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Canada Travel news and opinion

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    TORONTO - Historic Fort York will be the site of a restaurant festival next month that will see gourmands treated to a superb array of food and drink.

    The inaugural Taste of Toronto, set to run July 24-27, will feature chefs from some of the city's hot establishments in tented venues who will serve a trio of small plates so attendees can sample a tasting menu.

    Momofuku's chef-owner David Chang was scheduled to host a talk and book signing on the first day of the fest alongside Peter Meehan, author of Momofuku magazine Lucky Peach, while Momofuku Noodle Bar executive chef Sam Gelman offers three dishes.

    The Grove is expected to serve a duck scotch egg with English accompaniments and Fabbrica a lamb bolognese crostini with minted ricotta cheese. Richmond Station will serve its signature burger and Rose & Sons was planning to offer a classic BLT. For dessert, Khao San Road planned to feature a Thai tea shake while Bosk was concocting coconut tapioca pearls with passion fruit, lime and pineapple.

    Other participating restaurants include Splendido, Hudson Kitchen, Patria, Harbord Room, Byblos and Valdez, among others.

    Montreal chef and TV personality Chuck Hughes and Franco Stalteri from Charlie's Burgers are expected to make an appearance.

    There will be demonstrations and interactive cooking classes, including historical lessons from Fort York. As well, chef Elia Herrera of Los Colibris will instruct how to make traditional ceviche; Carl Heinrich, chef and owner of Richmond Station, will demonstrate knife skills; and David Neinstein of Barque Smokehouse will share home barbecue tips.

    Some 50 food producers will be present at a vendor marketplace throughout the event.

    The festival concept began 10 years ago in London, and now runs in 20 cities around the world, including Dubai, Amsterdam, Milan, Moscow, Melbourne, Dublin, Mumbai, Sydney and Johannesburg, Taste Festivals said in a release.

    For more information or to purchase tickets, visit

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    Flags, they’re everywhere during the World Cup. Brazil! Portugal! Germany! It's hard not to cross paths with enthusiastic soccer fans proudly waving their banners.

    Some even adorn their cars with flags. And similar to a great ship, they sail past pedestrians begging for attention.

    "Look at my team's flag! Look at it! Woo hoo!"

    So if you're someone who has witnessed soccer madness and broadened your knowledge of international flags because of it, this is your time to shine.

    How well do you know your World Cup 2014 flags?

    Quiz widget by

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    CTV has announced three more teams for Season 2 of "Amazing Race Canada."

    Season 2 premieres in about three weeks, and now we know six more of the 2014 contestants.

    The three teams are siblings Sukhi and Jinder Atwal, married couple Jen and Shawn King, and mother-and-son pairing Cormac and Nicole Foster.

    "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. Olympians Natalie Spooner and Meaghan Mikkelson, announced yesterday, were one of the teams we knew about beforehand -- but, as promised, we didn't spoil for you until CTV made the official announcement.

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

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    My boyfriend Kavi and I are not seasoned backpackers. We've both traveled a few countries in Europe and the Caribbean, and now we're traveling Asia-Pacific indefinitely. We're learning a lot about modern day backpacking and the rewarding sacrifices that come with living on a budget.

    Here's what we're learning:

    1. It's not that easy to meet people: Traveling on our own makes it more difficult to meet people, but I never thought it'd be this hard. Most backpackers are couples or traveling with an organized tour and stick to themselves.

    2. Staring isn't rude; we learn more about a city: Our most meaningful moments have evolved by sitting and watching.

    3. Travel slow: We spent seven nights in Ho Chi Minh City. I first told Kavi it was too much time and looking back I'm glad we did it. I got a better feel for the life of the city.

    4. Travel, don't tour: When we get to a city, we pick up a map and walk around the centre. It's more rewarding to see the life of a city than sight-see.

    5. Common sense is key: Where are you from? We get this question all the time from local vendors. It seems friendly, but often a vendor's first motive is to sell.

    6. Reference recommendations lightly: Everyone will have their recommended must-sees, but then you're living someone else's adventure. Laos wasn't a highly recommended country, but we came anyway. We would have been missing a beautiful place.

    7. Get a little uncomfortable: I was overwhelmed when we got to Ho Chi Minh City. The constant rush of scooters was scary, but once I got up the courage to cross the road, the city became fun to navigate.

    8. Mix accommodation types: One night in a hostel in Hanoi was enough -- the smell of mothballs and a bare bed made me miss home. I'm not 18 anymore, but I'm also traveling on $23 a day, which means we have to mix hostels and hotels to brave the uncomfortable and embrace the comfortable.

    9. Eat local for cheap food: Local food is cheaper and introduces you to cultural cuisine.

    10. Eating street food is safe: The best food we've had in Vietnam is from street vendors. It's cooked in front of you and full of flavour.

    11. Beer is cheaper than water and wiser than wine: Good wine is expensive. Cheap wine tastes like balsamic vinaigrette. Our new daily drink? 640ml bottles of local beer for $1.5-$2 each.

    12. Bargain everything: Haggle accommodation, transportation and clothing and go half of the starting amount.

    13. Get lazy about laundry: A few small bags of laundry take a day to get fresh and folded for a few dollars. Kavi hated doing laundry at home so it's a pleasure for us to hand our clothes to someone else.

    14. Travel doesn't mean we're always happy: We have bad days and emotional moments just like at home. The same worry and fear I have as a person stays with me in any country we travel.

    15. Get rest: I've had a sore throat since we arrived. I took medicine, but it didn't help, because I was constantly moving to fulfill a need of accomplishing something. The best medicine was staying in bed for two days to get better.

    16. Don't feel guilty about going to the spa every day: We'll never have access to US$4 spa treatments again, unless we decide to live here.

    17. Routine helps keep us regular: Visiting a city in Asia means new food and ultimately irregularity. Vietnamese eat pho every morning for breakfast, so we tried this out to get our systems in sync.

    18. Shop without shopping: I love fashion, but I don't have the budget to shop. Instead I browse the markets and tell myself I'll come back to buy, only for us to leave the city and me to move onto another market.

    19. A little accessory goes a long way: I always wear accessories, but traveling with a backpack means wearing less. I keep my style on the road with my favourite top hat-wearing skull earrings from Oman and orange-patterned scarf from Italy.

