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Canada Travel news and opinion

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    A woman documenting a massive iceberg from a boat in Newfoundland and Labrador recently received quite a shock as chunks of ice fell and created a huge wave.

    Wanda Stead thought that their lives were in danger when the chunks fell into the Bay of Exploits, generating what looked to her like a tidal wave, CBC News reported.

    "Run, Rick, go!" she can be heard screaming in a video that was uploaded to YouTube on Thursday.

    "I think my heart came up, and I swallowed it," Stead told CBC. "I was petrified."

    She estimated that the boat was located about 30 to 45 metres away from the iceberg at the time — "too close," she surmised afterward.

    Newfoundland and Labrador's government recommends that iceberg viewers keep a distance that is equal to its length or twice its height, "whichever is greater."

    This isn't the first time that a collapsing iceberg has created waves big enough to make people fear a possible tsunami.

    In 2012, parts of an iceberg in Greenland broke off and generated waves that threatened to consume a boat, according to BBC News.



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    We know that Canada's north is a gorgeous place, but it rarely looks as beautiful as it does in a Nunavut contest that aims to capture life in the territory, "one photo at a time."

    Every week, the Finding True North blog asks Instagram users to tag their photos of the region with the hashtag "#Nunagram," with winners announced every Sunday.

    The contest has yielded some absolutely breathtaking photos that show a cold landscape teeming with life.



































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    VANCOUVER - If you're feeling queasy, step away from the cab.

    That's the advice from taxi drivers across British Columbia after the province's Passenger Transportation Board approved a new fee earlier this month.

    It allows drivers and companies to charge a $75 fine — on top of the flag fare — to passengers who soil or damage the interior of a vehicle with bodily fluids or solids.

    Drivers have always been permitted to charge for the cost of cleaning vomit, or any other nasty substance, from cabs, but the new rule sets a specific rate, giving cabbies and their companies more certainty about how to handle the sticky situation.

    Few taxi drivers wanted to comment on the new fee Friday, some worried they would lose their jobs if they shared their opinion.

    Vancouver taxi driver Amarjit Singh said he, like many cabbies, is familiar with the consequences that follow once a passenger vomits in a vehicle.

    "Other people can't sit in the cab," he said. "It smells so bad sometimes."

    He said the resulting cleanup costs can vary widely depending on the cleaner and the extent of the damage.

    Then there is also money lost for the time not working, he added.

    "It's fair for the drivers," said Singh, referring to the fee. "Sometimes drivers lose their time."

    Singh, who often works days now, said the problem is much more prevalent for those who drive overnight, especially after the bars close.

    Carolyn Bauer, the spokeswoman of the Vancouver Taxi Association, said most of the problems happen during Friday and Saturday nights, usually around Vancouver's the entertainment district.

    "It happens all the time," said Bauer of sick passengers. "We've had not just throw-up in the taxi, we've had a lot worse."

    "We've had a few times where they've urinated and the car is down for two days because it needs to be completely disinfected," she said.

    "You can imagine what one in the morning is like — we've got about 18,000 kids out on the street," said Bauer. "They've all had a good time drinking, and surely to goodness out of that 18,000 less than 10 per cent are going to get sick."

    Several cabbies waiting for passengers around Vancouver complained the fee was too low, because cleaning a cab can often cost $100 — not including the money lost while their cab is off the road.

    Mohan Kang, president of the B.C. Taxi Association, said the charge is fair, because the Passenger Transportation Board has to make sure customers aren't overcharged.

    "Some of the drivers are asking for more," said Kang. "But I think it is a fair amount to be objective of the drivers as well as the customers."

    The board, which is responsible for implementing the fixed fine, said it did so at the request of taxi drivers in the province.

    "This was the fee that was requested by the Vancouver Taxi Association," said Jan Broocke, the director of the Passenger Transportation Board. "It was at a June stakeholder meeting that the Vancouver Taxi Association put a request for the specific amount."

    "With a specified amount it's clear — it's unambiguous," said Broocke. "If people soil a cab they should pay for it, and it's a reasonable amount."

    The new fee in B.C. is one of several in the country.

    Calgary City Council imposed a $100 charge passengers who vomit in vehicles earlier this week.

    A $25 fee is charged in Toronto, after councillors approved it in February.


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    The Canadian Museum of History may soon find itself competing for visitors with Tim Hortons as the chain readies to open an homage to its past.

    An upcoming redevelopment of the coffee and doughnut giant's first restaurant in Hamilton, Ont. will see it turned into a two-storey building with a museum-like portion that will show items from the 50 years it has spent in business, The Toronto Sun reported.

    "It will pay homage to our history while embracing some of the new designs," Tim Hortons chief operating officer David Clanachan told a crowd of employees and Hamilton residents at the Thursday announcement.

    Here are some renderings of the redeveloped Tim Hortons location in Hamilton:

    tim hortons museum

    tim hortons museum

    The new restaurant will be designed with a glass cube, but it will also have more conventional traits like its original brick colour, steel railings and "retro" red seats, CBC News reported.

    Patrons won't be walking into a replica of its first coffee shop, but the museum will nevertheless give them a chance to travel through time, as its collection of memorabilia is being relocated from the company's head office in Oakville, Ont.

