Archive for April, 2007

Endurance 2007

Friday, April 27th, 2007

Mike Campbell, a gutsy Belfast Boyo,? is back at the Canadiana. Mike was here last year when he had to cut short his cross Canada cycling trip when he got the news that his father had a stroke.

His father, unfortunately, passed away and Mike has returned, not only? to finish what he started, but now with an even more ambitious agenda. A pretty wothwhile one at that.

Six years ago (on May 21st and 22d 2001) first his mother? then an? Australian buddy both succumbed to cancer. Mike is on a mission to strike back!

He’s taken on? an extreme cycling challenge to raise money for cancer research. His trip will cover 12,000? miles and he’ll do it solo – no support vehicles whatsoever!

The first leg will be a 40 day, 4000 mile trip from Vancouver on the Pacific coast to Boston clear across the North American continent!? From there, Mike plans to cycle the length of Japan and then the length of New Zealand before? taking on? the blazing heat and biking the? width of the Australian continent!?

Finally, he will return to the UK and Ireland to cycle the lengths of both countries before ending his journey in his hometown of Belfast.

You can track Mike’s continuing oddessy on his website We wish him well on this most ambitious undertaking and support his efforts without reservation. See you in about a month Mike, stop by on your way to Boston!

Canadiana Backpackers Hostel Toronto youth hostel?

Mike in training for his mammoth trip.

Ciao Bella!

Wednesday, April 25th, 2007

Some guests at the hostel are are so hard to say “ciao” to. We have to say goodbye to a really lovely lady from Italy who has been with us for quite some time.

Monica is a very strong and decisive person; the kind who won’t suffer fools gladly. She sends them on their way in no uncertain way. But even when doing that, she does it so pleasantly.

Monica is a Police Officer from Italy who has been in Toronto on an extended English language course. She also runs a small cafe in Italy as a sideline. (As if full time police work wasn’t enough to fill her days.)

She has seemingly boundless energy and walking ten to fifteen miles aound town in the course of a day poses no problem whatsoever. Although she has worked with the police for over eight years, Monica has no plans to retire in that capacity.

She reminds us of another female police officer from Cheshire, UK (Lydia) who was a guest in our hostel and the subject of a much earlier blog entry. (See; Travel Journals – Dec 10, 2006) It’s the story of how travel helped her reassess life’s priorities.

Both are young, veteran peace officers and both realize how hard and jaded policework can make you. Detective Constable Lydia, left the force after 12 years to pursue another career and it appears as if Officer Monica might do likewise. She is even considering working here in Toronto! We really hope that happens!

Whatever they choose to do, we’re sure they will both be successful. There really must be something about policework that attracts strong, independent, dynamic women. We hope to see Officer Monica back with us here in Toronto. In the meantime, CIAO BELLA!

Monica - Canadiana Backpackers Inn, Toronto

And all you can say is Wow!!!!!

Monica was nice enough to drop us a line:?

  • Monica Says:
    Hi, I’m Monica from Italy. Thanks a lot for article about me in your web site. The article is very nice and the picture too. I’m very proud about that and I hope to come back in Canada soon. Anyway I spent a beautiful moment in the residence because everybody has been really kind with me.
    The first thing that I thought when I arrived in Italy was: I want to come back in Canada. :-)
    I hug all you
  • Jim Carey, Mike Myers, and Harry Gooch have two things in common:

    Tuesday, April 24th, 2007

    Canadiana Backpackers Hostel, Toronto:

    A three way conversation on the Canadiana Backpackers patio:

    Backpacker 1: If the shoalin monks are peaceful why do they spend their days learning martial arts? Whereas, Jesus would bear the other cheek, he was really peaceful.

    Backpacker 2: Yes, but look where that got him……

    Backpacker 3 (otherwise known as Harry Gooch): Yes, he ended up in a Mel Gibson film……..

    A funny, original remark and we had many of them during Harry Gooch’s stay. He could light up a room with his wit and put a smile on a girls face when it looked previously impossible. Even his name makes people laugh. The Gooch, the Goocher, “all right you’ve had enough Gooch for one night”……and so it goes on.