    20. Save money by connecting to Wifi: South East Asia is incredibly connected. We go online to keep in touch with friends and family.

    21. Wifi is more available than in Toronto: Any restaurant in Vietnam or Laos readily provides Wifi.

    22. A TV is more important in Asia than Toronto: We didn't have TVs in Canada, but after a long day of travel, watching an old Hollywood movie is comforting.

    23. Practice on a scooter, before driving it: Like learning to ride a bike, driving a scooter requires practice. I was a little naïve when I thought we'd scoot away like naturals.

    24. Don't take infrastructure for granted: It's a treat to drive on a smooth, paved road. It took us two days to travel from Vietnam to Laos and it was a bumpy, winding, nauseous ride.

    25. Routine is important: We're working and traveling, which means we have deadlines. Establishing a routine early in our travels has kept us disciplined.

    26. Sending postcards is a meaningful way to keep in touch: We sent our first postcards from Hoi An to arrive in Canada within 15 days. Sending mail from the other side of the world reminds me of childhood pen pal days.

    27. Staying in touch starts with us: We made the decision to travel. We made the first contact when we arrived and we make the effort to Skype, email and Facebook with friends and family to constantly stay in touch.

    Sign up for our newsletter and follow along on our adventures across Asia-Pacific.


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    Vancouver health care workers watched so much World Cup soccer at work last week it threatened to impact patient care, according to a memo obtained by CTV News.

    Shortly after the tournament opened Thursday in Brazil, officials noticed a major spike in web traffic on the network serving the Vancouver Coastal Health Authority, Providence Health Care and Provincial Health Services Authority.

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    Foodies may be the new music nerds, but the synergy between both art forms can make for a myriad of drool-worthy dinners or cringing concoctions. Meals can be elevated with musical inspirations and some eateries know just how to give diners a truly jamming taste experience.

    These chefs have whipped up servings that bring together the love of melodies and the passion of cuisine, making for selections that aim to satisfy your taste buds and ear buds -- and, based on the names, your funny bone, too.

    Here are some of the best music-inspired menu items we found (and one of the worst).

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    In what seems to be a family-friendly season so far, "Amazing Race Canada" Season 2 has added three more teams to the roster.

    Season 2 premieres in about three weeks, and now we know six more of the 2014 contestants.

    The three teams announced today are married couple Laura Takahashi and Jackie Skinner, twin brothers Pierre and Michel Forget and wise-cracking co-workers Ryan Steele and Rob Goddard.

    "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. Olympians Natalie Spooner and Meaghan Mikkelson, announced Tuesday, were one of the teams we knew about beforehand -- but, as promised, we didn't spoil for you until CTV made the official announcement.

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

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    Ask Tom Chudleigh what he loves most about living in Qualicum Bay, B.C. and he'll give you a list of things.

    A nice group of people. A climate free of killer winters. A place with plenty of musicians and jam sessions.

    "The greenest place in Canada, probably," the Vancouver Island resident adds.

    But chances are if you're already heading for Qualicum Bay, B.C., you're probably coming for a stay inside Chudleigh's Free Spirit Spheres.

    At their core, Chudleigh's spheres are premium tree houses suspended above the ground, strung across the island's rainforest canopy with a network of rope. He bills his spheres as an experience to connect with nature.

    "It's the forest canopy. Just look out the window. It's a magic environment to be in and the older the forest the more magic it is. It's not some place we tend to dwell a lot and when we do get an opportunity, it's just breathtaking," he says.

    So far, Chudleigh's managed to build and named four spheres: Gwynn, Eve, Eryn and Melody. Eve was the first and thanks to her eggy shape, she was named after the first woman created according to the Bible.

    Gwynn and Eryn came later, their names that came to Chudleigh on a whim while building them.

    As for Melody, that name was a decision his wife, Rosie, made.

    "Rosie named Melody in honour of a daughter she lost, many, many years ago and Melody for the love of music. When we had Melody painted, the artist that did that painting was all wrapped around that melody that circles [the sphere] is Beethoven's 9th, "The Ode to Joy."

    But while there's no shortages of coverage on what each sphere looks like on the inside and out, less is known about the man who, ideally, spends six to eight hours a day in his workshop crafting one of the country's most unique places to spend a night.

    The Huffington Post Canada travelled to Vancouver Island to find out more about the man behind one of Canada's coolest tree houses.

    This series is part of the Great Canadian Road Trip. Road transportation made possible thanks to Nissan Canada.

    Brian Trinh is the Huffington Post Canada's travel/ video editor. He's currently on a cross-Canada road trip with freelance journalist Talia Ricci. You can follow their adventures here or check out their Twitter and Instagram pages below.

    Follow Brian @ProjectBLT and @TalRicci on Twitter or on Instagram here and here

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    One of Canada's most legendary dancers has joined one of Canada's most successful reality shows. National Ballet of Canada star Rex Harrington and his long-time partner and fiance Bob Hope make up one of the two final teams to be taking part in Season 2 of "Amazing Race Canada."

    All 11 teams have now been announced by CTV, and "Amazing Race Canada" is set to start up in less than three weeks. Aside from Harrington and Hope, the other team announced today is Mickey Henry and Pete Schmalz, two long-haired best friends who resemble the "hippie" teams of seasons past.

    "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. Olympians Natalie Spooner and Meaghan Mikkelson, announced Tuesday, were one of the teams we knew about beforehand -- but, as promised, we didn't spoil for you until CTV made the official announcement.

    We also heard rumours about Harrington -- and now we know for sure!

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

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    OTTAWA - Millions of visitors to Canada will pay a $7 application fee beginning next April under a new electronic security screening plan.

    The federal government announced the fee Friday for online travel applications, a key element of the perimeter pact with the United States intended to protect the continent from security threats.

    Foreign nationals who currently do not need a visa to visit Canada — including people from Britain, France and many other countries — would have to successfully apply for a so-called electronic travel authorization before arriving by air.

    U.S. citizens would be exempted from the requirement.

    Visitors would apply through the Citizenship and Immigration website by entering biographic details, passport and background information — the kind of data now requested by officers at Canadian entry ports or in a visa application.

    Officials would verify the information against immigration and enforcement databases and conduct a risk assessment of the applicant.

