Bernadette’s Take #1


Warning: It can be dangerous to take a 3-month unpaid leave …

… because you might travel to Canada, meet a Canadian man, fall in love, stay in Vancouver and end up on this website. I know what I am talking about – it has happened to me.

Let me introduce myself: I am Bernadette Calonego, Swiss-Canadian, journalist, book author – and above all wanna-be-detective: I want to know more about you guys out there.

On this page, I will accompany you, interview you, guide you, follow you, meet you, write a portrait of you, entice you, inspire you (hopefully), drag you if necessary, hound you (I don`t know exactly how but I’ll figure something out), woo you, beg you, respond to you, provoke you through the year 2013, the 100-year-anniversary of the Swiss Consulate in Vancouver.

Warning #2: Don`t write a book with the title “Oh, wie schön ist Kanada!” (Oh, How Beautiful is Canada!), as I did. I think the people from the Swiss Consulate in Vancouver thought I might write another book named “O how Beautiful is Switzerland!” And I suspect they give me a trial run on this page. Fair enough. I take up the challenge.

IMG_7457 - CopyOne of my books is called “The Zurich Conspiracy”. Here you
see why. Suspicious gathering on the Lindenhof square.
(Photo B. Calonego)

There are some Canadians living in Switzerland (how on earth did they end up there?!?). Let me tell you: I will find you and question you on this page about what you think about Switzerland.

What you have experienced in Switzerland.

Short: What Switzerland does to you.

Don’t hold anything back, we love stories about culture shock, burnt cheese fondues and how the Swiss don’t talk about money.

IMG_7445 - CopyJeweler at Zurich’s Bahnhofstrasse The gold nugget must be
from the Yukon, don`t you think? (Photo B. Calonego)

And you guys out there in British Columbia, Alberta and Yukon – be prepared! – I will come to see some of you and write about you.

Warning #3: I am not only a journalist and foreign correspondent but also a writer of mystery novels. You know, one of these people who like to write about the secrets of others but reveal nothing about themselves. I have mastered the art, I can tell you. Nobody as secretive as me, it is my Swiss heritage. Most people don`t even know my cat`s name but I promise, one day, it will be revealed here.

Nevertheless, I am well aware that sometimes one has to take the plunge first in order to give a good example.

Here we go, read a short summary of why I emigrated from Switzerland to Canada. Click on the following link or copy it into your browser.

A Possessive Love.

And because the proof is in the pudding, as Canadians like to say, I add some pictures of the places I mentioned in the text (I do this because I have an agenda: I would like pictures from you, too, you see).

IMG_0005 - CopyFly-fishing salmon in the Skeena River in B.C. (it was
Catch-and-Release) Photo B. Calonego

infortross - CopyIn the Arctic along the Northwest Passage. I look like a
Northern Tuareg. (Photo B. Calonego)

IMG_0011 - CopyIn a canoe on a remote lake near Terrace B.C. (Photo B. Calonego)

Dempster.Highway30 - CopyOn the Dempster Highway in the Yukon. (Photo B. Calonego)

IMG_0035 - CopyOn a seaplane in Prince Rupert B.C. (Photo Elaine Briere)

You want to know why I find pilots of seaplanes so irresistible?

IMG_0020 - Copy (2)On a farm in Pincher Creek, Alberta (you can`t take
the Cow Girl out of a Swiss country girl!)
Photo B. Calonego

Warning #4

On a regular basis, I will grill some of you with an

“Urgent Phone Call” (short UPC)

UPC consists of five curious questions. Maybe even five cheeky questions. I voluntarily subject myself to them so that you see how it works. (Ah, the novelty of Bernadette Calonego interviewing Bernadette Calonego…)

Q: Why does a foreign correspondent in Canada who writes for newspapers in Switzerland, Germany and Austria, live in a place like, ah, Roberts Creek and not in Vancouver?

A: I had lived in Vancouver for the first two years after my arrival in Canada. I loved it! Then I realised I could not live without bears pooping in my yard, racoons coming through the cat door and destroying my china and trees falling through the roof of my house during a windstorm.

sturmAt least, my house was still standing…

But I could live without car alarms, noisy student parties next door or a film crew shooting at night in my street in Vancouver (it was Barclay Street near Robson, by the way).

