Archives: “moving story”

High Park

Lloyd!After a day filled with the agony of lifting large objects repeatedly while shuffling up and down stairs, we’re finally in our new apartment. Oh, yeah.

Once a debacle with the landlord and getting keys for the new apartment was worked out, the move went pretty well. For those folks in Toronto who might be in the market for a local moving company, I highly recommend Emerald Moving and Storage - very friendly, reliable, and hard-working. After all of the crap we went through getting our stuff from Winnipeg to here in the first place, it was a relief to deal with someone who didn’t have ASSHAT stamped on their forehead.

Of course, I knew that that nothing bad could come of the move when I saw that one of the movers looked, as his partner described him “exactly like Doc from Back to the Future”. And he did, thus giving me the joy of having my stuff moved by a Christopher Lloyd lookalike.

» High Park continues...

Moving company reviews

PLEASE NOTE: If you post a review of a company, you must leave an email and your REAL name so I can confirm that you really are leaving a legitimate review. All reviews from now on that do not have an email and name attached to them will be deleted.

One thing that has kind of surprised me is how there doesn’t seem to be any resources online for Canadian moving company reviews. For an experience which often can end up being one of the more high-stress episodes in anyone’s life, you would think moving would be something people would research the crap out of.

(Note: I’m currently trying to find a Toronto-based moving company for a local move, so if you have any recommendations or companies to avoid, post ‘em in the comments, or email me. Thanks!)

Sure, there’s’s list of moving companies, but it consists of mostly U.S. companies, and I don’t know how the quality differs between companies that have a continental presence (i.e. Atlas / Allied / North American / United Van Lines). I spent a bit of time digging through Usenet, which was a gigantic waste of time (quelle surprise), and also googling specific companies looking for reviews, but had no luck finding much. Even the trusty Canadian Better Business Bureau didn’t have a lot of information, and what was there was incomplete and sketchy at best.

Heck, there’s sites online which have reviews of ISPs, reviews of Web hosting companies, reviews of guitars and basses, even reviews of yarn for knitters - why no moving companies? Maybe my Google-Fu isn’t as merciless as I thought it was, or maybe it’s only me that thinks there should be reviews of stuff like this online…

Update - December 23rd, 2005

Seeing how this entry is the fourth listing for Google searches on moving company reviews I suppose I should post a quick update on who I ended up using.

For our move from Winnipeg to Toronto we went with AMJ Campbell. Their service was, in a word, underwhelming. Our stuff was over ten days late - it all didn’t even leave Winnipeg until seven days after their estimated delivery date.

It all arrived for the most part in one piece, but the fact that we had to do with an inflatable mattress, a yoga mat, and various bits of kitchen stuff for a total of over two weeks was pretty sad. We did end up getting reimbursed for the late time (around $600 off of our appr. $2800 moving bill) but that doesn’t make me want to use their services again in the future.

Once we got to Toronto we actually moved again to our present apartment, and that move was much, much smoother. We used a local company called Emerald Moving and Storage that were recommended to us by friends, and they were great.

I posted a bit about the move here. Overall it went really well, and I’d hire them if we ever moved again in the GTA.

Yet another update, Feb 27, 2008

It astounds me that people are still commenting on this entry, especially considering that the original post is over three years old. Turns out that this entry is the #1 Google result for moving company reviews Canada. Oh, that’s why.

I wanted to post an addendum as we moved (again) last March in the GTA. We ended up using Tippet Richardson based on a couple of word-of-mouth recommendations and they were very good.

(Aside: their web site is horrible, though - I keep getting their “you must have flash installed” landing page even though yes, I have flash installed. Turns out you only need flash to view a completely useless flash intro video. The above links past that into their non-flash web site.)

The initial estimate was done by a guy who literally breezed through our place in seemingly record time, but in the end their price was fairly comparable to what we had received from other companies.

On moving day, they sent out a massive truck with three guys who proceeded to pack everything from our apartment in equally speedy time, with no breakages or accidents. One of the guys was this short dude who could carry three completely full boxes of books in a single trip - very impressive.