    Canada expects approximately 3.5 million electronic travel authorization applications annually.

    "The information required by these proposed amendments would allow Canada to determine the admissibility of foreign nationals before they arrive at the border and whether their travel poses migration or security risks," says the federal notice published Friday.

    In 2012–2013, more than 7,000 visa-exempt foreign nationals were found ineligible to enter Canada for various reasons upon arriving in Canada by air, the government says. That includes 28 people who had previously been handed removal orders and were trying to return to Canada without authorization.

    Reasons for refusing entry can include membership in terrorist or organized crime groups, espionage, participation in war crimes, human rights violations or endangerment of public health due to tuberculosis or other conditions.

    "At present, the government of Canada does not possess the necessary authority to screen these individuals before they travel to Canada," the federal notice says. "This causes significant expense, delay and inconvenience for the inadmissible foreign national, other travellers, airlines and the Canadian government."

    Under the new system, unwelcome travellers would be advised before getting on a plane to Canada.

    All negative decisions would be made by an officer following a thorough review, the notice says.

    Highly complex cases — expected to be "very few" in number — would require assessment by a senior decision-maker and could be referred to an overseas Canadian mission, it adds.

    "Once a case is referred overseas, applicants may be asked to provide documentation to support their application, as well as to attend an interview with an officer to confirm that they are a bona fide traveller."

    Some cases may also require further investigation by the Canadian border agency, the Canadian Security Intelligence Service or the RCMP.

    The $7 fee is intended to cover processing costs for each travel authorization, which would be valid for five years from date of issue or until the applicant’s passport or travel document expires.

    During consultations, some expressed concern that the fee would discourage tourism.

    However, the notice says, the price is competitive with similar systems in place elsewhere including the U.S. and Australia.

    Successful introduction of the electronic travel authorization could persuade the federal government to allow visitors from countries such as Mexico, Brazil and Chile — who now require a visa to come to Canada — to use the new, less onerous document, said David Goldstein, president of the Tourism Industry Association of Canada.

    "That's the direction we've been presenting to the government."

    Follow @JimBronskill on Twitter

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    Despite a frog hunter's warnings as far back as 2006, it appears an invasion of giant bullfrogs is spreading on Vancouver Island.

    Russ Schut caught one of the massive predators in Alberni Valley on his family's Beaver Creek property, reported Alberni Valley Times. He posted a photo of his accidental catch on Facebook.

    Stan Orchard has been raising the alarm about the American bullfrog, which have mouths nearly as wide as their bodies and will gobble down everything from bugs, fish, ducklings and other frogs. He says the B.C. government needs to fund eradication programs before it's too late. There have only been regional efforts so far.

    A former amphibian specialist at the Royal B.C. Museum, Orchard started a company to hunt down the bullfrogs in 2007, reported CTV news. Since then, he's caught 30,000 frogs and counting.

    According to Orchard, frog farmers brought the species to B.C. decades ago, but when their businesses failed, the bullfrogs flourished where animals like alligators that would normally prey on them don't exist.

    Schut said the bullfrog he caught was about two feet long and weighed three pounds, reported the Alberni paper. He released the animal as he didn't realize it was an invasive species.

    The American bullfrog was identified in the Sproat Lake area in central Vancouver Island about five years ago. It's possible the amphibian is pushing out smaller, native frogs as it moves across the region, according to the Ministry of Environment.

    bullfrog alberni bc

    With files from The Canadian Press

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    When you've got the munchies, you head for the fridge, right? Well, it's no different for a young black bear in British Columbia.

    Yogi, who is known to wander near the Powers Creek Retreat in West Kelowna, was caught red-pawwed in a video sting, set up to catch the culprit behind several fridge break-ins.

    The retreat's caretakers, who live in a mobile home behind the property, had been puzzled as to who, or what, was taking certain items from the fridge and freezer, and leaving the door open. However, nothing else was damaged or stolen.

    They set up a camera and discovered Yogi on his hind legs, expertly opening the top freezer door and rummaging around inside.

    The discerning bear discards several bags of frozen vegetables before taking off with what appears to be a pie.

    Sandy Lewis, one of the caretakers, says the bear has never threatened any humans or animals. And she stresses they're sharing the video because well, it's pretty awesome, and not because they want anyone to relocate him.

    "We don't encourage him, he gets into the garbage which is a minor annoyance but we don't try and feed the bear."

    With files from

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    Congratulations! You made the move. Or you made the move and hightailed your way back to that West Coast nirvana locals offhandedly call "Vancity."

    Regardless of choosing to stay or go, you know the nuances between Vancouver and Toronto run deeper than having mountains or not.

    There's a learning curve with the move because, well, that's what happens when you start somewhere new. So here are some grating reality checks you may happen upon:

    1. First, let’s break it down to food terms:

    You basically swapped cheap (delicious) sushi for questionable street meat.

    2. Questionable because your bar is set high.

    3. Speaking of high, everyone assumes you know where to get great bud.

    Because you do. Still, what’s with that? Probably because of this guy:

    4. Also, everyone assumes you do yoga.

    Because you do. For three dedicated weeks a year (shhh).

    5. “Going to the island” just doesn’t have the same ring to it.

    What it means in Vancouver:

    vancouver island

    vs. in Toronto:

    6. Neither does “going to the beach.”

    What it means in Vancouver:

    vs. in Toronto:

    vancouver island

    7. Plus you know this Toronto air you’re breathing in by the litre isn’t the freshest.

    Mmmm. Smog. Builds character, right?

    8. Let’s talk weather. You need a winter coat.

    Because you realize your awesome Gor-Tex® shell and extra layers won't do.

    9. A proper winter coat will cost you.

    10. But it's worth it. Because "bone-chilling cold" is a very literal temperature gauge.

    polar vortex


    polar vortex

    11. After the snow melts, you remember main roads aren't exactly bike-friendly.

    12. Which sucks because construction here takes months to finish and inconveniences the maximum number of commuters possible.

    Above ground:

    And underground:

    Map of an actual weekend TTC closure (red). Here’s a list of current diversions.


    Oh yeah. They’re growing on the B.C. trails you left behind.

    Because these are your new local trails

    No salmonberries, but oh look! There's a free inkjet all-in-one printer!

    14. Your hiking boots serve no purpose here.

    You win some. You lose some.

