Thursday, March 31, 2011

The Fairmont Vancouver Airport: Best North American Airport Hotel

One of my favorite airport hotels, The Fairmont Vancouver Airport, was awarded Best Airport Hotel - North America at the 2011 World Airport Awards held on March 30, 2011 in Copenhagen. This is the first year that airport hotels have been included in the annual awards.

 The Fairmont Vancouver Airport came in the number one spot over the Grand Hyatt Dallas/Fort Worth and the Westin Detroit Metropolitan. The hotel also placed fifth in the world for Best Airport Hotel Worldwide.
The Skytrax World Airport Survey was distributed to more than 11 million passengers around the world, representing more than 100 nationalities and 240+ airports. The results were tabulated from more than 860,000 responses from guests who rated their hotel experiences.

I've stayed at The Fairmont Vancouver Airport several times, and it's truly tops. Located just above the USA Departures Level of YVR, it has 392 spacious and fully soundproof guestrooms and suites. All have floor to ceiling views of the runways, ocean and mountains. A designated Quiet Zone floor offers day use rooms for travelers on long layovers, and a Hypoallergenic Floor features low-allergen amenities.

All guests may enjoy Globe@YVR restaurant and the Jetside Bar (both with runway views) for dining and beverages. The full-service Absolute Spa and a health club is also on site.

The Fairmont Vancouver Airport
Photo by Sue Frause

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Canada's federal election set for May 2; Rex Murphy gets my vote

For some reason, I've always thought Canadian politics were much more complicated than ours in the US. But talk to a Canadian, and they feel the same way about our politics and elections. It's complicated, no matter what side of the 49th Parallel you hail from.

After Parliament members voted on March 25, 2011 on the Liberals' motion of no confidence, which found the Conservative minority government in contempt of Parliament, writs of election (an order to hold a special election) were issued by Prime Minister Stephen Harper on March 26, 2011. Canada's upcoming federal election is scheduled for May 2, 2011.

I get most of my political news from CBC's The National. That means I'm a fan of veteran broadcast journalist Peter Mansbridge and political and social commentator Rex Murphy. I've always enjoyed Rex's colorful take on politics and all things Canadian. In 2009, he authored a book, Canada and Other Matters of Opinion. Here's how publisher Random House describes it:
A cornucopia of comment from Canada’s most opinionated man — a man seen, read, and listened to by millions of Canadians each week. Canada’s most distinctive commentator presents his fearless and thought-provoking views on a head-spinning range of subjects, from Dr. Johnson’s greatness to Bono’s gratingness, from doubts about Obama to utter belief in Don Cherry, from Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn’s outstanding oeuvre to — well, Pamela Anderson.

The topics are as eclectic and wide ranging as the intelligence that put them together. The perspective is thoroughly Canadian, and so are many of the recurring topics and themes: of our domestic politics and our military involvements abroad, of our national identity, of human rights and human decency. You’ll find assessments of the reputations of Paul Martin, Conrad Black, Adrienne Clarkson, and Tim Hortons; tough but affectionate views of Newfoundland — of course — but also from Rex Murphy’s constant travels across Canada.

But all the world is here, in all its glory and folly. The hard-hitting attacks on politicians, celebrities, those who would ban smoking, and anyone who uses the expression “global warming denial” will have you cheering or tearing your hair out, depending. You will be informed, infuriated perhaps, but always fascinated.
Murphy was born and raised in St. John's, Newfoundlan. He studied at England's University of Oxford where he was a Rhodes Scholar (along with former US President Bill Clinton). Over the years he's used his talents as a writer, broadcaster and teacher. And yes, dabbled in politics, According to his bio on the CBC website, Murphy worked as an executive assistant to the Liberal Party of Newfoundland's leader. He also ran for office twice in provincial elections (losing both times).

