Monday, December 31, 2012

Happy New Year Everyone!

I hope you’re all spending new year surrounded by your loved ones and I wish you the very best for 2013!

Another year gone by and we’re still here, aren’t we? Zombies aren’t running loose and the refugees from the burned down cities haven’t invaded the country side… yet. J (its always about to happen!)

The kind of “disasters” that are affecting us all aren’t that interesting, aren’t they? More inflation, less jobs, more taxation, less family quality time, more stress, more government control, less freedom and more crime to worry about. 

Lets enjoy these good times with the people we care about, recharge batteries so as to have the energy to face another challenging year!

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Which CR123A Batteries Should I Stock Up?

While today you have some great AA and AAA LED flashlights, CR123A powered torches offer the greater lumen output. The day will come when a single AA will put out 1000 lumens, but that same day you’ll be getting 2000 lumens from a single CR123A. As of today, the lithium flashlights operating on a single cell will double the brightness of their AA and AAA counterparts. This is why tactical flashlight manufacturers like Surefire use lithium batteries. CR123A batteries offer maximum brightness. They are also compact and have a nearly decade long “Best Before” date. I’m still going through some Surefires that are to expire in 2015, they are still going strong. If you have weapon mounted lights or optics, chances are they use CR123A batteries as well.

On the negative side of things, they are expensive and not as easy to find in smaller brick and mortar stores. This goes against the modern survival ethos of keeping things simple and using commonly available parts and spares when possible. I make my peace with this by keeping a 1xAAA LED flashlight in my keychain at all times.

So, which CR123A primary batteries should you stock up? While there are a few good cheap batteries you can buy in bulk, I’ll go along with Surefire´s recommendation and stick to Surefire, Duracell, Energizer and Panasonic batteries. These are all made in the same Panasonic factory in USA and are considered the best CR123A in the market. The guys over at candlepower forum did some detailed testing on different CR123A if you like to read more about it. http://www.candlepowerforums.com/vb/showthread.php?67078-123-Battery-Shoot-Out
Other than the labeling, these American made batteries are all pretty much the same, made by the same manufacturer to top standards.
Just look around and buy any of these in bulk.
Surefire SF12-BB Box of 12 123A 3 Volt Lithium Batteries 12-Pack SF123A
Surefire SF12-BB Box of 12 123A 3 Volt Lithium Batteries 12-Pack $22.99
According to the guys at candlepowerforum and several posts that Ive read, Tenergy seem to be some of the best perfoming “cheap” batteries, costing a dollar a pop when buying bulk. Check the link provided to see how these perform compared to Surefire, Duracell, etc.
Tenergy 40-pack Propel CR123A Lithium Battery Ptc Protected - 39005
Tenergy 40-pack Propel CR123A Lithium Battery Ptc Protected $39.99
Here’s the vid I made on this topic.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

So since the world didn’t end…

Yes. Not much of a big surprise. Yet there’s people that live for this stuff. Its always something. We’re always about to get hit by a comet, solar flare, peak oil, world wide economic collapse that will end the world as we know it. There’s always a new scare to look forward to and for some, that’s the reason for preparedness and to get involved in the survival lifestyle.

I guess I have a different view of things. I was watching this movie last night with my wife, Liberal Arts. It was her turn to pick one, and that usually means I’m stuck with a girly flick that makes you want to stick a knife in the base of your skull. The ones with Zac Efron in particular make me want to drink a gallon of gasoline and throw a lit match down my throat. It does seem less painful than watching his acting attempts. Turns out Efron was in this movie, but there was this scene that I got something out of. This old teacher is talking with an ex student of his. The guy looks pretty old, he just retired, and he asks his ex-student, now friend, if he knows how old he is. “I’m 19 years old” the old man says. He says it gets to a point where you feel young, yet you look at yourself in the mirror and this old dude is looking right back at you, this person you don’t recognize.

