Thursday Travels - Owl's Head Skiing

We've been fortunate to travel, thanks in part to Paul's frequent flier miles. We're frugal travelers and I can navigate my way through the system like a travel agent. I decided that on Thursdays I would feature a travel piece. Short essays or stories on a particular place or experience...some here in Canada and many other places we've been fortunate enough to visit over the past 20 years.

Owl's Head Ski Resort, Mansonville, Quebec
We travel to Owl's Head each Sunday during the winter for Special Olympics skiing. About an hour and a half from Montreal, a bit longer from our house in Beaconsfield, Owl's Head is in the Eastern Townships, east of Montreal. The Eastern Townships are known for skiing, wine, country homes, quaint villages, hiking, boating and more.

Owl's Head is a great ski area for our family...not too small and not too big. There are never any lines and the lift tickets are affordable compared to other places in Quebec. It's a very down to earth place and very family oriented. The bar is very simple, but perfect for apres ski with a pool table, big screen TV, air hockey and music. We enjoy a beer after skiing while the kids hang out with their friends and we catch the end of a football game or the Olympics. Owl's Head supports Special Olympics by offering discounts tickets for the family volunteers and a place for the athletes to practice with the gates. Separate from Special Olympics, they also support adapted skiing for those with physical handicaps. We'll support any company that supports those with special needs.

What makes skiing at Owl's Head special is the view from the top. The runs are not long, but let's face it, after the age of 40 we don't need a two mile run. Our theory is that we're tired by the end of the run anyway and before we know it, it's time to sit on the chair lift for a rest.

We've stayed over night only once but would love to do it again. We had a condo right on the hill and it was nice to ski out and get on the lift. While picnic lunches are welcome at the lodge, the food is not too expensive.

Life in Canada

I’m often asked, “do you like it in Canada?” While the first couple of weeks were logistically challenging, we’ve done a good job adjusting, I think.  We're almost half way through our work permit/visa now. To answer the question, yes I do like living in Canada. I like the people, I like the pace, I like our home and I do like our life here.

Don’t get me wrong – we liked our life in Naperville too. We made great friends, the kids went to really good public schools and it was a wonderful place to raise our kids when they were younger. They had access to unbelievable sports opportunities, music classes and more. They made really good friends. Most of them still live in Naperville and some of them have also moved away. But we were running around a lot. It was hard to have family time when there were times we felt like we lived in a commune.  There was no anonymity.

I remember a summer night, just a few weeks before we knew about this move, Paul called me from New York City. He was in Time Square or someplace busy and he said he noticed all the kids taking public transportation and enjoying the city and he said, “Can you imagine kids in Naperville doing this?” Not really. We drove them everywhere, even to a friend’s house in the neighborhood. Kids didn’t readily use public transportation. Okay, mainly because it was not that available. But because they didn’t have to. Danielle takes a train, to a subway, to a bus each day to school here in Montreal. And she does the same thing coming home and in all kinds of weather. Is she more adjusted? Yes. Will this experience help her in the future? Yes. Is her schooling in Canada better than it would be in Naperville? That’s hard to say – but it’s just different.

We have more time at home as a family. We have more meals at home. We have different experiences. We're learning French. We're learning about Canada. We're in a culturally diverse city. We live 15 minutes from the airport. We've made new friends. The kids are happy. The dog is happy. We are happy.

It’s a slower pace and I have to say, it’s a welcome pace.