For the Love of Canada

While we have storytellers from around the World, we were conceived and call Canada home … a home we dearly love!

In honour of our Canadian birthday, it has become tradition here, that every Canada Day we share a few of our favourite images from the year gone by.  Hopefully this will give you a little glimpse of why we so dearly love and are proud of this magnificent home of ours.

We love Canada for it’s …

… easy access to nature, even within the cities …

 

Pacific Spirit Park at UBC

Grabbing a weekday evening walk at Pacific Spirit Park, on the UBC grounds.

 

… creatively eclectic minds …

 

Stage Coach 2.0

Just a typical evening at the Centre for Digital Media.

 

… sinful temptresses, like this perogy pizza …

 

Katrina German and one scrumptious perogy pizza.

Not sure which of these temptresses is more dangerous.

 

… wildlife in our backyards …

 

A seal at Belcarra.

A seal watching the homo sapiens at Belcarra.

 

… literally …

 

Ontario Deer

Well not in our backyard, but in the neighbour’s yard.

 

… healthy living …

 

Summer Yoga on Parliament Hill

Love that they do yoga on the lawn of Parliament Hill every Wednesday during the lunch hour throughout the summer.

 

Balderson’s cheddar

 

Flaming Balderson's Cheddar at the Chateau Laurier

Frickin’ Fantastic! Balderson’s Cheddar soaked in local honey & torched to melt in your mouth perfection, in the kitchen’s of the Fairmont Chateau Laurier! mmm … mmm … mmm

 

… a rich cultural history …

 

Lucy Duck on a First Nation's paddle.

Lucy Duck heading out for a paddle with a traditional First Nations canoe.

 

… traditional events from around the world, that all ethnicities are invited to partake in …

 

Bon Odori Festival in Steveston

Dancing away at the Bon Odori Festival in Steveston.

 

… microbrews …

 

Ottawa Microbrews at the Black Tomato with Paul Meek.

Sampling Ottawa microbrews at The Black Tomato with Kichesippi Beer Co’s Paul Meek.

 

… relaxing mornings …

 

Westcoast morning on the Fraser River.

Taking in a tranquil morning on the Fraser River.

 

… value in education …

 

Creating future travellers at the Toronto Zoo.

Creating one of our future travellers at the Toronto Zoo.

 

… local produce …

 

Farm fresh produce in the kitchens of the Chateau Laurier.

Local Ottawa farm fresh produce in the kitchens of Chateau Laurier.

 

… gorgeously homegrown women …

 

Saskatchewan Katrina German

Farm grown Saskatchewan hottie, Katrina German.

 

… fertile farmlands …

 

BC Cranberries

Autumn harvest of fresh BC cranberries.

 

… from Coast to Coast …

 

Ottawa fiddleheads.

Fresh, spring fiddleheads in Ottawa.

 

… water …

 

Ottawa's Rideau Canal

Enjoying a bike ride along the Rideau Canal in Ottawa.

 

… freedom of speech …

 

Mayor Ford Street Art in Toronto

Street art freedom of speech towards Toronto’s Mayor Ford.

 

… access to our politicians …

 

Yoga and Justin Trudeau on Parliament Hill

Certainly not dull on Parliament Hill during the Wednesday lunch hour, between yoga and Justin Trudeau

 

… trains …

 

VIA Rail to Ottawa

All Aboard! Next stop Ottawa!

 

… beautiful old Chateaus designed along side our railway …

 

Fairmont Chateau Laurier

Right at home at Ottawa’s Fairmont Chateau Laurier.

 

… an appreciation for the arts …

 

Taking a bite out of the Toronto Street Art.

Hard to resist the street art in Toronto.

 

… music that you can’t help but groove to …

 

2012 Burnaby Blues and Roots Festival

Hard not to groove out to the Burnaby Blues and Roots Festival.

 

… and stomp your feet …

 

2012 Burnaby Blues and Roots Festival

Toes a tapping at the 2012 Burnaby Blues and Roots Festival.

 

… maple syrup whiskey …

 

Maple Syrup Whiskey

Man, this was tasty. Now I just need to find a local dealer of it!

 

… cherry blossoms, need I say more …

 

Cherry Blossoms

*sigh* Love Spring on the west coast!

