From 'rad' to 'right some good': a move from Yorkton, Sask. to Halifax

"Do you want a drive somewheres?" Designer Liz Gosselin moved to the east coast for school and stayed for community.

This designer sampled Montreal and Germany, but Halifax was the right fit.

Liz Gosselin now buys more clothes for rainy days after leaving Saskatchewan for Nova Scotia. (Gosselin)

Trans-Canada Culture Shock explores the small surprises, unexpected discoveries and rude awakenings that come with making a move within our borders.


How culturally different is small town Saskatchewan from Halifax, the biggest city in the Maritimes? Quite a lot, if you ask Liz Gosselin, and not in the ways you might expect.

Originally from Yorkton, Saskatchewan, Gosselin lived in Montreal for a year before moving to Halifax to attend NASCAD University. She then spent a year in Germany before deciding to return to Halifax to start her company. 

Were there any unique foods in Halifax that you'd never seen before?

Donairs. At home there's a big Ukrainian community so you see perogies everywhere, but that has flipped to donairs now that I'm here. I haven't actually tried one though, because I'm allergic to beef! The other thing is garlic fingers, they don't exist anywhere else, and they come with sweet donair sauce and that's so dangerous!

(*Garlic fingers are basically a pizza-shaped garlic bread cut into strips and topped with cheese; and perhaps the best way to describe donair sauce is runny sweet garlic frosting. Sounds gross, tastes amazing.)

Liz Gosselin soaking up summer on a Nova Scotia patio. (Gosselin)

Is there any new vocabulary that you've noticed in Halifax?

At home everyone says "wicked" or "rad" a lot, which is weird because it is way more hipster here, but everyone here talks like they are from a small town. There's a lot of bad grammar. Everybody says, "Do you want a drive somewheres?" and that is probably my favourite sentence!

What do you miss most about your old home?

I really feel like I've made this my home, and there's not a lot that I miss about Saskatchewan except the blue sky. It gets pretty grey here and I could do with a bit more sun. The first month that I moved here I lived in a basement apartment not thinking that it would be bad, but there were 28 days of rain and just two days of sun and it was awful. I didn't own anything waterproof when I moved here, and used to make fun of people that would spend $200 on a pair of rubber boots because they were never a necessity.

Nighttime blue skies of Saskatchewan and fog of Halifax Harbour. (Gosselin)

Are there many similarities between Halifax and where you are from?

There aren't many similarities between here and where I'm from, because Yorkton is a pretty small town but what's interesting is that despite being a city Halifax manages to feel like a small neighbourhood community. I expected Halifax to feel more like a big city, because I'd lived in Montreal for a year before going to NASCAD, but it feels like a small town.

Are there differences in the way people dress between here and there?

Definitely, there's not much going on in terms of fashion in small town Saskatchewan. Not that Halifax is a big fashion city, but there's more of a hipster thing here. When I was at NASCAD I definitely saw some interesting outfits. When I was in Montreal everyone was so fancy all the time, and when I moved here I felt like I needed to buy some more casual clothes.

Yorkton vs. Halifax
Population15.669390.095
Days of rainfall119156
Local foodperogies garlic fingers
Slangwicked, radright some good

What was your biggest misconception about Halifax when you got here?

Coming here as a student I didn't have too many expectations, although my sister and some of my best friends had already moved out here and were telling me that Halifax was the greatest place ever and I had to come. I didn't know much about Halifax, but just thought: why not?

Did you find any advantages to being new in town?

Yes. I've found that people here are really interested in making good connections and keeping them, so it is easy to break into the community when compared with somewhere like Montreal where you're just a number on a piece of paper. This is a great environment for start-ups like mine.

Liz Gosselin's dog Beau likes living in Halifax too. (Gosselin)

What do you love about your new neighborhood?

I live in the North End of Halifax, and love all the great things that happen here such as the North by Night Market, and all the other weird events that happen on the streets and parks, like street painting. It feels like every time I go out there's something new. I'd heard so many awful things about the North End because it has a reputation, and I'd heard it was so dangerous that I shouldn't even walk through it. I spent years thinking that it was not somewhere I could live, but now I've been here four years and wouldn't want to move. There's a real sense of community here.

How long did it take to feel at home in Halifax?

It was hard to feel at home for the first few years because I was living in a residence, and I'm not sure anyone can feel at home like that, but by year three I started to settle in. When I was here starting a business, and no longer part of student circles, that's when I really started to feel at home and realized, yes, I'm staying here. There's such a strong and supportive community in the tech sector, and that has been so good for me. Referrals go so far here, I can't ever imagine moving.

Liz Gosselin is design director at Pivot Creative Communications, a full service design studio specializing in branding, web and app design for startups and small businesses. (Gosselin)

About the Author

Lola Augustine Brown

Freelance writer Lola Augustine Brown moved to Canada in 2004, but was born in England and has lived in the U.S. and Australia. She loves her adopted homeland and is settled in Nova Scotia with her husband, three kids, two dogs and 12 chickens.

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