A Good Home, Adopted HOme, Family Stories, Living in France

At Home with Nancy Ing-Duclos: France

Nancy Ing-Duclos is a TV news producer and online publisher of INSPIRELLE.

Blog Photo - Nancy INSPIRELLE COVER 3

France has been home for almost 30 years.

She loves it. “I can happily say:  ‘Je suis chez moi’ .  I’m at home.”

This spectacular rooftop view of Paris, by the way, is from her home.

Blog Photo - Nancy Rooftop Terrace - Photo Credit Alexis Duclos
Credit: Alexis Duclos

Long before Paris, however, Nancy spent her childhood in Windsor, Ontario.

“When my father bought the house (in Windsor), we were the first Chinese family on the street and the neighbors, I’ve been told, drew up a petition. We felt the need to blend in and soon, the fireworks display on our lawn every Canada Day on July 1st  and our elaborate Christmas lights made our home indistinguishable from other Canadian homes.”

Nancy went to university in Toronto and got her first big job in TV news in the 80’s “at a time when Canada’s multicultural communities were finding and defining their voices.” 

That’s how we met.  Nancy and I were both young journalists at CBC TV.

But a car accident changed her perspective on life.

“So when I met my French husband, Alexis, six months later at a G7 Economic Summit, I said to myself, ‘You never know when tomorrow will be your last day’ ”.

Blog Photo - Nancy at Work

She moved to Paris and worked at various news jobs for years.

“Paris is truly one of the most beautiful, cultural and dynamic cities in the world but once the honeymoon period wears off, the reality can be rude. Moving abroad is a very humbling experience. No one knows you or knows what you have achieved or are capable of.

“I had to start from scratch. I read loads of books, attended classes, explored each of the French neighborhoods in my quest to become a “Paris insider”. And what I learned is I will never feel totally ‘French’ but ‘je suis bien dans mes baskets’. I’m comfortable in my sneakers.”

Blog Photo - Nancy and Alexis

Did she ever imagine this kind of life?

“I always thought the person who married me would have to learn to accept the Chinese culture ingrained in me. In fact, I’ve done most of the work in the relationship by learning to speak French, reinventing my career, tackling bureaucracy and understanding all the nuances of my adopted home, France.”

A car accident had changed her attitude to life.  And it was a car accident that changed her career:

“Covering the death of Princess Diana in a Paris tunnel landed me the position I still hold today with a major American television network.

“I have been privileged to interview presidents and pop stars, produce major live shows from iconic locations. It’s also been sobering to witness the tragic aftermath of plane crashes and terrorist attacks on French soil.”

Alexis built them a small house on a hill, next to the woods.  They and their son Jordan moved to Sèvres 20 years ago.

Blog Photo - Nancy - Paris suburbs drawing

Blog Photo - Nancy Alexis Jorxdan

“Retreating to the suburbs was the only way we could own a house.  I left the city of lights reluctantly but Alexis promised me that if I was unhappy two years later, we could move back to Paris.

“On my first night in my new home, I slept soundly. No more waking up to every creak of my Parisian neighbors, conversations sneaking through walls and babies crying down the hallway.”

Her son Jordan could walk to school and play in the woods. It didn’t take Nancy long to realize that they lived only a short drive to the Seine River; Paris was only 20 minutes away by car.  She decided to learn to drive in France.


“Last summer, my entire Canadian family and close friends, 25 in all, traveled to France and Corsica to help me celebrate with my husband’s French family.

Blog Photo - Nancy and Family and Friends

“It was pure joy for two weeks. Never have I felt so at home with the people I love the most.”

In 2015, Nancy and two expatriate friends launched INSPIRELLE.

Blog Photo - Nancy INSPIRELLE Team - Photo Credit Alexis Duclos
Credit: Alex Duclos

“We created INSPIRELLE to inspire, connect and empower international women in France. Having experienced the challenges of living abroad, raising a family in an unfamiliar setting with different sets of rules and values as well as reinventing myself at work, I wanted to share stories and resources to help women in their personal and professional lives.”

Blog Photo - Nancy - INSPIRELLE_cover

Sixty contributing writers share advice, expertise, and personal stories on how to navigate and celebrate life in Paris.

Nancy, Alexis and Jordan are now thinking about a bigger home to accommodate visiting relatives or friends.

It will have “a large kitchen with a long dining table to host dinners. We figure the only way to afford that is to move a bit further outside of Paris. We’ll build a beautiful house so everyone will want to come to visit us.

“For me, home is where I am surrounded by family and friends.”




A Good Home, Adopted HOme, Canadian life, Home

Living One’s Beliefs

It’s such an anxious time in the world right now. To help calm my nerves, I’ve been reading about the teachings of Buddha and Jesus.