So who are the candidates for the May 2 election? Here's the slate:
Stephen Harper, Conservative, leader since 03/04. Calgary Southwest, AB.
Michael Ignatieff, Liberal, leader since 05/09. Etobicoke-Lakeshore, ON.
Gilles Duceppe, Bloc Quebecois, leader since 03/97. Laurier-Saint Marie, QC.
Jack Layton, New Democrat (NDP), leader since 01/03. Toronto-Danforth, OT.
Elizabeth May, Green, leader since 08/06 Saanich-Gulf Islands, BC.
So what's Rex Murphy's take on the election? He describes it as "unwanted, unwarranted and unwelcome." Go, Rex!

Vote Compass - In 2010, some of Canada's leading scholars in the field of electoral politics decided to design a Vote Compass for the upcoming Canadian federal election. Vote Compass Canada is a survey that focuses on issues relevant to Canadians and helps them make decisions "that best reflect their individual values and preferences." Take the survey and find out where you stand. Even Americans can fill it out; I pretended I lived in Vancouver, took the survey and came out as a Liberal.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Washington State Ferries: Anacortes to Sidney boat back on route

The spring sailing schedule for Washington State Ferries begins Sunday, March 27. Welcome news for both Skagit County in Washington and Vancouver Island, as the international route between Anacortes, WA and Sidney, BC begins again today.

There's one round-trip sailing per day between Anacortes and Sidney. It departs Anacortes at 8:30 AM; stops in Friday Harbor and departs at 9:55 AM; arrives in Sidney at 11:10 AM. The Vancouver Island departures leave Sidney at 12:05 PM; stops in Friday Harbor, departing at 1:55 PM; arrives in Anacortes at 3 PM. To make reservations, log onto

Businesses in Anacortes are concerned about the state cutting back the nine-month season of the Anacortes-Sidney ferry to seven months. See a video report on KING-5 about the proposal. Vancouver Island is also keeping tabs on the situation, especially now that the Victoria Express is no longer sailing between Port Angeles, WA and Victoria, BC.

The spring sailing schedule is in effect through June 18, 2011.

Washington State Ferries en route from Sidney, BC to Anacortes, WA
Photo by Sue Frause

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Springtime in Vancouver, with a big bow to Paris

I received an e-newsletter from Barbara-Jo's Cooks to Books in Vancouver with the headline Springtime in Paris. Funny, as I'd just posted a piece on The Huffington Post with the same title. I do love springtime in Paris, and included a slide show of photos from my trip to the City of Light five years ago.

So what's cookin' in Vancouver this spring? Here's are some French inspired events that Barbara-jo recommends. And if you haven't been to her Kitsilano bookstore, stop by. It's one of my favorite shops in the city.

Monday, April 4 ~ The Cultch celebrates Paris with a gala fundraiser titled Paris, in love. The former church is now a popular performance space, and the perfect setting for an evening of all things French. Enjoy Champagne and hors d'oeuvres; music by Jessie Award Winner Joelle Rabu; readings by Barbara-jo McIntosh from Cooking for Me and Sometimes You; and entertainment by gypsy swing band Dinette. For more information, call 778.709.0323 or email

Saturday, May 14 ~ Enjoy a lovely Parisian bistro meal inspired by Barbara-Jo's Cooking for Me and Sometimes You. Guests will be transported to Paris with some of Barbara-jo's delicious tales of her recent adventures. Cost is $85.00 and includes lunch and a copy of Barbara-jo's book. The event begins at 10:30 AM.

Thursday, May 19
~ Planning a trip to Paris? Barbara-jo is hosting Six O'Clock Apero. The informal conversational cocktail hour includes some of Barbara-jo's discoveries in her beloved Paris. Find out about her favorite shops, galleries, cafes and restaurants. The hour of Champagne and gougeres begins at 6 PM. Tickets are $35 and include a copy of her book.

Cherry blossoms in Paris
Photo by Sue Frause

Thursday, March 24, 2011

CBC celebrates David Suzuki's 'The Nature of Things' 50th year

Hard to believe that CBC's The Nature of Things is 50 years old. Not to mention that its host David Suzuki is 75. On March 24 2011, CBC is airing a special to mark both occasions. Here is his official bio:
David Suzuki, Co-Founder of the David Suzuki Foundation, is an award-winning scientist, environmentalist and broadcaster. He is renowned for his radio and television programs that explain the complexities of the natural sciences in a compelling, easily understood way.

