Archive for March, 2007

The Postman Always Rings Twice

Wednesday, March 14th, 2007

Ok, we’re blowing our own horn.? Our motto is? Canadiana Backpackers Inn “it feels like home”.? ? That isn’t boasting!? Ask our? postman! His name is Cary and he can often be found participating in our hostel events (especially the Pub Crawl). He’s a member of our extended? family and has an interesting history:

Cary was a professional actor and a children’s clown for more than 10 years. He walked the boards, most? notably? performing at Stratford ? before opting for the job security? of postal work.? ? Cary is also an experienced? backpacker himself and has travelled widely to far flung places such as Burma, and? Nepal . As a civil servant, he gets six weeks annual leave.? Next year, he plans to make use of that generous holiday allowance and? explore China.?

I won’t tell you Cary’s age; but, were he a Cricket player he would be batting about half his way to a “century”. But at heart he is much younger, a lot wilder and far crazier than the majority of 20 year-old backpackers–he’s the first on the dance floor and is like the energizer bunny.? You are just as likely to find him participating in? our cultural evenings (plays, gallerys etc.) or indulging in our? bacchanals such as our weekly Pub Crawls or enjoying a burger at our twice weekly barbeque. After a few beers he does a wicked imitation of Marlon Brando in The Godfather and an uncanny? Jim Carey (a fellow Canadian, originally from Toronto).

So check out the hostel’s event line up and join us (and most likely Cary as well) for our next outing. This Saturday is St. Paddy’s Day and I’ll wager you’ll meet Cary if you come along with us to the Pub!

Toronto backpackers youth hostel, Canadiana Backpackers Youth Hostel Toronto

Cary is up at 2 am in order to get the mail at our door by 9 am. He’s only missed one day of work in the last ten years. Is that a Toronto (possibly Canadian)? record, Cary?? He? arrives every morning? with a joie de vivre,? a smile on his face, and a good? quip.

Toronto backpackers youth hostel, Canadiana Backpackers Hostel, Toronto?

Cary at the pub crawl. A wealth of information about what to see and do in Toronto, we’ll get him to write some recommendations on the comment section at the end of this blog (coming soon).

Toronto Backpackers Hostel Canadiana Backpackers youth hostel toronto

Cary with Ruthie (from Detroit back for a second time, she visited us in the Summer), and Nilesh a staff member? who a guest? thanked (see comments on March 8th blog, “Adieu”)? “for your help, your friendship, your joy”.? Many, many people leave the hostel remembering ? Nilesh for these very qualities. Also patience. ? I know first hand as the poor guy has been trying to teach me to become more computer literate. Not an easy task, involving lots and lot of patience.? Thanks Nilesh.?

Toronto backpackers youth hostel toronto, Canadiana Backapackers Hostel Toronto

Most Summers the Canadiana rents a sail boat. Cary is on the right.

A Small World

Monday, March 12th, 2007

Meeting at the Canadiana Hostel in Toronto?

This WAS going to be an entry about Six Degrees of Separation. You see, I met Rob a few months back when he first came to stay at the hostel. He was just beginning a one-year work visa in Canada. Just last week a good friend of mine said that her old boyfriend was working with a guy who was staying at the hostel. This, of course, turned out to be Rob and we had a bit of a laugh at how small the world can be.

Now this is the part where my blog must change because once Rob and I started talking, I found out some interesting things. Rob lived on a Canal Boat in England for the first fifteen years of his life. His parents thought it was a romantic idea to live on a narrow boat. You might expect Rob to be a bit of a Gypsy but he’s not. He’s a well adjusted, well spoken English lad. After a while we got talking about how we had travelled; the different things we had seen and experienced; places we wanted to visit in the future.

Rob wants to embark upon a journey partly inspired by Ewan McGregor and Charles Boorman. He wants to? travel by land from London to New York! Quite an ambitious undertaking don’t you think?

He’ll first take the Chunnel to France; then travel through Europe, Russia, Alaska, Canada and finally the United States. The only problem might be the Bearing Strait between Russia and Alaska. The strait is sixty miles wide and partly frozen in winter, so he may have to cheat a little and cross by boat or plane.