I’m not sure this was a good move.

Self-sacrifice was a key tenet of their teachings– they demanded it of themselves and of those who wanted to follow them.



So far, I’ve concluded that if most of us today did exactly what the Buddha directed, we’d be laughed out of town. And if we behaved as Jesus did, we’d be crucified.  

Metaphorically speaking, of course.  

Jesus was a revolutionary. The person whose birth we mark at Christmas didn’t give a hoot about people’s social standing or how much money they had. He valued their faith and actions, not their status.

He called out the rich, powerful and comfortable, lambasted the uncaring and the corrupt. He looked out for children, the sick and disabled.  He welcomed outsiders. 


We Canadians have welcomed roughly 40, 000 homeless refugees in the last year. Some worry that in our zeal to provide a home to these vulnerable outsiders, Canadians risk our own safety or finances.  Do I understand that fear? Yes, indeed.

A friend of mine spoke passionately about his fears of Syrian refugees one week – and found himself sponsoring a refugee family the next.  He’d reflected on his fears and decided to live up to his own Christian values instead.


Canada is a mostly Christian country, but I’m no expert on Christianity. Nor, judging by the New Testament gospel, am I even close to being a true Christian.  But I keep thinking about what Jesus might have said about welcoming refugees.

Perhaps he’d say something about acting on faith, not fear. About reflecting on our own privileges and comforts. And about helping the vulnerable by making room at the inn.


Dedicated to people of all nations who are welcoming refugees to their homes and communities.

A Good Home, Adopted HOme, Award-winning wines, Canadian Icewine, Canadian Wine, Family business, Reif Estate Winery, Reif Wines, Riesling Wine, Vidal Icewine, Vineyards, Winery of the year, Wines

At Home with Klaus Reif, Award-Winning Winemaker

Blog Photo - Klaus Story Winery Front picture

“Born into a winemaking family of twelve generations,” says the Reif Estate Winery website, “Klaus W. Reif may have had his future preordained.”

No kidding!

Thirteen generations of one family doing the same thing for a living?

Blog Photo - Reif Wines in Glass

It’s like something in a novel. 

Like thirteen generations of butchers, bakers or candle-stick makers.

What is it like? I wondered.


Klaus Reif is president of Canadian winery Reif Estate.

But his childhood home and vineyard are in Neustadt, Germany.

“Growing up in a winemaking family was a fun time, maybe the best time of my life. Since my early childhood I loved working with my father in the vineyard and the winery. Home was a great place. My parents had the incredible ability to integrate us kids into the winery business as a natural extension of our family life.”

Blog Photo - Klaus Story youngest winemaker in family

In 1978, Klaus visited his uncle Eward in Niagara on the Lake, an idyllic part of Canada. Eward had started a vineyard in ‘NOTL’ just the year before, making him one of Canada’s wine pioneers.

Blog Photo - Klaus story Reif Barrel Herb LR

Klaus fell in love with Niagara. He returned to Germany, determined to learn more about both winemaking and business. He studied at prestigious winemaking institutions.

In 1987, he returned.

“I was young and was looking for an adventure, so coming to Canada was perfect for me.” 

Klaus’ uncle handed him the reins.  Believing that great wines start in the vineyard, Klaus focused on creating small batches of exceptional wine.

Blog Photo - Reif Icewine

One of his first was “a simple wine”, a Vidal icewine.

“I obviously had a different style of winemaking from my uncle. Upon tasting my first wine he basically told me this wine would ruin the winery! Nevertheless, I entered the wine into a competition and won an award which gave me the confidence for my future in winemaking.”

Named one of the Top Ten Wines of 1987, the Vidal has a special place in Klaus’ heart. It helped Reif to grow, becoming its most popular wine, while helping Reif win 100 gold awards for icewines.

Blog Photo - Klaus with glass of wine

In 1989, winemaker Roberto Didomenico joined Reif. (Photo Below, Roberto at right) 

Reif focused on improving its wines and production facility.

Reif has won one international award after another. Reif was also honoured as Canada’s top winery.

“Thirty years ago Canadian wine had a well-deserved bad reputation. It was our goal to change this with new varieties and the application of world class winemaking technology. I believe — no, I know we succeeded — Canadian wines can measure up to the best wines in the world!”

Reif Estate Wines

Klaus’ special place in the vineyard is the “22 rows of the Chardonnay block”. During tough times, it was the backbone of the farm, creating the income Reif needed to make it into the next year.

“This was obviously many years back, but it will always remain my favorite spot!”

Reif produces about 35,000 cases of wine a year — including one of Klaus’ favorites, the Riesling.

