Thursday, June 30, 2011

Canada Day: Ottawa hosts William and Kate during Royal Tour

It's probably a given that Ottawa's Canada Day celebration will be the biggest in the country. Last year, the capital city hosted Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip on July 1, and the crowds were large. This year, it's William and Kate, officially known as Their Royal Highnesses The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. More than a half a million people are expected to turn out for a look at the lovely newlyweds, who arrived in Ottawa on June 30, 2011 for two nights.

The couple has a full-day planned; probably not much time to head to the beach for a swim. Here's the official itinerary of the 2011 Royal Tour on July 1:

10:30 AM - Canadian Citizenship Ceremony - Canadian Museum of Civilization

To demonstrate how civic pride is celebrated and the integral role of the Sovereign in our constitutional monarchy, Their Royal Highnesses The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge attend a Citizenship Ceremony welcoming Canada’s newest citizens.

12:05 PM - Canada Day Parliament Hill Noon Show – Public Event

Their Royal Highnesses join millions of Canadians celebrating Canada’s 144th Birthday. Steeped in artistic talent and cultural vitality, Canadians are treated to full military honours, a 21-gun salute and a fly past by the Canadian Forces CF-18s and Snowbirds.

Read about my 2009 visit to Ottawa during a ten-day cross-Canada trip aboard VIA Rail Canada in HuffpostCanada (Huffington Post).

The Canadian flag flies atop the Peace Tower on Parliament Hill in Ottawa
Photo by Sue Frause

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

BC Residents: Live at YVR for 80 days and share your stories

So sorry I'm not a BC resident! YVR (Vancouver International Airport) is celebrating its 80th anniversary in a very big way. They're holding a contest to select the perfect person to live at YVR for 80 days and share his/her stories with the world. Wow. Live, sleep, eat and shop for 80 days in a row!

The winner's stories, videos and photos will be posted on the Live@YRV online channel. During your 80 days, you'll receive hotel accomodation at the Fairmont Vancouver Airport, camera, editing equipment and have access to all the people and places that make YVR tick. Even behind the scene stuff. The job includes interviewing people, producing, directing, reporting, editing and doing the post-production of all the online stories. Here are the requirements:
  • Be at least 19 years of age by 8/17/11
  • Be a resident of British Columbia
  • Be the sole producer, videographer and editor of the video submission
  • Be willing and able to live at YVR for 80 consecutive days from 8/17-11/4, 2011
  • Be available for up to three (3) das of orientation and briefings from 8/15-17, 2011
  • Be generally awesome
How to submit your audition video for Live@YVR, which must follow these guidelines:
  • Tells the story of a person, place or event in the community
  • Is a maximum length of three (3) minutes
  • Is shot and edited solely by you
  • Shows us your interview skills
  • Includes some footage of you on camera
  • Is accompanied by a text description, to be entered on the contest entry form, in 100 words or less, that describes the video and answers the question “Why do you think you should be the Live@YVR Storyteller?”
  • Is in English
Vancouver International Airport (YVR) and Fairmont Vancouver Airport from HeliJet
Photo by Sue Frause

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Victoria Harbour Ferry Company adds the H20 Taxi to its fleet

I noticed some new little boats in Victoria when I was up there recently. Turns out that Victoria Harbour Ferry Company has launched a new service called H20 Taxi. The water taxi service gives residents and visitors an efficient and affordable way to get around downtown, whether for daily commuting or a night on the town.

Victoria Harbour Ferry added the service in response to a demand for direct point to point service between its 17 stops in the harbour. It's the latest evolution in the ferry company's mix of transportation options, replacing the original hop-on hop-off scheduled service.

The company says the number of one-way trips aboard its ferries has increased 45% during the past three years. No surprise, as the population in central Victoria and Esquimalt has increased 6% between 2006-2010.

The freshly painted H20 Taxis have a New York look to them, decked out in a yellow and black checkered pattern that resembles Manhattan's famous Medallion cabs. For reservations, call 250.881.TAXI (8294).

The Victoria Harbour Ferry Company was founded in 1990 with just two ferryboats. Today, their fleet includes 14 small 12-passenger ferries and one 40-passenger vessel. The boats are in service from April to October, and the company also runs the harbour and Gorge waterway tours. Photos by Sue Frause.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Vancouver: Hockey season is over, bring on the jazz!

