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Falling Off The Grid - Homeless People in Ontario

It may seem silly to some people that there are people who deliberately want to get "off the grid" so to speak, when homeless people "fall of the grid" accidentally when they get evicted, can't find a new place to live, can't afford a new place to live, and end up homeless on the street because there isn't enough affordable housing.


#1. Toronto has approx. 50,000 homeless people - enough for a small city!

#2. 80% of Toronto's homeless population already have jobs (minimum wage type jobs). The problem is that the cost of rent is too high and despite having a job, they still cannot find an affordable place to live.

#3. Only 6% of homeless people have schizophrenia. So the stereotype that all homeless people are "crazy and lazy" is completely false. Most homeless people are actually hard working and perfectly sane, they just can't find a place that can afford while working a crappy minimum wage job.

It makes you realize we could problem solve a lot of our homelessness problems just by raising the minimum wage and making sure we are building affordable homes. See my other post "Solving Toronto's Homeless Problem".

What is weird is how for the 20% of homeless people who don't have a job, why do they stay in Toronto? Or any city for that matter? Why aren't they learning how to fish, how to hunt, how to garden, finding some piece of government owned land in northern Canada - and living off the land?

Well, it is because many of them still hold out hope that they will find a job (somehow) and find a place they can afford to live in. They simply haven't given up hope that they can somehow do those things.

Which to me means they should be coming up with more business savvy things to write on their cardboard placards when begging. Things like:

"I have a master's degree in engineering. Hire me!" and then begging outside the building of some kind of engineering company.


"I have a bachelor's degree in marketing. Hire me!" and sit outside an advertising agency.

Eventually someone walking by will see their placard and think "Hey, why shouldn't I hire that guy?"

Well you might think "Oh, he might have a drug addiction or be an alcoholic." True, but there are also lots of alcoholics and drug addicts that manage to hold down a job anyway, regardless. Toronto Mayor Rob Ford for example has a long history of drug and alcohol addiction dating back to the 1980s.

No, the sad fact is that most homeless people simply cannot afford a place to stay.

Check out the following quotes about homelessness and energy costs by Toronto charity worker Edward de Gale.

"Canada is the second coldest country on earth and with a climate like Canada’s, energy, like food and housing is a necessity of life." - Edward de Gale. 
"It is a little known fact that the inability to pay basic utilities/energy is the second leading economic cause of homelessness in this country." - Edward de Gale.
"Over 50,000 households a year have their power disconnected in Ontario while thousands of others struggle to provide the necessary energy to stay warm and cook meals. That’s one household with their power cut every 10 minutes, every hour, of every day, for a year." - Edward de Gale.
"Many Ontario households must choose between eating and heating, and seniors and those with special needs must choose between medication and heating." - Edward de Gale.
"Families, with minor children, unable to provide basic utilities/energy for their children are vulnerable to child protection orders because they are unable to provide the necessities of life." - Edward de Gale.

Bowfishing Off the Grid

Fishing and Bowfishing are two great ways to get added fish and protein for your diet when living off the grid.

Part of this will be learning how to gut and cook the fish.

Gutting a fish is relatively easy once you learn.
  1. Rinse the fish off.
  2. Make a cut behind the dorsal fin, over the back, and under the other dorsal fin. Grasp the head to anchor yourself during this process.
    • Slice off the dorsal and ventral fins if you wish. If you're working with a particularly spiny catfish, the skinning process may be easier if you remove the fins. This isn't necessary if your catfish is less spiny.
  3. Make a perpendicular cut along the spine. Take care not to break the spine with your knife; just make a shallow cut to help in the skinning process.
  4. Use the pliers to peel back the skin. Lay the fish on it's side and use the pliers to grasp the skin where you made a cut at the dorsal fin. Pull the skin toward the tail. Flip the fish and peel back the skin on the other side.
    • Use a knife to help loosen the skin if it's difficult to peel.
    • Remove remaining bits of skin with your fingers, if necessary.
  5. Rinse the fish again. If possible use a hose, or the faucet provided by the marina. The pressure should be just strong enough to remove loose scales; avoid blasting the fish with water, as the meat inside is delicate.