The point is, life is too short. One day you wake up and a decade went by. But wasn’t it just yesterday that I was nervous about that Biology exam? that I finished high school? that I got married? No man, it wasn’t yesterday, it was ten, fifteen, twenty years ago.  Life is too damn short and it’s a sin to waste even a single minute of it.
If you’re not enjoying your life today, you’re simply not enjoying life period. Tomorrow doesn’t matter, yesterday matters even less, its right now, right this moment that you’re alive. Personally, I feel that due to circumstances beyond my control, life was pretty much on hold for me for almost a decade. I tried my best, I tried having a good time while at it and usually succeeded at it, but in general, life felt “Paused” or at the very least, in slow motion. Before the 2001 crisis, life was pretty sweet. Being in high school certainly helped, but besides that life quality in general in Argentina was at levels that I considered acceptable. Poverty existed, but it wasn’t that bad. There was crime, but kidnappings were unheard of and murders weren’t at all common. Kids could play on the street, ride a bike. People could afford to travel, buy stuff, go out. After the economic collapse all that changed. Traveling anywhere abroad was suddenly four times more expensive than it was a week before, and it would stay that way, eventually get even worse. Buying a car, even a used one was a task that required years for an adult with an average income job. The inability to project your financial life even at a short term combined with the constant concern about crime on the streets just tainted all your plans, all your life.

You have good moments, and I suppose life is just that, a succession of good moments trying to have as many of those as possible. I was blessed in many ways. I met the love of my life, got married, had two beautiful kids. What more could you ask, right? But then there’s the things a lot of people do take for granted that we just didn’t have until we left Argentina. Every plan, every activity you do in Argentina is limited by two questions. Can you afford doing it? With a 25% inflation, the answer is no more often than you’d like. Even if you had the money, the second question usually ruined your plans:  Is it safe? Many times, no, its not. You do stuff, but the crime problem factor is always there, always an issue you cant ignore it since those that do so pay the price. Add to that the social degradation, the obvious poverty on the population, corruption, the dirty streets, littered parks and you get a better idea of what I mean.  
Now that life is on “Play” again, we can do all those things that were denied to us by the circumstances back home. Going for walk on parks, going camping without sleeping with a gun in your sleeping bag and looking through the window of your home without having to look through burglar bars every single time. Trust me, if you can’t live normal life without going all paranoid about the world ending every five minutes, when life does get complicated for whatever reason, keeping cool and staying positive will be impossible. 

So given that the world didn’t end (at least this time) I think it’s a good moment to take a few steps back and take a look at where you are standing in terms of preparedness. Do you live to prepare, or do you prepare so as to life a happier, more enjoyable life? Are you obsessing over terribly unlikely events and maybe forgetting to spend quality time with your family? Where you forcing your kids into an awkward lifestyle, not to have friends, just in case they came knocking on your door begging for food when the end of the world unavoidably comes? 

Modern survival is what you do so as to be better prepared for the challenges life throws your way, from car problems in the middle of the road, to floods and violent encounters with social predators, periods of unemployment, momentarily infrastructure failure or social breakdown. Even for more serious, more challenging events for which even self-claimed survival experts aren’t prepared for, you can be ready for them too without disrupting your life and more important, the life of your family.
Living like a freak detached from the world and building pipe bombs for when the refugee hordes come pouring from the cities does not mean you’re well prepared. It just means you’ll soon have the BATF knocking on your door. Same for acting like a lunatic in other ways, you’ll get locked up and rightfully so.  

You can be ready for most emergencies, you can plan for the most likely events, even the less likely ones that would have a big impact in your life. You can do all that and still be the most “normal” person in your neighborhood, successful, happy, raising kids that while smart and free thinking, they will still know how to function in society rather than desperately seek to run away from it. Most important, you can be a modern survivalist and still enjoy everything you have in life, every minute of it, without getting caught by the fear mongering and paranoia.
Take care folks, have a great day.


Friday, December 21, 2012

3 days of Rioting and Looting across Argentina

Graves disturbios durante los saqueos en San fernando. (David Fernández)

Its not as if some looting surprises anyone in Argentina anymore. Its pretty much a fact of life for Argentines. But it has been three days now of widespread looting across the country, from Buenos Aires and its suburbs, to smaller provinces as far as Bariloche where incidents first started. 

As always supermarkets, gas stations and smaller stores are favorite targets by looters and there’s also been reports of assaults and robberies as well. Two people have been killed in Rosario during the lootings and the government is deploying military personal across the country so as to protect supermarkets and avoid the “contagion” effect. This could be described as the perception that the authorities have lost control of the streets and everyone feels it’s a “free for all” time when looting can go unpunished. Unfortunately that observation isn’t far from the truth. 

I don’t know what it is. Maybe its a combination of heat, blackouts, disruptions in the water supply and the yearly 25% inflation that hits people the most during holyday times, but these widespread lootings usually take place during summer. 

