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Canada Travel news and opinion

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    It's that time again: Canadians across the country are sending in their audition videos for "Amazing Race Canada," which is now casting for its third season.

    If you want to apply, you'd better hurry -- auditions for "Amazing Race Canada" Season 3 close on Monday, November 24 at 11:59 p.m. ET.

    In the Season 2 audition videos, we saw some shining examples of classic Canadian behaviour -- like running through (and falling into) snow drifts -- but there were also a lot of Canadians sitting on couches, which, of course, we love too.

    "Amazing Race Canada" Season 3 is set to start in the summer of 2015. (Don't forget, you can't just apply on YouTube, you have to apply via the official "Amazing Race Canada" application website.)

    Check out some of the stand-out audition videos, below.



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    As a fellow of the Explorers Club, and president of Artists For Conservation, I am interested in those who seek enlightenment, particularly when it involves adventure, the arts and raising public awareness about our natural environment.

    I recently interviewed a fellow B.C. Explorer's Club member, Mike Schauch, who just came back from his expedition to northern British Columbia with a diverse team that included three Tahltan First Nation friends. The team is now campaigning to share their story through a documentary film called "Colours of Edziza."

    Here are the highlights of our interview:

    Jeff: As a member of the Explorer's Club and seasoned mountaineer, you've done your share of ambitious adventures with specific outcomes in mind. What was your vision and goal with this expedition, and did it evolve during the trip?

    2014-11-17-SHG_0257.jpgMike: For this trip, we wanted to collaborate with our Tahltan First Nation friends, and journey through their territory togetherto learn as much as we could from their stories, culture, and perspectives of the land. It was a multi-cultural and multi-generational journey with Curtis, a Tahltan in his 50s who is a leader among his people; Tamara, a Tahltan artist from the millennial generation (Gen Y); Bodean, an 18-year old Tahltan youth who just graduated from high-school, and of course myself, a Gen Xer, and our crew of three, my wife Chantal (film co-director and co-producer), Matt (film director and cinematographer) and Eric (expedition photographer), all from various European backgrounds.

    We set out with a vision of achieving unity through working together to overcome hardship and achieve a mutual objective. We realized, however, that unity can only be achieved through open respect. It was open respect for each other that enabled us to successfully complete this journey together.

    Jeff: You've shared some incredible images of a remote part of northern British Columbia that many of us may never see. How would you characterize the lands and mountain ranges you traversed?

    2014-11-17-10541452_710413732379915_821950847241032203_o.jpgMike: As one who is passionate about climbing mountains, I have seen a lot of them -- from the 8,000-metre peaks of the Himalaya to the mountains in our own backyard -- the jagged, rocky, glaciated peaks of the coast mountains. Never in my life have I seen mountains like these.

    The mountains we traversed, while still rugged and serious terrain, are 2,000 to 3,000 meters high. As a result, you could see how the mountains and high ridgelines tied directly into creating life in the sweeping valleys and lower ecosystems.

    Also, these mountains are the most heavily mineralized mountains I have ever seen. We were literally picking up big chunks of iron and copper oxide, boulders of obsidian and crystals. One hillside we huffed up was covered almost entirely in geodes, many of which were broken open and shimmering in the sunlight. The result of all of this was visually spectacular, with every colour you can imagine, deep hues of reds, yellows, oranges, greens, purples, blacks and whites all mixed together with pockets of northern boreal old growth and deep turquoise alpine lakes.

    On top of this, the lands are very much untouched -- like the land must have been hundreds of thousands of years ago before humans were the dominant force of the planet. There was a strange richness of the land. You could feel the land's very pulse.

    Jeff: Now that you've returned, what is the key message you wish to impart to others?

    2014-11-17-Slider_1a_SHG_0911.jpg
    Mike: That we must respect our land. But to do this, we must first learn to respect ourselves and each other. Our journey was mentally and physically taxing. Every day we had new challenges to deal with, weighed down by our bodies getting increasingly fatigued (from carrying 65+ lb. packs over difficult terrain), and the uncertainty of where we would find clean water and a safe flat spot for our tents.

    Despite this, day after day we put our differences and egos aside, and worked together to find the best way forward. Sometimes we got it totally wrong, the consequences of which were several hours of exhausting uphill bushwhacking, or gingerly making our way down an ice-laden glaciated scree slope where a tumble could be costly. However, it was through respect for each other that we could make better choices that carried us safely through the challenges of the day.

    I believe our experience was a microcosm for what we all face in our daily lives. We don't need to look far to see the general lack of respect we have for ourselves and each other, and the affect this is having on our relationship with our land. Some communities are getting the brunt of it more than others. However, we are all in this together, and so must learn to respect ourselves and each other so we can make decisions that will have a positive impact not only on our own community, but all communities.

    Jeff: Who else was involved in the expedition?

    Mike: On the trip was my wife, Chantal, producer and co-director of our film, Matt Miles, our film director and cinematographer, Eric Saczuk, our expedition photographer, and our Tahltan friends Curtis Rattray, expedition co-lead, Tamara Skubovius, expedition artist, and our young scout, Bodean Williams.
    2014-11-17-P1030365.JPG

    Jeff: What is it you hope will come of the film?

    Mike: As most people will never choose or be able to visit this place, one of the last naturally intact places left in our world, we would like to bringing our experiences in these lands to the masses. We hope this will help our viewers reflect on their relationship with our natural world, and how our day-to-day choices and priorities are affecting the world around us, so we can all make better choices about what truly matters to us.

