Category Archives: Contribution

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Ontario – Yours To Discover

With the Pandemic now in its third year, one would think that all the restrictions imposed by public health and other government agencies would curb our enthusiasm and spirit to discover and experience new things. However, in the last three years even with all the restrictions we traveled and experienced several things within Ontario, some of them for the very first time.

Sunflower farm:

A visit to a sunflower farm is surely a cause for a smile, photo ops, and plenty of sunshine. We visited the Edward Sunflower Farm a few months ago. Located at 1574 9th Line, Innisfil, ON L9S 3Z1 this farm has rows and rows of sunflowers.

Sunflowers are usually in bloom from late July through the middle of August. But always check the farm’s website before you go to make sure they are open and in bloom.

Apple Picking:

In October 2021 we went Apple picking at West Wind Farm located at 690 Baseline Road, Terra Cotta in Caledon. It was an interesting experience going in a tractor-driven buggy to a spot deep inside the Apple orchard. We were given about an hour to pick our own apples. Ladders were available for us to select any tree and climb the ladder to pluck the juiciest of apples. We picked a bag full of crisp Golden delicious apples for under $10.

Point Pelee National Park:

This is a national park in Essex County in southwestern Ontario where it extends into Lake Erie. This spit of land is slightly more than seven kilometers long by 4.5 kilometers (2.8 mi) wide at its northern base. Established in 1918, Point Pelee was the first national park in Canada to be established for conservation. We went to this park and visited the southernmost part of Canada in the month of March 2021. We did not visit the island as the ferry was not in service. However, we did climb the tower and got a great view of Lake Erie. We saw flocks of migratory birds everywhere. 


The Cheltenham Badlands is one of Ontario’s geological treasures, formed at the base of an ancient sea about 450 million years ago. The 36-hectare (91-acre) site is a provincially significant Area of Natural and Scientific Interest and hosts one of the most recognizable and visited natural heritage landmarks in southern Ontario. In October of 2021, we went to this unique place and were fortunate to see a lot of fall colours. Hard to believe we have so many places worthy of a visit so close to home.

Alpaca Farm:

For animal lovers, this place is great to see Alpacas of different hues and colors strutting their stuff. The Shed Chetwyn farm is located at 500 Closson Rd, Hillier, Ontario. There are a few parking spots and I found the parking sign amusing. It read” For Alpaca Lovers only”. Only a few yards further on this road is the Prince Edward County Lavender Farm. The best time to visit is late June through July. Our visit in August was a bit too late to see the colorful lavender flowers. Other sites in the vicinity are the Trent Severn Waterway and the Laundry’s farm market.  

Tyendinaga Caves and Caverns

Ontario’s Oldest Natural Cavern, Tyendinaga Cavern and caves is a private network of natural caves and is thought to be the oldest such in Ontario. It is approximately 150 feet long and 45 feet deep. While you won’t see Stalactites and stalagmites, this cave is solid rocks with narrow passages and several levels. Located at 2623 Harmony Road, Belleville this place is worth visiting during summer when you feel like getting out of your city.

My Early Days in Toronto

I got married in India and landed in Toronto on February 18, 1968, after staying in Paris for a couple of days. As we were landing, I could only see “white stuff” and NO land at all!!! All I heard from Ratnakar’s friends was about the big snowstorm they had a few days before. I took it easy the next couple of weeks, learning how to cook, figuring out how to take the subway downtown, etc. I started looking for a job in April. I got two offers, one from the government and the other one from the bank. The bank accepted my Indian qualifications since I was from a Commonwealth country, so I accepted the TD Bank offer. After a year, I was promoted to an Officer position. They were opening the King and Bay branch for the Head Office with 54 storeys on April 21st. Notably, this was the tallest building in the Commonwealth in 1968! You could pay 50 cents to go to the top floor and look at the view – you could see Niagara Falls from there at the time! It was a big tourist attraction!

I started my new job on the following Monday and the inauguration party was on that Friday. There was champagne and “meat” hors d’oeuvres. I had never had alcohol in my life nor did I ever see meat, as I was vegetarian. When they were serving, they were offering refills on the champagne… when I said no, my new co-workers nudged me and said to just take it – they drank my share as well!

Those days, there were very few Indians in Toronto. In the whole 54-storey building, there were only three Indians. I used to go for lunch in the Bank cafeteria with two co-workers and I would always see a Tamilian fellow. One day, he asked me how much rent we were paying in the posh area we were living in and he said he just bought a house in Don Mills for $25,000 and we were paying more for the apartment than he was for his mortgage for his house! At that time, we thought we were not handy enough to own a house and we also did not want to shovel the snow!

There were no Indian shops at that time, except one place at Dupont and Avenue Road area… it was not really a store, but a garage! When I first went there, I told the lady I needed everything. I was able to buy spices and dal. There was only one place to buy vegetables, Piri’s Dixie at Victoria Park and Lawrence area – they had Indian and West Indian fresh and canned vegetables.

Each day I would walk to the subway to go to work, sometimes I would see another Indian lady. One day she stopped and waited for me – those days, you would stop any other Indian stranger and talk to them as it was a novelty to see another Indian face!  She asked me where I was from and which language I spoke. She said that she thought I resembled someone she knew, Nirmala Kamath, which happened to be my first cousin! They just happened to study together in Bangalore!

In the ’70s, Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau opened up immigration and there was also an exodus of Indians from East Africa, so more Indians started coming to Toronto. Some Indian businessmen built “Little India” on Gerrard Street and it developed fast!  We used to go there once a month for treats and shopping and we saw a lot more Indians.

From my office on the 36th floor, the air was clear – no smog! – and they slowly started to develop downtown with high-rises, the CIBC bank, BMO building, etc., and I could see them digging in 1974… what would eventually become the CN Tower, which opened in 1976.

On weekends we would take day trips, to the 1000 Islands for example, as there was no traffic! Some Konkani and Kannada families started going together having picnics locally, as there were no associations at that time. Slowly, more and more Konkani families came to the area and we began to meet on a regular basis, creating the lifelong friendships we still enjoy today. Now, it warms my heart to see hundreds of Konkani families meeting regularly!

I came to Canada to be with my new family, as a newlywed to my dear late husband, and to later raise my two daughters. I came alone but never felt alone. With my husband, children, and now grandchildren and the Konkani families I considered to be my family, my story continues.