What to do when something like this happens, you may ask? Stay put, leave lights on so that its clear your house isn’t unoccupied ready for easy picking. Hopefully, have a firearm in case anyone is feeling particularly courageous and needs some flying lead to be remembered of his own mortality. “Ferfal, should I bug out, make a run for it, as seen on this or that reality tv show?” Leaving a defendable position is pretty stupid to begin with. Then there’s the problem of traffic jams due to the rioting and probably some roadblocks. Being stuck in traffic is bad. Being stuck in traffic during a lawless riot is even worse. I’ve seen how they start robbing and carjacking everyone stuck in traffic, going car by car robbing everyone’s wallets, purses, jewelry and cell phones. You also risk getting pulled out of your vehicle, getting beaten, even killed. So no, stay put.


Thursday, December 20, 2012

Eagletac D25C Clicky

The amount of tactical and EDC flashlight in the market since the LED revolution boomed can be overwhelming at times. Eventually you find a good LED light and stick with it. I believe this to be a healthy approach since Cree announces a “new” LED every five minutes and its impossible to keep up. Its also true that most times a 2% or 5% improved efficiency isn’t worth the investment of a new light.
Having said that, every once in a while you have to step back and take a look so as to see if there’s something worth upgrading to. If you have a nice pocket Fenix or 4Sevens that puts 100-200 lumens out the front, you might want to continue reading.
I always keep an eye on what’s out there and recently I considered it worth buying a new LED light. Out of several interesting options, some of which I will review soon, the Eagletac model D25C seems to be a flashlight that offers several improvements.

Eagtac D25C Clicky

LUMENS: Right away the claimed 397 lumen out put, or 277 lumens out the front, gets your attention. The guys over at candlepowerforums have tested it and it is in fact one of the brightest single Cr123A flashlights available when using RCR123 rechargable batteries. With Primaries, the lumen output does drop some, but you gain further runtime.

CONSTRUCTION: The flashlight is very well made. While made in China and certainly not a premium product costing several hundred dollars, the construction has nice touches of quality like a stainless steel bezel with a dark titanium finish. The pocket clip, also stainless, is finished the same way. It both looks nice and reflects less than stainless, with a pale mate appearance. The hardened lens has an antireflective coating. The threads do need a bit of silicone grease and some use until it smoothens up, but within minutes the twist head works like butter, yet firmly.

RCR123: One of the things that bothered me about some of the LEDs that I have was that the manufacturers didn’t allow the use of rechargeable RCR123 in their LEDS. This can get expensive and its less practical than just recharging your batteries every few weeks. Rechargables are also needed so as to get the maximum lumen output in today’s LEDs. Having said that, RCR123 do have shorter runtime. Even if brigthter than Primaries, 20 minutes is a realistic runtime on High output mode for RCR123. Primaries, while not as bright, do last longer and close to the manufacturer specs. Given that you can recharge them often I dont have much of  a problem with this. I simply use RCRs on regular basis and carry Primaries as spares in the backpack.

MODES: The D25C works with two groups of modes, one with the head tightened, the head loosened.  With the head fully tightened you click it on and it goes into turbo mode, providing the maximum output for 90 seconds, then dropping 20% to prevent overheating. If you click again it goes into strobe mode. This setup is clearly oriented for tactical use, a turbo mode followed with a strobe that may be used against a bad guy. Given how bright it is, it does disorient and blind you, so be careful about looking into the reflector when changing modes. The head loosened mode has low, medium, high, strobe and SOS among others. You can activate a moonlight mode which makes the low mode even lower. Some people find it useful to have a moonlight mode, both to save battery and to move around at night without bright lights bothering people.

WARRANTY: Eagletac offers a 120 month warranty on their products related to craftmanship and material defects. This of course excludes any issues due to negligent or intentional damage. Still, a 10 year warranty is pretty nice to have and not very common.
All in all, I like this light and it will become my new everyday pocket carry light. Time will tell if these first impressions are still true a few months down the road.
Eagletac D25C Clicky 397 Lumens CREE XM-L U2 LED Pocket Light - Clicky Switch Model
Eagletac D25C Clicky 397 Lumens CREE XM-L U2 LED Pocket Light – Clicky Switch Model

If you’re needing a new LED light yourself, one of these might be what you need. Remember to get some rechargables and a charger to save on batteries.