    Jeff: Tell me about the crowdfunding campaign to support the film's production and how can people find out more?

    Mike: We've self-funded the production (entire trip footage) of the film, and now we need to raise $25,000 for post-production and producing the original film score. We hope that many more people will join us on this important journey, and ask for their support and contributions to our Indiegogo campaign,. We invite people to view our teaser and support at www.coloursofedzizacampaign.com.



    2014-11-17-1658139_710395182381770_5233294259912090963_o.jpg

    2014-11-17-SHG_0890.jpg

    2014-11-17-1266994_710418619046093_7300619476004130996_o.jpg

    2014-11-17-P1030645.JPG

    Photo credits: Eric Saczuk, Chantal Schauch, and Mike Schauch

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    VICTORIA - One of the owners of an eco-friendly lodge in British Columbia's remote Bella Coola Valley says recent ferry service cuts are threatening local businesses and costing governments almost $1 million in lost tax revenues.

    Tweedsmuir Park Lodge co-owner Beat Steiner says the impact of the ferry route and service cuts to B.C.'s mid-Coast were almost instant, with passenger traffic down by about 50 per cent and some businesses reporting losses of up to 90 per cent.

    Steiner says the decision to cut the Discovery Coast ferry route between Port Hardy and Bella Coola, replacing it with a milk-run 16-vehicle ferry, threatens to turn Bella Coola into a dead-end community.

    The West Chilcotin Tourism Association commissioned an impact study that concludes tourism revenue dropped by $3.9 million since the service cuts.

    Opposition New Democrat Leader John Horgan says he blames the Liberal government for imposing the cuts without properly studying their potential impact.

    Transportation Minister Todd Stone said earlier the cuts were introduced to ensure ferry fare increases were kept in check.


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    Feeling festive? The Fairmont Empress in Victoria is expanding its annual holiday celebration this year a new ice skating rink.

    Located on the iconic hotel's front lawn, the covered rink offers an impeccable view of the Victoria harbour's festive lights. Beautiful string lights hung from the ceiling also add a layer of magic to the experience.

    The rink, which measures 60 ft. by 90 ft., opens on Thursday (Nov. 20) and runs through to mid-January.

    Admission is $10 for adults and $5 for children 10 and under. Skate rentals cost $5 per pair. Special events are also happening at the rink, including "Skate n' Date" nights, family skate afternoons, Sunday skates with Santa, and Christmas Eve skating with elves.

    The idea to add ice skating came from Nat and Flora Bosa, who bought the hotel in June.

    The hotel posted the progress of the rink on its Instagram page:

    It's beginning to look a lot like an ice rink! #EmpressSkate #yyj #countdown

    A photo posted by Fairmont Empress (@fairmontempress) on




    Just watering the ice rink... #yyj #EmpressSkate #fairmonthotels #countdown

    A photo posted by Fairmont Empress (@fairmontempress) on




    It's sure looking a lot like an ice rink now! #yyj #EmpressSkate #countdown

    A photo posted by Fairmont Empress (@fairmontempress) on




    A few more finishing touches and we'll be ready for opening! Staff skate today! #empressskate

    A photo posted by Fairmont Empress (@fairmontempress) on




    Happy skating!

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    Let’s be real: you're no average winter sports enthusiast. While the rest of us are sauntering down the mountain anticipating the chalet, you're bombing down black diamond runs with reckless abandon. While most of us are fine with the bunny hills, you'll do anything in search of undisturbed powder. If we've got you pegged, here’s a news flash — Alberta offers a variety of extreme winter sports guaranteed to satiate your constant need for adventure.

    Ice Climbing
    Imagine hanging from a 30-foot ice wall with only an ice hammer and a set of crampons keeping you aloft. There's no more literal way to overcome your fears and personal barriers than powering your way up an ice face. Plus, when you're done, there's no greater sense of accomplishment (can you say “Bragging on Facebook”?) and you get to achieve it amid a truly one-of-a-kind view of the Rocky Mountains. But don't think ice climbing is reserved for only the most extreme among us; the Rockies offer some of the best and most varied ice climbs in the world, whether you’re an expert on a heli-trip or a beginner with a certified guide in Banff.

    Heli-Snowshoeing
    There’s a rugged appeal to seeking adventure off the beaten path. And nothing says “off the beaten path” more than places that are only accessible by helicopter. Areas like Kananaskis Country and Jasper National Park feature amazing opportunities for heli-snowshoeing, where you are airlifted to an out-of-the-way location and left to hike around on snowshoes to your heart’s content. There’s something exhilarating about stalking around an area that has been almost untouched by others, with only the sound of the wind and the occasional wild animal sighting to distract you. Also, “via helicopter” is by a wide margin one of the coolest ways to make an entrance, so you’ll have that going for you as well.

    Dog Sledding
    For those that dream of running the Iditarod, there's no better place to train than Alberta. It's an embarrassment of riches because Banff, Jasper, Canmore and Lake Louise all have run-loving huskies waiting to take you on a tour of the best the Alberta wilderness has to offer. Learn to become the pack leader and control six to eight dogs with the power of that familiar word — “Mush.” Experience true synergy between man and beast in a way only the hunter-gather societies of old once did. Oh, and if you don't actually want to control the dogs, you can feel the wind whip past you on the sled while an expert musher takes control.