    15. Most surprising of all, you may take jokes about your umbrella stash personally.

    But it's OK. You know it takes only one flash storm to wipe away haters' cynicism.

    That's right, Charlie. Now you're learning.

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    While eating halal can be a challenge in some Canadian cities where the Muslim population is small, the only challenge Muslims in the Greater Toronto Area face is choosing between a myriad of delicious options.

    Halal food, or food which follows Islamic Law and is permissible for Muslims to eat, is widely available in the GTA, thanks to the diverse population.

    With the holy month of Ramadan approaching, during which Muslims fast between sunrise and sunset, many halal restaurants see an influx of diners at the end of the day. Muslims who go out to restaurants to break their fasts will often have very specific requirements.

    Aside from halal food options, some Muslims will look for restaurants with designated prayer areas and/or close proximity to a mosque so they can perform their evening prayers. Although most restaurants have halal options (generally vegetarian and seafood dishes), some Muslims choose not to eat at restaurants where alcohol is served.

    Alcohol, pork and its by-products, blood, carnivorous animals, and animals slaughtered without a prayer, are some of the major dietary restrictions that are considered haram, or forbidden. Restaurants that are certified halal by religious organizations, such as the ISNA Halal Certification Agency, will generally have to abstain from using any of these products.

    And far from being confined to kabobs and shwarma, halal food comes in varieties from Italian to Chinese. Whether it's in a small family-owned restaurant or a larger franchise, halal restaurants get a lot of love from Muslims (not to mention those who just love food!) who need their occasional steak and burger.

    Here are some much-loved halal food establishments in the GTA that absolutely anyone would adore:

    Affy’s Premium Grill
    Where: Multiple locations (Mississauga & Pickering)
    Type of food: Italian
    Words of praise: “As far as the food is concerned, Affy's has the best halal steaks in Toronto by far. I've been there a number of times and have never been disappointed with the food.” - Yelp
    Alcohol Served: No

    Burger Factory
    Where: 5130 Dixie Rd., Mississauga
    Type of food: Diner
    Words of praise: "Ground beef is fresh and is pressed on the griddle, fries are hand cut. So when you get your meal, the fries are hot and somewhat limp the way hand cut fries should be, burger takes a while to make but when you get it, hot and juicy." - Yelp
    Alcohol Served: No

    Cinamon Indian Bistro
    Where: 1966 Queen St. E., Toronto
    Type of food: Indian
    Words of praise: "This is the BEST Indian food I have ever had! It is so addictive though!" - Yelp
    Alcohol Served: No

    Crave Grill House
    Where: 25 Woodbine Downs Blvd #5, Toronto
    Type of food: North American
    Words of praise: "I had the juiciest NY filet mignon steak at Crave Grill yesterday. Its authentic, tender, melt in the mouth texture with a delectable black peppercorn sauce on the side, baked potato and a generous serving of steamed vegetables, is the BEST kept secret in town!!" - Google Reviews
    Alcohol Served: No

    Faley’s Restaurant
    Where: Multiple locations in Rexdale area
    Type of food: Hakka Chinese
    Words of praise: “Great food and really good prices. Chili chicken is one of the best in the GTA and the owners are super friendly. Highly recommended.” - Urbanspoon
    Alcohol Served: Yes

    Karachi Kitchen
    Where: Multiple locations (Mississauga, Brampton, Scarborough)
    Type of food: Pakistani
    Words of praise: "The Ribs and Philly Cheese Steak Sandwich was by faaarrrr the BEST I've EVER had!!!!" - Facebook (Karachi Kitchen)
    Alcohol Served: No

    Big Moe’s Burgers
    Where: Multiple locations in Toronto
    Type of food: Diner
    Words of praise: "The prices are very good for the burgers they make. I would totally recommend this place to people that love burgers." - Yelp
    Alcohol Served: No

    Kara Mia
    Where: Multiple locations (Mississauga, Vaughan)
    Type of food: Italian
    Words of praise: "I just love this restaurant and I love the food. The wait time is usually 20-30 minutes, but hey, that's just because the food is being made fresh rather than left to be warmed up at a moment's notice." - Google Reviews
    Alcohol Served: No

    Eddies Wok N Roll
    Where: 6400 Millcreek Dr., Mississauga
    Type of food: Hakka Chinese
    Words of praise: "The prices are very reasonable and the food is excellent. I have been to this place more than 5 times and each time tasted different dishes which were all awesome." - Yelp
    Alcohol Served: Yes

    Lahore Tikka House
    Where: 1365 Gerrard St. E., Toronto
    Type of food: Pakistani
    Words of praise: "Wowzers! the food is amazing, portions are plentiful and although we had to eat off paper plates, it gave us a kind-of rustic, ethnic experience." - Google Reviews
    Alcohol Served: No

    Mesh Peri Peri
    Where: 5955 Latimer Dr., Mississauga
    Type of food: Portuguese
    Words of praise: "If you want to enjoy Portuguese grilled Chicken, when wait no more this is the joint. Been here twice!" - Trip Advisor
    Alcohol Served: No

    Where: 145 Rexdale Blvd., Toronto
    Type of food: East African-Western
    Words of praise: "...our taste buds are bound to be intrigued and delighted upon tasting Chef Osman’s creations. We recommend the Mushkaki Chicken Burger and the KK." - HalalFoodie
    Alcohol Served: No

    Naan Kabob
    Where: Multiple locations (Mississauga, Scarborough)
    Type of food: Afghani
    Words of praise: "Naan and Kabob is, by far, one of the best restaurants I have dined in. The decor is simple and unassuming. The food is absolutely delicious!" - Trip Advisor
    Alcohol Served: No

    Pak Centre
    Where: 2683 Lawrence Ave. E, Toronto
    Type of food: Pakistani
    Words of praise: "Decent ambiance, clean atmosphere. Food takes a while to prepare but worth the wait. Make sure you leave room for the falooda-always made to perfection with the right amount of ice cream, vermicelli, jelly and nuts." - Urbanspoon
    Alcohol Served: No

    Paramount Fine Foods
    Where: Multiple locations (Mississauga, Thornhill, Toronto, Hamilton, London)
    Type of food: Middle Eastern
    Words of praise: "Really really good food - freshly cooked, imaginative and very tasty." - Trip Advisor
    Alcohol Served: No

