Thursday, November 29, 2007

Quebec tourism officials spotted in Palm Springs, California



No surprise that the Canadians do the snowbird thing. But I spotted three non-snowbirds at the Travel Media Showcase in Palm Springs.

Bard Nordby, with Tourisme Quebec: Marie-Jose Pinsonnault with Tourisme Montreal; and Richard Seguin with Tourisme Quebec City.

Amazingly, the Canuck snowbirds have their own website, with their own issues. 
They surely must love the exchange rate these days.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

2010 Winter Games mascots: Quatchi, Miga and Sumi

Quatchi, a hockey-playing Sasquatch.
British Columbia's myths and legends have resulted in a trio of mascots for the 2010 Winter Games in Vancouver:

  • Quatchi, a sasquatch who dreams of becoming a famous hockey goaltender
  • Miga, a snowboarding sea-bear 
  • Sumi, a spirit animal who flies with the wings of a thunderbird and runs on a black bear's legs
Mukmuk the marmot is the mascots' sidekick. He loves food. The characters were designed by Meomi Design of Vancouver and Los Angeles.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Posh hotels added to Relais & Chateaux

A room at the Manor Hover in North Hatley, Quebec. Sue Frause photo.

Two of my favorite Canadian hotels have been added to the prestigious Relais & Chāteaux association.

Manoir Hovey in Quebec's Eastern Townships and Vancouver's Wedgewood Hotel & Spa were among 34 new members selected for the global group of 470 hotels and gourmet restaurants around the world.

To qualify for membership, hotels and restaurants must assemble an application file that testifies to its exclusive nature and makes a case for its adherence to the qualities and ideals that define Relais & Chāteaux.

These materials are examined to assess the establishment’s qualifications. The property is then visited anonymously by an independent evaluation company that reviews hundreds of important criteria, as well as by current Relais & Chāteaux member management.
One of Manoir Hovey's lovely rooms in North Hatley, Quebec. Photo by Sue Frause.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Canada plays more than hockey, eh?


James Johnson set a Grey Cup record with three interceptions to help the Saskatchewan Roughriders beat the Winnipeg Blue Bombers 23-19 in Toronto for their first CFL title in 18 years.

Johnson was voted the game's most valuable player.

And in the World Cup women's slalom race at Panorama Mountain Village in Invermere, BC, Austria's Marlies Schild raced to her second consecutive victory of the season Sunday.

Schild beat world champion Sarka Zahrobska of the Czech Republic by 0.68 seconds. Crotian Ana Jelusic came in third.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

2010 Winter Olympics: Outdoor venues on schedule

The ski jump in the Callaghan Valley near Whistler.

The 2010 Winter Games in Vancouver are right on schedule.By the end of 2007, construction at all outdoor venue sites will be finished.

The Whistler Sliding Centre, Whistler Nordic Competition Venue, Cypress Mountain venue, the alpine courses at Whistler Creekside and updates to the short track speed skating and figure skating at the Pacific Coliseum venue will all be finished by Christmas.

The venues will open to the public for recreational use in January and will then host international level competitions starting in February 2008 with the
Alpine World Cup
in Whistler.

Next year will also see the completion of the women's hockey and sledge hockey arena at the University of British Columbia. 
The Hillcrest curling facility will be finished in the third quarter and the Richmond Oval speed skating facility will also be substantially complete.

The two athletes' villages are right on track and will be ready in time for the Games.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Toronto's Bata Shoe Museum: It's All About Shoes

The Bata Shoe Museum. Photo by Sue Frause.

I've only been to Toronto once, but I already have a favorite spot: The Bata Shoe Museum. The award-winning building houses a huge collection of footwear from all walks of life.

Inside are more than 4,500 years of history and a collection of 20th century celebrity shoes in the exhibition,
All About Shoes.

Artifacts range from Chinese bound foot shoes and ancient Egyptian sandals to chestnut-crushing clogs and moon boots.
Three additional galleries feature special exhibitions.

If you can't visit in person, no worries. The All About Shoes Online Exhibition is a comprehensive overview of the museum.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

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

Even the stop signs in St. Boniface are in French and English. Sue Frause photo.