When you get talking with someone it’s amazing the things you find out about them. So next time you come to stay at our hostel, take the time to have a chat with the stranger sitting next to you. You might just hear some interesting stories and make a friend along the way.


Canadiana Hostel Staff

Toronto Backpackers Youth Hostel Toronto, Canadiana Backpackers Youth hostel toronto?

Rob is on the far right. That night he was telling us about his trip on the Trans Siberian Railway from Moscow to Peking. He is the first backpacker I’ve met who is done this trip.? The others are all staff members of Canadiana Backpackers Inn. Next to Rob is Nilesh (see March 14th blog, under the picture caption? to find out more about him), Sharon (who? is? a Naturopathic Doctor) and Michel (see our February 25th, 2007 blog to find out about this wild and wonderful? guy).?

Climate Change

Saturday, March 10th, 2007

It’s Friday March 9, and the weather has finally broken. February (traditionally one of the coldest months) has seen record low temperatures this year. It has been the coldest February in almost 3 decades. After weeks of bitter cold, it has finally returned to seasonal norms well above the freezing point. Lately, we’ve had a lot of posts regarding the weather; the reason for this is? our weather? has been downright weird!

In years past, Toronto would see its’ first heavy snowfall by mid-November. This year we had virtually no snow until mid January. Weather patterns have been severely disrupted. Global warming has severly altered? our climate? and it should be clear to all that we’d had best take note of what we are doing to this planet before it’s too late.

Adieu! Hasta Luego! Ciao!

Thursday, March 8th, 2007

The Canadiana Hostel bids farewell to some old friends.?

It’s going to be a rather sad weekend here at the Canadiana Hostel. We are losing some family members. We usually have a group of long-term residents who have come to Canada to study English. A large group are due to return home after being with us for at least five months.

In that the time they have been with us, they have become more than hostel guests; they are friends. It will be sad to see them leave. It’s something we have to go through at the hostel all the time. The only consolation is that we will be getting a “replacement” group when they leave. We can regard them as replacements only once we get to know them (and we certainly will).

But those who are leaving this weekend have really become a part of the Canadiana family and we are hereby posting their photos and soliciting their comments regarding their stay with us. To Carolyn, Annabelle, Jose, Romain, Stan, Sandro and? Mariano, it’s been great having you with us and we’re really going to miss you. Best of luck in everything you do in the future!

Toronto Backpackers youth hostel

These are our French friends on a dogsledding trip with Canadiana? staff member? Michel (bottom left).? We shall miss their healthy enjoyment of life, their French style,? their? frequent kissing on the cheeks (such close contact is a revolutionally? idea for Anglo Canadians who? are? maybe too uptight), their? loud laughter, and their greatl French culture.

While we’re still shovelling snow,? ? ? many of them will be enjoying the sun and warmth? of the South of France. It’s hard not to feel envy……….?

Toronto Backpackers Hostel Canadiana Backpackers Hostel toronto

On the way to doglsedding. Stan is the second from the left and is from a? town in the South of France called St Emillion.? He is a charming, sincere? young man. Read? what he has to say in “comments” ? below.?

Annabelle on dogsledding trip at Canadiana Backpackers youth hostel toronto

What are they doing? Annabelle is on the left, in the middle is Capucine, and on the right is Carolyn.? Read what they have to say in “comments” at the bottom of this blog.

Gentleman Ben

Tuesday, March 6th, 2007

At the Canadiana Hostel. “Best Hostel in Toronto”

A couple of posts ago we had an entry called: “We Get Around”. It was about a group of lads we call (affectiionately) “The Lager Louts” and their further travels. The posting also mentioned a “bonnie wee lass” named Jenn (a friend of one of the Lager Louts but, by no means, associated with them). This prompted a lovely comment by Jenn’s Mom (Linda) back home in Kinross, a town south and east of Aberdeen. Then Linda’s posting elicited another comment from “Christina” who’s son (whom she wouldn’t mention by name in her comment) is apparently also staying here at the Canadiana.

Tracked him down, I did!

