I first came to Canada in February 2002, at the end of a three-month-long backpacking trip from Mexico to Brazil (yes, by bus).
A stop in Canada was not part of my original travel plan, it was a last-minute decision because I found a cheap Rio-Toronto ticket. So instead of flying back to France, I followed Feng, my Canadian travel partner-turned-partner-turned-spouse, to Ottawa.
I caught a glimpse of the country before eventually flying back home to France a few weeks later.
I stopped over again in 2003, before heading to Central America for another backpacking trip with Feng.
In February 2004, we flew back from Guatemala City to Toronto broke and tired. I got a six-month “tourist” stamp upon landing in Canada, so I decided to stay in Ottawa for a bit to see if I actually wanted to move there. I spent the next few months working on my English skills (believe it or not, I didn’t speak English!), scouting the job market, and learning how to shovel the driveway.
It turned out that I liked Canada (and Feng!) enough to stay. I started researching how to obtain a work visa and the famous “permanent resident” status.
In September 2004, I travelled to France and applied for a Working Holiday Visa (WHV). Canada was not yet a popular destination—the WHV was free (!) and the yearly quota was not even close to being filled. I showed up at the Canadian embassy in Paris and left a couple of hours later with the precious WHV stapled in my passport.
I flew back to Canada in November 2004 and started working right away while completing my university degree in France. By mid-2005, I was ready to apply for permanent residence.
I was lucky, I was granted permanent residence status a few months later and I became a Canadian citizen in 2009.