    Snow Tubing
    Controversial opinion: Snow tubes are superior to toboggans. Not only does riding on a pillow of air beat sitting on a contraption of wood and metal, but tubing allows you to bring your whole family along for the ride! If you’re in the mood to tube with your loved ones, head over to Banff's Mount Norquay or Lake Louise to for some of the best tubing in the country. Mount Norquay's Snow Tubing Park is full of large sliding lanes and extra long rope tows, so you can experience the specific joy of being tied to another tube as it speeds down a hillside. You’ll never look at a toboggan (or one of those Magic Carpet sleds) the same way again.

    Snowkiting
    The newest thrill in extreme sports takes skiing and snowboarding to a whole new level by harnessing you to a kite and letting wind propulsion provide the speed and lift necessary to get as close to flight as possible without permanently leaving the ground. You can get snowkite certified on Banff's Spray Lakes where thick ice, great snow, and breathtaking scenery provide a natural terrain park that you won't want to leave when it's over. Just don’t fly too close to the sun, hot shot.

    For further winter inspiration for your inner action hero, visit Travel Alberta!




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    Attending a small B.C. could help land you the “Best Job in the World” — as Greg Snell can attest.

    Snell beat out over 330,000 candidates from around the world in December 2013 to win a six-month gig in Australia as a wildlife caretaker. The highly viral campaign by Tourism Australia is designed to show off the country.

    Snell credits his education at the College of The Rockies (COTR) in southeastern B.C. for his success.

    "I was a very good fit for the job," Snell told The Huffington Post B.C. in an email. "My education at COTR taught me about things I was interested in, sustainable tourism, cross cultural tourism, small group management, environmental stewardship, ecosystem awareness."

    Snell said the Australian position was an "experience of a lifetime" though it was hard work organizing the workload while producing tourism content.

    “It’s wonderful that those types of [opportunities] can happen to people who go to school in small rural B.C.," campus manager Karen Cathcart told HuffPost B.C. in an interview. "We’re a small campus here in Golden, but we’re small and we’re mighty.”

    From an inaugural population of 543 students in 1975, the college’s current enrollment of 2,282 at six small campuses is relatively small. Still, the school has managed to make a name for itself.

    In May, the Association of Canadian Community Colleges awarded COTR a gold prize for its innovative international strategy.

    Last year, the college was ranked first overall in both Canada and the world, according to the International Student Barometer, which collected 140,000 responses from those studying abroad.

    In 2007, Snell chose to attend the college in Golden, B.C. for a diploma in adventure tourism business operations because the curriculum offered what he was already doing in his free time, such as kayaking, and backpacking.

    While some may be quick to scoff at a program with rock climbing and avalanche safety instructors, keep in mind the COTR isn't trying to offer a broad education. Students are drawn to focused classes that can prepare them for specific jobs like managing backcountry lodges or camps, said Cathcart.

    In 2010, the school established its first degree program, the bachelor of business administration in sustainable business practices.

    Snell spent a five-week practicum in Ecuador where he sharpened his knowledge in sustainable tourism, entrepreneurship, cross-cultural tourism, and Latin American culture. He also shared his knowledge with people living in that country's small coastal communities.

    Snell's "best job in the world" ended in June, but his travel adventures live on through his website, "Greg Goes Global."

    "My greatest adventure has been maintaining this unlikely lifestyle. I travel for a living and am extremely grateful to have had the opportunity to continue doing so year after year," he says.

    Check out some of Greg's global travels:




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    Need a ride?

    A Vancouver man is dressing up like a rooster and giving strangers free rides in his car as a way to protest the city's taxi situation, which he describes as absurd, according to CTV News.

    Kyle MacDonald, 34, offers rides in his Toyota Matrix on Craiglist and on Twitter at @YesFreeTaxi.

    "I realized that people here aren't given very good options for on-demand public transit services such as taxis or ride share options that are newly emerging, like Uber, Lift," MacDonald says in a Vancouver Sun video.

    "I hope to educate people. I hope to provide information so people can educate themselves on the topic and make their own conclusions."

    Vancouver placed a six-month moratorium on new licences in October, but it hasn't stopped popular ride-share service Uber from trying to drum up local support with an online petition.

    The company operated in the city for a brief period in 2012, but was shut down when B.C.'s Passenger Transportation Board enforced a $75 minimum fare per trip.

    Cab companies recently filed a lawsuit to block Uber.

    Four taxi companies operate in Vancouver — a situation MacDonald told The Vancouver Sun is essentially a "monopoly" and "a cartel, actually, I'm not trying to exaggerate."

    So he combats the industry's current state with Yes Free Taxi. And yes, people are really taking him up on rides:






















    Interestingly, this is the same Kyle MacDonald who made headlines back in 2005 for bartering his way from a red paperclip to a home in Saskatchewan, reports CTV News.

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    An independent review of TransLink's two SkyTrain shutdowns this summer has made 20 recommendations to improve the service, in a report released this morning.

    Among the recommendations are the need to upgrade the manual restart system — which can take several hours — with an auto-restart system that would significantly reduce delays.

    UPDATE, 6 p.m.: TransLink said will adopt all 20 recommendations (a cost of $71 million), reports The Province.

    Other recommendations included:

    -Modifying rules around the movement of trains during a shutdown.
    -Installing back-up for, and decoupling, critical systems.
    -Restricting repairs of critical systems to non-peak hours.
    -Updating maintenance manuals and procedures.
    -Upgrading intrusion detection systems.
    -Installing system-wide CCTV coverage.
    -Streamlining radio communications.
    -Improving response times for staff.
    -Improving public address systems.
    -Installing programmable message boards at stations.
    -Improving call centre and website capacity and response.
    -Expanding advisories of major delays to bus scrolling screens.
    -After the report was released, TransLink put out a media release accepting all the recommendations.

