Probably a good place to start is with a little history of us and our decision to relocate north of the 49th parallel . . . .
We are two gay men who have been together for nearly 22 years now - both in our early 50's. We spent most of that time in Atlanta, Georgia until our move to Florida's "panhandle" in 2001. (Sometimes referred to as "Lower Alabama" which is descriptive in more ways than one!) For quite a few years in Atlanta we owned and operated a retail business which when sold allowed us to move to Florida and enjoy a more relaxed lifestyle. Boating, kayaking, walks on the beach . . . . Ah, the Good Life . . . . . As you can guess, the "Good Life" got a little boring after a while. We found we missed stimulating activities and a more enlightened populace than was available locally.
Then there was 9/11 and the aftermath, mr. bush and his cronies trampling on civil rights, the holier-than-thou attitude of the religious "wrong" which was gaining increasing influence on policy . . . None of which gave us a very good feeling about the country and the direction it was heading.
We had always enjoyed our visits to Canada over the years. Especially refreshing was the apparently universal belief that Canada did not have to be the world's policeman or force it's values down other peoples' throats - unlike the US. A particularly good quote from a tour guide in Halifax comes to mind: "Americans have money and power. Canadians have heart." Kind of sums it up, doesn't it? Vacations to British Columbia, Victoria, Montreal and Quebec, Halifax and most of Nova Scotia (Where a hurricane named "Juan" followed us Floridians in 2003!) were all great. We always enjoyed the "natives" and their world view.
Along came November, 2004 and the re-election of mr. bush with his supposed "political capital to spend" - Horrors! Things will undoubtedly go from bad to worse with four more years of this crowd running things. We booked a flight to British Columbia for February of 2005. A choice of February was made because after checking online weather records it was typically the "worst" time of the year. The thought was we should experience the bad part of the year to see if these two Florida guys could stand the climate. As it would turn out, however, the weather was cool but gloriously sunny and clear - so much for our plan. The trip included an initial few days in Vancouver - where we had not been previously - a few days in Victoria and then back to Vancouver. A friend recommended we stay somewhere near Stanley Park in Vancouver as we both enjoyed the outdoors and walking. What a great suggestion! We fell in love with Vancouver's West End neighborhood. A real neighborhood of culturally diverse inhabitants, great restaurants, all necessities within a couple of blocks, sandwiched between two bodies of water with a view of the mountains . . . we knew we had found the "promised land". Also, Vancouver lacked the dreaded "3-H's": Heat, Humidity and Hurricanes!
Not to bore you with details, within a few months we had returned to the city, purchased a small strata (condo), and were thinking about our eventual - retirement time, maybe? - move to Vancouver. We know it's a long distance from Florida, but we'll get up there every once in a while, won't we?
As we were opening a checquing (I'm attempting to get used to Canadian spellings!) account at our local bank the representative mentioned in passing that the bank had a contact with an immigration lawyer. She gave us the contact information and our journey began. Lucky for us our real estate agent recommended the bank, the bank representative made her comment as we were about to leave, and the contact with the lawyer appears to be working for us. (I'll refrain from that annoyingly American habit of saying "We're Blessed!)
That's the "Cliff Notes" version of the saga . . . . I'll try to get you more up to speed - with our timeline thus far - in the next posts.