Christina? said that he has “never been mentioned in our blog” and, what’s more, “nor would he care to be!” Bad luck Ben!

He’s never been mentioned in our blog because he’s a real gentleman! All who know him aver that he is exceedingly well-mannered, considerate, intelligent? and generally well liked by all. Which is to say he doesn’t make as good copy as the “Lager Louts” and all their wretched excesses, for instance.

“Gentleman Ben” is a takeoff on an old TV series “Gentle Ben” about a Grizzly Bear. It is appropriate in more than one way. You see, our Ben (from Bath) stands about 6’4″. If there were a “Mr. Congeniality” award for the hostel, Ben would be a definite contender for the title. One more thing, it seems that Ben is extremely camera shy. Not to worry,? since I managed to? track him down, I’m quite confident I can sneak a photo. Stand by.

So Christina, if I’m not mistaken and Gentleman? Ben is the son you raised; all I have to say is? – nicely done!

Ben at Canadiana Backpackers Inn, Toronto Backpackers Hostel Toronto

So far this is the closest we’ve got to getting Ben on camera. He’s the gentleman hiding behind a pillow in the corner.? Although camera shy,? he is? a player.? Sorry, I mean he’s a player in this photo, as this was taken last Thursday, and Ben is taking part in our Poker Night.? We’re hoping he will? come out of his shell and smile for the camera (perhaps at this weeks? karaoke night).?

Traffic Jam

Tuesday, March 6th, 2007

A roadblock at the Canadiana Hostel, Toronto?

Every driver at some point will have locked his or her keys in the car. We’ve just had a guest do just that; but she did it in a very bad place on one of the worst possible days. After one of the mildest winters in history, Toronto has experienced the coldest February in 28 years and it is continuing into March!? Tonight it is about -20C and the wind chill factor makes it seem much colder.

Toronto streets were jammed with traffic all day. Traffic was utter chaos. Sheets of ice the size and thickness of dining room tables? were falling off the CN Tower and downtown skyscrapers, forcing the closure of the Gardiner Expressway, the main east west artery of the city.

Enter our hapless guest/motorist. She backed out of her parking spot (in front of the hostel) and got out of her car (for some reason) and closed? the car door, locking her keys inside the car! Her car was placed dead across the middle of the? road at the time, effectively blocking all traffic on our street. Cool.

We called a tow truck who said he would come and open her door and would be there in about 10? to 15 minutes. It took almost an hour for him to arrive; you see, he got caught in the traffic chaos! Why did our driver get out her car while it was in the middle of the road, do you ask? Beats me.?

Car blocking road at Canadiana Backpackers Inn, Toronto Youth Hostel backpackers

The poor lady on the left of the picture is from Spain and is waiting for the tow truck to come. A memorable moment, I bet she’s laughing about it already. That’s the thing about travel you never know what’s going to happen next.? The good thing is it almost always works itself out (fingers crossed, touch wood).

We Get Around

Sunday, March 4th, 2007

Writing home to the Canadiana Hostel in Toronto.

Ever since we began this “Blog” on the day-to-day activities here at the Canadiana Hostel in Toronto, we’ve made a lot of mention about the friends we’ve made among our guests and the homey atmosphere of the hostel.

We’ve just heard from a couple of our former guests who left here a few months ago to continue their exploration of North America. Matt (from Oz) and Mitch (from Scotland), two charter members of the Canadiana “Lager Louts” (an affectionate term) have sent us some photos of their travels in western Canada and the southwestern United States. Just like kids sending their travel photos home. It’s good to hear from them as always.

Mitch has a lovely friend from the hills of Kinross who just arrived here at the Canadiana. Mitch told her to stay here when she reached Toronto. We’re so glad he did! She’s a Scottish girl from back home by the name of Jennifer and in a word – she’s a bonnie wee Lass! Thanks Mitch!

Jennifer is her name and she knew most of us at the hostel by name before she arrived her thanks to email messages with her old friend Mitch. He also sent us a heads-up regarding her impending arrival. As a result, we were sort of “friends” even before we even met!