Time to put the pucks away! The TD Vancouver International Jazz Festival opened June 24 and runs through July 3, 2011. As the city's biggest annual cultural event, the ten-day festival will attract more than 500,000 people to 400+ concerts in 40+ venues. They include The Centre, The Vogue, The Venue and O'Douls Restaurant & Bar at The Listel Hotel. As a bonus, there are 130 free concerts this year.

The Listel Hotel
, located on Robson near Denman, is the official host hotel for the festival, welcoming musicians, media and fans. O'Doul's Restaurant & Bar is a great place to listen to jazz (I was there earlier in the year), and their nightly jazz festival lineup includes:
Friday, June 24 - Karin Plato Trio
Saturday, June 25 - PK3 Jazz Trio
Sunday, June 26 - Ross Taggart Trio
Monday, June 27 - Kate Hammett-Vaughan Trio
Tuesday, June 28 - Tony Foster Quartet
Wednesday, June 29 - Jillian Lebeck Trio
Thursday, June 30 - Kevin Elaschuk Quartet
Friday, July 1 - Jennifer Scott Trio
Saturday, July 2 - Saul Berson Trio
Sunday, July 3 - Alita Dupray Trio
Music begins at 9 PM, followed by late night jam sessions from 12-2 AM.

O'Douls Restaurant & Bar and The Listel Hotel. Photos by Sue Frause.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Searching for a marmot among the honey bees of The Empress

During my last visit to Victoria, the topic of Whistler came up. That's when I mentioned to the group I was dining with that Whistler was named for the "whistling" sound that the resident marmots make. My table mate Angela Rafuse-Tahir of The Fairmont Empress added a whole new layer to the story.

It turns out that The Fairmont Empress has a resident marmot! Roger, a yellow-bellied marmot, has been "living the high life" and residing in the gardens of the iconic hotel since 2008. Roger is thought to have originated in Alberta. Legend has it that he hitched a ride on a bus or automobile to Vancouver Island, landing in Victoria. And his name? It comes from the hotel's longtime former GM, Roger Sloane.

Although marmots are native to the island, the yellow bellied species is not. Roger hibernates from late summer to early spring, enjoying a steady diet of "lush Fairmont Empress foliage." Apparently he enjoys performing stand-up routines for guests, as shown in the photo below. Although a number of groups and organizations have attempted to trap and return Roger to his native habitat, he's managed to avoid capture on at least four known occasions.

Roger is now sharing his outdoor garden space. On May 26, 2011, the Empress became The Fairmont's 13th hotel to implement a honey bee program. The queen bee and 400,000 honey bees have taken up residence on the grounds of The Fairmont Empress. Apparently, when Roger was notified of his new garden mates, he was "very chipper" in his response.

Unfortunately, Roger didn't make an appearance when I was there, so I couldn't chat with him about life among the bees. Next time.

Two young visitors check out the bees, but where's Roger? Sue Frause photo
Roger the Marmot. The Fairmont Empress photo

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

2011 Royal Tour of The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge

Queen Victoria on Ottawa's Parliament Hill. Sue Frause photo.

The Royals are coming! The Royal TOur of Their Royal Highnesses The Duke and DUchess of Cambridge to Canada is June 30-July 8, 2011. And much of the country is all a Twitter (and on Facebook) about the visit by the couple formerly known as Prince William and Kate Middleton.

The official itinerary was announced on June 21, 2011 by the Honourable James Moore, Minister of Canadian Heritage and Official Languages. The nine-day tour includes Ottawa, the National Capital Region; Quebec (Montreal and Quebec City); Prince Edward Island (Charlottetown and Summerside); Northwest Territories (Yellowknife); and Alberta (Calgary).

Simon, a small department store chain in Quebec that opened in 1840. Sue Frause photo.

2011 Royal Tour Highlights
  • Canada Day Noon Show on Parliament Hill, Ottawa, Ontario (July 1)
  • Freedom of the City ceremony with the Royal 22nd Regiment in Quebec City (July 3)
  • Search and rescue demonstration in Summerside, Prince Edward Island (July 4)
  • Event with Canadian Rangers in Blachford, Northwest Territories (July 5)
  • Official launch of the Calgary Stampede Parade in Calgary, Alberta (July 8)
For full details, including where the public can see the Royal Couple, visit the 2011 Royal Tour website. And follow the Royal Tour with my friend Julie Ovenell-Carter of Vancouver, a fellow writer who is the official blogger during the Royal Couple's trip to Canada. It's simply called Royally Curious.

