Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Granville Island hosts 27th Annual Vancouver Writers Fest, October 21-26, 2014

Entrance to Vancouver's Granville Island. 
The 2014 Vancouver Writers Fest, October 21-26 on Granville Island, features 103 national and international authors. During the six-day festival of the word, some of the biggest European names in writing will join Canadian and other international writers to present 86 events -- the largest in the festival's 27-year history. The Festival features panel discussions, one-on-one interviews, poetry jams, spoken word performances and readings accompanied by musicians. The Writers Fest also presents daytime events for K-12 students, in both French and English. More than 5,000 young readers are expected on Granville Island.

Festival headliners include Ireland's Colm Toibin (above), Norwegian author Karl Ove Knausgaard, Herman Koch from the Netherlands, French author Maylis de Kerangel and Iceland's Sjon, famed as the lyricist for Bjork. 

Among the Canadian authors are Ann-Marie MacDonald (above), Thomas King, Michael Crummey, Steven Galloway, Miriam Toews, Emma Donoghue, William Gibsom, Terry Fallis, Caroline Adderson, Charles Foran and Kathleen Winter. From the UK the Festival presents three-time Booker-prize nominated author Sarah Waters, Cory Doctorow, Kate Pullinger and award winning-mystery writer Louise Welsh.

American authors at the Festival include Pulitzer Prize winner Jane Smiley, Man Booker Prize nominee Joshua Ferris and famed crime fiction author James Ellroy. Rounding out the international roster are two-time Book Prize finalist Damon Galgut of South Africa, Australia's Tim Winton and Christos Tsiolkas, Pakistan's Musharraf Ali Farooqi and Lebandon's Rabih Alameddine. 

This year's Festival also features non-fiction writers, including Liberal leader Justin Trudeau, presenting his new memoir in a conversation with CBC's Stephen Quinn on October 24. Other writers are This Is Your Brain on Music's Daniel Levitin, Canadian science journalist Bob McDonald and The New Yorker staff writer Evan Osnos -- whose focus is on China. 

Alan Doyle performs with Great Big Sea on a 2008 Caribbean cruise.

Vancouver Writers Fest Special Events

November 10 | Singer and songwriter Bruce Cockburn presents his memoir, Rumours of Glory | St. Andrew's-Wesley United Church | 7:30 PM

November 13 | Newfoundland singer-songwriter Alan Doyle talks about his new memoir, Where I Belong | Waterfront Theatre on Granville Island | 7:30 PM

November 13 | Conrad Black presents his re-examination of Canadian history | St. Andrew's-Wesley United Church | 
7:30 PM 
Tickets for the Vancouver Writers Fest are available online at vancouvertix.com or at 604.629.8849. A program of events is online at www.writersfest.bc.ca. Tickets are also available at the Writers Fest Box Office, 1398 Cartwright Street in Vancouver.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Canadian Museum for Human Rights opens in Winnipeg, Manitoba

Canadian Museum for Human Rights - Winter 2014 - ©Aaron Cohen Photos/CMHR

The Canadian Museum for Human Rights opens to the public in Winnipeg on September 27, 2014. As Canada's first national museum built since 1967, and the first established outside the capital city of Ottawa, the museum's grand opening celebration on September 20 was greeted with much fanfare and controversy (CTV National News).

I first learned about the new museum at Manitoba House during the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver. A year later, while in Winnipeg following a trip to Churchill, I saw it under construction. Built at a cost of $351 million -- with funding by private donations and public contributions -- it rises from the ground at the Forks of the Red and Assinboine rivers. It sits on Treaty One land and the Metis homeland, a meeting place for thousands of years. 

The museum was designed by Antoine Predock of Albuquerque, New Mexico. The American architect's notable projects include the La Luz community in Albuquerque, Tang Teaching Museum and Art Gallery at Skidmore College and Petco Park for the San Diego Padres. Designed to resemble a mythic mountain surrounded by a massive glass cloud, it includes:
  • One kilometer (.6 mile) of glowing white alabaster ramps where visitors will take "a journey of light through the darkness"
  • 100-meter shining Tower of Hope (equivalent to a 23-story building)
  • Interior Garden of Contemplation that features basalt rock, water and greenery
The goal of the museum is "to enhance public understanding of human rights, promote respect others and encourage reflection and contemplation." The 11 galleries were designed by Ralph Appelbaum Associates and include:

What are Human Rights?
Indigenous Perspectives
Canadian Journeys
Protecting Rights in Canada
Examining the Holocaust
Turning Points for Humanity
Breaking the Silence
Actions Count
Rights Today
Inspiring Change

"The CMHR stands as the first national museum built outside the National Capital Region in Ottawa. It sits on a historic site, surrounded by a city with an inspiring human rights legacy -- from the labour rights struggle of the 1919 Winnipeg General Strike to Nellie McClung's fight for women's right to vote, defence of French-language rights, the push for Aboriginal self-determination ... and so much more. Winnipeg is a city of diversity, home to the country's largest urban Aboriginal population, immigrants from around the globe, and the largest French-speaking community in Western Canada. It boasts globally-inspired cuisine, world-class arts organizations and vibrant ethnic festivals. It is also a growing centre of human rights scholarship at its four universities." Canadian Museum for Human Rights

More About Winnipeg | By Sue Frause

Winnipeg's St. Boniface: Western Canada's largest French-speaking community 

Winnipeg's St. Boniface Cathedral: Provincial Heritage Site

Winnie the Pooh hails from Winnipeg

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Postcard from BC: Listel Hotel Vancouver welcomes autumn with trio of packages

Sunset at English Bay - July 2014. ©SueFrausePhoto
It has been a beautiful summer in Vancouver. I took Amtrak Cascades northbound to Vancouver in July, spending three days that featured both sunshine and rain. But fall is one of my favorite seasons to spend time in the City of Glass -- the tourists are gone, the pace has slowed down and many hotels are offering reduced rates and packages for guests. With autumn looming on the calendar (September 23), now is a good time to plan a fall getaway.

Among those offering special packages is the Listel Hotel Vancouver, located on Robson Street near the West End (think Stanley Park and English Bay). I've been staying there since the '80s, and with the addition of Forage restaurant in 2012, it just keeps getting better. Heading up the kitchen is Chef Chris Whittaker, who earned the title of Vancouver Aquarium Oceanwise Chowder Chowdown Champion in both 2012 and 2013You'll find Chef Whittaker's award-winning chowder on both Forage's weekend brunch and dinner menus (they also serve breakfast seven days a week), along with other locally focused food and beverages. Here's a trio of Listel Hotel Vancouver packages for fall, with rates starting at $159. And for what to do when you're not dining and sleeping, go to Tourism Vancouver's website for a list of events.

Chef Chris Whittaker of Forage was named top Vancouver chowder maker two years in a row. ©SueFrausePhoto

Fall Into Savings with Breakfast
Non-refundable Fall Into Savings with Breakfast & $50 Gas Card
Full breakfast for two in Forage ($40 value). Select from a Standard, Museum or Gallery floor room (rates vary).

Fall Into Savings with Parking
Non-refundable Fall into Savings with Parking & $50 Gas Card
Underground, secured parking and valet service ($37 value)
Select from a Standard, Museum or Gallery floor room (rates vary)

Fall Into Savings (Room Only)
Non-refundable Fall Into Savings (Room Only) & $50 Gas Card
Select from a Standard, Museum or Gallery floor room (rates vary)

The Fine Print
Rates must be booked by October 12, 2014 and are available for stays through November 30, 2014.
Non-refundable packages are available for stays through October 31, 2014.
A Gallery floor room's separate bedroom. ©SueFrausePhoto

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Vancouver nabs city and hotel awards from Travel + Leisure

Vancouver as seen from Helijet en route to Victoria. ©SueFrausePhoto
Let's hope it doesn't go to Vancouver's shiny little head, as the BC city has picked up yet another accolade. According to the readers of the travel magazine Travel + Leisure, Vancouver is Canada's top travel destination. The magazine's annual World's Best Awards survey asks readers to evaluate cities on five characteristics:

  • Sights and Landmarks
  • Culture and Arts
  • Restaurants and Food
  • People
  • Value
Vancouver's score for the 2014 survey was 86.71, making it the top city in Canada and #6 in North America -- Quebec City came in #8. Here is the top ten list for North American cities

11Charleston, South Carolina90.18
26New Orleans88.74
37Savannah, Georgia88.30
42San Francisco87.53
75Santa Fe, New Mexico86.68
88Quebec City86.51
93New York City86.26