    "We think [the memorabilia] belongs here," Clanachan said.

    News of the redevelopment comes after Tim Hortons revealed a concept store in the Metro Toronto Convention Centre earlier this month.

    That location will give people an idea of what its stores might look like in the future. Offerings include beer inspired by Tim Hortons coffee, touch screen menus and a grab-and-go area for sandwiches and other items.

    Check out some photos of Tim Hortons over the years:


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    It can be easy to forget how vast, big, and versatile British Columbia is. We're a large and beautiful province with a lot to offer, so the itch to explore it can be irresistible.

    There's a lot to see, and narrowing it down can be overwhelming. So if you're in the mood for a local jaunt this summer, allow us to suggest some routes.

    And so, here are nine must-do B.C. road trips:



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    It often feels like Canada is searching for a versatile actor to call our own, someone who can do it all. It turns out he's been sitting right under our noses this entire time in the form of Colm Feore, a man working steadily in TV ("24," "The Borgias," "Sensitive Skin"), movies ("Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit," "Thor," "The Amazing Spider-Man 2"), and theatre, currently prepping for the Stratford Festival. Of course he's going to be in two plays: the titular role in "King Lear" and Archer in "The Beaux' Stratagem."

    TIFF certainly isn't ignorant of Feore's accomplishments: on Monday, July 28, the film festival headquarters is putting the spotlight on him, holding an "In Conversation With..." evening with the oft-overlooked thespian. HuffPost Canada TV spoke with Feore (who's in Stratford getting ready, natch) about his Canadian citizenship, his incredibly diverse career, and how his chameleon-like presence allows him the greatest freedom imaginable.

    HuffPost Canada TV: I’ve been trying to talk to you for years, so this is a pleasure. You and Christopher Plummer are tough to get a hold of.
    Colm Feore: What? I’m easy enough to get a hold of! He’s a lot busier than I am. If he were less busy, I’d be more busy. I always joke with him: “Please Chris, just retire. Sweet Jesus, stop.” [Laughs]

    Did you ever debate with Plummer about who plays the better King Lear?
    No, you know what? We actually agree on how to play him. Of course I saw Chris play him, and I stole some aspects of his performance. I’ve been stealing from him for a long time. He’s extraordinary. The way he can communicate Shakespeare is effortless. In all seriousness, they’re not making actors like him anymore. It’s not possible with the way the industry’s evolved now. You can’t be some punk kid from Montreal and say, “I’m going to take over the world.”

    Your career is remarkably vast, it’s impossible to hone in on one specific area. Do you ever look back on it in wonderment?
    Not quite wonderment, but maybe a little bit of “Wow, I’ve managed to get this far and keep working, and not have to ask my parents for money, which is really gratifying.” To me, that’s a very good indication of some level of success. [Laughs] This is a hard business, and it’s cruel, a very merciless mistress. She only wants you when she wants you and she discards you immediately thereafter. I am really heartened, though, by the steady growth of my career.

    Again, I know this is probably tough considering the length of your career, but have there been any roles or groups of roles that hold a special place for you?
    I love doing film and TV, I like talking to the crew and figuring out how to use the cameras properly. I always seek to master the technical elements that allow me greater freedom artistically. But, I’d have to say, quick snap, probably “32 Short Films About Glenn Gould.” It was a very cool thing for me to do, because it opened all the doors to do things in New York and L.A. that I would never dream of getting into. That led to “Face/Off,” “Paycheck,” Sidney Lumet, Clint Eastwood, Stephen King … subsequently here in Canada doing “Trudeau,” and then something like “Bon Cop, Bad Cop,” which was hugely successful in a way that blows all Canadian models away.

    What are your thoughts about this TIFF spotlight? Does it feel satisfying to know that you’re revered as an actor?
    Oh, it’s terrific. I don’t want to sit around and talk about myself. I’m happy to talk about the work and everybody else, maybe how we do it, illuminate that for people if I can. Tell some stories, if there are any to tell. Answer questions if there are any. It’s a little uncomfortable being celebrated, as it were, and I don’t see that there’s any need to do that, but I do want people to come and see my play, so maybe I can convince a few people to venture out to Stratford to see a couple of the shows.

    That’s a very Canadian answer.
    [Laughs] I’m sorry, but what do you expect? [Laughs]

    On the whole, Canadians assume you were born here, but you were actually born in Massachusetts. But you still consider yourself a Canuck, right?
    No question. My parents are Irish, they got off the boat in New York, got married. My father ended up being a landed immigrant in Ottawa in the 1960s. We moved to Windsor and I’ve been here ever since.

    You have this unique chameleon-like quality. You could probably convince me you’re British too.
    I would put some effort into fooling you if I thought that was the job. [Laughs] Occasionally people come up to me on the street and ask, “Hey, are you famous?” I have to say, “Well, clearly not enough or you would know.” The great advantage of that is you can show up in a dozen different things, and sometimes I look precisely the same or I’ll talk a little differently or I’ll move a little differently and people just won’t make the connection. If I get onto Air Canada, they think I’m a pilot. Some people think I went to high school with them, and I’m happy to partake in that bit of improvisation. [Laughs]

    Throughout your career, you’ve seen the Canadian TV and movie industry ebb, grow and change. Do you have any thoughts on the current state of Canadian media, or the way things are made and produced?
    It’s always in flux. It requires money that we don’t have and that people don’t want to give us. I’m a member on the board of Reel Canada, which is a wonderful organization, but it’s enormously difficult to get the word out there. It’s easier to make a horror film in Toronto with American stars than it is to get a Canadian story made with people we don’t really know all that well. Obviously there are challenges, but I have a great deal of faith that the right people are still working hard at it. We’re doing it in a much more penny-fisted type of way, and it’s just harder.