All told the initial estimate was for six hours of move time, and the guys ended up finishing in under three. My one small quibble was that they charged us for some packing as there were some small bits and pieces that we forgot to pack initially — it would have been nice to have received a warning that there was going to be an extra charge.

Overall, though, big thumbs up.

I’m starting to wonder if I should set up a small discussion forum at this location - it seems like there is a lot of back and forth discussion here that’s getting lost in the sprawling comments thread. Hm.

Stupidity tries / The Nerd Rides Again

hemsley(With apologies to Sherman Hemsley, who is neither stupid nor a nerd.)

I must be scraping the bottom of the intellectual barrel these days, as lately I've been chock-a-block full of completely asshat decisions. I was really giving myself a serious self-beating today ("Yooooou eeedeeeot!") until I realized that with the end of school, the move, and all of the craziness of getting settled here, I've been going basically full-tilt since September 2003. I suppose that's some kind of excuse... <cough> <cough>

I need to figure out how to relax again. The fact that I have to "figure" that out in the first place is incredibly sad.

The good news is that our stuff finally arrived from AMJ Campbell (warning: gratuitous usage of flash and the Jefferson's theme song), and we're going to be getting a deduction from the cost of our move, which was very much expected. If I had only known what I was getting into...

It's very, very difficult to find good, accurate moving information online, which I think is bizarre, considering how stressful moving can be. To help alleviate this (and add my moving experience to the collective intelligence), I'll be writing a much more thorough review of AMJ Campbell very soon. I'll summarize it here for you now, though: great foot soldiers (the moving guys), poor internal communication, crap transport, and overall not a nightmare, but way more stressful than it needed to be.

Idiots-Are-Running-Wild-In-The-Big-City moment: I actually saw a guy riding a Segway a couple of days ago. Boy, it's no surprise that the Segway hasn't been the runaway hit everyone was expecting: it makes any rider look like the biggest dork on wheels. It fairly screams out, "I HAVE NO SEX LIFE AND THIS ISN'T HELPING".

The fact that the rider in question was already a nerd of epic proportions means that I had to shield my eyes, having allowed myself to gaze upon DAS MAXI-NERD. I proceeded to fall over and had a sudden craving to play a spirited game of Dungeons & Dragons right on the spot. "I can't be a nerd - I have 18 Charisma!"

Okay, enough of that. Sleep make stupid man go away.

The (relatively) Simple Life

eggsOne thing about moving and the extended delay for receiving our worldly goods is the fact the we have been forced to live with just the bare essentials. No TV, no microwave, no electronic gadgets to make life easier…

(Yes, I see the irony in writing a post about simplicity on a Internet connected laptop. Bear with me, I’m a spoiled Western used to the modern life.)

The actual list of stuff that we have right now is:

  • air mattress
  • clock radio
  • small saucepan, frying pan, and enough cutlery / plates / etc. for two
  • the aforementioned laptop

All of this said, we do have access to the other modern conveniences of a fridge, stove, telephone, running water, electricity, etc. But compared to the vast number of devices, gadgets, and other chunks of modernity we had access to before we moved, we’re living pretty slim. And I kind of like it.

I guess my whole point here is that it’s kind of refreshing in a way to be reminded of just how little we actually need to sustain ourselves… and how much it is other forces (society, marketing, The Joneses, our overwhelming urge to be consumers, laziness) that make us believe that we absolutely cannot live with something.

Even last week, before we had Internet access at home and I was going out to find wireless access, I came to realize just how much my sense of reliance on the web was self-manufactured. Being online and connected at all times was something I had come to believe was critical to me… but in the end life without constant access wasn’t just livable - it was relieving.

Don’t mind me. I’m just finally recognizing that sometimes it’s the simple things that matter the most. It’s a good feeling.

Miscellany in the East

My brain feels like wet Kleenex, so I’ll keep it short and point-form-like:

Where the hell is our stuff, AMJ Campbell? Everything was due to arrive by today, and apparently it’s all still sitting in a warehouse in Winnipeg. Now they’re saying at least seven days late. So we sit here, the only furniture in our apartment being a yoga mat, and an air mattress… (grr)

(I was going to post a picture of our woefully empty apartment, but the USB cable for my camera is, natch, packed in one of the boxes. So here’s a picture of Charleton Heston instead.)

