'There is opportunity here'

Darren McKenna, who works in construction, moved to Lake Ontario in 2008 with his wife Celine, their children Dylan (11) and Lauren (9), and their dog, Lady.

From early 2008 the writing was on the wall. Work was definitely drying up in the spring, and we were both tired of just living week to week, both working to meet the bills. I wanted to go to Australia, but my wife didn't want to bring the kids half way around the world.

My employer, who brought me out to Canada, housed me initially. Raising kids here is different. Children here are more streetwise. Irish kids are more innocent, but there is a charm to that we both miss.

It is a very multicultural society, and schooling is not like back home. It is either mixed public schools or Catholic school, or bilingual school. But our children have progressed well in the education system here.

For us with young kids, meeting people was initially hard. Not knowing anybody and not trusting anybody to mind your kids leaves you isolated for a while. After four years we have made many friends but all socialising is done in the home. Initially, it was very hard for Celine because I was gone all day working and she knew nobody.


Certain things are cheaper here but utility bills and car insurance -- the essentials for working -- are expensive. That said, we can do more here as a family than we could ever do at home, and there is plenty of amenities that are family orientated.

"Would I advise a young family to move to Toronto? If a family planned it right, it could be a positive move. Little things, such as Canada not accepting our driving licence and needing to start out life again on the bottom of the credit ladder may be too much for those with a small family. However, there is opportunity here for those who want to take it on.