    Part of the TIFF thing is admitting that we’re not going to have a Canadian star system. It’s not going to exist, we can’t make it exist. If we go before the public regularly enough – like TIFF, like in Stratford – it just might work. I can only cross my fingers and hope that the people who’re making the decisions are doing them for the right reasons, balancing the more commercial element with a realistic appreciation for how much 32 million Canadians want to see something.

    Colm Feore will be appearing at Colm Feore … In Conversation at TIFF Bell Lightbox on Monday, July 28 at 7 p.m. You can also catch him at the Stratford Festival.



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    As hundreds of athletes competed through the evening at the Subaru Ironman race in Whistler on Sunday, photographer David McColm looked up and snapped some breathtaking images.

    whistler northern lights

    whistler northern lights

    While the scene was stunning, he noted that the northern lights weren't very big and didn't last for long.

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    Is it hot enough out there for you? If you're looking for a fun, exciting way to cool off this summer, look no further than one of Canada's best water parks. Cheapflights.ca shares its picks for the top 9 wet and wild parks across the country.


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  • 07/31/14--08:47: Roadtripping: Family-Style
  • 2014-07-08-RoadTrip.jpg

    There is something universal about roadtrips. The soundtrack of my particular childhood journeys was a combination of Barbara Streisand, the musical Annie and the Solid Gold cassette collection (thanks to the brilliant loyalty marketing campaign launched by a big Canadian chain of gas stations in the '80s). My parents Chevrolet wagon with faux-wood paneling would barrel down the freeways, windows down, a couple kids in the back and one of us in the trunk seat (until motion sickness set in from facing backwards).

    Many years later my husband and I were hitting the open road with our two-and-a-half-year-old son, Atticus, for our inaugural family roadtrip.

    Since we were testing the waters with this one, we didn't want to venture too far from home, but still wanted to ensure a memorable getaway and destination. Cue the Lodge at Glendorn in Bradford , Pennsylvania, only a 3.5 hours drive from Toronto -- a former family "camp" built in the 1930s in the grand tradition of multi-generational family country escapes. Now a Relais and Chateaux property, the amenities sounded right up our alley, a little something for everyone.

    2014-07-08-photo1_6.jpg

    We had the best intentions of hitting the road by 8 a.m., but departure times with a toddler are variable. We gassed up and fueled ourselves with coffee and croissants from Ezra's Pound. The clock read 9:30 -- not bad. Smooth sailing until we reached Hamilton. I'm the resident DJ, curating singalong tunes that appealed to all ages; I think I impressed both passengers (playlist below). Unfortunately, the long weekend border traffic got the best of us (and our fellow road-trippers) and we were forced to sit in a series of lines that crawled at speeds below 2 MPH. Fortunately we followed rule number one of the road-tripping handbook! ALWAYS HAVE SNACKS AND DIVERSIONS ON HAND. Out came the cooler, and some forgotten toys -- oh, and the forbidden iPad.

    Once we safely crossed the Peace Bridge into Buffalo, New York, the traffic let up and the open road beckoned. We drove for another 45 minutes and the landscape began to change. Long stretches of rural roads and bucolic farm life entertained our son, who was impressed by the barns, silos, tractors, combine harvesters and balers he saw and proceeded to call out by name as we drove. The horizon swelled with foothills tinted blue -- either from the humid summer haze or the midday shadows. We all agreed it was beautiful (even Atticus) and pledged to take more rural roadtrips in the future.

    2014-07-08-photo3copy.jpg

    We rolled into Ellicottville, New York around 2 p.m. starving! This was our first official pit stop (the undocumented one was the duty-free restrooms at the border that helpfully allowed us to avoid a potentially longer line-up of cars -- Shhhhhhhh). Thanks to a billboard on the state highway we did a quick reconnaissance drive through town (one main street) and easily spotted the Ellicottville Brewing Co. They have an inviting beer garden and happening brew pub. The meal hit the spot, but their signature blueberry wheat brew was something to write home about! We'll definitely be back.

    Fortuitously, we parked our car (two-hour free parking no less -- love small town America) in front of a homemade sweet shop called Watson's Chocolates. We picked up some freshly dipped chocolate pretzels and sponge toffee in varying grades of milk and dark chocolate for dessert.

    Shockingly the chocolate outlasted the remainder of the drive which was only 45 minutes to Bradford, Pennsylvania. We wound our way through the small town, up along an inviting forested rural road that lead us to the gates of the Lodge at Glendorn. Originally owned by the Dorns, a family who made their fortune in oil, the irony of their 1500 acres of unspoiled woodland playground was not lost on us.