Dr. Suzuki is a geneticist. He graduated from Amherst College (Massachusetts) in 1958 with an Honours BA in Biology, followed by a Ph.D. in Zoology from the University of Chicago in 1961. He held a research associateship in the Biology Division of Tennessee's Oak Ridge National Lab (1961–62), was an Assistant Professor in Genetics at the University of Alberta (1962–63)and since then has been a faculty member of the University of British Columbia. He is now Professor Emeritus at UBC.

In 1972, he was awarded the E.W.R. Steacie Memorial Fellowship for the outstanding research scientist in Canada under the age of 35 and held it for three years. He has won numerous academic awards and holds 25 honourary degrees in Canada, the U.S. and Australia. He was elected to the Royal Society of Canada and is a Companion of the Order of Canada. Dr. Suzuki has written 52 books, including 19 for children. His 1976 textbook An Introduction to Genetic Analysis (with A.J.F. Griffiths), remains the most widely used genetics text book in the U.S. and has been translated into Italian, Spanish, Greek, Indonesian, Arabic, French and German.

Dr. Suzuki has received consistently high acclaim for his thirty years of award-winning work in broadcasting. In 1974 he developed and hosted the long running popular science program Quirks and Quarks on CBC Radio for four years. He has since presented two influential documentary CBC radio series on the environment, It's a Matter of Survival and From Naked Ape to Superspecies. His national television career began with CBC in 1971 when he wrote and hosted Suzuki on Science. He was host of Science Magazine (1974–79) then created and hosted a number of television specials, and in 1979 became the host of the award-winning series, The Nature of Things with David Suzuki. He has won four Gemini Awards as best host of different Canadian television series. His eight-part television series, A Planet for the Taking, won an award from the United Nations. His eight-part BBC/PBS series, The Secret of Life, was praised internationally, as was his five-part series The Brain for the Discovery Channel. On June 10, 2002 he received the John Drainie Award for broadcasting excellence.

Dr. Suzuki is also recognized as a world leader in sustainable ecology. He is the recipient of UNESCO's Kalinga Prize for Science, the United Nations Environment Program Medal, UNEPs Global 500 and in 2009 won the Right Livelihood Award that is considered the alternate Nobel.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Adventuress: Wilderness Adventures for Women in BC

I've always been a big fan of the Oceanside region of Vancouver Island, located on the east side of the island. Several summers ago, I met up with certified kayak guide and instructor Jan Kretz in Parksville. As the founder of Adventuress: Wilderness Adventures for Women, I wasn't surprised to see that her front yard was filled with kayaks!

Jan purchased her kayaks in 2003 and has been conducting all women paddles ever since. OK, she says she "will take guys," but for the most part her business is geared toward women. And she's no stranger to running a business. With a degree in tourism and recreation, she's done everything from running a bike shop in Florida to being in the business services management field.

But being out on the open seas is what really speaks to her. The combination of beautiful nature and meeting people has made Adventuress the perfect fit. "Kayaking is my path and my passion," says Jan.

Open year-round, the Adventuress paddling calendar is loaded with kayak adventures. The trip menu lists day tours, including full moon and sunset paddles; multi-day trips; and even "transformative journeys."

Among the two-day trips are Girls Just Wanna Have Fun, August 16-17 and Girls & Guys Just Wanna Have Fun, August 6-7. The cost for each is $259. Other adventures include trips to the Gulf Islands, Broken Group Islands, Johnstone Strait and Desolation Sound.

All tours include kayak and gear, basic instruction and safety orientation. Prices start at $49 for a 2.5 hour introductory lesson and paddle, and custom tours are available in addition to the scheduled tours.