    Restoran Malaysia
    Where: 815 Major Mackenzie Dr. E., Richmond Hill
    Type of food: Malaysian
    Words of praise: “I always order the pad thai, Indonesian fried rice and cashew nut beef tenderloin and they are all consistently delicious." - Yelp
    Alcohol Served: No

    Slice of New York
    Where: 64 Edward St.,Toronto
    Type of food: Italian/Deli
    Words of praise: "Not only do they offer fresh food that is of above average quality compared to your typical halal pizza joint, they offer many other delicious options such as stromboli, calzone and rotisserie chicken all at reasonable prices." - BlogTO
    Alcohol Served: No

    Where: Multiple locations in Toronto
    Type of food: Thai
    Words of praise: "The place is small, it can get very warm and stuffy, and because it is always busy the service can be slow. But once you try the food it'll be totally worth it. Also make sure you you come here very hungry as the portions are big." - Google Reviews

    Alcohol Served: Yes

    The Burgernator
    Where: 269 Augusta Ave., Kensington Market, Toronto
    Type of food: Diner
    Words of praise: "Nothing beats a juicy burger and all the fixings dripping down as you attempt to eat it. Awesome job!" - Urbanspoon
    Alcohol Served: No

    Where: 1-426 Major Mackenzie Dr. E., Richmond Hill
    Type of food: Pizza, Diner food
    Words of praise: "One of my favourite restaurants. Their wings and pizza are phenomenal, and their Cheese Burger was absolutely amazing. You can't go wrong with Toppings!" - Google Reviews
    Alcohol Served: No

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  • 06/23/14--10:16: How To Babymoon in Miami
  • 2014-06-03-ScreenShot20140603at11.35.56AM.png

    Token babymoon shot, taken beachfront at The Setai

    A babymoon? My mother's face looked blank and her eyebrows did an awkward arch upon hearing of our imminent travel plans. Talk to anyone over 60 about this rather new tradition and you're likely to get a similar response. The parenting customs of the GenY's seem to be lost on them, and don't even get my mother started on the push-present. "When you and your siblings were born our push present was a healthy, happy baby!!!"

    Perhaps, as my mother claims, we may be a spoiled generation, but I also like to think that there is something to this whole babymoon thing.

    In our case, the arrival of baby number two is only a few short months away. Visions of long sleepless nights, piles of dirty diapers, laundry baskets full of tiny onesies and the shrill cries of a newborn haunt our dreams. Having come through the other side (our first son is now two years old), we ask ourselves "are we ready for this?". But I guess that is the beauty of parenthood, it catches you off guard no matter how prepared you think you are.

    Hence Mission Miami Moon is hatched!

    Thanks to my generous father and our caregiver, my husband and I slip off (childless) into the wee hours of the morning to hop a quick flight to Miami.

    Perhaps not the first place that might come to mind for a moon of any sort (honey, baby or otherwise) but proximity and weather made the decision an easy one. Lucky for us, it also provided the opportunity to debunk many of the myths associated with this tropical town.

    In under three hours we arrive in Miami from Toronto Pearson and head straight to our first stop, the Soho Beach House. This is exactly the kind of place you want to stay if you're after a chic, understated, but elegant escape from reality. It is the furthest thing from the "other" Miami. The one bachelor party dreams are made of.

    The beautiful Soho Beach House Miami lobby and rooftop view

    We're too early for check-in, but that's no matter. Our bags are whisked into two beautifully appointed spa change rooms (his and hers), where we are encouraged to make ourselves comfortable and freshen up after the flight. We change into our beach gear and hit the pool for a relaxed south beach style breakfast of acai berry bowls, pillowy croissants and creamy lattes while our bags are stowed.

    Poolside Luxury

    My only thought at that moment was 'Can this be happening? Uninterrupted time with my man? A day incomplete, utter laziness?' Naked luxury! With our sunbeds prepared by the pool, cold water proffered, a stack of magazines at our disposal, we bliss out for hours on end. At some point we make it the 20 strides down to the beach to enjoy the equally plush beach-side chaises and some floating in the waves (baby loved this). But after an early morning wake-up, a siesta was definitely in order. Our elegant and well appointed room was ready for check-in and so we moved our party of two indoors. What awaited us was a stunning room and huge terrace overlooking the clear, turquoise waters of the Atlantic.

    Like all the properties in the Soho House family, it's the little details that make the difference. Take the matter of cocktail hour -- a topic of great importance and debate around the house. A beautiful stocked bar in each room comes complete with fresh citrus, barware, crystal tumblers and all the spirits and accoutrements one might need to produce the perfect martini, Old Fashioned or Manhattan. I obviously couldn't partake in the ritual, but that didn't stop my husband indulging for the both of us.

    Soho Beach House Full In-room Bar

    A dinner reservation had been made at Cecconis, an outpost of the famous London restaurant by the same name. Modern day Italian, with a varied wine list, impeccable service (hello table side fish filleting) and a magical setting under the stars amidst craggily tropical trees tangled with tiny lights and hanging candles. The meal highlight was the dessert (which we almost turned down - what were we thinking??): A vanilla panna cotta with a cookie crumb base and sea salted caramel top. I knew the baby was enjoying this as much as me judging by his sudden kicks of delight.

    The magical Cecconis patio at dusk

    After two full mornings of waking up with no alarm (or crying child), we were feeling pretty zen. But since this was a babymoon and relaxation was the name of the game, we hit the Cowshed Spa for his and hers massages. A 60 minute Utterly Gorgeous pre-natal treatment for me and a Cowshed massage for my husband.

    The Cowshed couples massage room

    Although reluctant to leave the Soho Beach House compound (it truly is an oasis), we hit the town for a romantic dinner. We avoided the main strip full of big name, flashy eateries, instead opting for a local favorite, Mandolin Aegean Bistro in Miami's Design District. A Turkish/Greek melange of flavours and menu items that appear to be popular with young and old. We spot several octogenarians arriving as we leave and many tables were full of hot young couples enjoying a date
    night, as well as families with well behaved littles up way past the standard Canadian child bedtime. But that's Miami in a nutshell. The influence of Latin America can be felt and heard throughout your visit in weird and wonderful ways.