    "We have taken these incidents very seriously, and we fully accept and are acting on all 20 recommendations. We have already started the work," TransLink CEO Ian Jarvis said in the release.

    In July, two system-wide shutdowns just five days apart trapped passengers on trains for hours. Many riders complained TransLink was slow to respond, leaving them with little choice but to force open doors and walk off the trains.

    TransLink originally said a review was not needed because it had determined that human error and a faulty electrical panel were behind the problems.

    But the organization changed that decision after heavy criticism and hired Gary MacNeil, the former CEO of Toronto's GO Transit to conduct a review of the incidents.

    MacNeil's main focus has been looking at TransLink's communication problems and the safety issues created when passengers opened train doors and walked off the elevated rail lines.

    CEO Ian Jarvis is expected to be there to respond.

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    There can be no doubt now that a recent viral photo of a grizzly bear standing on its hind legs to check out an expensive camera is very much real.

    Earlier this month, wildlife photographer Jim Lawrence snapped the picture of the bear, which was then shared around the world. Now, we've got video evidence (watch above) of the encounter.

    Dianne Ethier and Heidi Henke, both wildlife photographers, had been taking photos in southeastern B.C. for about an hour before Lawrence arrived and set up his equipment with them.

    As all three were shooting, the grizzly bear came across the river, Henke told The Huffington Post B.C. in a phone interview.

    Ethier started recording video, Henke took some still shots, and Lawrence captured that famous image.

    grizzly bear photographer

    And here's one of Henke's shots from her angle:

    grizzly bear camera

    "[The video] came out awesome! It shows the whole thing," said Henke. "It was pretty cool."

    The video shows the grizzly lumbering out to check out what everyone is up to. At around the 45-second mark, he toys with Lawrence's camera, which was mounted on a tripod, before walking away.

    "There are certain areas where bears are more used to humans and stuff. Those seem to be a little bit more docile," she said.

    With files from Hillary Nguyen-Don

    Check out more of Jim Lawrence's photos:




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    KAMLOOPS, B.C. - When Martha Shepherd answered the phone, the last thing she expected to hear was that someone found her wallet — 35 years after her purse was stolen.

    The caller identified himself as a Vancouver Island police officer, and Shepherd assumed the worst.

    “You automatically think it’s bad news,” said the Kamloops, B.C., resident.

    The officer was a sergeant from the RCMP detachment in Ucluelet, close to where Shepherd had travelled in 1979.

    The Mountie asked Shepherd if she’d lost a purse.

    “I said yes and he asked when,” she said.

    “I said, ‘I can’t remember, but it was at Long Beach.' “He said they were drying it out and they’d be sending a parcel.”

    A highways worker cleaning a ditch found the wallet.

    Shepherd was on a camping trip on Long Beach in 1979 when someone broke into her car and stole her purse. Her wallet contained about $100 in cash.

    “I asked him, ‘I don’t suppose there was $100 in there?’” she said.

    There wasn’t. But the community pitched in and sent Shepherd $100 in a package along with all her old identification.

    They included souvenirs such as a blanket from the Ucluelet First Nation, bumper stickers, home-canned salmon, magnets and cards signed by residents.

    Shepherd said she hasn’t been back to Ucluelet since her purse was stolen and had no intention of ever returning.

    “But now I want to go,” she said. “I’d like to in the summertime.” (Kamloops This Week)



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    A design firm based out of the Netherlands enchanted the Internet last week when it unveiled a glow-in-the-dark bike path whose look was inspired by Vincent van Gogh's "Starry Night."

    Now the firm, Studio Roosegaarde, which built the path in partnership with engineering company Heijmans, wants to see a similar project in Toronto in time for the 2015 Pan American Games.






    The Van Gogh-Roosegaarde bicycle path is a kilometre-long route between two water mills in Nuenen, a town where the artist once lived.

    It's composed of luminous, rock-like objects that gather solar energy during the day and light up at night, arranged in a pattern to resemble one of van Gogh's most famous paintings, Wired reported.

    starry night

    van gogh bicycle path

    About $1 million of public money went into the project, one of a number of pieces meant to commemorate the 125th anniversary of van Gogh's death.

    It has sparked interest from cities around the world, and Toronto is one of them, the Star reported.

    Daan Roosegaarde, the designer behind the project, said his firm has spoken with city hall about building a similar structure ahead of the Pan Am Games, but no contract has yet been signed.

    The path isn't the first roadway to gather solar energy, though it may be the most spectacular.

    Work began last month on a "SolaRoad," a test path in which roadways would be used as a possible conduit for drawing solar power.

    Here are some more photos of the Van Gogh-Roosegarde bicycle path:

    van gogh bicycle path

    van gogh bicycle path

    van gogh bicycle path

    van gogh bicycle path

    van gogh bicycle path

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    kelowna restaurant aquarium

    People are heading to a Kelowna restaurant for the chance to see the chef dive into a massive aquarium. Talk about dinner and a show.

    Bill Justus, chef of EK's Grill, is also a licensed scuba diver. Once a week, he takes the plunge into the restaurant's 12-feet wide by 10-feet high aquarium to clean it. Although he doesn't usually do the task during business hours, that may soon change.