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAMy rental home in Roberts Creek (Photo Calonego)

Q: Is it true that you have to take the ferry from Horseshoe Bay to get to Roberts Creek on the Sunshine Coast?

I love ferries! Maybe because I grew up on the shores of Lake of Lucerne (in a small rural town called Buochs – but fellow Canadians, I don’t ask you to pronounce that name properly – most Swiss can´t do it either). My parents took us five kids on a lot of rides on the traditional steam boats.

There are also flight connections from the Sunshine Coast to Vancouver, albeit with seaplanes (in which I am allegedly an expert – see above).

IMG_0151 - CopySteamer on Lake Lucerne near Beckenried (Photo Calonego)

Q: Are you one of the old hippies that take refuge in Roberts Creek?

I have to admit that I don’t worship Mother Earth on solstice with dances on the beach like some of my fellow Creekers. I even abstained of becoming a member of the local hula hoop group that performs in the yearly Higgledy-Piggledy Parade.

I did help to paint the Mandala in the summer, though, but then everybody does in Roberts Creek, especially kids and dogs.

MandalaHooping2 (1) - CopyHula Hooping on the Mandala in Roberts Creek
(Photo Diane McIntosh)

Q: What happened to the Canadian you fell in love with?

Well, it turned out we were not like-minded (no pun intended!) and we separated. But eventually I met another Canadian guy although I had to travel 4600 miles to find him – in Newfoundland of all places. (Most Newfoundlanders do not consider themselves Canadians, though.)

Q: Why can`t you give up the addictive Swiss card game called Jassen?

Addictive?? Please!! (What the heck is this Bernadette Calonego talking about?) I come together with friends for Jassen maybe about four times a year. I just like to speak Swiss German once in a while and accuse the other players of cheating. I play Scrabble far more often – in English, of course, and I lose out almost every time against the man in my life (he does not let me cheat). Is that fair? Jassen restores my confidence! And I am not ashamed to admit that I love cheese fondue, too.

IMG_0227 - CopyCheese Fondue with friends Christa, Hans and Irene during
a visit in Zurich. Another “Zurich Conspiracy”!
(Photo B. Calonego)

P.S. Irene bought the fondue set at Schweizer Heimatwerk. I envy her for it!

You see, UPC is not that scary.

But there is more to come:

The Can-Swiss Quiz:

Why don’t you answer the 6 following questions and send the answers to us:

Here are the Can-Swiss Quiz questions:

–   What gift do you bring home from Canada (or Switzerland)?
–   What product(s) do you miss most in Canada (or in Switzerland)?
–   Which are the 3 qualities you cherish most in Swiss men or women?
–   Which are the 3 qualities you cherish most in Canadian men or women?
–   What triggered a culture shock for you in Switzerland or Canada (in one sentence, please)?
–   Which Canadian or Swiss personality fascinates me?

Add your name and family name and where you live right now. And if you like, send us a picture of you to

I will publish your answers here on this page!

And because I know that you all have stored away great pictures on your computer, I would love to see some of them. To make your choice easier, I narrow the search down to:

–   My magic place in Western Canada OR:
–   My magic place in Switzerland

Tell us who took the picture (please make sure you have the copyright) and where the place is.

In some cases, we will let our viewers guess the location!

Here is my contribution. When can we see yours?

My magic place in Western Canada:IMG_7119 - CopyRoberts Creek beach in B.C. (Photo B. Calonego)

My magic place in Switzerland:IMG_7222 - CopyLake of Lucerne at Beckenried, canton of Nidwalden (Photo B. Calonego)

Don’t be shy: You have many options to be part of this page!

For example:

If you have an interesting story to tell, let me know.

If you have magic pictures, send them in.

If you want to fill in the Can-Swiss Quiz, give it a go!

Or if you would like to write your point of view, if you have suggestions or questions or – yeah! – if you want to compliment me (the bigger the compliment, the better your chances … I’m just kidding), than write to me:

I would love to hear from you!

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