Winnipeg's St. Boniface is home to the largest French speaking community in Western Canada. Founded in 1818 by Bishop Joseph Norbert Provencher as the first Roman Catholic mission in the west, the Franco neighborhood is within walking distance of downtown Winnipeg and The Forks via the Esplanade Riel.

In the heart of Old St. Boniface, Winnipeg's French Quarter, is La Maison Gabrielle-Roy
Tucked away on sleepy Rue Deschambault, which gave name to renowned Canadian author Gabrielle Roy's more famous works (Street of Riches), the home has been restored and is now a year-round museum. You can also begin a walking tour of St. Boniface guided by the words of this celebrated author.

The Economic Development Council for Manitoba Bilingual Communities has produced its latest edition of the Joie de vivre tourism guide.
It's filled with information about Manitoba's Francophone communities in the City of Winnipeg (St. Boniface-St. Vital-St. Norbert), the bilingual communities in the south of the province and the Metis community of St. Laurent

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Miss Canada International at Banff's Santa Claus Parade of Lights



Miss Canada International 2008, Alesia Fieldberg of Calgary, will be judging floats at Banff's Santa Claus Parade of Lights on Nov. 24, 2007.

The annual parade, with twentysome lit floats, meanders down Banff Avenue beginning at 7 PM.

The colorful show caps off the afternoon's Christmas in the Rockies celebration and is part of Banff's WinterStart Festival that runs through Dec. 2. 
The festival also includes the CP Rail Jam and the Lake Louise World Cup.

Alesia Fieldberg is the first Miss Canada International from Alberta. According to her bio, she hails from Bindloss, "a small, rural community in the boonies of Southeastern Alberta."

Fieldberg grew up on a ranch in the South Saskatchewan River Valley with her parents Owen and Bonnie and younger sisters Salena and Kayla
.

Monday, November 19, 2007

RCMP's lose their luster

RCMP cadets at the Training Academy in Regina, Saskatchewan. Photo by Sue Frause.

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police, or RCMP, is the Canadian national police service and began as the North-West Mounted Police in 1873.

But with the recent taser death of a Polish man at Vancouver International Airport, the men and women in red serge have come under public scrutiny and criticism.

The Globe and Mail
ran a story titled BC Mounties face growing public outrage in both today's print and online editions.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Vancouver, aka Hollywood North, affected by U.S. writers' strike

Vancouver's Metropolitan Hotel is a popular place for actors to stay. Photo by Sue Frause.
The U.S. writers' strike is having an impact on BC's film and television industry. According to an article The Vancouver Sun, productions are shutting down left and right.

The LA Times reports that writers and studios are planning to return to negotiations on Nov. 26, 2007 following the American Thanksgiving weekend.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Whistler Mountaineer offers special rates for BC residents

BC Ferries in Horseshoe Bay as seen aboard the Whistler Mountaineer. Sue Frause photo.

British Columbia residents are being offered an exclusive BC Resident Special rate for travel on board the Whistler Mountaineer next year. The round-trip fare is only $110, which is the regular one-way fare. For an additional $75, you can upgrade to the Glacier Dome Experience.

I went on the three-hour train trip earlier this year, and it's terrific.

On the journey From North Vancouver to Whistler in the morning, enjoy breakfast with a view and on the return trip, it's afternoon tea. 
The scenery is spectacular.

The special offer must be booked between Nov. 15 and Dec. 28, 2007 and is good for travel between April 23 and Oct. 19, 2008 when the Whistler Mountaineer train operates seven days a week.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Whistler Mountain opens a week early due to heavy snowfall



An intense storm that dropped more than 80cms of snow on Whistler Blackcomb earlier this week has prompted mountain managers to open Whistler Mountain almost a week early.

Whistler Mountain will open Saturday, Nov. 17, 2007 (almost a week early) while Blackcomb Mountain will open as planned on Thursday, Nov. 22.

The combined natural snowfall and snowmaking efforts have allowed for the early opening on Whistler Mountain that skiers and riders have been hoping for.

Weather forecasters are predicting that this is only the beginning of a period of snowy, stormy weather for the mountain.

Bestskiweather.com is reporting low pressure over the Gulf of Alaska meaning plenty of cold and more snow for Whistler into next week.

Whistler Mountain will open on Saturday with access from the Whistler Village and Creekside base areas. The Whistler Village Gondola, Creekside Gondola, the Emerald Express, Franz’s Chair and the Big Red Express are all scheduled to open.


Photo of Smiley Nesbitt by Paul Morrison

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Murchie's Tea in a tizzy, goes into receivership

Murchie's Tea on Pender, Vancouver

Murchie's Tea and Coffee on Pender Street in Vancouver.


After 113 years of dispensing tea and coffee, Murchie's Tea and Coffee has gone into receivership and is for sale. 

The small family-owned chain has six shops, the oldest being on Victoria's Government Street. For more details, read the story in The Globe and Mail.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Whistler Blackcomb Snow Guarantee

Whistler Blackcomb, BC
Whistler Blackcomb. Photo by Sue Frause.


During the 2006-07 ski season, Whistler Blackcomb had an epic 46 feet of snow on the slopes. Will it happen again this year? With the 2007-08 ski season opening Nov. 21, hopes are running high.

And the Four Seasons Whistler Resort is guaranteeing snow or your money back. It's called their Snow Guarantee and applies to minimum two-night, two-day Ski & Accommodations packages available at the Four Seasons Whistler Resort.

From Nov. 21-Dec. 22, if there aren't 2,500 acres or more of terrain open on Whistler Blackcomb, lift tickets will be refunded and a refund of the second night's accommodations will be given if guests opt to leave.

Earlier this week, the Four Seasons Resort Whistler received the Five Diamond Award® from the American Automobile Association. It's Canada's only resort to receive the prestigious honor.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Radisson Resort Hecla: Luxury Resort in Manitoba

Manitoba


The Radisson Resort Hecla, set along a rugged shoreline flanked by boreal forest, is set to open in Manitoba in November 2007. 

More than two years and millions of dollars in the making, the resort features an 18-hole championship golf course with views of Lake Winnipeg; a Euro-inspired spa and wellness centre with Icelandic influences; three restaurants featuring the cuisine of Europen Executive Chef Stephane Pierre Thierry; and ecological and experiential tours.

For canine lovers, 14 of the 90 guest rooms are pet-friendly and a pet day spa with grooming, daycare, special activities and on-staff walkers. 
The resort is located in Hecla/Grindstone Provincial Park, two hours north of WinnipegFor more information or reservations, go online or call 800.267.6700.


Update: According to an article in the Winnipeg Free Press, the Radisson Hecla Resort went into receivership in 2010. 

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Chef Rob Feenie leaves his Vancouver restaurants



Celebrated Vancouver chef Rob Feenie has parted ways with his two Vancouver restaurants. No longer will the 2005 Iron Chef America be in the kitchens of Lumiere and Feenie's.

I've dined at both restos, enjoying the more casual atmosphere and less fussy food at Feenie's than the somewhat pretentious Lumiere.

Feenie became the poster boy for food in British Columbia. His face was plastered on Vancouver city buses, he appeared in White Spot TV commercials and also hosted the TV show New Classics With Chef Rob Feenie.

He's also the author of three cookbooks: Rob Feenie Cooks at Lumiere, Lumiere Light and Feenie's.

Friday, November 02, 2007

When a restaurant gets new chairs, it's newsworthy!

New chairs @ Nu


It's not very often I get a press release about a restaurant's chairs. But Vancouver's NU Restaurant & Lounge has finally done something about its uncomfortable seating.

Owner Harry Kambolis acknowledged the chairs were controversial since the restaurant opened in 2005. Although the resto received rave reviews in the kitchen, including enRoute magazine's Best New Table for 2006, the chairs were somewhat of an issue.
The problem has been solved by taking the original design of the chairs and adding a higher creature comfort factor to each and every one. I'm going to Vancouver next month so will do my, "This chair is too soft, this chair is too hard, this chair is just right!" routine.
NU Restaurant + Lounge is located above the water with views of False Creek, Granville Island and English Bay. The menu features farm to table casual cuisine. 1661 Granville Street. 604.646.4668.