    After being featured on the news this week, Justus told The Huffington Post B.C. he's received several requests from people asking if they can come watch the cleaning.

    "So we might do a little show for everybody and people would see exactly what’s involved in maintaining an aquarium that size," he said on Wednesday.

    bill justus ek grill

    The EK’s Grill team installed a fireplace to represent his sister-in-law (who is an Aries, the astrological sign linked to fire), and the 4,300-gallon aquarium to reflect Justus and his wife (who are both Pisces, the sign associated with water).

    The salt-water aquarium has helped create a relaxing environment for families. Parents of children with autism and ADHD have told the chef that the fish tank is a calming influence on the kids – allowing them to actually sit down and eat a full meal.

    The tank, which is home to more than 70 types of fish, has also sparked good conversation, and cut down on people's use of cellphones at mealtimes, said Justus.

    "We’re very happy and very thrilled to give back to our small community that can now enjoy an environment rather than just a box when they’re going out," he said.

    kelowna restuarant aquarium

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    Arguably one of the most beautiful and serene parts of British Columbia (if not the country), the remote area of Haida Gwaii has been named one of National Geographic Traveler's 20 must-see places in the world for 2015.

    "The quiet is what strikes people here most on Haida Gwaii," the magazine states.

    “You use your listening sense more,” Ernie Gladstone, a Haida who serves as superintendent of the Reserves and Heritage Site, told the outlet. “You hear the water washing down the beaches, clams squirting, and ravens, eagles, and songbirds in the forest.”

    Researchers also believe the earliest evidence of human habitation in Canada — dating back 14,000 years — may be under the Haida Gwaii archipelago.

    Gwaii Hanaas, a national park in Haida Gwaii, is also a finalist for the National Geographic World Legacy Award in the Sense of Place category. The award recognizes protection of historical monuments, archaeological sites, cultural events, indigenous heritage, and artistic traditions.

    With files from The Canadian Press

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    A group of local outdoorsmen east of Merritt, B.C. say they're being threatened with criminal charges and accuse the RCMP of taking sides in a dispute over access to lakes on a massive B.C. cattle ranch owned by a U.S. billionaire.


    The Douglas Lake Cattle Company is trying to restrict access to more than 30 lakes on a spread the size of Luxembourg.  


    CBC first reported two years ago on the David-and-Goliath battle between the ranch, and the Nicola Valley Fish and Game Club.


    But now the fight, reminiscent of an old-fashioned western, is heating up again as the fish and game club risks criminal charges by cutting locks on gates across once-public roads.


     “...These locked gates are significant because we are trying to keep them open for future generations of the public to get in here and they keep locking 'em on us and we are going to keep unlocking them until somebody does something about it,” the club's Rick McGowan told CBC .


    Ranch officials say the land on their more than half-a-million acres is private. That includes the roads to the popular fishing and hunting grounds near Stoney and Minnie Lakes.


    Those who force their way in are getting more than just threats. They're facing criminal charges.


    “It's like a great big schoolyard bullying game they are playing. And they figure well, if we charge a few people, kick a few butts, then everybody will stay out of here,” said McGowan.


    So far billionaire Stanley Kroenke, the ranch's sports magnate owner, is saying little. Kroenke married into Walmart wealth and earned the nickname “Silent Stan” for his shrewd business deals and general lack of comment.


    Not first standoff for historic ranch


    ​Kroenke's historic ranch is no stranger to standoffs.


    BC’s first train robber, the famed “gentleman bandit” Bill Miner, who allegedly coined the phrase, "hands up," once hid out at Douglas Ranch back in 1905 before his arrest.


    Years later a movie about the saga, The Grey Fox, was filmed in these same dusty foothills.


    Ranch Manager Joe Gardner says people who cut locks are trespassing on private ranchland.


    “It doesn’t really matter how much money owner Stanley Kroenke has," Gardner told CBC back in 2011. "What matters is our legal right.” 


    McGowan says he's not broken any laws.


    “They are threatening to charge us with public mischief and our point of view is — this is what's illegal," he said. "These are public roads and you have to have a permit to lock a public road. They have no permit."


    McGowan and other members of the Nicola Valley Fish and Game Club were recently summoned to the Merritt Community Corrections office, where they were shown documents that offered them a compromise.


    If they signed the “Adult Alternative Dispute Resolution” agreement it meant they admitted to mischief, agreed to community supervision, but avoided criminal court.


    So far, they have all refused and every chance they get, they continue to cut through the locks.


    ​“There is not a chance I am going to do it," said club member Kim Robinson. "If I sign this and say I'm responsible and I did this it can come back and bite me in the ass.” 


    The RCMP say the men could end up in court.


    “This is the exact thing we don't want happening," said RCMP Sergeant Norm Flemming. "Could he be charged for that? Absolutely. [This person is] expressing their frustration and they are going about it in the wrong way.


    The property dispute is winding its way through the BC Supreme Court which will consider whether the roads in question, and the land around the lakes, are public or private.


    In the meantime, the RCMP say, they will arrest and charge anybody who breaks locks, because the locks are ranch property — whether the road is or not. 


    So the stand-off may end up in criminal as well as civil court. If so, it won’t be the first time Douglas Lake is the backdrop for a wild western-style showdown.



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    wolf in the fogBamfield seafood salad from Wolf In The Fog (Christopher Pouget Photography)

    The town of Tofino, population 1,800, has been causing quite a stir in Canada with its flourishing food culture.