COMBO: Tenergy RCR123A Li-ion charger + 2 pcs RCR123A 3.0V 900mAh Rechargeable Li-Ion Protected Batteries


Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Turning your Kid into a Mass Killer

1)  Make sure he’s socially impaired from an early age. He should not play with neighbors, be challenged by pairs in any way that upsets him or participate in team sports of any kind. The less he interacts with children and other people in general, the better.

2)    Try spending as little time as possible with your son. You already did what is socially expected from you by having a kid, no sense in wasting any more of your spare time. After all, you work hard and deserve to relax and have a good time. You’re not supposed to have a life, have some fun? And lets be honest here, we all know you cant do that with a kid around.
3)    If you must stay at home along with your son for more than 5 minutes, TV, internet and video games are the best way to keep him off your back. Get him Black Ops Two, he’ll spend entire days killing terrorists and other nation enemies. Better yet, buy him his own TV and let him play in his room. Sign him up for World of Worldcraft or some other virtual alternative life. His real life sucks anyway, a virtual one where he rules a kingdom of elves and slays anyone that opposes him might be good for him. That way you’ll never be bothered by him and you can watch Oprah on the living room undisturbed. Next week she’s presenting a book on parenting. You definitely want to watch that one!
4)    You don’t want your son to grow up being a religious weirdo or pedophile so the best you can do is bring him up in a home with no crazy religious stuff. Catholic churches are the worst since they are all child molesters, and you certainly don’t want you son receiving orders from the Pope through text messages (it does happen, all the time!). Christianity in general is a bad idea. Not killing, lying or stealing and loving one another? Not on your watch! A good atheist that doesn’t believe in a higher power and consequences for his actions on an after-life is much better.
5)    As your son grows older he might start avoiding sunlight, dressing in all black clothes and hanging posters of androgenous vampire rock stars who’s music sucks. Don’t worry. This is all very normal. You may be tempted to remove all that crap from your home, throw your kid in your truck and take him camping in the middle of winter so he both freezes his butt and mans up a little while spending some quality time with his old man. Restrain yourself from doing so.
6)    You might want to seek help at this point even though this is all very normal for a teenager. You weren’t that way, neither was I, but its still normal, nothing wrong with your bundle of joy. Your bundle of joy might be better served by a cocktail of Prozac and Ritalin. This will keep him happy (being happy is the most important thing in life after all) and will help him focus in school. Watching less TV and playing less WOW along with spending more time outdoors with other humans, even playing sports might help too, but popping pills is more practical and lets face it, its so much quieter in the house when he’s locked in his room instead.
7)    By now kids may be giving your son a hard time in school. This is of course other people’s fault as it always will be, so make sure you go to school and complain as much as you can. That’s what responsible and caring parents do after all, blame others for how poorly they are educating their kids. Remember to threaten to sue while you’re at it. Your son has every right to be the weirdest creep the world has ever seen. His classmates shouldn’t exclude him just because he doesn’t talk to anyone, wears more makeup than Lady Gaga and drinks chicken blood during lunch.
8)    At this point, try anything you can do to detach your son from the real world even further. He has no friends, hardly speaks to anyone including teachers and spends hours every day in a virtual alternate reality killing people. By now you’re either divorced or pretty close to it and hardly talk with any of your family members at all. No aunts, uncles, grandparents, nothing, your son has no family support. Thankfully he doesn’t believe in some silly God that cares about him either, how crazy would that be? Lets see, what else can we do to mess up this kid even more. How about spending some quality time discussing doom and gloom end of the world issues? You want to be prepared after all, and TV shows tell you that’s what real survivalists do, prepare for far-fetched, unrealistic scenarios that never happened before but look cool on TV. Hey, your son might dig that, he’s already detached from reality anyways.
9)    At this point you can teach your son how to shoot and leave several firearms lying around your medicated an mentally disturbed offspring. But don’t worry, if you don’t buy them and leave them unlocked for him to pick he can just go out there and just buy them illegally or steal them.
10) By the time you get the call about your son committing a heinous crime your work as a parent is done. Who would have thought that such a caring, loving person could do such a thing? But don’t worry, you have guns, videogames, survivalists and TV in general to blame. That’s clearly the reason why your son turned out that way.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Relocating to Canada: Ontario

Blog reader and contributor J. Vanne continues to share his knowledge regarding Canada. Thanks J. for taking the time!