    Arriving at a final destination while road-tripping always makes me giddy. It's a combination of the destination anticipation combined with the euphoria of finally emerging from such a confined space. To say that Atticus was impressed with our home for the weekend is putting it lightly -- from the old-fashioned gates that magically creaked open, to the welcome party of staff who greeted us personally when we pulled up to the main house. It all felt like we had stepped back in time to a very civilized (and wealthy) period in American history. We wandered the grounds accompanied by the welcome committee who proffered crystal goblets of freshly squeezed lemonade. Atticus loved the billiards room and ice cream parlor (complete with actual retro freezers and ice cream sundae accoutrements in perfect condition from the 1950s property upgrade). We all ohhhh'd on cue when escorted through the impressive great room, admiring the two-story beamed ceilings and gigantic sandstone fireplace.

    2014-07-08-ScreenShot20140704at1.54.07PM.png

    Keeping in the spirit of the retro-roadtrip vibe, Glendorn is a rustic but ever-so-luxurious sleepaway camp for adults (and their offspring). There truly is something for the whole family. Had there been more time my husband would have gladly accepted the offer to go fly fishing or skeet shooting with the activity director (I'm not making this up... he introduced himself over our country breakfast on day two). Instead, at his cajoling, we opted for salamander catching, feeding the trout in the babbling brook that ran alongside our cabin, followed by a bike ride (with toddler sidecar) on kitted-out mountain bikes down a series of trails to Bondieu Lake offering a selection of un-motorized floatation/paddle craft. There was not a single soul on this private lake, and many hours were wiled away on and in the water.

    2014-07-08-ScreenShot20140704at12.50.04PM.png

    A highlight for all three of us was the Saturday night bonfire set up overlooking Skipper Lake. The walk was illuminated with discreet tiki torches that reflected off the water, but Atticus still insisted on bringing the small flashlight that had been part of his bug trapping welcome kit. The fire pit was set up on a stone terrace overlooking the water, and surrounding us was Pennsylvania's Allegheny National Forest. We taught Atticus how to roast a marshmallow and build a s'more (with Pennsylvania's own Hershey chocolate -- no less) while we sipped on bottles of cold craft beer.

    2014-07-08-ScreenShot20140704at2.09.56PM.png

    There were other amazing details too, like the wood-burning fireplace and the original ice chest (always filled) for making cold drinks in our cabin, the canapés and proper cocktail service offered to all guests prior to dinner at the main lodge and, of course, the gourmet picnic lunches served (and delivered) on china with crystal barware, linens and Tiffany & Co. silver.

    2014-07-08-photo5_2.jpg

    This was certainly one luxurious camp that we were in no rush to leave. But like all great summer roadtrips, the drive home was looming. After an alfresco lunch on the terrace (Chef Schafer's "Pheasant Fingers" from fowl shot by guests on hunt) it was time to hit the open road. As we navigated the twists and turns of the rural road, we cranked up the local radio station and quite fittingly the smooth folk notes and catchy lyrics of Don McLean's 'American Pie' crooned back at us...

    "So bye bye, Miss American Pie. Drove my Chevy to the levee, but the levee was dry..."

    2014-07-08-RoadTripPlaylist.jpg

    Follow along here for more of our adventures.

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    Is it hot enough out there for you? If you're looking for a fun, exciting way to cool off this summer, look no further than one of Canada's best water parks. Cheapflights.ca shares its picks for the top 9 wet and wild parks across the country.


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    One of the largest crowds ever seen at the Celebration of Light fireworks festival took in a stunning display by Team Japan on Saturday night.

    Vancouver police estimated between 300,000 to 400,000 people watched the last show of the three-night competition. Other than some "alcohol-fuelled disturbances" and two small fires started by improperly discarded cigarettes, the crowd was generally well-behaved, said police.

    Check out highlights of this year's Celebration of Light:


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    A unique real estate company that allows potential buyers to live in a luxury house for sale was inspired by an unlikely source: oil and gas equipment auctions.

    "It was a transparent process," explains Alex Lambert, founder of The Garage Sale Luxury Auction House (TGS) based in Kelowna, B.C. "You could kick the tires."

    Lambert is taking that hands-on ability to examine a potentially large purchase and translating it to real estate. Potential buyers of high-end homes listed with TGS can book a stay at the property for up to seven days. It includes a "live-in host," a gourmet chef, and 24-hour concierge service.

    "When you’re viewing real estate, people often will be looking at six, eight, 10 homes in a day. It can be overwhelming and you have to think back about all the things you learn about each property," says Lambert in an interview with The Huffington Post B.C.

    "We really like to encourage everybody to take the time — it’s a multi-million dollar decision and one that you’re going to be living with after that — to really spend the time at the home with no sales pressure, with no one around to bother you ... and just get a sense of whether you’d enjoy living in the home or not."

    Interested buyers can really experience if there are any noise issues, or how bright the sun shines into the home at certain times of the day for example, says Lambert.

    "You test drive a new car before purchasing, so why wouldn't you test drive a luxury home?"

    At Madrona Grove, a Pender Island, B.C. property currently for sale, chef David Weslowsky is around to cook meals — and answer questions.

    "People want to know about the kitchen, how it works," says the chef, who usually caters to heli-skiiers at the exclusive CMH Valemount Lodge. "They'll ask: 'What do you think about the stove, David?'"