Certified kayak guide and Adventuress owner Jan Kretz
Photo by Sue Frause

Monday, March 21, 2011

Canada to go dark March 26 during Earth Hour 2011

Earth Hour 2011 is being celebrated around the world, including Canada. Organized by the World Wildlife Fund, the "lights out" event got its start in Sydney, Australia in 2007 when 2.2 million people and 2,000+ businesses turned their lights off for one hour to make a statement about climate change.

Last year, Earth Hour 2010 was the biggest ever, with a record 128 countries and territories joining in. Buildings and landmarks around the globe switched off their lights to celebrate the planet.

Earth Hour 2011 is Saturday, March 26 at 8:30PM (local time). One of the many participants in Vancouver is the Pan Pacific Vancouver, which will shut down its non-essential power and lights from 8:30-9:30 PM. Guests of the hotel are invited to the Atrium Lobby and Cascades Lounge for a candlelight experience, and listen to live opera at Cafe Pacifica's Italian Opera Buffet. Guests are also being invited to "dim it" in their rooms during the hour of darkness.

The Fairmont Hotel Vancouver is greeting the hour of darkness in a special way. Griffins Restaurant will feature a $23 three-course raw menu ("big on taste, low on energy output") that's part of Fairmont's new Lifestyle Cuisine Plus program. In the 900 West Lounge, enjoy chocolate fondue and Piper-Heidsieck Champagne specials along with live music by pianist Greg Alcock and vocalist Melody Diachun. Part of the proceeds from the raw menu and bubbly will be donated to the WWF.

The Fairmont Pacific Rim
, the newest in the Vancouver Fairmont family, is also celebrating Earth Hour on March 26. From 8:30-9:30 PM they'll be serving a candlelight dinner in ORU, the hotel's pan-Asian bistro. Acoustic entertainment will be featured in the hotel's Lobby Lounge. As with The Fairmont Hotel Vancouver, they're also offering a raw menu that evening.

The bartenders at The Fairmont Pacific Rim are honoring Kermit the Frog ("It's Not Easy Being Green") with his own eco-cocktail aptly named Kermit's Katana. The adult beverage is composed of local artisanal sake from Granville Island; cucumber slices; fresh lime juice; and vodka. Plus, two for one prices during Earth Hour make it an an extra special happy hour.

Pan Pacific Vancouver overlooks Coal Harbour
Photo by Sue Frause

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Spring officially arrives in Canada; still winter in some cities

Spring officially arrives in Canada and the rest of the Northern Hemisphere on Sunday, March 20 at 4:21 PM PDT. Although it's a sunny day here in the Pacific Northwest, elsewhere across Canada it still looks like winter. Here are temperatures across the country via Environment Canada:

Whitehorse, Yukon -17C
Yellowknife, NW Territories -17C
Vancouver, British Columbia 7C
Calgary and Edmonton, Alberta -3C
Saskatoon, Saskatchewan -6C
Winnipeg, Manitoba 2C
Toronto, Ontario 2C
Ottawa, Ontario 3C
Montreal, Quebec 3C
Fredricton, New Brunswick 3C
Halifax, Nova Scotia 3C
Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island -2C
St.John's, Newfoundland -3
Iqualuit, Nunavut -23C

So how cold is -23C in Fahrenheit? -9F. Way too cold for the first day of spring!

Springtime in Vancouver, with a view from Granville Island across to False Creek and Stanley Park in the distance. Photo by Sue Frause.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Silver Star's ski patrol takes top honors in mountain resort safety

Silver Star Mountain Resort took top honors in the Pacific South Division (PSD) of the Canadian Ski Patrol System's Patroller Competition held recently at BC's Phoenix Mountain. Silver Star patrollers Sean Bergman, Roy Chatham and Stephen Oakes all took home prizes.

Three-person teams represented five areas in the division: Greater Vancouver zone, Big White, Sun Peaks, Silver Star and host Phoenix Mountain. Each team competed in three events: a first-aid scenario where the patient impaled himself on a broken ski pole that passed through his abdomen at an angle and exited out his back; a toboggan evacuation where the patrollers at both front and rear were required to switch positions midpoint during the run; an assessment of the patient triage skills of each of the three team members.