Central Canada:   Ontario

In this article, I continue to look at Canada as a relocation possibility. This time, we examine Ontario, known as Upper Canada (as in “up” the St. Lawrence River) in olden days. We will not examine “Lower Canada” – Quebec – as in my opinion, anyone relocating to Quebec, known as La Belle Province (The Beautiful Province), to avoid an economic or societal meltdown may as well also look at Greece, Spain or Argentina. Yes, Montreal is a fun city, and there are indeed areas, such as the eastern townships (for example the area around Sherbrooke, Quebec) that are similar to Vermont in terms of agricultural activities. However, Quebec has serious issues. Yes, the separatist movement has died down, as the “pure laines” (the pure blood French) have aborted themselves into oblivion, and immigrants know their collective gooses would be cooked in an independent Canada. They are also aware that Quebec, which has a population of around 8 million – not all of which are francophones – exists in a sea of just under 400 million in North America (if one excludes Mexico). Exactly what kind of economic future does one have as a unilingual francophone is not question that goes unasked for immigrants to Quebec. All of this notwithstanding, Montreal – which was originally the hub of business for Canada until the separatists pushed that down the 401 highway to Toronto in the 1980s – is making a bit of a comeback relative to economic activities today.

There are other issues. Quebec is dyed in the wool socialist. In fact, one individual ran for provincial premier a few years ago advocating for a four day work week (heck, why not advocate for a TWO day workweek, as long as one is at it!). The aboriginal peoples want nothing to do with the French – and they inhabit around 90% of the landmass, including the area up around James Bay and Hudson Bay, which are the sites of massive hydroelectric dams that create a goodly amount of revenue for the province. And here’s the issue with that: During the last serious separatist referendum in the early 1990s (I lived in Ottawa, and also just across the border in Quebec during that period), a referendum was taken of the aboriginal peoples. The result? 95% (!) wanted to stay with English Canada if there was a separation. Would this result in violence? The Oka crisis of two decades ago showed the native peoples could, in fact, resort to violence. What would happen to revenue from electricity transmission to the US, a major source funds for Quebec, if the aboriginal people blew up a pylon providing electricity to the US? You can bet your bottom dollar that would be a social and political nightmare. Meanwhile, If you are anglophone, there still is some anti-English sentiment (you will be a “squarehead” or one of “the evil English” if you are not French, to some people). There is more, but the key issue is that  I will not take the time to review Quebec in that it is mostly kneejerk leftist. End of story in my books.

Incidentally, if you really want Gallic culture, have you considered St. Pierre and Miquelon? Two small islands off of Newfoundland, they are literally part of France. They are tiny – but something to keep in the back of your mind, if for no other reason than to win a pink pie in Trivial Pursuit.

Note that I do not have any animosity to Quebeckers. I have many Quebecois friends, and some are as conservative as you or me. I have lived in Quebec, and was married in Quebec.  But, similar to California, you will be in sea of leftists, and that should be a central consideration, if, in fact, there is some type of economic meltdown. Quebec alternates between being run by the uber left Bloc Quebecois, the leftist Liberal party, and now the hyper left NDP party is also making inroads. You might be better off in Chavez’s Venezuela – at least the gasoline is cheaper.
The above being said, let’s turn to Ontario. As noted in my previous articles, the great divide between west and east is that after one leaves Winnipeg, Manitoba – which is just off the map on the far left of the chart below – there is very little until one reaches the Toronto area. Thus, there is a massive, discrete physical, geographic divide in Canada that the US simply doesn’t have. This is due to the Canadian Shield area north of Lake Superior, which does not support much of anything other than fishing,  mining and a few polar bears if you get far enough north.