    The "live-in host" will do everything from the dishes to arranging tours of the neighbourhood.

    Story continues after slideshow:



    Lambert started TGS in 2009 after selling a successful oil services business he started with his brother as teenagers in Drayton Valley, Alta. TGS began with auctioning high-end cars and boats, but now focuses on luxury properties.

    Ever the entrepreneur, Lambert eschews the traditional buying/selling real estate process by auctioning off homes with no minimum or reserve bid. It's a business model that came out of experience, and not a gimmick.

    In 2009, TGS was selling a new home with a reserve bid of $5.2 million. Bidding went as high as $4.4 million but didn't meet what the owner set as the minimum amount. The owner ended up keeping the house for three years when it was finally sold for $3.1 million, says Lambert.

    So why would someone want to auction off a multi-million dollar home?

    "You can plan around the fact that the house will be sold on that date," says Lambert. The unusual process also distinguishes a home from others that are for sale.

    The Madrona Grove property is actually owned by the B.C. Cancer Foundation. It was a gift from cancer survivor Robert Conconi and his wife. The foundation's Lou Del Gobbo says using TGS' auction service gives the house, as well as the non-profit group, some marketing exposure.

    "Live-in viewings and auction events facilitate emotional connections with buyers," says the TGS website.

    To prove it's viable, Lambert bought and developed a five-bedroom, five-bath property in Kelowna that included a 1,200-bottle wine cave and yoga studio. After 90 viewings and two live-in stays, the house sold for $4.7 million at auction last summer with nine registered bidders.

    (Bidders must pass a vetting process that includes a $150,000 deposit held with a bank draft, and a bank's letter of guarantee for the range of value they're offering.)

    A few months later, TGS sold a West Kelowna home for $3.65 million at auction with five registered bidders.

    The current Pender Island listing will be auctioned off on August 22. It's open for private viewings but there is a "buy it now" option for $1.425 million.

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    Scenic, friendly, and just small enough, Victoria, B.C. is a great place to live. But the City of Gardens is bigger than we remember, with new condos and subdivisions popping up everywhere and ferry prices that would have horrified our 10-year-old selves. Also, a lot of the cool stuff is gone. Remember when we had water slides, laser bowling, and there were bunnies everywhere? So do we.

    And so, here are 22 signs that you grew up in our province's capital in the '90s.


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    Two Scandinavian tourists are honking their horns at Canadian car culture after a recent trip left them “horrified” by the sight of sprawling freeways and “unfulfilled communities.”

    They were so unimpressed by the country’s apparent display of excessive car-serving infrastructure, they penned an open letter to Canadians and politicians urging “radical steps” to “make Canada a healthy, happy and sustainable country.”

    English-born Holly Chabowski and her Danish girlfriend were “horrified to see great oceans of car parks deserting the landscape and 12 lane high ways, rammed packed with huge SUVs, with people going nowhere” during their five-week vacation – visiting cities including Toronto, Montreal, Quebec City, Ottawa, and Halifax.

    The duo live in Aarhus, Denmark’s second largest city, were lured to Canada in the first place because of Canuck co-workers and their love of “hiking in national parks", Chabowski told HuffPost Canada. Though she says they had an “incredible adventure,” the most salient memory they have is of parking instead of parks.

    They also backed up their observations with a few testimonies from locals they met on their travels.

    “Trying to solve traffic problems by building more roads is like trying to solve obesity by buying bigger trousers,” one unnamed Ottawan told Chabowski. It’s a cheeky analogy supported by government data, too.

    According to Transport Canada, the National Highway System now boasts 38,000 kilometres of roadways – a 56 per cent boost between 1988 and 2011.

    In contrast, there are approximately 10,000 kilometres of national bike routes in Denmark, according to the Danish government.

    So what solutions do they present to inspire Canadians who live in a country nearly 232 times the size of Denmark to give up their car-driving ways? Trains are a feasible place to start for both citizens and tourists, says Chabowski.

    “You can relax, socialize, read a newspaper, enjoy a glass of wine or sleep. It becomes part of your holiday or trip,” she explained in an email.

    To deal with Scandinavian winters, Chabowski says a salted route, extra layers and winter tires go a long way. Electric bikes are also a popular choice for occasional trips to IKEA and among the elderly, she says.

    "They can keep fit, socialize with friends and remain independent into old age."

    Read the full letter below:

    An open letter to the people who hold power and responsibility in Canada,

    My girlfriend and I (Danish) were tourists in your country for 5 weeks this summer. We had the most incredible adventure and met the most wonderful Canadians, who welcomed us warmly into their homes.

    Apart from these people, who sincerely do your nation credit, our overwhelming memory of Canada is one of cars, traffic, parking and the related obesity and unfulfilled communities. It is an impression that we have since shared with other tourists who have visited Canada.

    Before arriving in Canada we had a genuine impression of a clean, healthy and sustainable first world country. Upon arrival in Toronto we were horrified to see great oceans of car parks deserting the landscape and 12 lane high ways, rammed packed with huge SUVs, with people going no where. A greater shock came when we discovered that this kind of infrastructure is not reserved just for the sprawl surrounding towns and cities but that highways actually run through city centres too. As humans trying to enjoy Canada's major cities (Toronto, Montreal, Quebec City, Ottawa and Halifax) we were treated like second class citizens compared to cars. The air was dirty, and the constant noise from horns and engines was unpleasant.