'Roundup' bronze sculpture by artist Linda Stewart at the Calgary Stampede. Sue Frause photo.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Hawksworth Restaurant opens at Rosewood Hotel Georgia

I've long been a fan of Chef David Hawksworth. I was first acquainted with him at Ouest (later changed to West) on Vancouver's South Granville Rise. Now, after three years of research, planning and construction, the award-winning chef has his own venue. Hawksworth Restaurant is officially open in downtown Vancouver, following a four-week soft-opening period.

Serving contemporary Canadian cuisine, the restaurant is located in the recently opened Rosewood Hotel Georgia (formerly the Hotel Georgia) at Georgia and Howe Streets, overlooking the Vancouver Art Gallery. The early reviews are in, and the buzz is good. MacLean's magazine reports Hawksworth as "the mostly hotly anticipated Canadian opening of the year" and The Georgia Straight says that "Hawksworth Restaurant is off to a flawless start."

I was in Vancouver last week for TBEX '11, but wanted to wait and dine at Hawksworth Restaurant with my hubby (no offense, fellow travel writers and bloggers!). Hawksworth seems like the perfect date restaurant, and I'm eager to share it with him.

Show your love of Vancouver with a VANLOVER poster

The Downtown Vancouver Business Improvement Associate (DVBIA) has launched its VANLOVER campaign to encourage Lower Mainland residents to visit, shop, dine and sightsee in downtown Vancouver. The campaign is a response to downtown Vancouver businesses that were impacted by the criminal activities following the Stanley Cup game on June 15, 2011.

Citizens are being asked to "show their love" for downtown Vancouver by displaying a VANLOVER poster and sharing photos and messages about their downtown experience online. If you're on Twitter, use the hashtag #vanlover or go to the DVBIA Facebook page. The campaign kicked off Saturday with a full-page ad in the Vancouver Sun.

The DVBIA was overwhelmed with the outpouring of support from Vancouverties during the two days following the Vancouver riots. The downtown is now clean, safe and open for business due to the diligence of businesses, the City of Vancouver, police, firefighters, paramedics and hundreds of citizen volunteers. According to the DVBIA, the next step is to encourage people to support their downtown community by shopping, dining, taking in a show or visiting the many landmarks and destinations. The flyer pictured above may be downloaded here:

Black & White


VANLOVER T-shirts are on sale at Cherry Bomb, 841 Granville Street.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

British Columbia Wine: Road 13 says 'It's All About The Dirt'

While spending a few days in Victoria last week, I attended The Fairmont Empress wine tasting and food pairing event on The Veranda of the hotel. The evening was a collaboration between the iconic hotel and Road 13, a vineyard and winery in Oliver, British Columbia.

What a treat to sit with Road 13 owners Mick and Pam Luckhurst, who purchased Golden Mile Cellars in 2003, renaming it Road 13. Their winemaker, Jean-Martin (J-M) Bouchard, was also at the foodie affair. Originally from Sherbrooke, Quebec, Bouchard studied wine science at Charles Stuart University in Australia and worked at a number of Australian wineries, including Penfolds. Eventually, he ended up back in Canada, working at Sumac Ridge Estate Winery in Summerland, BC and Hidden Bench Vineyards & Winery in Niagara, Ontario. Bouchard returned to the Okanagan Valley, where he took on the position of winemaker at Road 13 Vineyards.

The event at The Fairmont Empress was titled Sometimes, It's All About The Dirt. Bouchard gave an explanation, saying "We try to keep what was in the vineyards in the wine." Emphasizing the importance of soil, which gives personality to the wine, Bouchard said It's All About the Dirt is a recognition of the importance of terroir and soil "without being too wine-geeky about it!"

The evening's tasting menu, with five courses prepared by Executive Sous Chef Ken Nakano of The Fairmont Empress, was paired with Road 13 wines:
Viognier Riesling Sauvignon Blanc
Grilled King Tiger Prawns / Pineapple Curry Vinaigrette

Honest John's Rose'
Galloping Goose Chorizo Sausage / Patatas Bravas

Honey Roasted Organic Chicken Breast/ Pear and BOursin heese Risotto

Pinot Noir
Duck Confit and Morel Mushroom Ravioli / White Truffle and Spinach Pesto

Smoked Metchosin Lamb Loin / Roasted Ratatouille

Pictured from top to bottom:

The Fairmont Empress overlooks Victoria's Inner Harbour
Wine tasting glasses at the ready on The Veranda
Jean-Martin Bouchard and Mick Luckhurst of Road 13
Red on red

All photos by Sue Frause.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Vancouver cleans up following the June 15 Stanley Cup riots

I was in Victoria during Game #7 of the Stanley Cup Final that was played in Vancouver. Although I'd been following the Canucks in their quest to bring home the coveted Stanley Cup, I didn't watch Wednesday night's game. I was having dinner with a friend, and we'd occasionally glance at the game on TV, but quickly lost interest as the score went in Boston's favor. In the end, Vancouver lost to the Bruins 4-0. The quest was over.