    But who is Harry Gooch? . He is a tall, red headed Englishman from Hereford (near the Welsh border) who has two obvious skills. He can make people laugh and women fall in love with him in large numbers. He is an exchange student with a unique twist. He is not here learning Engineering or Information Technology as most are. He is here learning the art of laughter, he is learning to be a comedian.

    Toronto and comedy might seem a strange fit. Surely New York or LA would be the place to go, I hear you say?

    Actually, Toronto is a breeding ground for the best and brightest comedians. Don’t believe me? Jim Carey, Mike Myers, John Candy, Dan Ackroyd, Martin Short and many other great comedic talents originally came from Toronto. And they all have two things in common with Harry. Firstly they’re funny and secondly they’ve all studied at Toronto’s prestigious Second City Comedy Revue.

    Anyway it was a great pleasure to have this original mind in the hostel and we shall miss him. Before he left us he was good enough to put on a comedy show along with his fellow Second City students.It was a big hit, so much so the other students are coming back for a second performance. We look forward to it very much. Below are the photos of the night:

    Harry at Canadiana Backpackers Inn, Toronto youth hostel downtown

    In the lounge of Canadiana Backpackers with Harry and other Second City students.

    Harry in Canadiana Backpackers Hostel Toronto youth hostel

    Once a week our events coordinator takes guests to watch the free improv set at Secondy City Comedy Revue. Join us in seeing the next Mike Myers or Jim Carey honing their comedic timing. It’s a lot of fun and only a five minute walk from the hostel.

    Harry on the left, at the Canadiana Backpackers Inn, Toronto

    Harry (on the left), out on our weekly saturday night pub crawl.

    Living Large!

    Saturday, April 21st, 2007

    Everyday at the hostel you meet new people who say they are “off to see the world”. Tony is one such traveller whom we met here about three years ago. He taught all of us an important lesson when we first met him. And he’s back!

    What lesson did he teach us, you might ask? He taught us that you don’t really “see” the world, so much as you “live” it. Tony is from England and presently resides in Birmingham. He’s a traveller to be sure; but, it would be far more accurate to call him an adventurer.

    So many people travel the world yet are limited by their lack of imagination. They journey to another country and city then spend months (literally) going from one bar to another, existing in a cultural wasteland, learning little and experiencing even less.

    Tony has travelled Europe, Austrralia, New Zealand, Southeast Asia, North and South America and Africa.? But he has never seen the inside of a bar. He has a seemingly limitless hunger for excitiment and to “live” what’s beyond the next hill. Tony is a very young 29 and since his first solo trip eight years ago has traveled the world at every opportunity.

    He has never passed up the opportunity to bungee jump, skydive, drive jet boats or? hike wild lands of Africa armed only with a stick. He has bungee jumped into the 450′ deep Zambezi Gorge beside the magnificent Victoria Falls; he has hiked Africa’s forbidding Chimanimani foothills; and driven jet boats? over? the Tasman Sea. He lives life large!

    What is so special about this adventurous traveller, you might ask? Well, the “stick” I mentioned that Tony? carries is white and red.

    Tony is blind.

    Still, he has experienced so much more than virtually any other traveller we have hosted; he is a profile? of courage and an shining example of unflagging will.

    He? is leaving us today heading for Detroit on an overnight bus. To date, he has? visited all but 14 of America’s 50 states and he is on his way to “knock those bastards off” as he might say.? Stay tuned to this blog and I’ll try to keep you abreast of his next adventure. Go hard Tony! Go well!

    ? Tony on the patio at Canadiana Backpackers youth hostel toronto

    Tony (in the middle)? would make fun of me if he heard me say this? but he is a real hero.? He is the personification of the latin phrase “carpe diem” which? means? seize the day? for life is short and time is fleeting. What did I learn from him? Well,? if Tony has got the balls to bungy jump off Victoria Falls then? we? should all? take more risks. As a character in The Shawshank Redemtion says, “you either get busy living or you get busy dying, it’s your choice”.? Thanks again Tony for? the lesson, your the best.



    Saturday, April 21st, 2007

    The sun really came out today and gave us a glimpse of what summer has? in hold for us.? The temperature nearly hit 20 degrees and everyone went outside to bask in the sunshine.?

