What Canada Means to Me Philip Rose, Regional Director – Canada for the Jamaica Tourist Board
by Martha Chapman
Where do you live? In Unionville.
Where were you born? In Kingston, Jamaica.
When did you come to Canada? On a very cold evening in January 2012. It was a good month for business, put it that way! My wife and I had both lived in Chicago and Milwaukee but we had been working in Dallas and that night we looked at each other and said: “I don’t believe we are doing winter again.” But I love it here.
Why Canada? I joined the tourist board in 1998 and worked in Chicago, then got promoted to cover the Western U.S. from Dallas, and then this opportunity came up in Canada that would have been silly to turn down.
Had you been to Canada before? The short answer is no, but the fun answer is yes. Some years ago I was scheduled to go to Jamaica for a best friend’s wedding and overslept and missed my flight. The Air Jamaica staff in Chicago put me on a Toronto flight, saying I could hop onto their flight from Toronto to Jamaica, not realizing I didn’t have a Canadian visa. Everything worked out fine, though for years it showed up in the system that in 2000 I tried to enter the country illegally!
What do you like about it? The list is long and varied. I love the diversity of the Toronto area and Canada overall, the fact that I am able to have conversations with people from all over the world in my own neighbourhood. Also the food scene. That hit me. I’m a vegetarian, and in Texas they look at you like you have a third eye. But here? Veggie hotdogs! I knew I’d gain weight. And I have. I also love the fact that it seems to be a very accepting and engaging society. You are judged on the depth of your character, not your pocket.
What were your 1st impressions? Snow. A lot of show that winter. Also how small the living accommodations in downtown Toronto are, after living in Texas where everything is big. Oh, and three different bags for trash. I was “What? Trash is trash!” But I love that we are taking steps to protect our environment.
If you could live anywhere in Canada, where would it be? That’s an impossible question. I genuinely love where I am at any given moment, I’m not the kind to dream about what ’ll do “one day.” But I must say I really enjoy living in the Toronto area.
Where is there room for improvement in Canada? The traffic in Toronto. (Speaks for several minutes, passionately and eloquently, about how much he hates the traffic.) I’m not going to say get rid of winter, because Toronto would be even more crowded. Plus, my job might be in peril!
What do you think you’d be doing if you had remained in Jamaica? I would be travelling. Islanders by our very nature are always outward looking and the travel bug bit me when I was very young. I’d be earning enough money for six months and travelling six months of the year. But something in tourism…running a small hotel in Negril perhaps!
How do you traditionally spend Canada Day? I’d have to ask my 7-year-old daughter. I don’t know where I’ll be, but I’ll be wearing red and white!