    An observation that was especially noticeable in Halifax was the sheer amount of land in the city centre given to parking. Ginormous swaths of prime locations for living (parks, shops, cafés, market squares, theatres, playing fields etc - human activities which are key to quality of life) concreted over as homes for an ever increasing number of SUVs (most trucks and SUVs we saw contained only one person. The most SUVs we saw in a row were full of singular people driving through Tim Hortens). We asked the Canadians that we met how they felt living in such a car culture, here are a few of their responses:

    'Trying to solve traffic problems by building more roads is like trying to solve obesity by buying bigger trousers.' Ottawa

    'It's only 10km to my work place. I would love to cycle, it would only take 30 minutes but it is simply not possible. I don't feel safe. Instead I park and sweat, meaning after 25 minutes stuck in traffic I drive my car to the gym and waste another 25 minutes of time I could spend with my family.' Quebec City

    'I hate cars in the city so much that I actually find myself slowing down as I cross the road, in a tiny effort to exert my authority as a human being over all that metal.' Toronto

    'It seems to me that birds fly, fish swim and humans walk. Except in North America where you are expected to drive-everywhere. You wouldn't put a fish in a submarine!' Montreal

    'I am obese. My children are overweight and most of the people who live around here. I am surrounded by fast food chains, car parks and highways. I would love to ditch the car. My neighbourhood doesn't even have sidewalks.' Levis

    As we explored more of the country we tried to console ourselves that at least a few cities were making an effort to make life liveable for humans - small local businesses, cycle infrastructure and pedestrianised streets. However, it felt like a token gesture rather than a genuine effort to make Canada a healthy, happy and sustainable country. Pedestrians were squeezed onto narrow pavements and forced to stop every 100m to cross the road, bike lanes were little more than paint on the ground for the cyclists to help protect the parked cars lining every street. We heard that the mayor of Toronto, Rob Ford, is actually tearing up bicycle lanes to make way for more cars!

    Walking and cycling are human activities that bring great life, health and economy to communities. Streets that prioritise cars over humans are bad for business, bad for health (mental, social and physical), unsafe and break down communities.

    I write this letter to appeal to you to take radical steps to transform Canada into the healthy, happy and sustainable country we were expecting. You are a nation of the most fantastic people, we know because we met them everywhere! As citizens they deserve much, much better.

    Come on Canada! When tourists visit Canada make sure they remember it for for its parks rather than parking.

    Sincerely yours,

    Holly Chabowski
    Denmark


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    Anyone who walks by the Tower of London will notice that the grounds have changed colour. Instead of a bright green, the dry moat surrounding the tower is now a wash of red.

    Nearly 120,000 ceramic poppies have been "planted" to honour soldiers who died in the First World War.

    ceramic poppies

    The installation, called "Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red," was officially unveiled Tuesday. The artist aims to have 888,246 poppies installed by Armistice Day on November 11, one for every person who died fighting for Britain and its colonies in World War I.

    ceramic poppies

    ceramic poppies

    ceramic poppies

    ceramic poppies

    The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, along with Prince Harry, visited the installation on Tuesday, stopping to "plant" some poppies.

    ceramic poppies

    ceramic poppies

    Monday marked 100 years since Germany invaded Belgium, which started the First World War.

    ceramic poppies

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    WINNIPEG - The Transportation Safety Board is investigating a near miss between two planes on the runway at the Winnipeg International Airport.

    The TSB says that about 9 a.m. on Monday morning, a WestJet Boeing 737 was approaching to land on the main runway.

    At the same time, a WestJet Encore flight involving a Dash 8 aircraft was taxiing from the terminal towards the runway.

    Peter Hildebrand of the TSB says it’s unclear how close they came to one another.

    But he says while they don't know for sure if the taxiing aircraft made it right onto the runway, it did encroach on what's called "the runway environment," meaning it was within the protected zone of the runway.

    The plane that was supposed to land pulled up, flew over the runway and landed on a second attempt.

    Hildebrand says TSB investigators will be on site for the next couple of weeks doing interviews and examining the runway.

    (CJOB)



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    WARNING: Spoiler Alert! Do not read on unless you've seen "Amazing Race Canada" Season 2, Episode 5. Unless you like spoilers, then go right ahead!

    Seeing the recap from last week just reminded me that Laura and Jackie got the shaft with the non-elimination round and Jinder and Sukhi, who are sometimes hit but mostly miss, lucked out. Why, fates? Why the mysterious ways?

    The teams ended the international leg by leaving Macau at the statue of Kun Iam, the Goddess of Mercy, so please, producers. Please have mercy on us who no longer want any lame challenges like last week's firecracker-lighting farce.

    Natalie and Meaghan were the first to leave for the umpteenth time and got news that they were headed back to Canada -- the Yukon, to be specific. The rest of the teams followed, at least an hour-and-a-half after Team Hockey, and the Express Pass was on everyone's minds. Well, everyone but Mickey and Pete, who I'm not sure even knew it was in play.