Vancouver also scored in the World's Best Hotel category, with five of the top 10 Canadian hotels located in Vancouver. Shangri-La Hotel, Vancouver was anointed Canada's Top City Hotel, with four other Vancouver Hotels placing in the top ten: Rosewood Hotel Georgia, Wedgewood Hotel and Spa, The Fairmont Waterfront, and Fairmont Pacific Rim. Here is T+L's complete list: 
14Shangri-La Hotel, Vancouver93.00
2-Rosewood Hotel Georgia, Vancouver92.27
32Ritz-Carlton, Toronto92.00
4-Ritz-Carlton, Montreal91.50
53Auberge Saint-Antoine, Quebec City90.94
65Wedgewood Hotel & Spa, Vancouver89.60
76Fairmont Waterfront, Vancouver89.08
8-Four Seasons Hotel, Toronto88.50
91Fairmont Pacific Rim, Vancouver87.49
10-Hotel Grand Pacific, Victoria, British Columbia87.41

Friday, August 08, 2014

Vikings Land at Victoria's Royal BC Museum During First Stop on North American Tour

Days of the Week: Discover which four weekday names that are still in use today have Viking origins. Photo courtesy Royal BC Museum.

Vikings: Lives Beyond the Legends has landed at the Royal BC Museum in Victoria, BC. Vancouver Island is the international exhibition's first North American stop and runs through November 11, 2014. The exhibition evolved from recent discoveries and provides insight into the Viking era. 

Artifacts, interactive computer displays and hands-on educational activities tell the story of the Viking people, illustrating who they were and how they lived. Vikings: Lives Beyond the Legends challenges commonly held beliefs and misconceptions of this mythical period. It breaks through stereotypes of Vikings as plunderers rampaging across Europe, wielding swords in search of treasures and valuables. The people of what is today Denmark, Sweden, Norway, northern Germany and parts of Finland lived mainly off the land. They were farmers and fishermen, and the myth of horned helmets was invented in modern times.
Pendant, crucifix, silver. This pendant is considered to be the oldest known crucifix found in what is present day Sweden. It was discovered in a woman's grave in Björkö, Adelsö, Uppland -- she seemed to have great wealth. The crucifix is completely unique, both in shape and its early dates, and no others of this type have been found. Photo courtesy Royal BC Museum, 
SHM 34000:Bj 660 (FID 108914).

The exhibition, produced by the Swedish History Museum in Stockholm and MuseumsPartner in Innsbruck, Austria, features more than 500 rare artifacts and original archaeological objects from the 8th-11th centuries. They include jewelry, swords, axes and clothing -- many have never been displayed outside Scandinavia. 

The objects provide glimpses into domestic life at that time: family and community, religion and rituals, travel and trade aristocracy and slavery and Viking women. The exhibition provides insights into the significance of the Vikings' craft, the power of their mythology and the symbolism of their ships.
Scandinavian Settlement and Viking Activity: Though the word 'viking' appears in Old Norse sources, it's mainly used to describe an activity. Men and women went 'on a viking' -- a commercial trip or raid. People seem to have referred to themselves as a Viking only when involved in this activity. This map shows the wide extent of Viking activity and Scandinavian settlement across Europe and the North Atlantics from the 8th-11th centuries. Image courtesy Swedish History Museum in Stockholm.

The six-month exhibition in Victoria, which opened in May, includes numerous activities for all ages. Among the youth oriented programs are Saturday Night Alive and Vikings Summer Camps. A complete schedule may be found on the Royal BC Museum website. 

IMAX Victoria, located in the Royal BC Museum, is screening a companion film to the exhibition, Vikings: Journey to the New Worlds. The 40-minute large-format documentary provides a comprehensive snapshot of the Vikings, their historical and cultural impact, as well as scientific and technological achievements. Special Royal BC Museum and IMAX combo pricing is available. 

Tickets for Vikings: Lives Beyond the Legends are available online or at the Royal BC Museum Box Office. Call 888.447.7977 for more information. The Royal BC Museum, located near the BC Parliament Buildings and The Fairmont Empress, is open daily from 10-5. Extended summer hours are 10-10 on Fridays and Saturdays through September 27, 2014.