Check out the photos of our peripatetic Lager Louts in far flung places like Yosemite Park, California and the Grand Canyon in Colorado and take keen note of what they are wearing. Seems like we really get around. They must have stayed in many a hostel in the months since they left here; but, it’s pretty obvious that the Canadiana is still the hostel they regard as “home” – right guys?

This is what Mitch wrote in a recent E-mail to us:

“Just wanted to say that I will never forget my times at the Canadiana where I met a huge group of friends – both staff and residents.? ? So in a tribute to the best hostel in North America Matt and I took some pictures along the road – they are attached, hope you enjoy!”

Toronto Backpackers Hostel Toronto Backpackers Hostel Downtown

Mitch (on the left in both pictures) is from Scotland and Matt (on the right) is from Australia. The lads met at Canadiana and are going around the USA with their Canadiana T-shirts. These pictures were taken at the Grand Canyon.

Toronto Hostels Backpackers Downtown

The Canadiana t-shirts are given a rest. The lads brave the elements in order to get a good suntan. We believe this is Lake Diamond. Lads, wherever you are, where is this is and where are you now……..Post a comment below and let us know. Hope to hear from you soon.

Jen at Toronto Backpackers Youth Hostel
Jennifer from Kinross, Scotland is on the left with Cassandra (from England studying geography at the University of Toronto). The painting is of a felllow Scot who became Canada’s first Prime Minister, Sir John A. Mcdonald.

MUSH! or HIKE! ?

Thursday, March 1st, 2007

Dogsledding? – a hostel event from the? Canadiana, Toronto Canada.? ?

Before Canadian Armand Bombardier invented the snowmobile, winter transport in Canada’s far north was strictly by dogsled teams. They are still used by native trappers in some parts of the country. It’s a tradition that won’t die as long as there is still snow and northern wilderness. Dogsled Racing has become quite a big sport.

There is an annual dogsled race? in Alaska that runs? through 1,150 miles of? wilderness from Anchorage to Nome.? The country is so rough that a? “Musher’s” kit even? includes a high-powered rifle.

At the Canadiana Hostel, we arrange recreational dogsledding (with JoJo Tours of Toronto) to an area near Ontario’s massive Algonquin Park. Our? resident staff-member Michel – I’ll try anything once - el-Chalache, went to check out the dogsledding tour.? He and a group of French travellers went up for the day to give it a try. They loved it!

Michel has a video on his cellphone showing him with a pair of dogs pulling his small sled as he yelled “Hike!”, Hike!”, “Hike!” and the dogs run faster and faster. I thought the word was “Mush!” to make them go faster; but, Michel insists you yell “Hike” (Maybe it’s a Lebanese thing.)

Apparently, “Mushing” (as it is called) is quite an experience and you can travel? rather fast with a full team? driven by an? experienced “Musher”.? But when you try it alone (with a small sled and a pair of dogs) they often ignore your orders and sniff trees whenever they feel like it. Apparently they can sense it when you don’t know what you’re doing.

You ride around a two kilometer track through the woods driven by the dog owner. Then you can drive a small team (pair) by yourself. While you wait your turn you can warm up by a bonfire roasting marshmallows and drinking hot chocolate or try a hike on snowshoes.

The final trips this? season will take place on March 5th and March 12th, with JoJo Tours leaving right from the hostels’ door. Cost: $60 (cheap).

Toronto Hostel downtown Dutch girls dogsledding

These girls are from Holland, are studying in Toronto, and are lovely.

Toronto Backpackers Hostel Youth Hostel

Anyone for tennis? No,? these are snowshoes and vital to get around? in the snow covered wilderness. Did you know that Dutch women are, on average, the tallest in the World.

Wilderness, Toronto Backpackers Hostels downtown.

The dogs getting to know their passengers, before the trip.

Toronto Youth Hostels Backpackers

And they’re off. This is a lot of fun and a great way to see the Canadian country during the winter.

Toronto Backpackers Youth Hostel

Michel, ? our intrepid staff member (read Polar Bear Plunge, Feb 25th, 2007),? checking the lay of the land at the back of a snowmobile before going dogsledding. ?

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