bright pink flowers.And there is much more continuing to bud, sprout and grow. We now think that, from the whole garden, we MAY have lost just one plant, unless of course it recovers over the coming weeks.Less hardy plants can survive too. We have had to bring this one in on a few occasions as temperatures can go into minus figures overnight, even in May. As summer comes on though, it should be OK to leave it out all the time, unless we get some freaky weather.So, maybe Albertan gardening is perfectly possible - it just takes a bit of extra thought and care.
Sunday, May 24, 2009
Eamonn felt it might be useful for those coming to Alberta if he did a bit of research on job hunting resources. In this task, he received tremendous support from McBride Career Group Inc...
McBride Career Group
McBride are contracted by the provincial government to provide services that...
a) assist the unemployed in accessing meaningful employment opportunities,
b) assist working Albertans in their career development goals and
c) support employers in the hiring, training, development and retention of capable employees.
McBride's contacts page details offices across Alberta, but including Calgary, Okotoks (on Elizabeth St) and High River (12th Ave SE)...
One way in which McBride can help is to critique your resume with a view to helping you sharpen its appeal to Albertan employers. They also run workshops that help with this.
For those yet to arrive in this part of the world (who therefore cannot meet with McBride representatives face to face), they directed me towards a couple of great resume writing resources...
A Resume Checklist ...and Resume Templates and Examples ...and what looks like a fantastic resource for those NOT yet in Canada...the opportunity to have your resume reviewed by a career counsellor after submitting it online
More generally, there are links to a myriad of employment related top-tips sheets.
There is a wealth of information on job hunting in the excellent booklet...Advanced Techniques for Work Search
Also, the Working In Alberta booklet has lots of useful information aimed at those newly arrived in the Province or planning to move here to work.
Turning to resources elsewhere, as many folk know, we have posted extensively on the BritishExpats website. This features an excellent WIKI which has much good advice on job hunting.
Job Hunting Instructions
Job Hunting - Canada
The Calgary Catholic Immigration Society (CCIS) also have links to lots of useful resources...
IF you need to consider having your qualifications assessed for equivalency in Canada, the International Qualifications Assessment Service (IQAS) can help.
An alternative is World Education Services...WES
Both of these take a considerable number of weeks to process your assessments and this may involve you in contacting a variety of educational establishments, so DO THIS WELL IN ADVANCE of you needing the outcome for job applications. Note also that these are both chargeable services.
For those coming to Alberta to practice a trade.
Within this site, you can learn about the varying certification requirements for different trades
A to Z of Certifiable Trades
We hope these resources are useful for you.
Monday, May 18, 2009
We are not entirely sure what they are as they aren't anything we would have seen in the UK. We have looked in our Alberta bird book and think they could be:
Yellow Rumped Warbler
We're sort of guessing here so if anyone knows exactly what they are, we would love to know!
We often get asked about tipping etiquette in Canada and thought it a good idea to do a little research.
After numerous trips to the US and Canada, we personally feel comfortable leaving a 15-20% tip (of the pre-tax total) and have always treated tipping as part of the cost of eating out. We use this percentage as a general rule any time we are provided with a service, so this would include bars, pizza delivery etc.
Tipping is also expected in hotels, when staff bring luggage to a room or you make use of the valet service. We tend not to make use of these services, but if we did we would pay the luggage handler $1 for each case and perhaps a couple of dollars to cover any smaller bags. We also leave a tip for the chamber maid when we stay in a hotel, usually a couple of dollars per night, depending on length of stay and service.
Tipping is also customary for other service providers such as hairdressers, manicurists, and taxi drivers. In these cases the percentage of tip is really up to the individual, but a 10% minimum is common.
Tipping is not a requirement in some counter service shops eg. coffee shops, ice cream shops, cafes, although "tips jars" are often placed on the counter tops to make you feel you should. It is really not necessary and purely your choice.
You would not tip in supermarkets when they pack your shopping and/or bring it to your car.
Generally waiters and waitresses are not paid very well in Canada so they rely on tips. Perhaps this also forces a better service in restaurants as they really need to earn that tip? Sometimes, the service is not worth a tip, but most of the time it is.
If in doubt, ask the service provider what the norm is. We have found most people to be pretty honest and we have had people refuse tips where it isn’t expected.
Links that outline the tipping system:
Living & Working in Canada
All this said, at the end of the day tipping is an entirely personal choice.
Monday, May 4, 2009
Okotoks - A Little Bit About The Town
Over the weeks and months ahead, we will begin to fulfill that promise and today, we start with some information about some of the recreational opportunities open to residents of the town
Natural Beauty: The Big Rock Story
On the road out of Okotoks towards Black Diamond is the Okotoks Erratic, one of the worlds lagest erratics, known as the Big Rock The erratic is situated in a field and it is a beautiful spot for a stroll, especially in Summer.