    It's day 3 and while we're sad to bid adieu to our Soho Beach House ocean view suite, we're very much looking forward to part two of our getaway. A luxurious stay at The Setai, part of The Leading Hotels of the World collection. It is an independently owned and operated property in the heart of Miami's South Beach. A departure from it's neighbouring Art Deco properties to the north and south (all white minimalist temples to the Stark design philosophy), the vibe here is decidedly Balinese with other Asian and south east Asian touches throughout. In fact the beautiful charcoal grey bricks that lay in the lobby were transported from Shanghai which at one time had the largest array of Art Deco buildings in the world.

    True five star luxury is a thing of beauty. It's a subtlety that might not be seen but can always be felt. After our short taxi ride from Miami Beach to South Beach we are welcomed by multiple greeters, bellmen and hotel staff who simultaneously whisk away our bags, offer us cool, refreshing towelettes and serve us chilled lemongrass tea. After a quick and intimate check-in (we never have to hover over a desk) we are immediately escorted to our chambers. A teak and onyx suite with an ocean view, a heavenly king bed and delightful details that any tech-obsessed guest would appreciate (remote controlled blackout blinds and my favourite: a Setai app for your phone that allows users to order room service, reserve lounge chairs, make meal reservations and even have espresso's delivered beachside.)

    The luxurious swimming pools at The Setai

    A babymoon should be all about pampering, and we immediately felt at home in our luxurious cocoon. We staked out a comfortable banquet by one of the three pools, and were immediately introduced to our very own pool concierge, Kim. He brought us plush pool towels, refreshing mineral water mist, chilled water bottles and cool towelettes for when that hot, humid sun became too much.

    A beach walk at sunset, cocktails in the courtyard by the sparkling serenity ponds with friends who happened to be in town, followed by a very special dining experience. A table for two, front row, to the open kitchen at The Restaurant, overseen by Executive Chef, Mathias Gervais. Hotel dining doesn't necessarily have the best reputation, but The Setai is in a league of it's own. This was a meal to be remembered for years to come.

    The courtyard serenity ponds

    After wine (him) and lemonade (her) was served, we kicked things off with a lightly seared fois gras on the planche -- a Mediterranean traditional method of grill that offers the chef the ultimate control in preparing delicate dishes like seafood and the aforementioned fois. Being pregnant and having unique cravings (normally a veggies and fish gal), when it came time to the mains, I opted for the slow braised Pat LaFrieda bone-in spare ribs served with gnocchi and herb crème fraîche. Indulgent? You bet! After I all but licked the remnants of my plate, the chef popped out to ask how I enjoyed my short ribs. "I cooked them in sous-vide for 24 hours" he explained. How does one even respond to such a gratuitous confession? Well, they were the best damn-melt-in-your-mouth ribs I ever had the pleasure of enjoying -- fact! To complete this divine meal I had to order the house made ice cream (a pregnant woman's right)! It was so creamy I imagine it was made from the milk of Guernsey cows who spent their days at pasture listening to Johann Bach. This languorous meal went on for over three hours - with inspiring conversation, romantic lighting and time to devote to each other with no toddler interruptions, well that in itself is a luxury! With full and happy bellies we drifted up to our suite.

    Our final morning was spent over a multi-course breakfast at the hotel and poolside soaking up the final hours of Florida sunshine and freedom. We were reluctant to leave the discreet confines of The Setai, but we both agreed that the luxury and pampering we had received made those the perfect note to end our babymoon on.

    The pool at the 10,000 sq foot penthouse Ocean Suite

    A 2.5 hour flight home felt like a breeze with no toddler to entertain and my husband and I relished our final peaceful moments -- holding hands. If my mother could have seen us then, I think she would have agreed a babymoon was just what the 21st century doctor ordered!

    To Book Soho Beach House Miami:
    Take advantage of their amazing summer rates and packages. For reservations call 786-507-7904 or email

    To Book The Setai:
    Be sure to take advantage of their new guest experience, book in at The Ocean Suites at The Setai to enjoy sweeping ocean views and a complimentary 4th night when you book 3.
    Click here to book


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    Pamela and Gerry Healy had one day to spend in Vancouver on their world tour and the couple from Sydney, Australia didn't head straight for Stanley Park or one of the city's beaches or even to the historic Gastown neighbourhood. Their first stop was a food truck tour.

    "We don't have any food trucks in Sydney. There's not enough room on the footpaths for them," Gerry Healy said, lamenting the tight streets Down Under. "We looked online at what people were saying about the tour and it seemed like a good way to see the city."

    The Healys joined three other couples on a tour of five food trucks, gnoshing on each of them. While food trucks have been hit and miss as far as profitability goes in other parts of Canada, they are thriving in Vancouver. The city provides 130 food vendor licenses, including for hot dog carts. Increasingly, a number of those licenses are used by elite chefs who spin off their cuisine into low-cost menu items that feed the lunch crowds who pour out of office buildings for something tastier -- and often healthier -- than the typical fast-food options.

    Among them are: Vij's Railway, serving mostly vegetarian cuisine inspired by recipes from Vikram Vij and his wife, Meeru Dhalwala; Le Tigre, run by former Top Chef Canada contestants; and Tacofino, a wildly popular mobile taco stand that takes its name from its hometown of Tofino.

    What Are the 5 Best Vancouver Food Trucks? Click Here to Find Out

    Visitors who sign up for the Vancouver Foodie Tours will taste a handful of the 16 food trucks that's on the company's roster. The trucks visited rotate daily. On the tour I took, Japadog was the first stop. It has a brick-and-mortar eatery on Robson Street as well as two food trucks. Japadog was founded in 2006 by a Japanese salesman who saw an opportunity to import Kurobuta pork (made from black Berkshire pigs) and serve it as hot dogs that are topped with a variety of condiments, including wasabi mustard. The Kurobuta sausages come in combinations such as Terimayo (with mayo and seaweed) and Okonomi (topped with spicy bonito flakes). Prices range from $6.95 and up. I've tried other items on the Japadog menu and none come close to the flavour (or value) of the grilled Kurobuta.

    The other spots visited on the tour included EAT Chicken Wraps, which is more adventurous than it sounds. It serves a range of wraps seasoned with spices that cover the gamut of Vancouver's ethnic makeup. I tried the Hoisin Wrap ($7), which featured five spices and was served on a crispy Chinese pancake.

