Canadian Snowbirds Discover Refuge in Their Legendary Miami

Miami, Orlando, and Cocoa Avenues, a collection of cookie-cutter roadways in a retirement community north of Quebec City, are framed by 30-foot artificial palm bushes.

In the pool area, there are straw-covered umbrellas, a candy-colored inflatable children’s play slide, and an adjacent tiki bar that evokes many oceanside condos in Florida. Aside from the snow and the minus 15 degrees Fahrenheit temperatures this month.

520 Canadians who are madly in love with the Sunshine State decided to build a make-believe Miami of their own here in Canada. Golf carts transport elderly retirees to games of seaside volleyball, shuffleboard, and Bingo throughout the summer months. In the dead of winter, as many as half of the population will load up their RVs, cars, or planes and fly to warmer climes.

Until now.

In Canada, where they’ve traded in their beach suits for heated underwear after the pandemic ruined their yearly pilgrimages to their beloved tropical retreat, they’ve been trying to make the most of their situation.

In any case, Gérard Ste-Croix, a 71-year-old homeowner who was holding his shivering Yorkshire dog, Mala, expressed his thoughts, “At the very least, we had a white Christmas this year, and may faux we are in Miami.” Because of the coronavirus, he and his wife were forced to abandon their plans to spend six months in their RV near Tampa, Florida’s Gulf Coast, they had to suffer a Canadian winter for the first time in 11 years.

A bookcase labeled “Paradise” hung on the family’s Quebec property.

Grilling burgers behind the plastic to keep out the cold is a Florida tradition for this couple who want to keep their Florida attitude. Gnomes in pastel colors in winter are replaced by flamingos when it’s warm enough.

Quebec’s “snowbirds,” retirees from New York and other states, flock to Florida each year to enjoy the warm weather and the state’s senior-friendly policies. Early-bird deals, surf and turf, adrenaline-charged Canasta tournaments, and slow-moving cars driven by people whose kids are astonished if they need to still have licenses are what you can expect to see in the city.

They have their French-language newspaper called Le Soleil de la Floride as well as a thriving community of Francophone real estate agents, accountants, and dentists.

Even Celine Dion, the unofficial Queen of Quebec, kept a 13-bedroom oceanfront Florida mansion with a private water park before selling it for a whopping $28 million in 2017.

Read More:

According to the Canadian Snowbird Association, a group that educates snowbirds on issues like insurance, an estimated one million Canadians spent their winters in the United States before the epidemic; at least 500,000 of them were Quebec snowbirds who traveled to Florida.

Poutine, the zipper-bursting Quebecois dish of French fries, cheese curds, and gravy, is available in more than a half-dozen South Florida restaurants, a testament to the influence of Quebec culture in the Sunshine State.

It was a different story this year for Quebec’s snowbirds, however, who were stopped from making the annual trek due to fears of contracting influenza. In contrast to Canada’s 922,848 instances, Florida has seen more than 1.96 million cases of Covid-19.

Some residents of Domaine de la Florida, even though it is still possible to fly from Montreal to Miami (a more expensive option than driving) and quarantine for 14 days after returning to Canada, expressed their displeasure with the rules. It would cost roughly $1,600 to spend three days at a specified resort in Canada, or about $2,000 Canadian ‘dollars’.

Most of the snowbirds in the area decided to stay for the long haul.

For the first time in seven years, Nicole Ruest, 66, and her husband Ghislain Gagné were unable to vacation in Florida. She relaxes by doing crossword puzzles, baking traditional Quebecois fares like Tourtière and meat pies, and taking long walks in the countryside. It’s not uncommon for locals to set up plastic beach chairs on the snowy sidewalk outside their homes and chat with each other like they would at Florida’s poolside.

Because she feared she or her husband would become ill when traveling abroad, Ms. Ruest announced that this year, she would not be going south.

Even if this place isn’t for everyone “we like the sense of community here,” she said.

Saint Ambroise in the Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean region of Quebec is home to a neighborhood of nearly similar prefabricated homes, the idea of 69-year-old André Bouchard, a snowbird himself. There are mountains around the area and the area is known for its aluminum and timber businesses.

Approximately half of Domaine’s residents are snowbirds, according to Mr. Bouchard, a nearby RV business owner.

His ruse was obvious. While vacationing in Miami several decades ago, he saw how many Quebecers were spending their winters. It was reported that to maintain Florida’s tropical feel, he “planted” hundreds of Chinese-made artificial palm bushes each year. It costs roughly 5,000 Canadian dollars ($4,000) for each of the most crucial.

Let’s just say he has a strict stance on plants. Once per year in September, he removes removable leaf litter from the tree tops and covers them over with black garbage bags, creating an artificial spring-blooming effect.

In the beginning, others were skeptical: ‘How would you recreate Florida in Quebec?’ Mr. Bouchard had a flashback. “However, once I installed palm trees and road signs, sales skyrocketed.”

This year, Mr. Ste.-Croix decided to stay in Canada because of the cost of traveling to Florida and transporting his car. Aside from the BBQs, he’s also adjusting by going on cross-country ski excursions.

According to him, his wife, who “hates the cold,” had taken solace in stitching for her comfort. The couple was still paying $564 a month to park their mobile home at the Florida camping site.

Despite the difficulties, a few Canadians have made the trip to Florida. Some of the allure was the prospect of being vaccinated against the coronavirus at a time when Canada’s immunization rate was lower than that of other countries, including the United States.

As expected, there was a response on social media against Canadian vaccine tourists.

After initially vaccinating anybody over 65, Florida has since tightened the rules to require proof of domicile for those who qualify for immunization.

Canada’s snowbirds own roughly half of the more than 8,000 condos in Deerfield Beach’s Century Village East, of which Roboz is on the board of directors. Mr. Roboz, who has a lung condition, said he was vaccinated within 48 hours of arriving in Florida in January.

When he explained why he was on the road, he said, “This is my life we’re talking about.” He argued that the vaccination of Canadians living in Florida, who contribute significantly to the local economy, was essential to public health.

He just flew to Fort Lauderdale to join his wife Linda and their French bulldog Daisy, who live in the Domaine de la Florida. Experiencing him immunized and spending time in their Florida home’s outdoor spa, surrounded by real palm trees, without getting frostbite, were both perks.

It is expected that he and his wife would return to their home state of Florida by the end of April. That means you’ve arrived just in time to witness the “bloom” of the artificial palm bushes.

Read More:

Related Posts

About The Author

Add Comment