The Silver Star Mountain Resort Ski Patrol will represent the division at the national competition later this year in Winnipeg.

Silver Star Mountain Resort, February 2011
Photo by Sue Frause

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Canada now has an official tartan; April 6 declared Tartan Day

Being a citizen and resident of US, I know our states have their own official flags, mottos, birds, flowers and sometimes even songs. But when it was announced earlier this month that Canada now has an official tartan, I knew they were in a league of their own.

James Moore, Minister of Canadian Heritage and Official Languages, said in a press release that "the Maple Leaf Tartan has been worn proudly and enjoyed by Canadians for decades." He added that Canada's national symbols express the country's identity and define its history. "The Maple Leaf Tartan represents the contributions that the more than four million Canadians of Scottish heritage continue to make to our country," added Minister Moore.

The Maple Leaf Tartan was created in 1964 by David Weiser in anticipation of the 100th anniversary of the Confederation in 1967. The Second Battalion of the Royal Canadian Regiment Pipes and Drum has adopted theartan and the National Defence Headquarters has approved it for issue to Canadian Forces pipers and drummers who have no specific regimental affiliation. The tartan was also featured in costumes worn during the closing ceremonies of the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver.

Canada has declared that April 6 will formally be recognized as Tartan Day. On April 6, 2011, Canadians across the country can celebrate this day with its newest official symbol. As an official symbol, the Maple Leaf Tartan joins Canada's most significant emblems, such as the Coat of Arms and the National Flag of Canada.

In addition to the national tartan, all of Canada's provinces and territories, except for Nunavut, have regional tartans.

The tartan jacket pictured above is from the Royal BC Museum's collection and was once worn by BC Liquor Control Board employees. It's made from the official tartan of British Columbia. Photo by Sue Frause.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Victoria Express stops sailings between Victoria-Port Angeles

Black Ball Ferry Line, based in Port Angeles, WA, announced last week the purchase of Victoria Rapid Transit's operations. Victoria Rapid Transit, formed in 1990 by the Harmon family, has been shuttling passengers aboard the Victoria Express between Victoria and Port Angeles for more than 20 years. In 2004, they added scheduled service to Friday Harbor on San Juan Island in 2004.

Following its winter break, Victoria Rapid Transit will focus on launching its new Explorer Series of tours. The tours will be offered under the name of Expeditions NW and focus on the ecology and culture of the region with adventure and eco-tours out of Port Angeles. Destinations include the islands, Strait of Juan de Fuca and Victoria. Their first scheduled trip is a day cruise to the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival on April 16, 2011. Let's hope the tulips are in bloom!

The 149-passenger Victoria Express will be one of the tour vessels of Expeditions NW, and not resume scheduled service between Port Angeles and Victoria. Black Ball Ferry Line's MV Coho will now be the connection between the two cities/countries. Read more about Victoria losing this seasonal connection in the Times Colonist and Peninsula Daily News.

The MV Coho provides year-round car and walk-on ferry service between Port Angeles and downtown Victoria. It offers up to eight daily sailings during the summer season. Both companies have collaborated over the years to promote both Olympic Peninsula and Vancouver Island, along with resolving issues that impact tourism, such as the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative.

The MV Coho in Victoria's Inner Harbour as seen from The Fairmont Empress Hotel. Photo by Sue Frause.

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Spring skiing at BC's Whistler/Blackcomb: Pan Pacific Sale

If you're itchin' to hit the slopes, the Pan Pacific Whistler Mountainside is holding a 48-hour sale. It started at 12 noon on March 8 and runs through noon on March 10, 2011. The all-suite accommodations are slope side, and the mountains now have a base of 323 cm (126 inches).

Rates for a Studio Suite Valley View are $159 midweek (SundayThursday) and $199 weekends (Friday-Saturday). The rates are good from March 25 to April 23, 2011 and go even lower between April 24-May 19, 2011.