 

… Indian Summers …

 

Sunlit Autumn Grasses

Memories of beautiful Autumn days!

 

… affectionate neighbours …

 

Kissing Cow

*smooch*

 

… impressive skylines …

 

Toronto at Night

Can’t believe I grew up an hour from Toronto and am only seeing this view for the first time in my 30′s.

 

… beautiful sunsets …

 

Steveston Sunset

Can’t help but unwind with a Steveston sunset.

 

… quirky Canadian decor …

 

Murray Street Boar in Ottawa, Ontario

If you wander into the back courtyard of Murray Street in Ottawa, you just might make a new friend.

 

… independent bookstores (even if few and far between) …

 

Octopus Books in Ottawa's Glebe

With the independent bookstore becoming a rare commodity, I have to admit Octopus Books in Ottawa’s Glebe was an insanely exciting find for me.

 

… Canadian pride …

 

Canadian Cupcake

Canadian Cupcake pride at Ottawa’s Cupcake Lounge.

 

… and ridiculously loveable characters!

 

The Peanuts Gang at the Yorkton Film Festival

Some of the crazy kids living it up at North America’s oldest film festival, the Yorkton Film Festival.

 

But more than anything, we love the freedoms and equality that Canada shares with us, which Emme says best here: Strutting my Stuff! It’s Canada Day!

Happy (now belated) Canada Day everyone!

 

A Quick Visit to Toronto for Art and Architecture

Sometimes, last minute travels are the most rewarding. With no time to stress over details, the spontaneity of jumping on a plane without any real plan is liberating.

Last weekend, I was able to go on one of these adventures to Toronto for art and architecture, as well as to Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario. My mom had made plans to go visit relatives, and asked me if I wanted to come along at the last minute.

It was a lovely few days. One of the most wonderful things about Canada, I think, is its vastness and diversity, and this trip showed me an entirely new region of the country. I will focus on Toronto in this post, and up next, talk about my visit to Niagara!

 

Toronto architecture

An interesting mix of architecture on a busy Toronto corner.

 

I started my trip by spending an afternoon in Toronto. It was my first time in the city, and I can say that it caught me off guard. I am used to big, busy cities, but this felt like a concrete jungle! Still, there were many interesting architectural details and a unique mix of old and new buildings that lent the city both grit and charm.

We stopped by at the Art Gallery of Ontario before dinner. There was the most wonderful sculpture outside.

 

Toronto Art.

A very cool sculpture outside the entrance of AGO.

 

The gallery had an impressive, extensive collection, and I would definitely recommend setting aside a day to tour it if you have the chance. There are a range of exhibitions; cultural and historical exhibits, classic Canadian group of seven collections, modern photography, and even model ships.

Sadly, we only had an hour, but I was able to check out a photographic exhibit of Patti Smith’s polaroid collection, as well as a photographic portrait collection. I was a bit disappointed with Patti Smith’s work, as it seemed to rest on her “star status” more than photographic proficiency. Still, it was interesting.

The portrait collection was impressive though! The exhibit juxtaposed modern portrait photography with early photographs, and it was presented in an interesting, thought provoking way. Unfortunately, no photography was allowed in either exhibit. However, I did manage to snap a picture of this unique architectural detail in the main entrance which was designed by Frank Gehry, a famous Canadian architect who oversaw the redesign of the AGO.

 

Toronto-Art-and-Architecture

A grand room in the AGO as designed by Frank Gehry.

 

That was all for my brief stay in Toronto, but it was the perfect way to spend an afternoon. Up next, my visit to Niagara!

Clouds, Natural Beauty the World Over

This week’s #FriFotos reminded me of the beauty created by clouds the world over.  In celebration, here are a few moments in my travels from the past year, where the clouds made me smile!

From the Air

 

Setting my sights on the beautiful blue waters & gentle skies of the Caribbean for the 1st time.

 

Peeking through the clouds at the Middle East for the first time.

 

Clouds over Canada

 

Beautiful in BC

 

Big Sky Saskatchewan

 

Cloudy reflections in Ontario’s North.

 

Elegant over Egypt

 

Peaceful skies over Egypt

 

Magnificent skies over the Sphinx.

