Open Jaw’s Canada Day Series: Featuring Transformed Brit Vanessa Lee

Open Jaw

Vanessa Lee

Once overwhelmed by the vastness of Canada, Vanessa Lee, President of Cruise Strategies and publisher of Cruise & Travel Lifestyles magazine, today has no regrets about making this country her home.

Where do you live?
Northwest of Toronto in the Blue Mountains, on Georgian Bay.

Where were you born? In Brighton, England.

When did you come to Canada? When I was 19.

Why Canada? My father was a Canadian, and I'd been to Expo 67 in Montreal with my mother and loved it. I was determined to come back for a few months after I left school. I arrived in the winter, which was rather silly, so I thought I'd stay for the summer and then I met the man who'd become my 1 st husband and… life got in the way!

What were your 1 st impressions? Some good and some bad. That Canada was an alarmingly large, vast country and Toronto so huge with its high rises… I missed the bucolic English countryside. But Canada was exciting, energizing and fascinating. And then, some things were just very odd: people taking their shoes off when they came into your home. Having a pizza delivered to your house. The vast malls like Fairview and Yorkdale. And, that you couldn't take your drink from the bar to your table in a restaurant. It was very staid in some ways.

What was your 1 st job here? At the original YMCA on College, in the membership department.

What do you appreciate most about being Canadian? The opportunity, the freedom, the melting pot that is Canada. I revel in all things Canadian including the vastness that once gobsmacked me. I've grown to love the lakes and big spaces and I've accommodated to the enormity after the smallness of England.

If you could live anywhere in Canada, where would it be? Exactly where I am now. I'm sitting in my home, listening to the birds and seeing the green hills and I love it here.

What do you think would make Canada an even better place? Interesting. (thinks) Taking better care of our lakes, our wildlife and so forth and doing more about climate change. Stop using chemicals that kill our bees and butterflies.

How do you traditionally spend Canada day? With friends and loved ones, usually a BBQ or some sort of outdoor activity such as golf.

What do you think you'd be doing if you had remained in England? I'd probably be in the travel business, not living in London but in a thatched cottage in the countryside, with a pub nearby! Yes I love going back to England and when I go I could kiss the ground. But I've achieved here what I might not have achieved there. Here everyone can be equal.

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