HestonAir Canada finally found my missing boxes. They reeked of diesel fuel, and were dropped off by a very monosyllabic delivery man. Who knows where they ended up before they were found - a Siberian refinery? An adobe hut in Istanbul? Donald Rumsfeld’s private oil reserve? At least nothing was broken.

It feels like the entire web is moving. Maybe it’s just my bookmarks.

It seems like a vast majority of the women here wear tight blue jeans. Not that I spend a lot of time staring at women’s jeans, but… It really does feel like the 80’s are back in full force: I’ve seen more pastel colours and neon than I care to admit. Ow, my eyes.

It’s humid like a motherfucker.

Never, ever, deal with a company that outsources their customer support to another country. That said, never deal with a company that has a completely crappy, broken web site.

On a more positive note, Echo Online is fast, friendly, and competent. They quoted me “five business days” for my DSL connection to be working, and assuming that they had to rely on Bell to hook things up, I expected as much. To my surprise, my connection was up and running in two days. Impressive - and you actually speak to someone who works for the company when you phone.

It’s hard to relax and calm down after being very, very stressed out when you don’t have: Couch. TV. Stereo.

There is literally an endless amount of things to do and see. Lana refers to Toronto as “a candystore”, and she’s right. So far: Prince, Madonna Ester (giggle), Camera Obscura, Emily Haines / Amy Millan, a Turner / Whistler / Monet exhibition at the AGO, a plethora of festivals… and Wilco, Bebel Gilberto, Gomez, the Curiosa Festival, the Toronto Film Festival, and so much more on its way.

It’s good to be back. That said, this will not become a site consisting of posts about Toronto, I promise. Humour me for a few weeks until I become jaded, blasé and start to take everything for granted.

Toranna 2004

Well, here I am, in the Big Smoke. I'm currently surrounded by dozens of smiling, very enthusiastic Asians, all babbling loudly in various levels of broken English, as the sky thunders overhead, and the occasional flash of lightning illuminates our faces.

I don't have web access at home yet, but am currently leeching off of the open wireless access point located in the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education. For those interested, there's open APs available in the library on the main floor, as well as on the fifth floor cafeteria. The SSID for the cafeteria is "CTS wLAN", in case you were wondering. Thanks, Wireless Bandit!

Seemingly endless ethnicity. The reintroduction of large, roaming packs of 20-34 year-olds to the landscape. Rain, thunder, and rampant humidity. Free wireless. Big city attitude. Thanks for the welcome back, Toronto.

I'm just finally starting to get my mental and physical energy back after what ended up being an incredibly draining four days. Air Canada managed to transport my cats and I safely here, but in the process lost two very large boxes I brought with me as luggage... boxes that contained lots of very expensive computer equipment. Sigh. I'm still waiting for them to track the errant boxes down, though I don't have a lot of hope.

It's simultaneously great and very discombobulating to be back here. I still don't really feel like I've moved, though the aches and pains of the last two weeks in Winnipeg are still freshly throbbing. I'm sure it'll start to sink in after a few weeks...

But, it's great to have Renée and the cats and I all together again, and there is already a veritable smorgasbord of things to do and see. I think this is going to be a fun summer.

I guess I should get myself listed here at some point.

Blood, sweat, and tears

Thank god I hired a company to move all of our stuff. For the past week I’ve been packing boxes, cleaning shelves, throwing away crap, and inhaling dust that has been lying dormant for three years. Is there such a thing as Moving Lung, where the lining of one’s air sacs become clogged with dust bunnies?

This is the first time that I’m moving and not getting rid of everything in the process, which is what I used to do when I moved in the past. Relocating? Time to buy new stuff! Who needs to move couches, chairs, tables, and various potpourri when you can just give it away (or even better, sell it to some sucker) and buy new stuff when you arrive at your new home?