    Tofino scored its latest accolade in October when local restaurant Wolf In The Fog nabbed the top spot in EnRoute magazine’s annual top new restaurants list.

    As the awards pile up, so do the number of diners flocking to Tofino, a spot famous for its surfing. Nestled on Vancouver Island on the edge of the Pacific Ocean, the town is a 45-minute flight from Vancouver or a three-hour drive from Nanaimo.

    Winter is usually the “quiet slow season” in Tofino, said chef Nick Cutting, but the award has Wolf In The Fog busier than ever.

    “It’s the best problem to have,” he told The Huffington Post B.C. in an interview.

    wolf in the fogThe kitchen at Wolf In The Fog (Christopher Pouget Photography)

    Wolf In The Fog is the latest in a long line of popular, award-winning Tofino restaurants. In 1996, the now-iconic Wikaninnish Inn and The Pointe restaurant opened its doors, heightening the town’s profile, says Samantha Fyleris of Tourism Tofino.

    The restaurant’s high-quality food and exceptional service, paired with the stunning view of the ocean and Chesterman Beach, made it a popular destination for locals and tourists alike.

    Seven years later, EnRoute named Sobo one of its top new restaurants. Long before food trucks became trendy, Sobo operated out of a parking lot by Chesterman Beach, producing "Killer Fish Tacos" and an incomparable key lime pie.

    Now a brick-and-mortar restaurant, Sobo continues to attract an adoring crowd and even published its own cookbook earlier this year.

    Chefs here have a bounty of fresh ingredients at hand by foraging, fishing, and growing local products year-round.

    “Tofino is paradise for chefs — there’s something profound about being able to use fish that’s fresh off the boats,” said Cutting, whose restaurant is a mere block away from the docks.

    Story continues after delicious slideshow:




    The town capitalizes on culinary tourism, too, with events such as the Clayoquot Oyster Festival, and the Tofino Food and Wine Festival.

    And some Tofino eateries have branched out to bigger cities. Tacofino, a popular taco truck, has made its way to Victoria and Vancouver.

    “I think our fish tacos remind people of the beach, or California, of surfing, of the Baja. They are nostalgic because they taste just right — they're crispy and fresh and we aren't afraid of flavour,” said Kaeli Robinsong, owner-operator of the Vancouver location.

    But although the recipe is the same at all the Tacofino spots, she said she’s heard over and over again that they somehow “taste better in Tofino.”

    Robinsong thinks it might have something to do with the salty air, longer wait lines, or the fact that people in Tofino are usually happier since many are on vacation.

    That positive attitude seems to infuse the people who work in Tofino’s food industry, inspired by “the endless sandy beaches, the mesmerizing surf and fable-like scenery,” said Fyleris.

    donuts rhino coffee houseDonuts from Rhino Coffee House

    As the food culture continues to grow, Fyleris has a few other gems for HuffPost B.C. readers to check out:

    Picnic Charcuterie

    This new, tiny shop is tucked in behind Redcan Gourmet on Industrial Road. Tina Windsor cures, smokes, and cooks ethically-raised meats with delicious results. She will also use beer from across-the-street neighbours Tofino Brewing Company as a brine.

    Rhino Coffee House

    Named for the oversized surf boards which are in turn named after a certain horned animal, Rhino is best known for its plentiful selection of house-made donuts. Standouts include an old-fashioned beer donut (made with, you guessed, it, Tofino Brewing Company beer), maple bacon, and a sour cream glaze. They also make sandwiches and wraps.

    Ask for the "bronut," a breakfast sandwich served on a savoury donut.

    Spotted Bear successor

    Spotted Bear Bistro was the creation of chef Vincent Fraissange and is known for its intimate ambiance and modern, French-inspired comfort food. However, this restaurant will re-open as a Japanese noodle house in January 2015 — and the anticipation is building.

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    Meagan Penman was vacationing in Thailand months ago when she came upon a dog that could only use its front legs to walk.

    The dog, which she later named Leo, was malnourished, covered in ticks and dragging himself along, apparently unable to move his hind legs, according to a YouCaring page.

    Taking pity on the canine, she contacted a number of rescue shelters in the area but none could take him.

    leo dog

    So Penman set up a GoFundMe page on June 21 in an effort to bring Leo back home to Canada, where he could obtain the "vet care he needs."

    She also set up a Facebook page to update people on her efforts.

    On July 3, after travelling elsewhere, she reunited with the dog on a beach and carried him to a veterinarian. A Facebook post indicated that his knees had been skinned from crawling around.

    X-rays showed that his back was broken, and that he would "never walk again."

    leo xray

    Leo remained in the veterinarian's care for three months as Penman sought out a family to sponsor him in Canada before he could be adopted.

    In the meantime, donations poured in for the dog as people heard about his story.

    leo dog

    After a number of delays, Leo flew to Canada and back into Penman's care in October.

    He was later fostered out to Jamie Smith, a Sarnia, Ont. resident who helped him obtain a "doggie wheelchair" so that he could walk again.

    Smith also set up a second fundraising page for Leo at YouCaring.com to help pay for long-term veterinary costs.

    leo wheelchair

    So much money poured into the fundraising pages that they were shut down, having topped their goals.

    Penman said the money would go into a "trust fund" for the dog to pay for anything he needed.

    As for Leo's future, she said that he's "pretty much set for the rest of his days."

    leo dog

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    For the millennial, certain gigs these days are trending -- tiny soft taco impresario, wine bar purveyor, aspiring Lena Dunham/Beyoncé/Ira Glass, blogger, fashion blogger, food blogger, artist, indie filmmaker, documentary filmmaker, and so on.