    A group of backpackers decided to go over to the Toronto Islands for the day.? The Islands are a great place to go and relax for the day, and for a mere $6 return trip on the ferry it is the perfect outing for a backpacker on a budget.? Alot of them had been in Toronto for the winter and had not packed their sunscreen so came back with burnt foreheads and noses.

    It was great to see the huge outdoor patio full of people.? Pearcey, our? events? guy? was definately in the summer mood and was keeping everyone entertained.? Simon, our computer guy was playing the guitar and a few of the others had set up the table tennis and were having a friendly game.? After a cold winter that never seemed to end I’m really going to enjoy the comming summer.

    by Lesley, Canadiana Backpackers Staff


    Friday, April 20th, 2007

    There’s a convention of Geeks in Toronto. A few of them are staying with us at the Canadiana Backpackers. And, by the way, the term “Geek” is no longer a perjorative – not in this day and age; not by a long shot!

    Geeks are the only people who know what’s going on in the 21st Century. They’re the? one’s who can navigate the complicated twists and turns of the computer generated Information Highway. Two of the Geeks here for the convention have come all the way from Albuquerque, New Mexico.

    I don’t know what the convention is all about, other than it is some arcane high-tech subject obfuscated by computer speak. You see, I’m not a Geek; although at times I wish I were! Instead, I have stumbled into the computer age a functional illiterate.

    So as an outsider, let me tell you a little about “Geeks”. To begin with, they are without a doubt, smarter than non-geeks. They are far less likely to indulge in alcohol abuse and other irresponsible antics; however, our own, in-house, computer whiz, and “Lager Lout” (an affectionate term) alumnus, Simon, is a notable exception.

    Our two Geeks from New Mexico are bright, articulate, courteous and more than willing to share their computer knowledge with anyone. I’m going to ask them (again) what the convention they’re attending is all about.

    I already asked them last night and they told me. I just pretended to know what they were talking about because I didn’t want to look stupid. So in order to keep you all informed via this blog, I guess I’ll have to ‘fess up!

    We just received this from our comments section of the blog. Good to hear from you Lara. We love to hear from everyone, so sends us? your comments: (The Geek on the left is Jason and the one on the right is Damien)

    larak Says:

    This is Lara in New Mexico and one of those Geeks is my boyfriend. I’m glad he is sharing his wealth of computer knowledge with all of you at Canadiana. I too, being a non-Geek, find myself nodding a lot and pretending like I know what he’s talking about (sometimes bursting out laughing because, man, some of that computer-speak is hilarious and I can’t help but picture him with a pocket protector and thick glasses with a nasaly voice!). All-in-all, your portrait is correct – he is definitely bright, articulate, courteous (despite some minor laundry transgressions), and willing to share his knowlege of computers with anyone who is interested. However, as the person who lives with him and regularly indulges in alcohol abuse and other irresponsible antics with him, I must take exception to the suggestion that he is far less likely to engage in such behavior. But, it’s good to know that he’s being well behaved for you up there in Toronto. Let’s see how long it lasts . .

    Hovering Over Niagara

    Friday, April 20th, 2007

    Tanya and her mother, Ineke, were recommended Canadiana Backpackers through a friend from their home country of Holland. They were looking forward to discovering all the fantastic things that Toronto has to offer.

    While staying here at the Canadiana they booked a day trip to Niagara Falls with JoJo Tours, one of the great tours we have on offer. They loved the falls and the highlight of the day was the helicopter ride over the falls.

    They got such amazing photos from the helicopter I just had to put some on the blog. (If you book with Jo Jo Tours you get a discount on the Falls Helicopter Ride.)

    Tomorrow Tanja and Ineke will go on the Grayline hop on hop off tour and see as much of Toronto as they can before their time here ends. I’ll speak with them after they come back and try to give you an update with their take on our fair city.

    by Lesley, Canadiana Backpackers Staff.


    Thursday, April 19th, 2007

    The Toronto Raptors Basketball Team is? among the newest in the? league and the only? NBA franchise based outside of the U.S.A. The Raptors experienced the growing pains? common to? all new teams and were long close to the bottom of the league standings.