Packing this stuff is bad enough. When we moved into this apartment, carrying 40+ boxes up three flights of stairs nearly killed me - I swear I nearly had a heart attack. Yes, I would like to have some cheese with this whine, thank you very much.

From living with many different roommates, I’ve found there tends to be two kinds of people: those who have absolutely everything necessary for comfortable apartment living, and those who do not. Both RenĂ©e and I were the latter. Up until we moved in together, we’ve always managed to live with people that fit in the former category. You could say we were furniture leeches.

When we moved in together, though, we were suddenly faced with the reality that we were both living with someone else who also had nothing. Luckily, I knew a couple who had just moved in together, and both of them were people who had everything, so they had doubles. Don’t you love the yin and yang nature of life?

Unfortunately, they kept all of the nice stuff and gave us whatever was left over.

So yes. Now we have joined the rest of the world and actually have nice stuff worth keeping. Still, it’s amazing how much crap you accumulate when you stay put for three years. We’ve got tons. It makes me want to buy a house.

That would mean moving again, though. Sigh.



I just got back from seeing Renée off at the airport. She flew out to Toronto today, and starts her new job on Monday.

A mountain of packing, cleaning, organizing, paper cuts, softly uttered curses, and 21 sleeps in a giant, empty bed separates me from the day when I will join her. The next three weeks aren't just 21 days before I move - each one represents a task that must be completed and stroked off of the list before I can step on that plane.

Let's get this party started.

Fruity loops and Nerdish tendencies

One of my favourite things about moving is how it forces you to run every single possession through the “to move or not?” filter. Everything is up for grabs - old books, music that hasn’t been listened, unworn clothes that reek of a funky combination of dust and that alienlike new smell, geek tools that seemed like a good idea at the time (and now seem, well, geeky) - all is vulnerable to trashing.

powerbookIt’s in this spirit, and heavily aided and abetted by a very generous Apple developer discount provided by a client of mine that I decided to go for broke. It’s time for my big, heavy tower to go, and for portability to swoop in and save the day. In the process of lightening my geeky load, I’ve officially ordered more Apple gear than I ever have before.

Replacing my beloved tower (which was briefly for sale but snapped up the day I posted it) is:

I’m really hoping that the build quality with these 2nd generation aluminum powerbooks is improved over the first release. We had 32 of the first-gen albooks at the college, and the quality just completely sucked: white spots on all of the screens, dark, back-light problems, superdrive failures and tons of RAM issues were commonplace.

I’ll post a review of the new gear once it arrives. <Sigh>. I am such a nerd.

The State of Things

sausageI’m not sure what to talk about these days, except to say that I must be pregnant, because the kinds of food combinations I’m craving are completely, utterly irrational. I’m convinced that anyone suddenly struck with the urge to eat pork sausages with honey mustard while riding the bus is obviously under a delusion that only rampant hormones can bring on.

All of this from a wavering (but generally firm) non-red meat eater, too. I must be going to a hell reserved for mattress-tag ripper-offers, people who fart in public and blame it on their boy / girlfriend, and fallen vegetarians who were once smug in their self-righteousness.

I feel a bit shell-shocked these days, what with the most unbelievably kind remarks that students have been saying, and the rapidly growing to-do list that the move is spawning. I generally do not like compliments at the best of times, but being complimented on one’s teaching ability is extra painful. Now that I’m no longer a teacher, I can safely say this without the threat of someone using it against me in class: I know pretty much nothing.

Here’s a secret for you folks taking classes: every single teacher that stands in front of you is either:

  1. Completely full of him or her self,
  2. Completely full of shit,
  3. Scared to the core of being found out as being full of the aforementioned shit, or
  4. A combination of the above.

On most days, #3 would probably fit the bill, though there were days when #1 took over - these were undoubtedly red-meat-in-the-morning days. This is my confession: I would often find myself standing in front of a class, with the only thought in my head, “I am full of shit, and these people will soon find out and rip me to shreds.”

Teaching is not a good career choice for those prone to bouts of self-doubt. Need I repeat the obvious?