    Like millions of others, I'll admit that I belong to the latter category. And like jillions of others, I am a first-time documentary filmmaker.

    There's no denying it -- docs are hot. Between HBO's high-gloss productions, Netflix's rise in documentaries, the influx of Kickstarter/Indieigogo campaigns, and the democratization of filmmaking gear via iPhones and cheap cameras, docs are everywhere.

    So you dream of making a doc?

    What a coincidence.

    BEFORE THE WAVE from Molly Willows on Vimeo.




    Fresh out of my novice brain, I present How to Make a Doc: 5 Simple Considerations.

    1. Time

    First up: this stuff takes time. Takes up your time. Takes away your time. It's 24/7; hold on tight to that DSLR.

    So far I have been working on my film for four years. And I'm right on schedule. Apparently, for most first-time doc makers it takes around seven.

    Keep this in mind: The Act of Killing was Joshua Oppenheimer's first film. Time? Ten years. First-time filmmaker Alison Klayman, who semi-permanently relocated to China to create Ai Wei Wei: Never Sorry? Six Years. Searching for Sugarman, whose Oscar-winning success may literally have killed first-time filmmaker Malik Bandjellou? Three years just in the editing room -- that's not even including production.

    Lesson learned: you will be a spendthrift of time.

    2. Subject Matter

    You want to make a doc. On what, though? You can pick a topic in your own backyard, or you can pick a topic as outrageously far from your own existence as humanly possible.

    This is a matter of personal choice. I am biased towards going as far from yourself to learn about yourself and the human condition, plus I like to give myself ulcers. This is why I eat sea snake, deep sea dive, and chill on tiny hand-carved wooden boats lost at sea with nomadic Moken sea gypsies off the coast of Burma while filming it all for my flick-to-be.

    But maybe you have a weird friend, or a kooky family, or you yourself are nuts enough to make a compelling film about your nutso self. That's fine -- just stick to your subject matter, find your angle, and realize that since it takes so long to make your first documentary, you had best reeeeaaalllyy dig your subject matter.

    3. Be Chill

    So you know this stuff takes time, and you've zeroed in on what you want to make a film about... and then you realize you hate putting yourself out there; you can't stand making conversation; the thought of approaching strangers makes you a bit ill.

    In order to make a doc, you've got to be open, chatty, patient, and chill. You have to be able to put yourself out there. You have to genuinely be curious and know how to manifest that curiosity. You have to suffer through the awkward 'trust building' stages. Your subjects aren't the monkeys in the zoo -- you are. With all that naïve curiosity and ridiculous-looking film gear, you are nothing short of a freak and you've got to be comfortable with it. Every documentary film is stamped with the voice and aesthetic of its creator, and if you're a douche with your subject matter, your film is going to be douchey. Be cool, be open, be curious, and hopefully remember to press record.

    4. Gear

    Speaking of pressing record, let's chat gear. In this day and age, gear can seriously range from a $15,000 RED camera to a $50 flip-phone camera. When Searching for Sugarman director Bandjellou ran out of money for Super 8mm film, he downloaded a vintage film app on his iPhone, pressed record, and that shit won a bleeping Oscar.

    The bottom line is that gear is important, but your story's even more important. Regardless of what gear you get, tell a good story -- you may want to hire a good editor -- and regardless of what gear you get, know how to use it. This is especially important when it comes to audio. Shitty audio is the dead give-away of an amateur, whereas if you're image is crap, people will assume it's your oddball-possibly-genius-anti-aesthetic aesthetic.

    5. Ca$h Money

    Here is where we talk about funding options, and I inevitably plug my own film-in-progress. Funding in Canada in a conservative era is like trying to get your pet dog to swallow a pill. There are times you actually think you'd rather the dog just die and learn its lesson.

    There are grants, though, through Canada Council, Bell Media, Shaw Media, Doc Ignite, and your province/city worth checking out. There are also private foundations like the Ford Foundation, the Gates Foundation, and Fledgling Fund. If you get far enough along, you can try for the Sundance Institute. You can also try selling your idea to places like HRW or Amnesty if it's an important human rights issue. Then, of course there is the loved/hated concept of crowdfunding.

    Crowdfunding sucks and it's tough, but it's also incredible, inspiring, and provides your project with a community of supporters before the thing remotely sees the light of day. Here's my own almost-funded campaign (see what I did there?)

    Importantly, if you crowdfund, realize how much work it's going to be. That part earlier about not liking to reach out to people? Get ready to hand-type 600+ personal and heartfelt emails, many of which are to strangers and some of which are to personal heroes asking for support. If you're good to do that, you're probably ready to let your GogoFactor shine.

    So, dear aspiring documentarian, those are my five simple considerations for making a doc. Still want to make one? Yay for you. Now comes the fun part -- actually making the thing. Relax, enjoy, and don't fuck it up! We can't wait to see your film in a decade's time, and I know you can't wait to see mine. ;)

    Molly Willows' IndieGogo Campaign can be found here.

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    There's nothing more relaxing and exciting to the average sports fan than knowing their local watering hole will be broadcasting the games and hosting fans throughout the season. But the sports bar experience varies by establishment, so why limit yourself and your sports-viewing adventures to the usual chain restaurants? There are countless hidden gems across the country, from British Columbia to the Halifax and we’ve put our favourites in one place! Whether you’re waiting for the tip-off or the puck to drop, here’s where to get the best seat in the house.