When I returned to my room at nearby Fairholme Manor, I turned on the news, and for three hours watched the mad mayhem taking place in the streets of Vancouver. I was mad. I was sad. It was heartbreaking. I wrote about it in Crosscut, an online Seattle-based news site: It's '94 all over again: Hooligans give Vancouver a bad name.

Among the many downtown businesses hit by the hooligans was London Drugs -- their store at Georgia and Granville suffered damage. The company recently released a statement about the June 15 riots on their blog. Here's part of President and CEO Wynne Powell's statement that he issued on June 16:
"We are grateful to our security staff and the assistance from the Vancouver Police Department that our staff were able to leave the store unharmed," said Wynne Powell, London Drugs president and CEO. "This is a sad moment in the history of Vancouver. Our Georgia and Granville street London Drugs store has suffered significant damage and will not open on time today as a result of the rioting. We need to assess the damage."
Vancouver will rise above the madness that took over its city on that dark, dark night. Its people are strong. And those hooligans were so, so wrong.

Vancouver, with Stanley Park in the foreground, as seen from HeliJet the day before the riots on June 15, 2011. Photo by Sue Frause.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Stanley Cup Final: Canuck fever takes over Vancouver in Game 5

My morning news and latte with a heart at Caffe Artigiano on West Cordova.

A "Canuckmobile" was parked in front of CTV Studios in downtown Vancouver.

Even public transit in is into the game; a TransLink bus celebrates hockey.

Friday morning of Game 5 and Vancouverites are proudly wearing their blue.

Wayne Bartlett and Grace Cullen of The Fairmont Hotel Vancouver's 900 West.

Fun watching the game at Hotel Vancouver. Read more in my Crosscut post.

Let the celebration begin! More than 100,000 people were in the streets Friday.

The Vancouver Police Department was in charge of traffic and crowd control.

Another sea of blue as revelers make their way down Robson to celebrate.

Photos by Sue Frause

Friday, June 10, 2011

Vancouver prepares for Game #5, hoping for a home victory

Even though I'm a Closet Canuck, I didn't travel to Vancouver with the sole intent of watching Game #5 of the Stanley Cup Final. Tonight is a biggie, with the final tied at 2-2, and the Boston Bruins comin' on strong in the last two games played in Beantown. No, the reason I took Amtrak Cascades north to Vancouver was to attend TBEX '11. This weekend is the third annual Travel Blogger Exchange conference, with more than 600+ travel bloggers/writers/industry types expected.

But back to Game #5. Prior to the TBEX '11 opening kickoff party at the Vancouver Art Gallery at 8 PM tonight, I'll wend my way to one of the public viewing areas to watch the game with the locals. The past two games were pretty pathetic -- not only because of the way the Canucks underperformed, but because I was watching them home alone. Hockey is not a solo sport! Sadly, I don't have any hockey apparel, so I'll just show up as myself. I don't think anybody will mind.

Go Canucks Go!

My morning latte and newspaper at Caffe Artigiano on West Cordova Street
Photo by Sue Frause

Thursday, June 09, 2011

Vancouver welcomes annual Travel Blog Exchange Conference

I'm headed up to the 3rd annual Travel Blog Exchange Conference (TBEX) in Vancouver this weekend. Described as "the preeminent annual gathering of travel bloggers from around the world," more than 600 have registered for the sold-out conference. Attendees include travel bloggers and writers along with tourism industry professionals.

Travel Blog Exchange was founded in 2008 by Kim Mance as an online community for travel bloggers, and now has more than 5,000 members. The organization has partnered with Tourism Vancouver, Tourism British Columbia and the Canadian Tourism Commission to host TBEX '11.

Douglas Coupland's Digital Orca at Jack Poole Plaza outside the Vancouver Convention Centre, headquarters for TBEX '11. Photo by Sue Frause.