This isn’t why in some way I feel relieved to be leaving my position as a teacher, though I guess it’s a side benefit. The truth is that teaching is this cavernous black hole that swallows up all sense of time and proportion. Apparently it gets easier after three or four years, but the amount of time I threw at teaching to avoid giving away my secret (that I knew nothing) surprised even me. 14 to 18 hours a day, seven days a week, for eight to nine months. It was draining.

But, the summer stretches in front of me like a barcalounger with an extra large cup holder clamped to the side. There’s a gigantic stack of books piled nearby, and a sticky-note on top that simply states, “Read”. I truly will miss my students and my teaching life, but for now, it’s time to get caught up on some reading.

Now where did I put that package of bratwurst?

Seeking Reliable Roustabouts & Muscled Movingmen

bumpyWith the forthcoming move back out East comes a necessity that I’m dealing with for the first time. In the past whenever there was a change of residence, I would madly dump all of my worldly possessions into large, decaying cardboard boxes, cram them all into a friend’s car / truck / moped, and lurch down the street to the new home, hoping for the best. Copious sweating and sounds more suited to a porno were often the result, not to mention some very unsightly underarm stains.

After the nearly disastrous Move Of ‘01, where I suffered nigh-fatal implosions of the trapezius muscles, and sweated mightily in places I didn’t even think I had sweat glands, I decided no more. We had sent our things via Air Canada cargo, which meant packing, transporting, and moving everything ourselves. This time, it’s packing, yes, lifting and displacing of heavy objects, a resounding no.

Thus, we need a moving company.

The big problem here is that there are just so many companies and options to choose from. As excitingly folksy as it sounds to get our underwear and disco pantaloons transported by a company with the words “Amigos”, “Guys”, or, “Buddy” in their name, the pragmatic part of me says, “this, you may regret.”

So, folks: can you recommend a national moving company that can whisk all of our possessions from the smog-free, sleepy canopy of Winnipeg to the olfactorific, bustling skyline of Toronto? We actually don’t have tons of things - there’s a fair number of books, CDs, and the requisite kitchenware, but only a handful of furnishings, so it shouldn’t be too crazy to move.

Here’s what I’m hoping for:

  1. Reliable: I don’t want to put our things on a truck, only to see half of them again come Thanksgiving Day, and the other half in a Crimestoppers ad.
  2. Speed: It would be nice to get our things within a week of saying goodbye to them in Winnipeg. I think that’s reasonable.
  3. Insured: If a fumble-fingered palooka drops my TV, or if the Wawa goose falls on top of our truck as it’s in transit, I want the company to pay for or replace our stuff.
  4. Reasonably priced: I’m willing to pay a bit more for top-notch service, but I don’t want to break the bank, and I don’t want weird, wonky hidden fees to crop up at the most inopportune times.

Also, if there’s anything I should know about using a moving company (and I’m sure there’s endless things I haven’t even begun to think about), please post in the comments and let me know. My scrawny pectoral muscles and worrywort nature thanks you profusely.

Tumblin’ Tumbleweed

Now that I’ve informed work and my students, I can finally post my news here. Renée and I are moving back to Toronto this summer - in fact, Renée is out in Toronto right now apartment hunting, and I should be out East by the end of July.

I’m sad to say good-bye to this chapter in my life, but looking forward to getting back out East. It has been three years almost to the week since we moved back home from Toronto, and as much I was worried about coming back, Winnipeg has been good to us.

Teaching has been a constant motif throughout our time here, for both Renée and I. Leaving the college is both an exhilarating and bittersweet moment for me. In many ways I think I must be completely insane to be leaving such a great job, but at the same time I recognize that this may not be exactly what I was meant to be doing.

“A man’s true delight is to do the things he was made for.” - Marcus Aurelius

The adventure continues; where will we end up? I don’t know, but I’ll see you when we get there.