For more information on the resort, visit Tourism Whistler and Whistler-Blackcomb.

Whister Village, February 2009
Photo by Sue Frause

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Vancouver turns 125: What are your favorite 'Places that Matter'?

To celebrate Vancouver’s 125th Anniversary this year, the Vancouver Heritage Foundation is asking Vancouverites to nominate 125 sites that commemorate the people, places and events that helped shape the city.

The sites will be selected through a combination of nominations and a public vote. Nominations can be made online until March 15; after that, the public may vote for the sites through April 6, 2011. During the summer, the text will be written for the 125 plaques, which will be manufactured and installed in the fall. There will also be a website that will identify the location and text of each plaque.

Although I can't vote, The Fairmont Hotel Vancouver is a place that matters to me. I've often called it my living room, as it's where I head to first when I visit the city.

The Fairmont Hotel Vancouver reflected in glass
Photo by Sue Frause

Quebec's Hotel de Glace (Ice Hotel) celebrates March Break

Although it's been seven years since I spent the night in Quebec's Hotel de Glace, I remember it oh, so well. It was cold, real cold.

The hotel has since relocated and is only ten minutes from downtown Quebec City. Now in its 11th season, the 36-room hotel is open for tours through March 27, with the last overnight stay on March 20, 2011. That's the first day of spring! The new hotel still has its signature ice chandelier and its famous cocktails served in glasses made of ice.

During March Break between 7th and the 11th, children 12 and under are admitted free when accompanied by an adult. There are plenty of fun, family activities:

North Face Grand Ice Slide:
This season's slide is 66 ft. long, the longest ever. Located in the Grand Hall, the Arctic climate is highlighted with penguins, walrus and a white wolf carved in ice.

Sugar Shack: This is new to the hotel, and oh so sweet. Enjoy taffy-on-the-snow and the meet the owners of the sugar shacks who will share their love of all things maple.

Guided Tours:
Learn more about the hotel between 10 AN and 5 PM when guides give tours of the art house made of ice and snow.

Stargazing: On Friday, March 11 at 7 PM, stargaze with the astronomy club Vega from Cap-Route, Quebec. Telescopes will be set up and astronomy buffs will explain the mysteries of the sky.

Me walking through Hotel de Glace in 2004
Photo by Bob Frause

Monday, March 07, 2011

Canada Dry: Now headquartered in Texas, its roots are in Canada

Although the first ginger ales were created in Ireland sometime around 1851, Canada gets the credit for this unique soft drink. We're talkin' Canada Dry. In 1890, chemist and pharmacist John J. McLaughlin opened a small plant in Toronto to manufacture soda water. He sold it in siphons to drugstores to be used as a mixer for fruit juices and flavored extracts. In 1904, McLaughlin came up with the perfect recipe for what he called Canada Dry Pale Ginger Ale. With his development of mass bottling techniques, soon the sparkly beverage was available where large groups of people gathered, such as ballparks and beaches.

In 1923, the McLaughlin family sold the company to PD Saylor & Associates, and formed Canada Dry Ginger Ale, Inc. In the 1930s, Canada Dry Club Soda was added to the product line, followed by Tonic Water. In the '50s and '60s, it was one of the first major soft drink companies to come out with sugar-free drinks and put soft drinks in cans. In 1986, Canada Dry was acquired by Cadbury Schweppes of London. Today, the Canada Dry brand is part of the Plano, Texas-based Dr Pepper Snapple Group, Inc.

Canada Dry celebrated its 100th anniversary in 2004. Here are links to some of its old print ads and TV commercials (this one with Scott Bakula).

Sunday, March 06, 2011

Breakfast Television Calgary: Brett Wilson on leaving CBC

Here's an interview that aired on Breakfast Television Calgary following the CBC's announcement that Brett Wilson was OUT! from the popular Dragons' Den show.

Brett tweeted a link to the interview on Twitter, saying that it was a "great interview" and "a good overview of my departure from CBC and Dragons' Den."