    Sadly, Natalie and Meaghan's moustache-twirling-villains radar was busted because they gave the coveted Express Pass to Pierre and Michel. Pourquoooooooi?! Bob calls the move "dumb" and it's hard to argue with that.

    After a night's rest in the stunning Yukon, it was Detour time: Make Your Bed or Ride a Sled. It seemed like a no-brainer as Bed involved recreating a camp site identical to one already set up, while those who chose Sled had to harness three dogs, attach them to a sled and complete six laps but I guess Mickey and Pete, Cormac and Nicole, and Rex and Bob have a good eye for detail.

    Ryan and Rob, Alain and Audrey, and Sukhi and Jinder found the harnesses, while Teams Hockey and Twins each forgot one of the three names on their dog list. Of all the things. So both teams ran the 1.5 km back to the cabin to get the names but while Hockey went back to their dogs, the twins changed it up to Bed.

    Back at Bed, everything continued to be easy-breezy for Mickey and Pete, who tried to bust a move on "gorgeous" "hot mom" Nicole. Cormac was all, "Dudes, that's my Mom," but Nicole shrugged it off (and then hopefully got one of their numbers later). The Bickersons, Rex and Bob, were having issues and it only got worse when the twins showed up and built their tent tout de suite.

    Oh, those poor dogs of Jin and Suk. Animal services, anyone? Of course, they had no clue how to harness the dogs but instead of looking at the examples of what all the other teams followed, they had to pester the closest team to them. Hell, they probably asked the dogs for help.

    Ryan and Rob were first to finish, followed by Sukhi and Jinder, whose dogs had enough of them and tossed them as they finished their last lap. The sibs also had to complete the Speed Bump, which involved hooking up a trailer to their truck, driving a dozen kilometres, then backing it perfectly into a spot without knocking down any pylons. So, if you can drive, you could've done this "challenge."

    The Roadblock was a biathlon: Bike a 1 km-loop in the woods, then hit five targets. If any of the five were missed, they had to bike the loop again to earn five more rounds of ammo. And so on. Hmm, an actual toughie. Nice!

    The first bikers and shooters were Ryan, Natalie, Alain and Nicole. Ryan got two out of five, Nat got four, Nicole got none and Alain -- all five. Damn. Audrey was freaking out, understandably, and they took off before the other teams even arrived.

    Mickey, a hunter, was the obvious choice and, womp, womp -- he missed all five. Maybe he could've gotten a couple if he wasn't shooting it like he was busting a cap in someone's ass, but I digress. Natalie finished, while Sukhi, Rex and Pierre were the next shooters up. Sukhi asked 19 questions before shutting up and shooting Spooner-style, scoring four out of five. Huh?? No, really. What? Sukhi did a lap, shot her last target and now the rest of Canada had questions. Primarily how did that just happen?

    To get to the pit stop, the teams had to portage their canoes to the Yukon River, then paddle to Jon. Easy enough, but Alain had to endure more shrieking from Audrey, with Teams Hockey and R & R on their tails. Meaghan and Natalie had to take a breather thanks to Meaghan's hand (which she broke before the Gold Medal game in Sochi), so it was down to Audrey and Alain and Ryan and Rob, but it was the Montreal couple who took first spot. Ryan and Rob were next, and like many of us, were just pleased that Natalie and Meaghan's streak finally came to an end.

    "Who designs these torture tests -- Satan?" No really, Rex, Satan. Most of the teams completed the biathlon after a few rounds but Pete and Nicole really struggled -- biking, missing, biking, missing, biking, missing. Pete eventually nailed the targets as the sibs figured which way was down the river and finished in fourth for the day while the country watched in bewilderment. Yes, an impressive finish, but I still can't with these two. They were followed by Pierre and Michel, Mickey and Pete, and Rex and Bob.

    Which left Nicole and Cormac. Sigh. It's always the good ones, right? She said right from the start that she wasn't a quitter and was always taught to finish what you start, and after 22 (!!!) attempts (which, do the math, also meant 22 km of biking in those treacherous woods), a physically and emotionally exhausted Nicole finally hit all the marks. Not only did she finish like a champ but let's not ignore Cormac. He could've easily lost his shiitake mushrooms but not once did we see him banging his head against a tree. Every time she missed, he said she was close; every time she got one, he screamed how proud he was. It was just an amazing thing to watch. The unamazing part? That another favourite team is gone from the race. If this keeps up, we're going to have to call it "The Annoying Race Canada." No, really, if Ryan and Rob are next to go, I'm done.

    Episode 4 Recap
    Episode 3 Recap
    Episode 2 Recap
    Episode 1 Recap
    Episode 1 Review

    "Amazing Race Canada" Season 2 airs on Tuesdays at 9 p.m. ET/PT on CTV.




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    This week, two European tourists complained about the Canadian car culture after a brief stint in the 10 million square kilometer nation of over 35-million people. The British and Danish complainers now reside in Aarhus, Denmark. While I support criticizing a country, it is also good to have the facts in order. To that end, here are some stats Chabowski should have taken into account before making rush judgments on Canadian society.