Blog Photo - Klaus Story Riesling

Blog Photo - Klaus' Story Reif Estate Winery

Wines are sold online and at the winery at 5608 Niagara Parkway, Niagara-on-the-Lake.

Blog Photo - Klaus story wine tastings among barrels

Tastings, tours, weddings and corporate events are held there.

Blog Photo - Klaus story Sign

Klaus found great success in Canada.

“I love Canada, I love Canadians, I love the Niagara Region. I am grateful for the opportunities I was given. If only the rest of the Reifs could be here with me, life would be perfect!”

Klaus and Destiny

So: what is it like for Klaus  — far from his family home?

“Only in the later years I realized that my lust for adventure took me away from my family. It was definitely the right decision from the perspective of business success and many other reasons.  But, 27 years later, I still miss them!”


Photos from Klaus and Reif Estate.

Website:  www.reifwinery.com

A Good Home, Adopted HOme, Canada, Canadiana, France, Life in canada

My Home and Adopted Land

If you’re not Canadian – and even if you are – you might wonder why some people are fretting about the potential break-up of our  country – yet again.

You may be surprised to learn that some of the Canadians most concerned about this are immigrants.  People like me.

I came here in the 1970’s.   Went to university, launched an award-winning career, married a great guy, bought our first house and raised our children together — here, in Canada.    I’ve worked in every province — and the Northwest Territories – of Canada.  I have relatives and friends here.

Canada is home.

Most of the places and people I write about in my book, A Good Home, are right here in Canada.


Even now, when the winter has finally driven me crazy and I’ve been making up silly poems beginning with lines such as: “No ifs, ands or buts, This winter has driven me nuts…”  Even now,  I love this country.  It’s not where I was born, but it’s where I will be buried.

My love affair with Canada was ignited, not in Ontario, where I landed, but in the history of French Canada – particularly Quebec.  I experienced it only in the books I studied at university. I’d never even been to Quebec.


“New France”,  the French called their new outpost.  Settled in the 1600’s by French soldiers,  priests, woodcutters — and the destitute orphans, peasants and street women who came to the new colony to marry them (except for the priests!) and populate the colony.

via wikipedia.org
French women arriving in New France. Image via wikipedia.org
via canadahistoryproject.ca
via canadahistoryproject.ca

In 1759-60,  British forces defeated the French, formally taking over New France in 1763.  But even in the 1980’s – when I worked as a journalist and producer for Canada’s public broadcaster – Quebec’s early history, and that historic loss, seemed present.

“Je me souviens”, Quebec license plates read, starting in 1978. “I remember.”

via wikipedia.org
via wikipedia.org


Fast-forward several years, and I’m now an executive producer/ head of journalism training for the CBC.  On the international front, I’m also Secretary General of INPUT, a public television organization based in Italy and Canada.

Back home in Canada,  the province of  Quebec was threatening to separate from Canada.  But it was in Italy –  while having supper in a Florence restaurant with an international  group of TV luminaries — that I was confronted with the real likelihood of it.

My favorite person at the table was Helene, a passionate and outspoken producer from Quebec.

An Irish colleague asked Helene: “Would Quebec really separate from Canada?”

Helene didn’t miss a beat. “We have to go,” she said.

Helene was my closest friend in INPUT.   But realizing her dream of a  new country meant tearing my country apart. I, who had felt the pain of the conquered Quebecois, was now solidly on the other side of this fight.

“My Canada includes Quebec,” I said, reduced by shock to talking in slogans. “I don’t want you to go.”

“I know, Cynthia,” she said, pronouncing my name Cyn-te-ah. “I’m really sorry.  But we have to go.”  The words flew from her mouth like bullets to my heart.

My Canada included Quebec.   It also included the Aboriginal peoples, the original inhabitants of Quebec.   They, too, had suffered historical losses.  My Canada included English Canada and French Canada and the Aboriginal peoples of Canada.


On October 30, 1995,  I was in downtown Montreal, where many of the shopkeepers are immigrants.  Rue Ste Catherine;  St. Dennis: I wandered these streets and others whose names I was too upset to notice. It was Referendum Day.  Quebeckers were voting. By day’s end, Canadians would know if we were still a country.

The streets were almost deserted that day, the shopkeepers downcast. It was as if the mourning for Canada had already begun.

Surprisingly, the separatists were defeated.  Narrowly.  Some blamed Quebec’s immigrants for the loss.  They’d voted overwhelmingly against separation.

I imagined  Helene’s grief,  her dream denied.  But for the first time since I’d met her,  I didn’t know how to console her.  Because Canada, my adopted home, would stay together.  At least for now.


There is separatist talk in Quebec.  Again.  And it scares me.  Again.