A nice smaller city – around 100,000 people – is Thunder Bay, right on Lake Superior, and just up the road a few hours from Duluth, MN.  One of the economic strengths of Thunder Bay is that Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba grain shipments – which aren’t going away anytime soon, no matter what the economic situation – all route from the Canadian prairies through the massive port facilities in Thunder Bay. A second small city Sault Ste Marie, a town to the east of Thunder Bay, with 20,000 less souls in its census, is also nice, if you like the terrain of northern Michigan.  As with the prairie provinces, towns like Thunder Bay are cold in the wintertemperatures can easily reach below –40 F and more (minus 40 C is approximately the same in Fahrenheit, by way of reference).  Two other limitations of these cities – and others in Ontario: the choices of the politically correct masses in Toronto, which continue to drift leftward, will drive your electoral realities in these outlying areas, even if Toronto is a very full day’s drive away; the other negative is that you will also find the soil is not as rich for farming or gardening here as in the west – although hunting and fishing will be superb.
On the plus side, Thunder Bay and Sault Ste. Marie (called “the Soo” by locals) feel bigger than their populations, as they are regional centres for the surrounding towns. Thunder Bay has a university (see Lakehead University’s website at http://www.lakeheadu.ca/,) some cultural activities, regularly scheduled jet service, and I have spent many years working on projects for the main hospital there, which provides good care for patients, given the limits of Canadian socialized medicine. Housing prices have not skyrocketed in these areas as they have in the Toronto region. This region (particularly the town of Sudbury, although I do not recommend this as an option) is also a centre for metals mining (such as nickel). If your analysis is bullish on the mininig sector, you may want to examine this region more.

My suggestions for northern Ontario are three-fold: Thunder Bay, St. Joseph Island, outside of Ste. Ste. Marie, or – if one wants to be more isolated – Manitoulin Island (which is the world’s largest fresh water island) in northern Lake Huron.

I have already alluded to the strengths and weaknesses of Thunder Bay, so let’s move on to St. Joseph Island, just over 35 miles outside of Ste. Ste Marie (Sugar Island is another, closer option). As noted, “the Soo” is a regional centre. Yes, it does get a lot of snow in the winter; on the other hand, you are surrounded by the fresh water of Lake Superior and Lake Huron. Does your calculus include water shortages in the future? This is one place you certainly will not have to worry about that problem!  As you see in the map below, St. Joseph Island is just to the east of the upper peninsula of Michigan. Access by any “zombie hordes” – if it comes to that – would have to come cross the international border, cross the bridge into the Soo, then drive down to St. Joseph Island by crossing another small bridge. Most likely, there will be very few of those “Golden Horde” leftists from California or “where’s my free phone and food stamps” types from Detroit in your locale there, if we do have a zombie apocalypse!

St. Joseph Island is mostly flat, not heavily populated, and amenable to growing your own crops – albeit with the shorter growing season found in this part of the world. The land is not the rich black loess of the prairies, but certainly you will have no problem growing most crops here, as long as you aren’t planning for pineapples or cotton. You will be in a more rural area, but not  isolated by any means.
Next at bat: Manitoulin Island. To start with, Manitoulin Island is much more remote than St. Joseph Island. The main island website to start your research is at http://www.manitoulin-island.com/. This site will also have land for sale, as well as accommodation links if you visit.  The island basically slants from west to east, and some sections can be boggy, so be careful if you buy land. As with the rest of northern Ontario, Dignam sells quite a few parcels of rural land at www.dignam.com, including on Manitoulin. As noted earlier, rural land does not have “comps,” so valuation can be difficult. My experience  with Dignam has been very good, but of course you will need to do your own due diligence. Manitoulin has some aboriginal lands, and my own experience has been that, as a generalization, often the First Nations people can be a bit lax in their property upkeep, to put it nicely. Just something to keep in mind if this is an issue for you.  There is only one bridge onto the island from the north, and there is a seasonal ferry from Tobermory on the Bruce Peninsula, which is to the southeast. Manitoulin Island would be an ideal retreat, or second property, for those seeking a more remote location if things go really “south” (as in, say… Paraguay!)