    Halifax, Nova Scotia — Wooden Monkey
    The only thing better than delicious, greasy pub food is delicious, sustainable and locally-grown pub food. The Wooden Monkey uses local farmers and meat suppliers in Nova Scotia so you’re supporting the community with every order. In addition, they’ve labeled all gluten-free and/or vegan items on the menu so it’s easy to find dishes that cater to any dietary restrictions you may have which can be rare with pub fare.

    Montreal, Quebec — Chez Serge
    Come for the fancy French name and stay for the winning ambience and fun atmosphere. Equipped with a dozen TVs, it’s the prime place to watch the game over a couple of drinks. Once you’re seated and comfortable, take note of the unique décor. From grass ceilings to mechanical bulls, this pub doesn’t hold back with its design aesthetics and we love it for that. Simply put the combination of the rowdy crowd and outrageously wacky décor make for a truly unique sports pub experience.

    Georgetown, Ontario – Nashville North
    Nashville North is a delight for the secret (or not-so-secret) cowboy inside of us all. With a capacity of 1,400, it boasts an impressive sunken hardwood dance floor, several bars, and enormous large-screen TVs for maximum viewing pleasure. It doesn’t hurt that the bar transforms into a nightclub during the evenings and on Wednesdays you can learn to line dance with friends and strangers. Come for the genuine atmosphere and stay for the fun!

    Winnipeg, Manitoba – Hat Tricks Sports Bar and Grill
    Hat Tricks seems to be fairly straightforward with what it’s got to offer the average patron. The bar has an impressive 15 (count'em!) high-definition TVs propped up in every corner of the place, so you’ll never have to crane your neck to watch the game. On top of that, they have a wide range of delicious bar fare and you won’t have to miss any of the action even when nature calls. That’s right — they’ve even got TVs installed in the bathroom! Now that’s what we call sports fan dedication.

    Vancouver, British Columbia – The Black Frog Eatery
    The Black Frog, located in the heart of Gastown, is a perfect place to grab a drink and relax with your friends. They have a wide drink selection with a menu that’s just as impressive. A dedicated sports bar, their website has all the season’s sports schedules outlined for their patrons’ convenience. When the game isn’t on, they keep the entertainment going by bringing in live bands. But make sure you know where your allegiances lie before stepping foot inside. The Black Frog’s website makes it quite clear that they love them some Vancouver Canucks, so watch out Flames fans!

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    Peter Ingram and Lihsuan Law had been married for all of a week when tragedy struck, right in the middle of their dream honeymoon.

    After their wedding earlier this month, the Calgary couple jetted off to Colombia to celebrate together, but things quickly took a turn for the worse: seven days into the vacation, Law suffered a severe brain hemorrhage. She hasn't woken up since.

    Her family hopes to bring her back to Canada to receive treatment, but the costs are crippling: the price of an emergency medevac will cost close to $100,000, and none of it is covered by insurance.

    The couple’s loved ones have started an online fundraising campaign, setting a goal of $164,000 to ease the burden.

    UPDATE: The goal, which was lowered to $102,000, has been surpassed with over one month to go.

    “We are eternally grateful for your love and support,” says Ingram, sharing the fundraiser on his Facebook page. “I’m normally not one to revert to social media in this manner, but this is nothing short of an emergency and we truly need your help.”

    The page explains that while her condition has improved with treatment, Law is still critically ill and desperately needs to come home.

    “The urgency of this request cannot be understated,” the page reads. “Lihsuan and Peter still have a difficult road ahead of them, but with our support, we can ensure they aren't burdened by the financial pressure of this tragic ordeal.”

    So far, the page has raised nearly $90,000.

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    A Vancouver-based man is facing $100,000 in medical bills after his travel insurance company said it wouldn't pay for his overseas treatment.

    Ryan Maudlen, who has Crohn’s disease, was on vacation in Mexico with his girlfriend when he experienced an episode that caused his intestines to burst last week, Metro News reported.

    Maudlen, originally from Australia, underwent emergency surgery at Galenia Hospital in Cancun to remove 60 centimetres of his bowel, according to the Adelaide Advertiser. But things only got worse from there: severe side effects ensued and Maudlen, 33, was placed in a medically induced coma.

    His around-the-clock care has resulted in $100,000 worth of medical bills, according to the Daily Mail. Maudlen's travel insurance company, Insureandgo, originally said it would cover his treatment costs, but decided against it two days later, said Metro.

    Now Maudlen's family has launched a GoFundMe campaign to help cope with the mounting bills. In just five days, the fundraiser has collected over $72,000.

    His loved ones have been updating the page regularly, relaying their gratitude to all of those who have donated.

    “(Ryan’s father) Rob and I are very grateful to everyone that has donated and/or sent good wishes for the recovery of our son Ryan,” wrote Maudlen’s mother, Deb. “There have been so many people that Ryan has had friendships with over the years with his travels. Let’s hope that more friends can get onto the site and keep to donations and well-wishes coming.”

    Maudlen woke from his coma early Tuesday, according to the page. His progress was described as “a huge step in the right direction.”

    Maudlen's story comes on the heels of another Canadian family's travel insurance nightmare. Saskatchewan's Jennifer Huculak gave birth prematurely while on a vacation in Hawaii. Her insurance company, Blue Cross, has refused to cover the almost $1 million bill for her U.S. hospital care.

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