Bike Riding

It astounds me that it's been over a year now since I moved back to Winnipeg from Toronto. I was thinking about this during a fairly long bike ride that Renée and I went on tonight. The last time I rode my bike was just before we moved.

bike wheelI think it was a couple of days before my flight was leaving Toronto. I'm a nostalgic, sentimental person at the best of times, and so I did what any nostalgic and sentimental guy would do just before he and his sweetie uprooted themselves - I went out and did a kind of Jimmy Stewart, just like he did at the end of It's a Wonderful Life, except I wasn't saying hello. I said good-bye.

"Good-bye horribly overpriced Starbucks at the end of our street that I loathed walking into! See you Cafe Diplomatico with your crappy food and overrated patio! Adieu Royal Cinema, where I spent many an evening with my good buddy Paul watching cheap, good movies!"

I said goodbye to the Green Room, a small hole-in-the-wall cafe / restaurant that always had mouse traps strewn about, and ridiculously inexpensive, tasty meals. I waved so long to my first real employer in Toronto (an independent book store chain that abruptly "laid me off" for some strange reason, which was the best thing that ever happened to my career). I rode through the world-famous Kensington Market and wiped away farewell tears, and biked past some of my favorite restaurants in Chinatown with the sweet sorrow of parting lodged in my throat.

I bid farewell to the stink at the corner of Spadina and Dundas, and blew kisses at the Horseshoe Tavern and the Rivoli. I saluted the place I learned and taught Web design. where I made some of the best friendships of my life. Before turning back I cycled past Gandhi Roti, and taking in the spicy atmosphere, I said good-bye to some of the best butter chicken I've ever had.

Riding my bike tonight with Renée, I remembered all of this and thought wistful, happily evocative thoughts as the dark shadows of trees embraced the road all around us, and the bike's tires slapped a rhythmic staccato on the pavement.

Dean en France

Moving Story: Félicitations et bon chance to Dean, who jets off to a new life in France tomorrow. Another fellow Canuck succumbs to the beauty and romance of the France countryside… then again, having someone waiting for you on the other side makes all the difference…


Quite often, I catch myself thinking, "Boy, I can't wait to go home"... home being Toronto, which if you've been tuning in, you'd know I just moved from recently. I especially get East-sick (um, perhaps that's not the best way to put it) when I check out Barbara's blog and see the fun they're having. Then, I shake the cobwebs out of my fuzzled brain and think, "Oh yeah... I live here now...".

I think that's gonna be happening for a while.

Nostalgia is a dangerous state of being

On the corner of Bathurst and College Street in Toronto, Ontario, there’s a restaurant called Sneaky Dee’s. On the side of said restaurant (server of low-grade Mexican fare and watery draft) is the words, “Feed my eyes!” in gigantic, spray-painted black letters. On a Saturday afternoon, walking around with Renée in Winnipeg’s deserted, morose downtown (yet another victim of the suburban box stores and shopping malls which have infested middle-sized cities like this), with barely a single person to be seen, and the childhood memories of a bustling, vibrant city mocked by the emptiness of it all, that’s all I can say. Feed my eyes!


You may have been wondering, "Where the hell is he?" You may not have cared. But, after weeks of slow, percolating stress and sore, throbbing back muscles, Renée and I have finally finished our move from Toronto back to Winnipeg. The cats are here, slightly stressed from the flight but okay, and I finally got the DSL connection working yesterday. Life, it seems, is slowly making its way back to normalcy.

Moving, it seems, helped remind me just who my friends are, and I love 'em to bits. Big, whopping bear hugs to Tonia, Bart, both of our families, and all of the wonderfully hip, deserving folks at my old job, with especially warm squeezes to Leslie (Wee!). I never would have survived it without you guys.

Oh, and by the way, thanks to Dan at dotComments for the helping hand fixing the comments function on this site. Yeehaw, they finally work!

Going home.

This thought requires a longer forum to really itch properly, but for now, here’s the skinny: Moving back home very soon. Gave notice at work this week and just booked my flight. New job? Why? My sweetie is going back to school for a couple of years… and we’re aiming to live in Europe after she graduates. How do I feel? I feel very strange. I’ll deconstruct this unusual feeling later when I’ve more time.

In the meantime, please share your own moving story with the world.

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