Moving to the rest of Ontario, I will suggest two locations for you: a.) The Bruce Peninsula, or b.) some of the towns in eastern Ontario along Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence Seaway. I strongly recommend against Toronto and environs – and those “environs” reach up to a two to three hour drive outside of this megalopolis. The Bruce Peninsula – that thumb sticking out in a northwest direction towards Manitoulin Island – is basically too far from the teaming Toronto masses to cause the usual problems of a megalopolis or its overflow. However, once one reaches south of Owen Sound at the base of the thumb, one starts to see Toronto spill over. Toronto – by some accounts the world’s most multicultural city – is, in my opinion, in yet another of their periodic housing booms that always end in tears. See http://thepoog.com/?p=3963 for a recent update on the housing bubble. Toronto is also not crime free, as some Americans like to imagine (there was shooting at a mall there the same week of the Aurora, CO. shooting, and a few years earlier, and al Qaeda affiliate was training to conduct a major attack on the Toronto, which was apprehended just in time). In a soft or hard downturn, Toronto would not be a place to be. Yet, from the Bruce Peninsula, one is a little over three hours from the city, so shopping, theatre, sports – all are accessible. If you do explore this area, the western coast of Bruce Peninsula is shallower and the lake is often spoiled by waterfowl droppings. The land is also more “scrubby” in terms of its rockiness and its vegetation. In contrast, the eastern shore on Georgian Bay is much more scenic, and has much deeper water, which is cleaner and a more pure blue. Sailing is very big on Georgian Bay, attracting Toronto wealth, and as sailing tends to done more often by the relatively wealthy, this attraction of the well-to-do may create some opportunity for the entrepreneur.  There is also some land that is farmable in the area.  The Bruce Peninsula is part of the Niagara Escarpment that starts around Niagara Falls, goes through Manitoulin Island, and continues on to the UP of Michigan and into Wisconsin. A certain percentage of the population is seasonal, so that may be a consideration in your analysis. My suggestion to start looking would be the town of Lion’s Head, ON. You can get a feel for the town by starting the town’s website of http://www.thebrucepeninsula.com/lionshead/. Population reaches up to 5,000 in the summer. Alternatively, Tobermory – shown with the marker below – is further out. The land is not exceptionally rich, but gardening is certainly possible. The Bruce Peninsula website is at http://www.brucepeninsula.org/

Thunder Bay, Ste. Ste. Marie, Manitoulin Island and the Bruce Peninsula are all on a different – and colder – weather track than Toronto. Temperatures will be slightly warmer as one moves west to east from Thunder Bay, but not by much.

Politically, Ontario is currently run by the left leaning Liberal party out of Queen’s Park, Toronto. This socialist tendency is somewhat kept in check by the fact that the left knows it cannot bite the business hand that feeds it, or they will cut off their money supply. There is an on-going battle between conservatives and Bay Street (the equivalent of Wall Street in the US), and the free lunch/big government types. Unfortunately, as www.thepoog.com points out, Ontario is now deeply in the financial hole. Some links for your consideration on the issue of Ontario’s solvency:
Ontario is Not California (it’s worse) http://thepoog.com/?p=3963
Ontario, You are in Really Deep Trouble,  http://thepoog.com/?p=2050

Or the tongue-in-cheek The Bright Future of Solar Energy and Green Jobs in Ontario at

Finally, let’s move to eastern Ontario, where I will present several mid-size cities for your consideration: Kingston, Belleville, and several towns an 30 to 60 minutes east of Ottawa, the nation’s capitol.

Kingston – yet another town I have lived and worked in – is the former capitol of Canada, and home of the prestigious Queen’s University. Located where Lake Ontario empties into the St. Lawrence Seaway, halfway between Toronto and Montreal, this town of about 150,000 has many of the advantages of a larger city, with few of the drawbacks. The city website is at http://www.cityofkingston.ca/index.asp. Extensive medical facilities, one of the premier universities in Canada, and a two hour drivfe from Ottawa make this city somewhat resilient in a more mild downturn. In a zombie apocalypse scenario, the land is reasonably fertile, the weather track is milder than the Thunder Bay/Ste. Ste Marie/Bruce Peninsula areas noted above, and there is quite a bit of land available outside of the city. Neither Kingston or, Belleville  get the snow that Ottawa does, and if you are familiar with the snow that Buffalo gets, these cities are not on the same lake effect weather track.

West of Kingston down the 401 highway – the main artery from Montreal to Toronto to Detroit – is Belleville. And yes, I have family there, too. (It only seems like I have lived everywhere in Canada!) Belleville is still has some spillover from Toronto, but at this point it is at the far reaches of that urban sprawl. Prince Edward County, south across the bridge from Belleville, has access to the town of Belleville, population 50,000, and is highly recommended. Conducting business in Toronto from Belleville/Prince Edward County is do-able, but not with a daily commute. Prince Edward County is more rural, sedate and the weather is moderated by the lake. In a moderate economic meltdown, one has access – as noted – to Toronto to conduct business; in a more serious societal breakdown, the mere 200 kilometers from the downtown core of Toronto could leave one exposed to urban spillover. Websites for Prince Edward County are http://prince-edward-county.com/ and  http://gocanada.about.com/od/ontario/tp/prince_edward_county.htm