Regardless of whether you fish with a traditional reel and rod, or with a bow and reel, you will still need a local fishing license that is valid.

So in Ontario you need an Ontario Fishing License, which you can get from your local Ministry of Natural Resources office - which means getting an Outdoors Card - which allows you to buy fishing and hunting tag licenses.

Which Card is Right For You?
Activity Card Licence Tag
Fish Only Fishing Fishing
Hunt Only Hunting Hunting
Fish and Hunt Hunting Fishing and Hunting

A variety of different rules apply for fishing and hunting, so you will need to read up on all the relevant laws and licenses on government websites for wherever you happen to live.

In Ontario the only kind of fish you can do bowfishing for is carp. Everything else is illegal. So it is important that you know what carp looks like before you try bowfishing for carp.

See the photo on the right and also the top right to see what carp look like. I also have a detailed photo below of what carp look like.

As you can see they get pretty big. They're not dinky fish. Not huge either.

It is also important that you know how to shoot a bow. If you are new to archery it is recommended you take some archery lessons first. You can also get free archery tips from a variety of websites.

Most people who do bowfishing use a compound bow because that is what is commonly sold at hunting and fishing stores. However if you are skilled archer you can also use a recurve bow or even a longbow. The photo way at the top of this post is of a man with a longbow showing off the carp he caught.

In theory you could even use a low poundage crossbow. But crossbows are pretty much overkill when it comes to fishing - and they are not commonly use for fishing so it will be difficult to find a bowfishing reel designed for a crossbow.

I also found the YouTube video below, a guide to bowfishing. The guy in the video does a VERY GOOD job of explaining how to bowfish. Very handy to watch and learn.

This second video is NOT a how to video. But it is a video about bowfishing for carp so I thought I would include it so people can see them in action.

Note to Self... Spearfishing! :)

Finding Medical Help Off The Grid

How do you find medical help when you are living off the grid in a remote location?

Honestly... You don't.

Think about it. Where are you going to find a dentist or an audiologist in the middle of nowhere??? Or what happens if you break your leg and live in Northern Ontario? You would feel much safer living in the GTA in contrast and having a broken leg, because the TTC and taxis are just a short distance away.

So again the answer is that you just don't. You are going to have to find the following near to wherever you happen to be living... and some of these things may feel like they are a lot further to get to when you actually have a medical emergency.
  • Audiologist (Eye Doctor)
  • Chiropractor
  • Dentist
  • Doctor
  • ENT Doctor (Ear, Nose and Throat)
  • Hospital
  • Pharmacy
  • Optometrist (Eye Doctor)
  • Etc...
It really makes you realize that if you live in the middle of nowhere you had better not get sick or injure yourself.

Or have problems with your eyes, ears, etc... Like hearing loss in your old age. Where will you find a place that sells hearings aids in Northern Ontario for example?

Well the truth is you can find them in the larger towns and cities very easily (eg. there are lots of hearing clinics in Woodbridge, Vaughan and Thornhill). But such places are few and further between when you are living in the north.

In contrast if you live in Toronto such places are a dime a dozen. Eg. There are 3 pharmacies within a 2 minute walk from my home. There is also 2 optometrists, two health clinics (doctors, chiropractors, etc) and a hospital 5 minutes walk away.

So when it comes to second hand healthcare good luck if you are aiming to live off the grid. First hand healthcare, AKA taking care of yourself so you don't end up sick or injured - eating healthy, not taking risks, being proactive about any genetic problems you have (eg. If your family has a history of type one diabetes you will need to stock up on everything you need).

There are some health services you can access online. For example you can take a hearing test online or talk to a doctor over Skype or over the phone. You won't get the same quality of care as seeing them in person, but if they suspect that something is seriously wrong with you health wise then they will recommend coming in for a real checkup.

However talking to a doctor over Skype is really only so you allay your fears and get health advice.

It is not going to help you if you fell, broke your leg, and need an ambulance.

Or get your arm ripped off by a black bear.

Or got a series of bee stings on your ear and you are allergic to bees. (eg. I am allergic to wasp stings.)

It is not such a big deal if you just need a hearing centre so you can have a hearing test once every 5 years, but it will be a big deal if you accidentally chop off your hand with a chainsaw.

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