family shot in Salmon Arm, BC
Our family lives in Ft. Langley, British Columbia. This small village is part of the lowermainland of BC, which encompasses many large cities, farmland, mountain towns, and Vancouver metro that total about 3 million people! We love living right on the Fraser river where The Fort started the province of British Columbia as a famous trading post. My husband is from this area, and I'm from Nebraska, where our two children were born. We've lived in the Pacific Northwest for almost 4 years (we lived in Blaine, WA, while I finished my immigration work while my husband commuted across the border every day to work in Canada), and in BC for two.
Here in Langley, we have a fantastic homeschooling community, and my children Lukka, 9, and Ani, 7, spend many of their days riding bikes through town, going to the library, playing with Copper, our dog, or listening to loads of audiobooks. We hike on the weekends all over 'Beautiful BC', hit the beach when it's sunny, and head into Washington state when we need a change (or just some Trader Joe's!), or to pick up our American-bought packages.
Ani and dad reading
We love living in BC, and of course, my husband feels he's finally 'home' after 11 years living in the US. We love living in the area because there are so many spots for outdoor recreation. This includes lakes, mountains for hiking, beaches and the coast, islands to ferry to and canoe around, and plenty of camping options on or off the grid. Tourism is a big money-maker for this area because it's simply STUNNING. Imagine farmland landscapes with horses, berry farms and fresh fruit stands everywhere, mountains in the background, and when you're entering the city of Vancouver: bridges crossing over the water channels, snow-capped mountains always looming, beautiful forests, and the ocean always so close on the west side!
It's also such a delightful temperature most of the year-very mild with the majority of the year between 50 and 75 degrees F. Of course, deep winter and deep summer there are a few weeks of colder, but it's pretty moderate.
Canada has English and French as the national languages, and in BC, kids in all schools start learning French from grade 5 on. There are plenty of French Immersion schools, where every single subject is taught in French, and it's the best way to become fluent, but the wait-lists are often 3-5+ years long!
Fresh seafood, sushi, Asian and Indian food is very popular out here. Seafood because we're on the coast, Asian and Indian foods because that is a big part of the population, so great food is easy to come by. My husband enjoys a $3 California roll nearly once a week, though the three of us Midwesterners are a bit more slow to enjoy the seafood.... Another Canadian food is poutine, which is basically the most delicious heart-attack food ever made. If you ever come here trying it is a must! French fries, gravy, and cheese curds. It sounds bizarre, but just trust me.
Ani with her favorite Paris books
Most kids go to traditional public schools, but there are a few other options including French Immersion, Fine Arts schools, and homeschooling is also very popular up here. A difference we noticed in coming from the midwest is that the kids here only get 2 months of summer (instead of 3) but so many breaks and days off throughout the year. We homeschool, so we live on our own schedule.
Homeschooling is a bit different here than in the States, and we enroll with a long-distance school. When a family enrolls, each child gets a certain amount of funding for things like books, field trips, learning camps, etc. I won't tell you how much, or you might want to move! It's a pretty sweet deal.
You can also register, which means you align yourself with a school, and get a small amount of funding, but you don't have to be accountable to a school and teacher to prove your children are learning x, y, and z. Both options are great-it just depends on what your priorities and needs are! Homeschooling is respected here and it's very common to have people say, "lucky you!" when they find out we homeschool.
There are so many ethnic festivals in this area, and so many fun free things to do in Vancouver alone. In our small village of Ft. Langley (pop. 3,500), a few big ones are the Victoria Day in May where there is an old-fashioned parade, Canada Day in July where there are tons of free and fun things to do, including free admission to the museums, 'birthday cake', a petting zoo, and re-enactments. In October there is the Cranberry Festival with lots of craft vendors, and the like, and plenty of community-based events throughout the year including an Easter egg hunt, Christmas break pancakes, and a food truck festival every summer. It's the place where people from 'the city' come on the weekends to relax and get away!
I have too many favorite books, it's hard to pick just one. There are a lot of First Nations influence throughout the Pacific Northwest, and I love a lot of children's literature that include myths from coastal nations like this gorgeous board book, Learn & Count, Yetsa's Sweater, and Secret of the Dance,. For books just about Vancouver, I love My Vancouver Sketchbook, Vancouver Kids, and anything by Canadian author, Munsch is very popular.