Toronto Oaken Store is now closed Toronto Oaken Financial Store closure effective November 23rd, 2020...learn more

Toronto Oaken Store is now closedToronto Oaken Financial Store closure effective November 23rd, 2020...learn more

Green thumbs and the urban dweller


Oaken Financial

June 23, 2016
Oaken Update

With summer now underway, and since planting is a theme that’s very near and dear to us, we thought it might be helpful to explore the topic of vegetable gardening for city dwellers.

While a lot of what we’ll be talking about here applies equally to rural gardens, we’ve focused on the city because so many of us living in urban environments are often at a loss for where to begin, and we don’t always have access to as much fresh produce as people who live in the countryside. The good news is that urban gardening is actually a lot easier than you’d think. Here are some basic things you need to know when beginning an urban garden.


You can’t really garden unless you have the right tools. Fortunately, you don’t need a lot of them to start. Your beginner’s tool set should include:

  • Spade for digging (square- or round-ended)
  • Garden fork for light digging
  • Steel rake and/or hoe for breaking up soil and getting rid of weeds
  • Trowel for planting and transplanting
  • Garden hose and watering can

Quality matters when buying tools. Good tools don’t cost very much, and they are worth the slight extra cost. Look for tools that are durable, lightweight and easy to grasp.

What to plant

If you’re like most novices, you’re probably unsure about what you can and can’t grow where you live. That’s where a plant hardiness map comes in, and the Government of Canada produces lots of them. You can find these here, and they even include a map of plant hardiness by municipality.

When to plant

Timing everything can be tricky if you’ve got a lot of different plants, but fortunately there’s a handy guide available to you—your seed packet. The instructions on seed packets will tell you when to plant and harvest. And if you combine that with an eye on the weather forecast and a bit of internet research for guidance, you should be just fine.

So, that’s our first bootcamp for novice gardeners. Not so stressful, right? In a future Oaken Update we’ll look at choosing a plot, preparing the soil and planting your seeds. You’ll be a green thumb sooner than you imagined!

It’s stampede time—lasso yourself a cocktail, Calgary!

Known as the greatest outdoor show on earth, the 2016 Calgary Stampede is almost upon us. And to celebrate, we’re hosting a get-together for our Oaken customers and friends on Thursday, July 14, between 2:00pm and 5:00pm. This will be taking place inside our Calgary store, which is located at 517-10th Avenue SW.

We’re always up for a fun time, so the stampede is just our kind of event. And while our party may not be as adrenaline-pumping as the main show, it will still be a great way to get into the spirit of Canada’s biggest annual extravaganza! With Benjy Katchen (Executive Vice President of Oaken), Laura Cook and Robert Hamilton as your main hosts, we’ll be serving you complimentary cocktails and hors d’oeuvres.

Whether you’re local to Calgary or a visitor getting in on the excitement, we’d love to see you there. All you have to do is let us know you’re coming by July 7, and you can do so right away by completing our online RSVP. Or you can book your place by calling us at 1-855-OAKEN-22 (625-3622), or sending an email to

For those who are able to make it, we look forward to seeing you on the 14th, and sharing a drink or two!

What to do if there’s a postal strike

As you’ve probably heard by now, labour negotiations between Canada Post and the Canadian Union of Postal Workers are continuing. If an agreement is not reached by July 2, 2016, there’s a chance we could see a significant disruption to mail delivery services for an undetermined period of time. This means that any applications or other documents you would normally sent to us by mail may be held up until long after any industrial action has been resolved. And the same situation applies to the various documents that we have to send out by mail, such as confirmations, savings account statements, cheques, maturity notices, etc.

With that in mind, there are alternative options available which don’t rely on our postal system. Here are a few suggestions which may help to ensure any delays are kept to a minimum:

  • Try to mail anything to us earlier than planned, if possible.
  • If you’re not already, sign up for Oaken Online Banking so you can manage your accounts from there.
  • Having an Oaken Savings Account will also provide greater flexibility for transferring your money.
  • Make sure you’re set up for Direct Deposit, so we can send any funds (e.g. interest payment, maturing GIC, RIF payment) directly to your bank account and avoid you having to wait for a cheque.
  • You can always visit any of our locations in person.
  • If you need any documents in a hurry, we can email a copy of these to you (password protected) upon request.

If you do find yourself with a particular need that may be affected by the strike, please call us at 1-855-OAKEN-22 (625-3622) or send an email to, and we’ll do our best to make the most appropriate arrangements.

We obviously all hope this threat won’t come to fruition, however it’s always good to be prepared just in case.

Selling your U.S. real estate

If you were one of those Canadians who saw an opportunity when U.S. property prices plummeted in 2009, and decided to pick up some cheap real estate, you’re likely now in luck. Prices have rebounded, and on top of that the loonie has been swooning over the past year. As a result. selling your U.S. property now could net you a major windfall.

But don’t rush into selling without being fully informed. As a Canadian resident with U.S. property, you also face a complex tax situation. You’ll have to file a U.S. tax return for the year in which you sell, which means you’ll be subject to capital gains tax—and potentially other taxes as well.

You also can’t avoid tax simply by giving the property to another family member. The rules surrounding transfer of ownership are complicated, and you’ll want to know exactly what they are before you decide to sign over that winter home in Florida to your children. You’ll have to satisfy the rules set out by the Canada Revenue Agency as well. That can involve capital gains, foreign income and other revenues that will have to be reported on your Canadian tax return.

For a more detailed explanation of this topic, as well as some useful tax information links, check out the post about selling U.S. real estate on our Oaken Blog.

Summer reads

We all know that summer’s too short in Canada, so we’ve kept your summer reading list short too. Enjoy the articles, and then get out there and enjoy that sun!


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