    Mom's Grilled Cheese serves up the beloved sandwich in a silvery truck that resembles an American diner. Tacofino and Le Tigre were the final two spots we visited.

    Dubbed the World's Best Food Truck Tour, the two-hour gastronomic spin has been named a Canadian Signature Experience by the Canadian Tourism Commission.

    The food truck tour starts at 11 am daily and covers less than two kilometres on foot. Between stops, the tour guides recount stories about the city's architecture, history and landscape.

    "We're real foodies, so we were looking forward to doing this," said Sean Hinson, a world traveller from Little Rock, Arkansas who was visiting Vancouver for the first time with his wife, Kristen. "We're open to trying anything, which is what I think the definition of a foodie is, and a tour like this is great for that because you have so many flavours and different types of cuisine that you're trying."

    How much does the World's Best Food Truck Tour cost? Click here to find out and to see photos of the trucks.


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    Looking for a charming escape from big city Toronto or Ottawa? Between Canada's business mecca and Parliament Hill, sits Canada's very first capital. And she's a breath of fresh air. Of Kingston's many assets, I'm most impressed by the cobbled streets of downtown, and the European style of Market Square. Seems that Guillermo del Toro was as well. The director recently turned it all into early 1900s London for his next film.

    On a regular day, you might spot a member of The Tragically Hip, but here's what really keeps the city buzzing...


    Forget city slick style and get cozy inside one of Kingston's heritage homes.
    Secret Garden Inn is just one of many ages old properties turned into a bed and breakfast. Owner, Kathy Davidson, greets me with so much enthusiasm I'm preparing for her to hug me. She doesn't, but her pride is palpable and the manner in which she has kept the place -- camera-ready for a period movie -- is quite remarkable. Upon check-in, we discuss my food preferences as there hot breakfast is served at 8:30am sharp. Vegetarian/gluten-free is not a problem, in case you are curious.

    Oh, and I sleep like a baby in the king-sized canopy bed...They just don't make 'em like the used to.

    Let's move from high to low for this one...
    Casa -- elegant Italian. Have the steak or tuna done three ways. Don't skip sharing the scallops as an antipasto.

    Woodenheads -- Need I say more than pizza on the patio?
    Dianne's Fishbar -- a new kid on the block getting rave reviews.

    Whatever you're craving, il mio gelato is nearby and serves the ideal icy after-dinner indulgence.

    Well there's always Fort Henry, but in the heat of the summer, the attraction is absolutely the many sailing regattas. Starting July 20, park it lakeside and watch the best fresh-water sailing in the world.
    For the fresh food lover, there is a popular farmer's market in the square every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday.
    If you are up for bouncing around a few boutiques, then find Princess Street and get your shop on.

    Built inside a former wool mill, Dolce Bella Spa is a beautifully outfitted salon and spa that caters to the person who really wants to relax and rejuvenate. When I first walked through the doors, after a stressful drive in from Toronto, my whole body went into decompression mode. It's fascinating the way a well-designed space can do that, yes? As a member of 5 Star Spas, they've got talented staff that expertly serve up the usual suspects. However, there is a signature (two hour!) pedicure that gives those toes the treatment they deserve after a long winter spent stifled in socks.

    From feet to the face, you can slough off the previous season's rough layers with a facial that incorporates microdermabrasion. Can't think of a better way to take care of business.

    The facilities are fully accessible.

    What do you love about Kingston, Ontario? Please share in the comments below.

    Many thanks to Chevrolet Canada and the loan of the Spark! Loved this dynamic "city" car that can handle the highway too. Really fun to drive, easy to park, and the OnStar system got me where I needed to be.

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    At 17 years old, Grace Hofer sounds like your typical Canadian teenager.

    She likes to read, play her guitar and enjoys her free time in Saskatchewan's outdoors.

    Less typical is where she lives: the Lajord Hutterite Colony, located roughly 30 minutes from Regina.

    The colony is one of 72 in the province, a place where Hutterites -- followers of Jacob Hutter, an Anabaptist leader from what is now the South Tyrol province in Italy -- live and work in groups barely larger than 100 men, women and children combined.

    While some of the earliest Hutterites originated in Russia, some groups fled to South Dakota to avoid war and persecution. In the late 1960s Hutterites came to Canada. They settled in Manitoba, Alberta and Saskatchewan after the mistreatment by two of its members by the U.S. during WWI and as a way to protect their pacifist beliefs.

    Today, the Lajord Colony is primarily a farming community, raising and butchering chicken. On the side, it dabbles in dairy farming and features a small factory producing truck scales. It's also open to tours, some of which Hofer leads.

    "We're farmers, obviously, but we're modernized farmers. At the same time, we have an old way of life and people are interested in that. They want to know how it was back then," says Hofer.

    The bulk of tourists -- Canadians and international visitors from Europe -- come during the summer, the time when the colony is at its best, she says.

    The tours are one of the colonies businesses but Hofer says they're also meant to shatter preconceived notions outsiders might have about life in a Hutterite community.

    Children in the Lajord Colony are expected to start work around the age of 15 and are typically delegated tasks. Some boys will learn to milk the cows while the girls learn how to cook or butcher the fowls. It may seem like a rigid structure to some but Hofer says to have a colony means to have a workforce that needs to operate efficiently.

    As a result, everyone has a role but no one is left behind in society.

    Hofer likens life here to living with a big family; it takes some work but that's the beautiful part about it.

    "I like it here. I love it here, actually. I don't feel like I'm missing out or anything. I know I have responsibilities here and I'm willing to follow those."

    The Huffington Post Canada spent the afternoon with Grace touring the colony. Click on the video above for a brief tour of the Lajord Hutterite Colony.

    This series is part of the Great Canadian Road Trip. Road transportation made possible thanks to Nissan Canada.

    Brian Trinh is the Huffington Post Canada's travel/ video editor. He's currently on a cross-Canada road trip with freelance journalist Talia Ricci. You can follow their adventures here or check out their Twitter and Instagram pages below.

    Follow Brian @ProjectBLT and @TalRicci on Twitter or on Instagram here and here


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    Visitors from America, we're looking at you now. And we're not amused. OK, we are, but we're also mad.

    Because these are some seriously stupid questions.