    This year the team has really? started to gel. They have reached the playoffs as Division Champions, no less! This has sparked a marked increase in game attendance and has attracted fans from all over the world.

    One such foreign fanatic is Curtiss Jones from Germany who was a guest of ours at the Canadiana two years ago. He’s an avid NBA follower, in general,? and a Raptors fan,? in particular. He’s come all the way from Munster, Germany to watch his team in action.

    Curtiss has been a basketball fan longer than the Raptors have been a franchise; so why is he a Raptors follower? He just likes Toronto and likes to support our team!. (And yes, Curtiss Jones is his name and he is, indeed, German!)

    Canada as mentioned earlier has but one NBA Team; but we are no strangers to the game. Basketball was, in fact, invented by a Canadian and the league MVP (Most Valuable Player) for the past two years? has been? Canada’s own Steve Nash from Victoria, British Columbia. Steve is the acknowleged leader of his team (the Phoenix? Suns, from Arizona) and the principle architect of? the team’s? success.

    But the Raptors have attracted quite a large following of European fans and a? lot of that stems from the appeal of the city itself. The other reason? might be? that the Toronto Raptors have an unusually high percentage of players from Europe on their roster. Whatever the reason, the young team has done our city proud. GO RAPTORS!? ?

    Raptors at Canadiana Backpackers Hostel Youth hostel toronto

    Curtiss with his best friend Kerstin


    Sunday, April 15th, 2007

    A report from Lesley; staff member at Canadiana Backpackers.

    You will not believe who stayed at Canadiana this weekend….SHAWN PEPIN!!!

    Okay, so you’ve never heard of him…yet! But in the future, he might be a household name. You see, Shawn’s in Toronto auditioning for Canadian Idol.

    Shawn hails from Sudbury, Ontario, where he makes his living as a guitar teacher. He spent a long day just waiting and hanging around for his turn in front of the judges. He sang three songs for the panel; “Scars” by Papa Toach; “Some Kind of Wonderful” and the last one was a song written by Jack Johnson.

    The preliminary verdict: The judges said they loved his presence and enthusiasm. He’s made it through the preliminary round!

    Shawn was lucky enough to have the support of his boss, Jesse Lagace and friend Lori Paradis. Jesse says that Sean “makes him proud”; Lori says that Shawn is “A songwriter and muscian to watch!”

    And I say, good luck to you Shawn! See you on “Canadian Idol” this year!

    Shawn Pepin

    Lesley - Canadiana Backpackers Inn, Toronto Staff member

    Salty “Beer”

    Saturday, April 14th, 2007

    It’s actually a tour group called “Salty Bear” but a lot of us here at the Canadiana have long been? refering to? it as? “Salty Beer”. It started two summers ago when a young (very young), small (very small), pretty (very pretty)? and adventurous (very adventurous) German girl arrived at the Canadiana outfitted like a true veteran backpacker (one large backpack and a smaller pack in front, worn backwards).

    Her name was Susi she was the sweetest girl? with the sweetest accent; hence “Bear” became “Beer”. We teased her mercilessly about it; so much so that when she left? to fly? home, she signed our guest book; love, Susi (Salty Beer).

    The owner of Salty Bear Tours, Carmen, paid us a visit yesterday to fill us in on some of the features for their 2007 tour season. We kept calling his company “Salty Beer” and told him how that name got started. We said it came from a cute little German girl who was here two years ago and who had trouble pronouncing “Bear”. He immediatrely asked;? “You mean,? Susi?” (and he? even remembered her last name as well!). The reason: some people are simply unforgettable.?

    If you think about it, over the past two years, there have been hundreds of Salty Bear clients on their island hopping excursions and there have been thousands of backpackers at our hostel in Toronto in that same time period. For whatever reason, there are certain people who stand out and it’s hard to fathom the reason why it happens.

    At the risk of sounding like a shill for Salty Bear, Susi took excursions through the Rockies, through Ontario and Quebec and then Eastern Canada. And? she did happen to mention that she liked the “Salty Beer” trip the best.?


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