The final towns to consider in Ontario are some of the “exurbs” of Ottawa. Ottawa has historically weathered downturns in that, being the nation’s capital, it was not susceptible to the business cycle, or the resource downturns the west experienced. Yes, government could suffer in a retrenchment phase, but the cadre of government workers are generally fairly well protected. As noted earlier, Canada cleaned up its financial house over a decade ago (at least relative to other western countries), so in a mild downturn, the city could perhaps be somewhat resilient. In fact, the 2008 bust left the city relatively unscathed (emphasis on the word “relatively!”). Ottawa is on a different weather track from Belleville and Kingston, and it is colder and more snowy. On the other hand, as the nation’s capital, it has all the advantages of a large city – theater, cultural attractions, and the like – without the crime, pollution or traffic. Winter is not unbearable, either, with Mont Treblant and its world class downhill skiing only two hours away, some of the best cross-county skiing in the world just across the river in the Gatineau Hills, and the world’s largest winter carnival, Winterlude, occurring in mid-winter. The city is bisected by the Rideau Canal, which doubles as the world’s longest skating rink (yes, in fact I have seen people ice skating to work with their brief cases). A full winter – as opposed to ones found in many US cities, such as Chicago, where it snows, then melts, then leaves frozen crusts of dirty brown snow banks and exposed with dead grass, then gets cold again  – can be enjoyable for many.

As a metro area of around one million – including the population across the river in Quebec – Ottawa is not small; however, it is not a megalopolis either.  The eastern side of the city tends to be more French, and the western side more English. There is also a moderately sized high tech corridor in the western Ottawa suburb of Kanata. Part of the metro Ottawa area is immediately across a few short bridges in Gatineau, Quebec.

In a more serious societal meltdown, Ottawa would have issues in that it is cold, and the population base is large enough to create problems. As well, if government employment “went south,” the city would be hit, and hit badly. However, it appears, as of 2012, Canada – while definitely not trouble free – is not in the league of Greece, Spain, Portugal or Ireland, either.

For towns to consider in eastern Ontario outside of Ottawa, I am going to suggest the smaller towns of historic Perth (http://www.beautifulperth.com/ ), population 6,000,  50 miles southwest of Ottawa, Kemptville (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kemptville ), population 3,500, 55 km south of Ottawa and a couple kilometers off the Rideau River (yes, I am indeed trying to wean you into kilometer usage!) and Carleton Place (http://www.carletonplace.com/carleton_place ) population 10,000, 30 miles southwest of Ottawa). All except Perth are easily accessible via four lane highway to the city core, but far enough outside of the city to provide privacy, more moderate housing prices, and land that is cultivatable. There are a number of other small towns around Kemptville that also may well be worth exploring (e.g., Burritt’s Rapids, on the Rideau River). Within the city, Ottawa has an international airport, and Montreal is two hours away from the downtown. You will not want for cultural or natural attractions in the Ottawa area. As part of the National Capitol Region is in Quebec, a short bridge span across the Ottawa River, you will have a good amount of French influence, but without the historical French grievances against the English that used to be evident in Montreal (and even this is much more muted now, though not non-existent). In the past, my comment was always that in Ottawa, the French populace were bilingual; in Montreal, they could speak English, but wouldn’t; and in Quebec City they simply can’t (speak English) -  Quebec City is only 5% anglophone. Assuming you are and English speaker (anglophone), the west and south of Ottawa tends to be more English, and the east side has more French, although this far from an ironclad rule.

Before we close this article, I am going to add one additional area of consideration in Ontario – the region halfway between Detroit and Toronto. Land here is exceptionally fertile, the latitude is actually the same as northern California, and one is far enough away from Toronto to not have any spillover effect from the big bad GTA (Greater Toronto Area). Specifically, I am going to recommend the town of Blenheim, located at (A) below (city website at http://blenheimontario.com/ ). Winters are moderate, and soil is exceptionally rich, the land is well watered, and population density is very low. As there is only the Ambassador Bridge and the tunnel into Canada from Detroit, there is no urban Detroit spillover even immediately across the river in the town of Windsor, Ontario. Even in a “zombie apocalypse” scenario, there would probably be little to no migration across the Canadian border, and almost nothing an hour east on the two lane roads leading to this town. There are many small towns in this area, but I would not suggest too much farther east, because as you progress that direction, more and more outflow from Toronto will be noticed.