I've never seen Breakfast Television Calgary, nor am I familiar with co-host Tara Slone, who conducted the interview. Tara is an actress and singer, born in Montreal and raised in Quebec. She was the lead singer of Joydrop, starred in La Femme Nikita and The Border and was co-host with Chris Van Vliet of Toronto's Inside Jam on SUN TV.

Saturday, March 05, 2011

William Shatner to host 31st Annual Genie Awards on CBC

Canadian icon William Shatner is set to host the 31st Annual Genie Awards on Thursday, March 10, 2011. They'll be broadcast live from The National Arts Centre in Ottawa on CBC-TV at 8 PM (8:30 NT). As Canada's version of the Academy Awards, the Genie Awards celebrate the year's biggest achievements in Canadian movies. Top stars from film, television and music will be featured during the awards show.

Musicians scheduled to perform include Grammy and Academy Award winner Melissa Etheridge; three-time JUNO Award winner Serena Ryder and singer-songwriter Johnny Reid. There will also be a special tribute to Barney's Version, the year's most Genie-nominated film. Montreal band Karkwa and the Royal Winnipeg Ballet perform together for the first time in a special musical dance production.

The "voice of the show" is Rachelle Lefevre, who stars as Clara opposite Paul Giamatti in Barney's Version. She is also appearing in Casino Jack with Kevin Spacey and Barry Pepper, along with starring in the new TV drama, Off the Map.

William Shatner was born and raised in Montreal, and his career has spanned more than 50 years as an actor, director, producer, screenwriter, recording artist and author. Shatner got his start at a young age at CBC Radio, and his TV and film credits include Star Trek and Star Trek: The Motion Picture, plus six subsequent sequels. I enjoyed him on the TV series Boston Legal, and thought he was hilarious in Miss Congeniality, paired up again with Candice Bergen. In 2010, he hosted CBC's Making a Scene, a behind-the-scenes-look-back at 30 years of Genie-winning movies.

Best Motion Picture nominees include 10 1/2, Les Amours Imaginaires/Heartbeats, Barney's Version, Incendies and Splice. Incendies was nominated for Best Foreign Film at the Academy Awards; it lost to Denmark's In a Better World. Leading the pack for Genie Awards this year are Barney's Version with 11 nominations, followed by Incendies with ten.

William Shatner in Boston Legal. Photo courtesy ABC.

Friday, March 04, 2011

March Break: Fairmont Royal York's Royal Maharaja Package

The more I find out out about Canada, the more I don't know. First there was February's Reading Week, which I blogged about a few weeks ago. Now it's all about March Break, which this year is March 14-18, 2011. Read more about it in Toronto.

The Fairmont Royal York
in Toronto is inviting families to experience the Royal Maharaja Package during the month of March. It's part of the Art Gallery of Ontario's exhibit, Maharaja: The Splendour of India's Royal Courts. The packages includes:
One night's accommodation in a Fairmont Guestroom
Two adult tickets to Maharaja: The Splendour of India's Royal Courts
Complimentary tickets for children, accompanied by an adult
Package prices start at $219 per night on weekends (Thursday-Sunday) and from $249 on weekdays (Monday-Wednesday). The exhibition runs through April 1, 2011.

Maharaja: The Splendour of India's Royal Courts features more than 200 works of art created for India's great kings. The exhibit, which is in Canada for the first time, includes such opulent objects as artwork, tapestry, thrones, weapons and jewels. It spans the last 300 years of India's culture and celebrates the legacy of cultural patronage by generations of Maharajas, both in India and Europe.

The artifacts are on loan from more than a dozen museums and private lenders from around the world. The exhibition is organized in collaboration with the Victoria & Albert Museum in London. Among the treasures are the Patiala Necklace, part of the largest single commission that the French house of Cartier has ever executed. It was completed in 1928 and restored in 2002, and includes 2,930 diamonds. It weighs nearly 1,000 carats.