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

7th Annual Windscape Kite Festival flies high in Swift Current

Go fly a kite! Swift Current, Saskatchewan is the setting of the 2011 Windscape Kite Festival, June 25-26. The world-class event attracts both kite flyers and kite lovers from around the world to a Saskatchewan prairie field. More than 40 kite flying and kite making stars attend Windscape from across Canada, the US and Europe.

The family-friendly weekend includes such demonstrations as Flyin' Bob: The One Man Three Ring Circus; a bubble station in the children's tent; balloon sculpting; straw bale maze; face painting and tattoos. Kite building and kite flying lessons will be given each day of the event. Admission to the festival is free.

Swift Current is located in southwest Saskatchewan, along the Trans Canada Highway, 170 km (106 miles) west of Moose Jaw and 218 km (135 miles) east of Medicine Hat, Alberta.

Kites fly on high in Bali, Indonesia
Photo by Sue Frause

Monday, June 06, 2011

Olympic Cauldron relit for Canucks, viewing areas expanded

The outdoor viewing areas for the Stanley Cup Final in downtown Vancouver just got bigger and better. Due to the large turnout of fans watching the Canucks take on the Boston Bruins, the Granville location will be closed and relocated to Georgia Street. Two large screens and a much larger viewing area will be created to watch Game 3 beginning Monday, June 6 at 5 PM. Earlier in the day, the Olympic Cauldron will be re-lit at Jack Poole Plaza by BC Premier Christy Clarke at 3 PM.

Although the Granville location proved to be too small for the large crowds, Granville Street is expected to continued to be the unofficial celebration street after the game. Businesses are being encouraged to remove their street furniture and signage by the middle of the third period to accommodate large pedestrian crowds. Bus service is expected to be re-routed off Granville Street sometime on Monday in anticipation of game-time revelry.

The new Georgia Street viewing-screen locations will provide six lanes of road space as well as sidewalks, creating a safe family-viewing arena. Since Georgia has a slope, it will make for a better view of the 17 x 23 ft. screen that will be located in the intersection of Hamilton and Georgia. A second large screen will be positioned at Homer and Georgia.

The CBC Vancouver Fan Zone activities on Hamilton will continue with the CBC monitor and a second viewing screen showing the game. Click for more information about this and other locales for viewing. Vendors from Vancouver's street-food program will set up in the viewing areas; fans are invited to bring their own drinking water.

The Olympic Cauldron, seen here in January 2011, will be re-lit for the Canucks
Photo by Sue Frause

Saturday, June 04, 2011

Anne Murray: Moon Over Brooklyn (VIDEO)

I follow Anne Murray on Twitter (@annemurray1), who posted this video with the tweet, "Been awhile since I heard this one."

I'd never heard the tune before, and it's a beauty. Just glad it wasn't titled, Moon Over Boston.

Go, Canucks!

Friday, June 03, 2011

Winnipeg celebrates the return of the National Hockey League

While Vancouver and British Columbia are still celebrating the Canucks' win over the Boston Bruins in Game #1 of the Stanley Cup Final, three provinces to the east in Manitoba there's a whole lot of happy hockey fans, too.

True North Sports & Entertainment Limited has entered into an agreement with Atlanta Spirit, LLC to purchase the Atlanta Thrashers Hockey Club of the National Hockey League. The purchase will be subject to the NHL Board of Governors approval at a board meeting on June 21, 2011.

That aproval is based on a number of things, including the level of support shown by the Winnipeg community during a season ticket campaign. True North kicked off its Drive to 13,000 campaign earlier this week, which includes presales as well as general public onsales. The presale, June 1-3 (ending at 10 PM), provides existing Manitoba Moose season ticket holders, mini pack holders and corporate advertising the oppotunity to purchase seats during the advance window presale. The public onsale to the general public begins June 4 at 12 o'clock noon.

Once the NHL Board of Governors approval is granted, the purchase of the Thrashers by True North will be complete, clearing the way for the NHL club to relocate to Winnipeg’s MTS Centre for the 2011-2012 hockey season. Currently, Winnipeg is home to the Manitoba Moose of the American Hockey League.

Manitoba was home to the Winnipeg Jets, a NHL hockey team, from 1979-1996. Due to money issues, the franchise moved to Phoenix where they played as the Phoenix Coyotes. As far as what this new NHL franchise will be called, it's anybody's guess.

These young fisherman in Winnipeg will be able to cheer on their home team when the NHL returns to their hometown for the 2011-2012 hockey season. Photo by Sue Frause.