I spent the nine long hours on the Airbus A330 learning a little about Canada, Alberta and Calgary. Before departing I downloaded the Wikibook of Canada. This is approx 220Mb of Canada related Wikipedia articles covering just about every area of general knowledge you could hope to learn. Of all the articles I read, the facts that stood out the most were:
- There are no rats in Alberta. This is because of a highly successful a mass extermination of the Norwegian Rat in the 1950s
- In Canadian Federal politics, the funding of political parties is tightly controlled by legislation. Donations from private individuals is encouraged, whilst corporate donations are tightly restricted. Public funding is awarded to political parties based on previous and estimated proportions of the vote.
- I've moved to the most Conservative province in Canada, Alberta, which has consistently elected a Conservative representative since the 70s
- Alberta was one of the last provinces to join the confederation of Canada, only officially joining in 1905.
- Income tax is 15% in the band $10k-$40k - a.w.e.s.o.m.e.
Things I've learned already that I didn't know before:
- Mobile and Landline telephones do not display the number of the calling party by default. To get this information you have to pay extra for 'Caller ID' which not only shows the number but also the name - even if they are not in your address book.
- You have to pay for nearly all banking services with the average charge being about $10/mo for a typical chequeing account.
- Most banks have dual currency ATMs for accessing USD and CAD
- Canoeing is a lot of fun
- Most camping sites offer only gravel, concrete or generally hard pitches, since nearly everyone uses an RV for camping. Time for a better roll-mat
It's harvest time for hay crops and the machinery involved in felling, sweeping and bailing the hay is fascinating to watch. First the combine cuts it down. It sits drying in the field for a day, then a plough-like attachment sweeps it into a narrow channel. Finally the baler sweeps up the hay and compacts it into a bail. Periodically the hatch at the back of the baler opens and it poops out a great big bail of hay, already wrapped in plastic and twine. So readily amused am I that I photographed this happening and now have an album of pictures to show for it: