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Canada Travel news and opinion

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    Canada's summer music festival season has come along way in recent years, and now emulates what's Europe has been doing for years which is just skipping single-artist tours and focusing on major destination events in or near big cities.

    So Vancouverites can grab their tents and drive up to up to Pemberton and Sasquatch Fests while Torontonians can get their rave on at Digital Dreams and Veld or rock out at Field Trip and Riot Fest, Montrealers can make everyone jealous with Osheaga and Quebec City residents and visitors can enjoy two weeks of major acts on the Plains of Abraham during Festival d'ete.

    Their festivals for every genre, from folk to metal to country while some "genre fests," like Montreal Jazz Festival and Ottawa Blues festival, have now blown up to encompass far more than their titular genres with major artists playing various styles to huge outdoor crowds.

    Canadian summers may be short -- especially this one -- so why not spend as much times as you can outside enjoying music?

    Here's our list of the best canadian summer festivals, and we'll continue updating them as more information comes out about line-ups. If there's a festival you don't see, please let us know in the comments and we'll add it as we can.

    Happy almost summer!

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    The Sea to Sky Gondola officially opened Friday, boasting killer views from 2,700 feet above sea level.

    The eight-passenger walk-on gondola will take riders through Stawamus Chief Provincial Park to the top of Howe Sound. There they can take in views of the Chief and Shannon Falls. Visitors can also explore a suspension bridge, trails, climbing areas, and other activities.

    A $22-million project, the Sea to Sky Gondola will charge adults $34.95 for a round-trip ride.

    Take a peek for yourself:

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    Just about every traveller has a dream destination — a place on a bucketlist that keeps them motivated until their next vacation.

    But if you're in need of a little inspiration, may we suggest hitting the books? Now we're not talking about another Lonely Planet guidebook, but rather, the tales written by the Brother's Grimm. Yes, fairy tales may be the make-believe tales for kids, but the settings are most definitely something worth of adults to dream about one day visiting.

    You may have grown up reading the stories of Sleeping Beauty, Beauty and the Beast or the Lord of the Rings trilogy, but now it's time you made a trip to the real-life settings found at these 16 destinations.

    16 Unbelievable Fairytale Locations You Can Actually Visit
    Explore more visuals like this one on the web's largest information design community - Visually.

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    KINGSTON, Jamaica - Police say a Canadian vacationer has died after jumping off seaside cliffs in a western Jamaican beach town and hitting rocks.

    The Jamaica Constabulary Force on Wednesday identified the dead tourist as 26-year-old Taylor Rankin. They say he was from Ontario but could not provide his hometown.

    Investigators in the tourist town of Negril say Rankine apparently was aiming to land in the sea on Tuesday when he jumped from coastal cliffs. He was among a group of companions.

    They believe the Canadian man miscalculated his jump and hit rocks. He was pronounced dead at a local hospital.

    Correction: An earlier version of this story reported the name of the deceased as Taylor Rankine. The story has been updated with the correct spelling.

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    In just over a month, "Amazing Race Canada" will start up again for Season 2. The inaugural season's contestants came from a variety of different places in life -- Season 1 featured brothers, a father-son team (who eventually won the whole thing), sisters, married couples, best friends -- and ensured there was a lot of drama at all times.

    Expect nothing less from Season 2; "Amazing Race Canada" producers will have to up the ante to maintain the show's success. Having already been made privy to some Season 2 spoilers (for example, we're 99 percent certain the Race is going outside of Canadian borders this time around), we also have some insider knowledge about who some of the competing pairs are. [Ed. Note: We will not reveal who those teams are until CTV officially announces them.]

    Here are some of our dream team pairings for "Amazing Race Canada" Season 2. Don't take them too seriously, folks, this is for fun. If you have any hypothetical teams you would love to see, let us know in the comments below!

    "Amazing Race Canada" Season 2 will premiere on Tuesday, July 8 at 8 p.m. ET on CTV.

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    A long-distance relationship is tough to maintain, but it can also be so worthwhile.

    Last week, "Humans of New York" profiled a man who met a woman who was visiting from the Philippines.

    They "spent a lot of time together," but eventually she had to leave. She asked him if he was serious about their relationship, and he wasn't sure.

    Then, in a scene out of a romantic comedy, he raced to the airport to catch her before her flight, saying, "I am serious. We will be together."

    This touching story had us thinking about what it takes to make a long-distance relationship work. It's a difficult and sometimes unavoidable endeavour. But there are ways to make it happen.

    Here are 10 tips for making a long-distance relationship last.

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    (Relaxnews) - Never mind autonomous cars. German scientists are well on the way to developing a mind-controlled plane.

    In his 1977 genre-defining techno-thriller, "Firefox," Craig Thomas tells the story of a top-secret Russian fighter plane that can be operated via a pilot's thoughts and an Anglo-American plot to steal it.

    Despite being dismissed as closer to science fiction than spy thriller, the book was an international best-seller and turned into a film by Clint Eastwood in 1982.

    However, fast-forward 32 years from the film premiere and science fiction is now well and truly science fact. Using electroencephalography (EEG) electrodes connected to a cap and placed on the pilot's head to monitor brainwave activity and turn it into commands, scientists at Technische Universität München and the TU Berlin have proven that flying a plane with nothing more than concentration isn't just a possibility, but that it can be done with astonishing levels of precision.

    The tests, which involved seven subjects, took place in a specially adapted flight simulator, and each of the people chosen had a different level of flight experience, including one subject who'd never been inside a cockpit, let alone flown a plane.

    However, by doing nothing but thinking of commands, the subjects completed the maneuvers with sufficient accuracy to have met the requirements of a flying license test. As aerospace engineer Tim Fricke, who heads the project at TUM, explains: "One of the subjects was able to follow eight out of ten target headings with a deviation of only 10 degrees."

    The research is part of the EU-funded Brainflight project, one of the aims of which is to make flying accessible to more people.

    "With brain control, flying, in itself, could become easier. This would reduce the work load of pilots and thereby increase safety. In addition, pilots would have more freedom of movement to manage other manual tasks in the cockpit," said Fricke.

    Following this initial breakthrough the scientists are now looking at how a cockpit would need to be modified in order to facilitate mind control. For example, physical controls such as the steering offer feedback and resistance that tell the pilot about the loads being brought to bear on the aircraft.

    How would this sort of handling information be relayed to someone who was flying hands free?

    The scientists lan to officially present their results in September at the Deutscher Luft- und Raumfahrtkongress (German flight and aerospace congress).

    In the meantime, it might be worth seeing if "Firefox" is available on Netflix or Amazon Prime.

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    baby deer

    Bambi, is that you?

    A fawn, who was found in the B.C. Okanagan next to her dead mother, is getting by with a little help from some friends at the Tri Lake Animal Hospital in Winfield, B.C.

    The baby was found in an orchard near Oyama on Wednesday by Louvian Schon, who happens to run the Okanagan Humane Society. Schon rushed the animal to the hospital, where they've named the fawn Joan, and have been nursing her with goat milk. (Check out the ADORABLE video above.)

    UPDATE - May 30, 2014: Baby Joan has found a rehabilitation home at the Critter Care Wildlife Society in Langley, the hospital's Cara Reed told HuffPost B.C. "She is eating well and the issues with her peeing look like they have resolved themselves without the need for surgery," she said in an email.

    The mother could have died after being hit by a car or died in a difficult labour, said the clinic. CBC News reports that the fawn was still wet when it arrived at the hospital.

    There's still a tough road ahead for little Joan, as she is dealing with "patent urachus," a defect that causes urine to leak out of her belly button, It happens when the original connection between the bladder and umbilical cord doesn't close properly after birth.

    The deer is in danger of infection, but she's on antibiotics and staff are watching her carefully, the hospital's Cara Reed told The Huffington Post B.C. in an email. If the hole doesn't close up by itself, then surgery is an option, she explained.

    The hospital is working with B.C. Conservation to find a rehabilitation home for Joan.

    What to do if you find a young deer in the bush:

    Deer leave their young for long periods of time (up to 10-12 hours) while they are off eating. The young are built to hide from predators, and in the case of deer fawns, don't develop scent until they are several weeks old.

    If you come across a deer fawn on its own, LEAVE IT ALONE, DO NOT TOUCH IT. Deer are very sensitive to the smell of a predator and will abandon their fawn if it smells like a human.

    DO NOT PICK UP THE FAWN. Fawns will play dead when handled. Their breathing becomes very shallow, they go limp and for all intents and purposes appear dead. This is their natural reaction to being handled by a predator.

    If you notice a fawn, stay far away from it, but you can keep and eye on it. Mother deer can see, smell and hear you, and will not return to their fawn if they sense your presence.

    Source: B.C. Conservation

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    When you want to let locals know there's a Canadian in their presence, you usually just flash the Canadian flag patched on your bag.

    When Iain McNamara, Chris McGrath and Kevin Cobbe want to let locals know there's a bunch of Irishmen in the area, they dance — Irish dancing — if you want to get into specifics and turn it into a music video.

    Set to the 1994 score of Riverdance by Bill Whelan, the group's efforts have caught the attention of viewers on their YouTube page, racking up over 186,500 views in just two days.

    The video is the product of the trio's decision to quit their jobs in 2013 and spend their time travelling the world, all while acting as pseudo ambassadors for the Emerald Isle, the Independent reports.

    Armed with a tripod, a dodgy camera and no actual Irish dancing training, the group set out on a one-year itinerary to help "instil Irishness abroad, according to their Facebook page. The three also set up a website, The Wirld, to document their adventures and encourage young travellers to come to Ireland for a visit.

    Given sheer number of people they've probably encountered in the 22 countries they've visited, it's safe to say the world's a little bit more Irish, whether you're in Quito, Ecuador or Bangkok Thailand.

    You can watch the video above in full to see the other countries McNamara, McGrath and Cobbe visited.

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    Officials closed down a major Chicago tourist attraction on Thursday following the appearance of cracks on its glass floor hundreds of metres above the ground.

    The cracks came Wednesday night after a family of tourists from California stepped inside the tower's Ledge, a glass enclosure located roughly 457 metres above Chicago streets.

    Alejandro Garibay and his family were on the 103rd level of the Willis Tower, taking in the sights and even joking with staff about the glass' integrity.

    "They jokingly and confidently responded, 'It's unbreakable,' so we just went on," Garibay said in an interview with NBC. Garibay, his brother and two cousins stood and even sat down inside the Ledge before they started hearing the sounds of cracks.

    Staff ushered them outside shortly after and closed down the attraction moments later.

    Despite the images, officials say Garibay and his family weren't in any danger. In a statement to the Associated Press, representative from the building said the protective coating had cracked and not the actual sheets of glass underneath. Officials insist the cracks don't affect the "structural integrity" of the Ledge, which is designed to occasionally crack.

    The Ledge's bottom is made up of 1,500-pound glass plates sealed together with a laminate so that in the even of a crack, the pieces stay intact even after impact, much like how car wind shields are design to break in the event of a collision, Gizmodo points out.

    The attraction opened up in 2009 and was designed to withstand up yo four tons of pressure and able to hold up to 10,000 pounds, CBS reports.

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    Two of Canada's most iconic hotels are for sale. Toronto's Royal York and the Hotel Vancouver, both owned by Quebec's retirement pension plan and operated by Fairmont Hotels, are being sold off as part of a restructuring.

    The the Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec has been busily reducing its holdings in hotels, which the Globe and Mail describes as the riskier side of the real estate business. It now owns 10 hotels, down from 70 just a few years ago.

    No asking-price numbers are being thrown around, but when the Caisse sold off the Fairmont Chateau Laurier last year, the price was estimated to be in the $100-million to $150-million range. The pension fund's real estate investment arm says it plans to focus its business on three Quebec hotels: The Queen Elizabeth and W Hotel in Montreal amd the Chateau Frontenac in Quebec City, according to the National Post. The Empress Hotel in Victoria has also been put on sale, the Globe reports.

    Part of the Caisse's mandate is to support Quebec businesses, the Globe notes.

    Both the Royal York in Toronto and the Hotel Vancouver were built by the Canadian Pacific Railway as part of its nationwide chain of resort hotels.

    The Royal York opened in June, 1929, the tallest building in the British commonwealth at the time and for many years its largest hotel. It has been the residence of choice for Queen Elizabeth II while in Toronto, and recent guests include French President Nicholas Sarkozy, Guns N’ Roses guitarist Slash and the Dalai Lama, the Toronto Star reports.

    The somewhat smaller, 17-story Hotel Vancouver opened in May, 1939. Besides being a favourite destination for visiting royals, it was also home to the CBC's Vancouver bureau until the broadcaster opened its own building in the 1970s.

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    If there's anything Stephen Alvarez knows how to do well, it's how to take a picture.

    The National Geographic photojournalist has worked with the magazine since 1995 and during that time he's witnessed two shifts: an increase in the number of photographers and a decrease in camera size.

    But for Alvarez, a good photographer isn't defined by the heft of their hardware. That much is clear from one of his recent assignments — taking magazine-quality photos of the Seven Wonders using nothing more than a smartphone.

    According to him, the best camera is the one you have in your hand.

    "A lot of photography is a matter of being in front of a picture when it happens and so the best camera in the world is the one you have in hand. For most of us, it’s going to be a telephone," he told the Huffington Post Canada during a stop in Toronto.

    Alvarez says smartphones have changed the game for all photographers because there are more people taking photographs, which is nothing but a good thing because it boosts visual literacy.

    "More people are participating in photography than ever before which means more people can recognize a good photo from a bad one and that’s an exciting time to be a photographer because it means you’ve got to raise your game."

    So, how exactly does one take their travel photography to the next level? Well, for starters, Alvarez says you've got to leverage a smartphone's ability to take plenty of photos in different places.

    "Shoot more. What most people do is they walk into a situation, take a picture, and then they look at it and walk away."

    Instead, Alvarez suggests taking more photos where the camera isn't in front of your face, even when you're unsure of the conditions.

    "Try everything. All phones have technical limitations but don’t be constrained by what you think a proper picture is. If you think there’s not enough light, go ahead and try it. Even if you think the light’s too bright, go ahead and try it. Even if you think it’s not pretty enough, try it."

    Story Continues After The Video

    That said, if you're looking for the best travel photos, carefully consider how much light you have. Alvarez likens photographs to "little poems constructed entirely out of light" and the better quality of light you have, the better the outcome.

    "The best light is early in the morning just after [the sun has] gone up and late in the evening when the sun goes down and – “the Golden Hour” – the sweet time to shoot and no matter what technology you’re using."

    The idea of light as a photographer's friend isn't just important for traditional portraits or landscape shots, it's particularly vital when it comes to a growing kind of travel photos: food photography.

    Lighting in restaurants can be tricky at times, particularly at night, so to help, try stabilizing the phone by bracing your arms on the table to create a less blurry photo. If your phone also allows you to toy with manual settings, Alvarez says to dial down the exposure since smartphones generally make photos too bright by default.

    Beyond lighting and stability, another way to take food photos beyond the dish is to go into the kitchen and tell a story through a collection of pictures.

    "I like getting people thinking about sequences of photographs. So, the market where it’s bought, the guy who’s making the food, the people who bring the food, that all enters into food photography – even the ambiance of the restaurant – think beyond the simple plate."

    Finally, a key step to taking better travel photos is to spend more time looking at pretty photos.

    "The best thing to do as a budding photographer is to find someone you like and try to emulate their style. And you’re not going to be able to, you’re going to fail. In failing to emulate someone’s work, you’ll work into a way of seeing it’s your own. That’s really what you want to do: get to the place where you’re seeing yourself and making pictures true to you," says Alvarez.

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    And you thought your last flight was crappy.

    Passengers aboard US Airways flight 598 weren't expecting an emergency landing in Kansas City, Missouri on Wednesday but then again, they probably weren't expecting a dog to poop during their flight either.

    Yet that was the case for dozens of Philadelphia-bound flyers, according to tweets from the inside the plane.

    The flight had left from Los Angeles when passengers detected a foul odour about an hour into the flight.

    "About an hour into the flight, I started smelling this terrible smell. I look up the aisle way and there's a dog pooping right in the middle of the aisle. It's a big dog, three or four feet tall or long, and he was just going!" passenger Steve McCall told Inside Edition.

    The airline's cabin crew did their best to clean up the mess but then the animal, a service dog according to US Airways, pooped again — up to three times according to multiple media reports.

    "The second time after the dog pooped they ran out of paper towels, they didn't have anything else. The pilot comes on the radio, 'Hey, we have a situation in the back, we're going to have to emergency land,'" Travelers Today quotes McCal.

    While a defecating dog isn't normally enough reason to ground a flight, the pilot made the call after the smell caused passengers to become physically ill.

    "A couple of people started dry-heaving, a couple of people were throwing up," McCall said. "The flight didn't have enough supplies to keep up with the mess."

    As if passengers weren't already down in the dumps, this was problem, er, number two as there had been a lengthy fuel delay on the tarmac at LAX prior to taking flight, according to TIME Magazine. The flight eventually arrived in Philadelphia after a clean-up crew disposed of the dog's detritus.

    As for the dog's owner, Gawker reports she offered to take down inconvenienced passengers' emails so she could pay them back with Starbucks gift cards.

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    The weather is finally getting nice, which means it's time to maximize our beloved time outdoors!

    What better way to enjoy all that this beautiful region has to offer — and get some exercise to boot — than on a hike?

    We wanted to round up the best day hikes in the Lower Mainland, so we asked our friends at Vancouver Trails to share their top picks with us.

    Where is your favourite place to hike?

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    baby bears trash

    Photos of two bear cubs playing with trash in a B.C. national park are raising the alarm for the animals' well-being.

    Jason Bantle, a photographer and eco-guide took the photos recently in Kootenay National Park. He's worried the young grizzlies will become accustomed to human food which can be deadly for them, he told Metro News.

    "It’s heartbreaking,” Bantle said. “The cubs in particular, they’re very curious — they’re at that point in their life — and I’ve seen them exposed to litter every day.”

    Story continues below slideshow:

    This comes on the heels of Parks Canada's alert that people need to watch out for an increased number of mother bears and their cubs in the area. The families are expected to be around for several weeks until snow melts at higher elevations.

    People need to stay in their cars and keep their distance, the agency said in a news release.

    Bantle echoes that advice if you come across a bear.

    “Ya, she looks like a safe bear but we’re not at the zoo,” he told the Calgary Herald. “There’s no protective barrier.”

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    A trip to one of Alberta's national parks is often an opportunity to see wildlife, but it's never a guarantee.

    The animals can be elusive, and are often scared of or too timid to come near the roads and highways where a wildlife encounter with humans would be most likely.

    Luckily, remote wilderness cameras set up in Banff, Waterton Lakes, and Jasper National Parks can give a glimpse of the animals we may never see with our own eyes.

    Specially designed cameras are placed in strategic locations around the park, essentially allowing animals to take their own pictures by triggering a sensor as they move.

    More Wild Alberta

    Banff Cougar Spends 24 Hours Eating Elk

    The Dangers Of Banff Wildlife Encounters

    Waterton Bear Destroys SUV

    Not only do these cameras provide us with rather remarkable photos of Alberta wildlife, but parks researchers and scientists can also use the equipment to track and monitor wildlife populations. By studying the photos, they can tell the number of animals in a particular area and gain an understanding of their travel patterns.

    The team at Waterton Lakes National Park has been cataloging these photos for several years and the results are incredible:

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    The federal government recently announced two new rules that are set to change the way Canadians experience the evolving world of air travel.

    Even for frequent flyers, there often seems to be something new at the airport on every trip — from check-in machines to baggage charges.

    Here are five recent changes that have affected the airline industry, and five more that are on the horizon.

    Change is in the air

    1. Bigger, better jets

    Air Canada recently showed off the first of the 37 Boeing 787 Dreamliners it purchased to great fanfare. The state-of-the-art jet is said to be quieter, lighter and 20 per cent more fuel efficient than its predecessors, while still carrying more cargo and providing a smoother ride for the some 300 passengers on board.

    Porter Airlines, meanwhile, is hoping to fly the Bombardier CS100 (dubbed the whisper jet) in and out of the Toronto Island airport. 

    Add the gigantic Airbus A380 — currently only flying between Toronto and Dubai — and a host of smaller, sleeker jets and turboprops and you have a Canadian market served by some expensive new machines.

    2. Fuller flights

    If you think your odds of sitting next to an empty seat have gotten worse, you’re right. Rick Seaney, CEO of the Texas-based air travel site, says that in the last decade most airlines have gone from passenger load averages of 70 per cent to over 90 per cent.

    Airlines once had a “grow or die” mentality, Seaney says, which led them to add as many routes and flights as possible, regardless of load. Today airlines are trying to maximize profits by squeezing passengers onto fewer flights. The partially full plane? “They’re done with that.”

    3. Service goes slack

    Bruce Cran, the president of the Consumers’ Association of Canada (CAC) and a frequent flyer himself, says the service on airplanes is getting “less and less acceptable,” for many Canadians.

    “Airlines seem to be going for the absolute bare bones of what they can offer passengers,” Cran says.

    The consumers' group fields a steady stream of complaints from flyers about everything from access to meals and drinks, to the abundance of passenger announcements. Cran says the group has even received complaints from people who fly business class.

    4. Credit cards on flights

    It might seem obvious, but the ability to pay with plastic while in the sky has changed the culture in the cabin.

    “The role of the flight attendant has changed,” says Karl Moore, an aviation expert and professor at the Desautels faculty of management at McGill University.

    As airlines try everything they can to make money, Moore says, flight attendants are increasingly tasked with selling both meals and duty free goods.

    The ability to pay anywhere has also opened up what Seaney calls the “sushi menu” of flight amenities — like the ability to pay for an emergency aisle seat. 

    5. Paperless world

    Mobile phones are driving change in the aviation world. Most airlines now email flight itineraries with embedded QR codes that can be scanned at the gate.

    Meanwhile, a range of apps can provide instant updates on your flight status.

    Even the customs areas have turned to self-serve terminals in some airports, forcing travellers to enter their passport and other data before ever stepping foot in front of an actual border security agent.

    Changes on the horizon

    1. Fewer flight attendants

    Transport Canada plans to change its rules governing how many flight attendants must be on each flight from one flight attendant for every 40 passengers to one for every 50.

    Flight attendants say the move puts passengers at risk in the event of an emergency, but federal officials say the change matches U.S. and European requirements. WestJet and Sunwing have already been granted exemptions to use the 1:50 ratio by Transportation Minister Lisa Raitt.

    2. Electronic devices OK'd

    Transport Canada also wants to eliminate that brief period of time you’re asked to stow electronic devices for takeoff and landing.

    The transport minister called it "good news for air passengers and it's good news for the federal aviation industry."

    Passengers will still have to switch their phones to flight mode, which turns off transmitting functions, but could theoretically type throughout takeoff if they like. It’s now up to airlines to change their cabin rules, something WestJet said it hopes to do by early summer.

    3. Wi-Fi-enabled flights?

    The technology ruling likely foreshadows the addition of in-cabin Wi-Fi, something that’s already commonplace on major U.S. airlines. Matt Nicholls, the editor of Canadian aviation magazine Wings, says it’s about time this country’s airliners caught up.

    “You don’t want to be offering an antiquated service, because people won’t want to fly with you,” Nicholls says. 

    “I think this is a good thing for the Canadian airline industry.” 

    4. Onboard rules

    Though Nicholls says the new rules surrounding technology will likely be well-received by Canadians, he cautioned they could be a “double-edged sword” for flight crews, who will have to change their procedures to deal with passengers more focused on their phones than important safety details.

    The work of flight crews, he says, is “way more complicated than the general public even knows.”

    Nicholls adds that Canadian airlines will have to be more proactive with their public relations if passengers are able to post on social media platforms mid-flight 

    5. Airports of the future

    Many people dread airports. They’re expensive, full of lines and can be a nightmare to navigate. But some of the world’s most advanced airports might leave you pleasantly surprised.

    Copenhagen Airport lets you plan your route through the airport using an online map featuring 360-degree views, and is hoping to use Google Glass to guide passengers to their gates in the future.

    At major airports in Japan and South Korea they’re aiming to automate the flow of passengers to the point where there’s no longer a need for airport staff at all. 

    And in London’s Gatwick Airport, you can use a virtual grocery store run by Tesco supermarket to have food delivered to your home when you return. 

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    GO Transit bus riders can breathe a sigh of relief as the new work week begins today.

    In the early morning hours Monday, the union representing more than 1850 bus drivers, station attendants, maintenance and safety personnel and some office staff reached a tentative deal with Metrolinx —​ the company that operates GO Transit — averting a labour strike that would have affected about 53,000 commuters. 

    - ANALYSIS | Ontario parties' transit plans reveal politics and paralysis

    Negotiations between the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1587 and Metrolinx began in earnest last week and continued until around 2:30 a.m. Monday morning. 

    The union's three-year contract expired on Saturday, and a strike deadline had been set for 12:00 a.m ET Monday. It would have been the first strike GO Transit's 47-year history. 

    Despite the deadline, GO Transit buses continued operating on a regular schedule as negotiators worked towards a new deal. 

    A spokesperson for ATU Local 1587 said the group was "pleased" with the agreement, but declined to comment further on the specifics of the tentative deal. 


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    ST-LIBOIRE, Que. - Quebec police are not excluding the possibility that the driver of a vehicle who died when a Via Rail train rammed into his car at a level crossing planned a "voluntary act."

    A one-year-old boy and his 42-year-old father died in the incident on Monday morning in St-Liboire, east of Montreal, police said.

    "We have car-collision specialists who are here to try to establish exactly what happened where the impact took place," provincial police spokeswoman Joyce Kemp said Monday.

    "We cannot exclude that this could be a voluntary act and, for that reason, the investigation has been transferred to the homicide squad."

    Kemp said the infant was declared dead after being transported to hospital.

    Later on Monday, another provincial police spokesman said the two victims, who lived in the area, were father and son.

    Sgt. Claude Denis identified the victims as Thierry Patenaude-Turcotte and his son, Nicolas Turcotte.

    The impact of the collision was so violent the SUV was cut in two.

    Kemp would not confirm that the barriers at the crossing were working properly at the time, although a Via spokesman said the barriers were down and that the lights were flashing.

    "Via Rail had no prior information that there was anything wrong with this crossing," Jacques C. Gagnon said in an interview.

    "There were some tests done after the accident...we had a train ride in both directions to ensure that the automatic warning devices were working properly and it was confirmed afterwards."

    He pointed out that the track is owned by CN, which carries out maintenance and preventive work.

    Gagnon also said there was a camera on board the Quebec City-bound train, which left Montreal at 6:15 a.m. — about an hour before the incident.

    "Everything will be transferred to the competent authorities, the Transportation Safety Board, which will determine the circumstances and the exact cause," he added.

    The TSB said Monday it had sent a team to the scene of the incident, which caused delays on Via's Montreal-Quebec City route.

    Gagnon said some 700 Via passengers were affected and that buses were chartered to allow them to get to their destinations.

    While the circumstances of the current case remained unclear, the issue of passenger trains colliding with vehicles is a major safety issue, according to the board.

    In the past decade, there have been 257 accidents involving cars and passenger trains, including 71 in the Quebec City-Windsor corridor, Canada's busiest rail route.

    — With files from Peter Rakobowchuk in Montreal

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    Road trips are the ultimate way to grab summer by the horns, but getting out of town for the weekend can turn into a massive headache, leaving you wondering if it was even worth the effort to leave the house. Don’t let minor inconveniences keep you from experiencing life on the road; we’ve got some tried and tested advice for making your weekend road-trip a joy to experience.

    Prep your vehicle
    This should go without saying but before you hit the open highway, you must always make sure your vehicle is in tip-top shape. Know nothing about cars? Take yours in for a oil change and inspection a couple of days before you head out. If you’re a DIY-er, make sure that at the minimum, you check all the fluids, the tires, the wipers, and the headlights before you head out. Here’s some advice on what to look for.

    Always be prepared
    Roadside emergencies and problems are more common than you think so make sure you have a CAA membership (or something similar) before you head out. You should also have a roadside emergency kit handy, and verify that your trunk has a spare tire and jack in the event of a blow-out. You know, just in case.

    Use technology to avoid traffic
    You may like to rely on tried and tested routes, but when it comes to getting out of town on a long weekend, it’s often best to take the road less travelled. Plan a quick escape route out of the city that doesn’t involve major routes that are notorious for delays. Your mobile phone’s map can really help with this as many will show you where major traffic delays exist. It’s also a good idea to check online for road closures and construction on the highways ahead of time; often there’s an option to sign up for Twitter or Facebook notifications to keep you in the look.

    Do it on the cheap
    Gas prices may be through the roof, but make your road trip as economical as possible with these handy resources from Lifehacker. With a little planning, you can find the cheapest fuel and visit the best hidden gem restaurants on your journey.

    Leave early
    Beat the rush by getting the heck out of dodge before everyone else does. Savvy travellers often insist on hitting the road before 8 a.m. This may seem like a crazy feat but we promise it’ll save you lots of stress and time, on top of making the drive feel quicker.

    Stay charged
    Your phone is not just your connection to the outside world, it’s also your music hub and often times your map to a new city. Don’t let a low charge ruin the road trip -- make sure you have a car charger handy. If you’re camping, it might be worthwhile to invest in a solar charger so you don’t have to drain your car’s battery.

    Nip hunger in the bud
    You may only be heading a few hours out of town, but that short trip could be made a whole lot better with a steady supply of cold beverages and fresh snacks. Prepare a cooler of ice-cold water, crisp veggies and homemade sandwiches to keep you sated and alert during the journey.

    Get ready to be entertained
    Road trips can be boring, especially for kids, so make sure you’ve got some fun distractions on hand. Learn some road trip games ahead of time, invest in some DVDs for the kids, or borrow some books on tape from the library (sounds boring, we know, but they really help pass the time.) Come up with a music playlist beforehand if you have time -- it’s a good idea to let everyone in the car have their say on what they want to hear.

    Yes, powering through the road trip with no stops will get you to your destination quicker, but guess what? Life’s about the journey, not the destination. Take some time to stretch your legs, take photos of the new, and see the sights. You could even implement a mandatory hacky sack break every two hours to break it up and make the drive more bearable.

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