    We asked readers to tell us the most ridiculous things they've been asked by tourists visiting Canada. This is what they told us.

    "I have a friend in Toronto, do you know Dave Smith? P.S. I live in Vancouver."

    - Joe Foley

    "Can I buy a toonie from you for $10 American? Yes. Yes you can."

    - Dawn Brown

    "When I recommended the War Museum, an American tourist said, 'Canada was in a war?'"

    - Carol Bode

    "I've actually seen American tourists coming across the border in the summer with skis on the roof of their cars.

    Apparently there's some magical line where winter never ends up here."

    - Mark Morissette

    "Why, when I insert my American bank card in an ATM machine, does it give me Canadian money?"

    - Susan Miller

    "Do you have the 4th of July up here?"

    - Jennifer Brewer

    "What time do they turn on the Northern Lights (asked when I worked in Toronto in the tourism sector)."

    - Janath Corso Vesna

    "When waitering in Vancouver many times I was asked if the menu was in American dollars.

    As well, when signing the credit card slip for payment I was asked:

    'Will the tip be in US or Canadian dollars?'

    Replied 'It's a Canadian pen.'"

    - Mad Skillz

    "Where can I buy some totem pole seeds?"

    - Adam Greene

    "Where are the igloos?"

    - Mindy Amirault-Schrader

    "While working in Niagara Falls: 'Where can I exchange Canadian dollars into Niagara Falls currency?'"

    - Sabrina Rashid

    "At Niagara Falls: 'When do they shut the water off? We don't want to miss seeing them.'"

    - Juliette Dekkers-Ross

    "'How did they get Lake Louise to turn blue?'

    My friend told the stupid Americans they drained it every week and refilled it with blue dyed water"

    (Photo: Getty) - Billy Royle

    "You're Canadian? How come you aren't speaking French?"

    - Donna Martin

    "Do you speak Canadian here?"

    - Claudia Vargas Thompson

    "In Hamilton and they wanted to know if they could squeeze in a day trip to check out Toronto and Vancouver!"

    - Jay Higgins

    "Tourist: 'We're going to Nova Scotia for lunch.'

    Me: (Looks at watch that reads 11:45 am) 'Oh when are you planning to leave?'

    Tourist: 'So how do we get there from here?'

    Me: 'Simple, take the 401 until it merges with the Trans Canada highway and then follow that right the way though.'

    Tourist: 'Great, how long do you think it will take?'

    Me: 'Depends on traffic but, if you're lucky, about a week.'

    Tourists: (Blank look on faces as they drive off)."

    - Nyx Cole

    "I was in Vancouver and a tourist stopped me and asked me if they could walk to Niagara Falls from Vancouver.

    Yeah we are only the second largest country on earth (next to Russia). Seriously?"

    - Steven Cedrone

    "Where can I go to see the Queen?"

    - Anthony Aleksic

    "Do I need a metric compass when I go hiking?"

    - Jef-something Brian Thomas Ormston

    "If the sign says it's 100 km, how far is it really?"

    - Kathy Horning

    Many years ago when I was working for Parks Canada at the War of 1812 Blockhouse in St. Andrews by-the-Sea in New Brunswick I was asked by an American Tourist what was the name of the flag we had flying on our flagpost.

    I replied that it was the Union Jack, the British flag.

    At this point she excitedly turned to her husband and said 'Oh my God, we aren't in New Brunswick, we are in British Columbia!'"

    - Erin McKenna

    "In Banff National Park 'Where IS THE PARK!!!!???'"

    - Yvette Hockenhull

    "'So, how do you guys keep your teeth? I've heard the cold snaps them off.'

    Seriously. I was asked this!"

    - Wendy Noble

    "In Nova Scotia: 'Where do you all live in winter?'"

    - SherylnShawn Dauphney

    "I was once asked 'If the snow melts, do you have to get around by canoe?'"

    - Joelle Fairley-Woodman

    "Texas is bigger than Canada, right?"

    - Kat Dors

    "What river for the smoked salmon run?"

    - Chris X Cross

    "From an American: 'Do they show the Super Bowl in Canada?'"

    - Colleen MacDonald

    "A U.S. citizen asked if they could see an example of our money 'tokens'? When I told them we call them coins, just like in the U.S., they swore up and down that we called them tokens."

    - Anne Martin

    "How come you don't you say 'eh after every sentence?"

    - Danny Bellamore

    "'Do y'all have pizza in Canada? (Tourist from Virginia Beach)."

    - Gena Klaarwater

    "I was a tour guide at 18. One older American gentleman got quite irate at me, 'Why did you people attack us in the war of 1812?' he grouched. Nice."

    - Leigh Redstone

    Back in the '80s, when I worked at the CN Tower waitressing, I approached my table of American tourists to take their order.

    One of them asked me as they looked out the window at Lake Ontario:

    "Is that the Pacific Ocean?"

    - Suzanne Sagar

    "'How do you guys keep the glaciers white during the summer? Do you have to paint them?'

    Of course, I would always answer yes to this common yet amazing question.

    Job creation I'd say, keeps us all working during the summer."

    - Jenn Brigger

    Got a crazy question of your own? Email them to The Huffington Post Canada.

    Follow Michael Bolen on Twitter

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    The WorldPride events in Toronto will culminate in the massive parade taking place on June 29, 2014, starting at 1 p.m.

    Marking 34 years of the Pride Parade in Toronto, the celebration of the LGBTTIQQ2SA communities starts at the corner of Church and Bloor Streets, and walk (or dance) down Yonge Street to Dundas Square.

    According to WorldPride, the number of people and companies who wanted to have floats (as of this count, 275 groups were signed up) means the parade needs to start an hour early, so expect even more of, well, everything.

    In fact, that's mainly the point behind WorldPride in Toronto this year, as it brings together international communities to showcase diversity, education and activism from around the world.

    "The heart of the celebration of WorldPride is a human rights conference at the University of Toronto, June 25 through 27," executive director Kevin Beaulieu told Living Toronto. "It’s founded in the ongoing struggle here and around the world. It will bring activists and thinkers from over fifty countries around the world."

    Other events include everything from a mass gay wedding on June 26 to a multitude of dance parties, each and every day.

    Meanwhile, those gorgeous rainbow crosswalks promise to remain a permanent fixture in the city.

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