(Top) Art Gallery of Ontario, Photo by Sue Frause
(Bottom) Patiala Necklace on Sir Bhupindra Singh, Maharaja of Patiala © National Portrait Gallery, London

Thursday, March 03, 2011

Sparkling Hill Masters World Cup 2011 in Vernon, BC

Vernon, BC is the venue for the Sparkling Hill Masters World Cup, March 3-11, 2011. More than 1,100 athletes representing 22 countries are expected for the cross country races on Sovereign Lake and Silver Star Mountain.

The opening ceremonies are Friday, March 4 in the Silver Star Village from 5-6 PM. The village will also host the awards ceremony each evening at 6 pm following the day's competitions.

The World Masters Association was formed in 1982 to unite Masters cross-country skiers around the world. The association includes top competitive skiers, along with those who simply enjoy racing, regardless of their rank. Participants range in age from 30-90+, and are organized into five-year age groups. There are no qualifications to participate.

One of the racers competing in the week-long event is Glenn Bond, Nordic Manager at Silver Star. The 37-year-old (who owns a dozen pairs of Nordic skis), has been training hard and will compete in four races.

Photos at Silver Star Mountain Resort by Sue Frause

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

CBC's Dragons' Den: Brett Wilson out, Lavalife's Bruce Croxon in

I wasn't happy when I read that my favorite Dragon on Dragons' Den pretty much got the heave-ho from the CBC.

Saskatchewan's W. Brett Wilson is out and Lavalife's Bruce Croxon is in. Lavalife? Being an American, I'd never heard of the company, and thought it had something to do with volcanoes or people with a penchant for Lava brand hand cleaner.

Turns out that Lavalife is an online and interactive voice response-based interactive personals service founded by four entrepreneurs. One of them is Bruce Croxon, the newest Dragon. According to his bio on DC NetCast, where Croxon is on the Board of Directors, he's the former Chairman and CEO of Lavalife Inc. (now Lavalife Corp). Croxon received a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Western Ontario in London.

You can read more about the newest member of the popular TV show team on the Dragons' Den Blog and Brett Wilson's response to the change on his personal blog.

I'm sorry to see Brett go, but I'll continue to follow him on Twitter (@WBrettWilson). And as far as me and Dragons' Den? I'm in!

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Kelowna International Airport now Canada's 10th busiest

I was impressed that the airport in Kelowna, BC is known as Kelowna International Airport (YLW). It had been a while since I'd flown to this Okanagan city from Seattle, but when I arrived last week for a four-night stay in nearby Vernon, it looked a whole lot bigger than before.

The airport is located on the former site of the Dickinson Ranch in Ellison, and was purchased by the City of Kelowna in 1945 for a mere $20,000. Planes started landing the following year, and in 1947 it officially opened. Its lone runway was a 3,000-ft. grass strip, which was converted nine years later to gravel, and eventually paved.

Over the years, vast improvements have been made, and in 2008 it extended its runway to 8,900 ft. at a cost of $8 million. No longer merely a continental airport, it now has international status. Passenger numbers at YLW in 2010 were an impressive 1,391,725 -- a 1.76 per cent increase over 2009. The 24-hour airport is now the 10th busiest in Canada. Plans for 2011 include expansion of the international customs hall and improvements to the U.S. flight boarding procedures.

I was most impressed by the YLW staff, decked out in red blazers. After going through Canada Customs, a friendly staffer directed us to the airport's baggage claim area. She even asked one passenger if she could help him with his bags!

My other O Canada! moment was when I spotted a Tim Hortons in the arrivals terminal. Since I had an hour before my shuttle was scheduled to depart for Silver Mountain Resort, I popped into Timmy's for an egg salad sandwich. But I passed on the Timbits -- I'd pick up a few on my return flight back home.

But my Tim's moment didn't end at YLW. Our shuttle driver stopped at one of the five Tim Hortons in Vernon to get a cup of coffee for the 45-minute trip up to Silver Star Mountain. I was definitely back in Canada.

Tim Hortons at Kelowna International Airport
Photo by Sue Frause