 

Colombian Clouds

 

Bogota Courtyard Clouds

 

Clouds over Bogota’s Old Town

#FriFotos – Frozen in Time at Bloor-Yorkville’s IceFest

In time for #FriFotos Clock Theme, a moment frozen in time:

 

Frozen in Time at Bloor-Yorkville's 2012 IceFest

 

These icy timepieces were snapped amid the impressive ice carvings at Bloor-Yorkville’s 2012 IceFest in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

Reminded to Enjoy Hometown Culture with the Hamilton Philharmonic Orchestra

I am always amazed as I grow older and return to old stomping grounds, how very fortunate I was to have grown up in a community so rich in the Arts and to have been exposed to so much from such a young age.  I have long had this appreciation with the theatre, much of which I attributed to Grandfather and summers on Vancouver Island, but in truth I owe both my parents a big thank you for this too, especially Dad’s yearly Christmas present of taking us and whomever our various significant others were to a musical every year.  What I didn’t appreciate quite so much was the great music I’d grown up with, been surrounded by and exposed to, probably as I myself am somewhat limited in my music abilities. It has taken me years to appreciate that my gift with music is the ability to dance to it and not care who’s watching.

As I’ve started to write about musicians I enjoy, it hit me that in Canada, my teenage stomping grounds of Hamilton, Ontario is the birth place of much Canadian musical talent.  Why then hadn’t I been aware of this as a teenager?  I blamed the fact that I was too young to frequent the drinking holes where these musicians were playing. Instead I use to get taken out to hear classical numbers at Hamilton Place.  At least that’s what I blamed for my lack of memory for the incredible musical talent that Hamilton held, until a week ago Saturday, when I found myself once again seated in Hamilton Place, waiting for a night of classical and Celtic music with the Hamilton Philharmonic Orchestra and Cherish the Ladies.

 

Must say, was rather pleased with our seats.

 

As the lights went down and the music began, I was overwhelmed with the beauty of what I heard, and then flooded back the memories of how much incredible talent I had heard in this very space, including The Three Tenors. What amazing talent we had in this auditorium, from the local talent in the Orchestra (including a neighbour, Stefan Kitai, on percussion), to musical and dance talent attracted from other parts of the country, the States and the World.  I love it when artists from other places come together to collaborate and create something of beauty together and that is exactly what we we got that night. Locally ~ the Hamilton Philharmonic Orchestra, from Stratford ~ Dan Stacey (fiddler & dancer), from Cape Breton ~ Martin MacDonald (conductor), from the States & the UK ~ Cherish the Ladies ~ Joanie Madden, Mary Coogan, Mirella Murray, Grainne Murphy, Kathleen Boyle & Deirdre Connoll (Celtic Group), and from the States & Australia ~ Hammerstep ~ Garrett Coleman & Jason Oremus (Irish Dancers).

The first Act had me enraptured in the beauty of classical Celtic music of the Hamilton Philharmonic Orchestra, that could have brought tears to my eyes were it not for Martin MacDonald having me in stitches of laughter.  He probably actually brought tears to my eyes, but for a very different reason.  When the intermission hit, I could hardly wait for it to be over and the second Act begin and for Cherish the Ladies to hit the stage.

 

 

I must admit, that I was glad that the second Act had such a different tone and style, as it made it hard to compare the two Acts and meant that it didn’t take anything away from the beauty of the first Act.  Where in the first Act you were bathed in the gentle beauty of Celtic Music from the Hamilton Philharmonic Orchestra, the second Act was a foot stomping good time with Cherish the Ladies, Dan Stacey, Garrett Coleman, Jason Oremus and the Hamilton Philharmonic Orchestra, literally. There was a lot of foot stomping on-stage, especially from Dan Stacey, Garrett Coleman & Jason Oremus, and all I wanted to do was hop out of my seat and join them. It certainly didn’t take much to get any of us in the crowd up and out of our seats for a standing ovation, with which we were pleasantly rewarded with an encore.  Good thing too, as I was so tempted to yell “Encore, Encore!”, but was wondering if that would have me banned from the auditorium for life, even if this didn’t feel like a piece of stuffy classical music, where one should provide a subdued polite and sophisticated clap.

 

 

A wonderful evening and a much needed reminder of all the marvelous cultural experiences we have at home, as well as abroad.  What are some of your favourite experiences in your hometown?