Hockey: Hockey: Okotoks Oilers
If you are a Facebook user, you may want to join the Okotoks Oilers Facebook group...
Okotoks Oilers Fans on Facebook
The Oilers play at the impressive 1,500 seat Okotoks Centennial Arena, which also has a two-lane walking/running track for year 'round exercise opportunities.
Okotoks Centennial Arena
Football : The Falcons
Foothills Centennial Centre
This multi-cultural complex is made up of a seniors' centre, youth space, meeting rooms, covered outdoor patio, commercial kitchen, and a 10,000-square-foot hall that can be divided into four smaller halls.
Okotoks Recreation Centre
This was renovated and expanded to provide more opportunities for residents of Okotoks to stay active year round, as well as to meet the growing needs of organized sports groups. The original facility includes two ice rinks, the Curling Club and swimming pool. The expansion added a 25-metre, multi-lane swimming pool, a new gymnasium, a fitness centre, an aerobics area, a child care centre and new/upgraded dressing rooms for the pool area and arena. Renovations included upgrades to include a solar panel system providing renewable, non-polluting energy, very much in keeping with the green oriented attitude of the town council and the locals.
Crystal Ridge Golf Course: Crystal Ridge Golf Course
The 9 hole, 3125-yard, par 35 course features water and rockwork on every hole, with lots of mature trees, berms, sand traps and large undulating greens. It also offers a clubhouse with two restaurants.
D'Arcy Ranch Golf Club: D'Arcy Ranch Golf Course This is considered by some to be the among the most unique courses in Western Canada. The terrain has been left in the most natural state possible, providing both novices and experts alike with an exciting and challenging game. It offers fabulous mountain views.
River's Edge Golf Club: River's Edge Golf Course
Formerly a 9 hole course, it is now a full 18 hole facility, with grass tee driving range, Pro Shop carrying all brand name merchandise, a licensed clubhouse and a restaurant.
Around the town can also be found an outdoor ice rink, 21 parks and playgrounds, seven ball diamonds, 12 Soccer fields, tennis courts, outdoor track and field amenities, campgrounds and hiking trails and some 40 km of interconnected hiking and biking trails... Okotoks Walking Paths
The Station Cultural Centre...(renamed the Okotoks Art Galllery (OAG) - At The Station - in February 2009) is hosted in the town's former railway station. It hosts art exhibitions, programs and live theatre. The OAG is also the home of the Okotoks' Visitor's Information Centre and Interpretive Display. The OAG and the nearby Heritage House museum (see Okotoks Heritage House Museum ) are "must sees" in Okotoks.
While at the Okotoks Air Ranch, you can visit the Bird Sanctuary, where geese, ducks and other waterfowl make their home. The Okotoks Fish and Game Association has created a haven for these birds in a sanctuary located just off the road that leads into the Air Ranch. An elevated observation deck allows visitors to easily study the birds as they wade about the waters or set up nests along the shoreline.
Via the Sheep River (which runs out of the mountains only 100 km west of Okotoks). It offers opportunities for fly fishing. There's Rainbow Trout, Brook Trout, and Rocky Mountain Whitefish all waiting to take the fly and battle with the rod holder.
Further fun in the water is had in July and August where you will often see 100 or more tubers floating down the river. It's a half day adventure, drop off at the Big Rock 7 km west of Town and float to Town (3 hours)!
There are a myriad of classes and groups on offer throughout the town, around the year and many of these are summarised in the town community guide which is re-issued periodically.
Okotoks Community Guide
All in all, it's a place where there is always something to do.
In this shot, the helicopter is in the North East of the town, right above the Air Ranch community. The helicopter is facing south-west, giving a view right down over the town. Towards the top of the picture, snaking its way from left to right, you can see the tree lined Sheep River valley that divides the north and the south of the town. As previous blog items have noted, this is a fabulous spot for walks along the river and in summer, you will often see children and adults alike, resting and playing both in the river and on its banks.
A number of Eamonn's real estate clients will recognise their beautiful homes in this shot!This next one is a terrific shot that will help those new to or thinking about moving to Okotoks, get a feel for the Crystal Shores area that is so popular. Apart from being able to see our BBQ on our deck at the back of our house (you never know who is watching you do you! :-) ), you can see the Crystal Shores lake and its beach and beach house. You can see all the walking paths and green spaces that are designed into the community and on the left of the shot, you can clearly make out the part green roof and large grassed and banked (makes for great sledging in winter) grounds of Dr Morris Gibson Elementary School, which is such a draw for people moving to the area with younger children. The bright blue roofed building is the Fire and Emergency Medical Services Building and just beyond that and left is the excellent Okotoks Recreation Centre.This final shot shows something that we really love about Okotoks...the fact that it is surrounded by wide open space.Great shots Ian and Debbie...thank you for letting us blog them.