    2014-08-06-WP_20140806_12_23_11_Pro.jpg


    Bicycle Accommodations

    I happen to live in Aarhus, Denmark -- but was raised and educated in Canada. I grew up in Burlington, Ontario, and later lived in Hamilton. Ever since I can remember, I have been an avid cyclist. I have both been a car owner and a heavy public transit rider in southern Ontario. The buses and trains in Ontario have accommodated my bicycle by setting a bike rack at the front of the bus or in the train. Now that I'm in Denmark, I have no accommodation for bringing my bike onto Danish public transportation.

    Transportation to rural areas

    Like anyone who must travel more than 20km each way to a rural area, a car is the only economic mode of transportation. Luckily, I have friends in Denmark who own cars -- it facilitates travel to those picturesque yet isolated areas.

    Would Danes employ hatchback cars instead of SUVs if they had similar winters to Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal or Halifax? Of course not! Chabowski confessed to Zi-Ann Lum that Scandinavian winters in Aarhus are handled with salt and winter tires -- last winter, they got less than 10cm of snow. I rode my bike over snow to school, 14km every day. The buses were either late or cancelled. If Denmark had the same snowfall as Toronto, there would be more than just late buses and cancelled routes. At present, the SUV is to Canadians what a wagon is to Denmark .

    Canadian commute

    Canada's fascination with cars might have to do with the significant car manufacturing industry, a high disposable income, and vast distances people may travel on a regular basis. For example, Toronto to Hamilton is over 61km, and Canadians do this daily. By comparison, Denmark's's small geographic size allows the tiny nation to implement wide-spread infrastructure and place a 180% tax on cars. The geographic grandeur of Canada is no comparison. The criticism Chabowski has for the heavy traffic in the big Canadian cities is almost naïve -- the population of the Denmark (5.6 million) is less than the metropolitan population of Toronto, not including the millions of people who commute on a daily basis to Toronto by train, bus, and car, for work and entertainment. Taking in the distance between Toronto and Canada's capital, Ottawa, at over 450km, it is imprudent to compare the transport culture of Canada to that of Denmark, when the distance between Aarhus and Denmark's capital, Copenhagen, is short of 180km. Denmark is a mere 42,000 sq. km, it would fit three times in the 139,000 sq. km of Southern Ontario.

    The main cities the two tourists explored were part of Canada's top 15 most populous places: Toronto, Montreal, Quebec City, Ottawa, and Halifax. Each of these cities is are larger than Aarhus, in terms of population and geography. Aarhus, the second biggest city in the tiny European state of Denmark, boasts that it is a little big city of 91 sq. km, home to 330,000 people. By comparison, Toronto is home to over six million people within 630 sq.km. It would be ridiculous for me to suggest biking and walking all around Toronto the way they can in a town seven times smaller than T dot.

    Health

    Chabowski claims that Canadians are unhappy because of their car culture -- interestingly Canadians as of 2014 are ranked as the third happiest people in the world, behind Switzerland and Norway, but ahead of Denmark at fourth.

    Chabowski blames cars and fast-food for contributing to obesity in Canada. She omits that Denmark had to impose a 'fat tax' on foods to reduce its obesity to 18%. Canada, with all of its cars and fast-food chains, already has the coveted 18% obesity rate -- without resorting to a fat tax to control eating habits. Canadians enjoy a high life expectancy at 82 years are ranked in good health (also third in the world). Danes enjoy shorter working hours and an average life expectancy rate in the OECD at 80 years.

    None of this defence for Canada's car culture is meant to imply Canada is perfect, but when your vacation consists of visiting metropolitan cities with the expectation to get out to national parks and vineyards without a vehicle, you have not thought through your vacation. Canada is the world's second largest country geographically, and a car is a part of the lifestyle that allows people to travel around.

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    Visitors to Auckland, New Zealand and Melbourne, Australia are least likely to be riled up by snobby wait staff or snubbed by rude locals, according to a new ranking that put the two cities at the top of the world’s friendliest cities list.

    Readers of CN Traveler magazine gave top scores to the two cities for not only their sunny disposition but notably their "wonderful sense of humour."

    Here are the top 10 friendliest cities in the world, in order, as listed by CN Traveler:
    1. TIE: Auckland, New Zealand; Melbourne, Australia
    3. Victoria, British Columbia
    4. Charleston, South Carolina
    5. TIE: Dublin, Ireland; Sydney, Australia
    7. Siem Reap, Cambodia
    8. Cape Town, South Africa
    9. TIE: Savannah, Georgia; Seville, Spain
    11. TIE: Budapest, Hungary; Salzburg, Austria

    Top 10 unfriendliest cities in the world:
    1. Johannesburg, South Africa
    2. Cannes, France
    3. Moscow, Russia
    4. Paris, France
    5. Marseille, France
    6. Beijing, China
    7. Frankfurt, Germany
    8. Milan, Italy
    9. Monte Carlo, Monaco
    10. Nassau, Bahamas

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    For most of us, kayaking is generally a relaxed, leisurely sport. Unless you're Ben Marr and Rush Sturges.

    The two extreme kayakers sped down a B.C. drainage ditch while wearing GoPro cameras and uploaded the scary adventure to YouTube on Tuesday. They reached a top speed of 72 km/h, according to the video description.

    The drainage ditch was located in Lions Bay, reported CBC News, and popped them out into Howe Sound at the end of their run.

    "Oh my god!" one of the men exclaims when it's over. "What the f--k!"

    Don't try this at home.

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