Archive for January, 2008

Guests from Exotic Places

Tuesday, January 29th, 2008

Hostels as you might suspect host backpackers from all over the globe. We’ve had guests from virtually everywhere; from Paraguay to Poland; from Zanzibar to Zimbabwe.

People visit from the world over; they even come from beautiful downtown Grimsby! Where’s Grimsby you might ask? Well it’s about 60 miles down the road about 3/4 way to Niagara Falls!

We’ve just had a lovely young Soccer star from Grimsby check in while she was on a break from mid-term exams in her final year of high-school. It’s what you might call an escape to the big city.

Now, Grimsby (as the name might imply) used to be quite grim! It is situated just off the main highway so it is not actually on the way to anywhere in particular.

It used to be considered a boring little town with both city limits signs on the same stick; but, in a time of soaring big city real estate prices it has swelled to a population of over 22,000 souls and serves as a “bedroom community” for larger cities such as Hamilton, St. Catherine’s, Burlington, Mississauga and even Toronto.

Anyhow, lovely little Amy has come all the way from Grimsby to spend a bit of time in he big city.

She might not hail from the most exotic locale; but, you’ll have to admit that she makes a lovely addition to both the hostel and Toronto!

Australia Day 2008

Saturday, January 26th, 2008

Every January 26th is a cause for celebration at our hostel in Toronto. The reason? Well, it’s Australia Day!

The beauty of “Oz Day” is that it requires very little planning by the hostel’s staff. Aussie flags seem to just materialize as the hostel’s Aussie guests get ready to celebrate (read: “drink to”) their nations’ National Day.

There are always plenty of Australians staying in hostels the world over. They are once of the most ubiquitous Nationalities among backpackers. And they rarely need an excuse to celebrate and hoist a pint or three or more. Lets just say they really know how to throw a party!

Signs have mysteriously appeared on the hostel’s walls for the past week announcing the coming of Australia Day. The signs admonished all and sundry to stock up on beer and get ready for a wild night! Meat pies and sausages were prepared for sale and the party began.

Seems that everyone gets into the spirit of things. Scots, French, Brits, Canadians, Japanese, Italians, Spanish, Latinos – everybody – joins in the singing of Waltzing Matilda; a song to which everyone seems to know the words!

The hostel cleared out well before eight-thirty in the evening with the revelers heading for a Pub. But not just any Pub! They headed for the trendiest and most upscale part of the city – Toronto’s Yorkville District!

There is a well known Pub that has been a fixture in the area for more than three decades. Hemingway’s is a pub that caters to the “in crowd” including a lot of “A” List Film Stars, a lot of whom are always in Toronto shooting big-budget movies.

Apparently the owners have some sort of connection to Australia so they put on something special for the occasion. Australia Day at the hostel is always a wild and crazy time!
Hoo Roo! Guys! Hoo Roo!

Australia Day - Canadiana Backpackers Inn Toronto Youth Hostel

Some Aussies and Aussie wannabes.

Australia Day in downtown toronto - Canadiana Backpackers Inn Toronto Youth Hostel

Shirtless amid freezing temperatures and snow!

Coming “Home”

Wednesday, January 23rd, 2008

A few summers ago we had a visitor from Japan who stayed with us for several months. Masahito was from Tokyo and he had studied in the United States for several years earning a Masters Degree in History from Colorado State University.

He really liked Toronto and made a lot of friends here. It was sad to see “Masa” leave the hostel when it was time for him to go home. He said that of all the hostels he has stayed at, the Canadiana was by far the best.

Three days ago, we got a phone call from Tokyo. It was Masa telling us that he had just purchased a ticket to Toronto and was arriving for a visit in two days. It had been over a year since we had seen him and we were all very pleased to hear from him.

We like to say the our hostel “feels like home” because it is something we hear from so many visiting backpackers. So Masa, was “coming home”.

We got his flight details and two hostel staff members went to the airport on their own time to meet his flight. I hope that gives you an idea of the kind of hostel we run and the kind of man Masa is.

We’re really glad to see you again Masahito! Welcome back to the hostel! Welcome back to your second home!

Masa - Canadiana Backpackers Inn Toronto Youth Hostel

Lovely Latinas

Friday, January 18th, 2008

Something is happening to our female English language students from Central America! They’re getting even more beautiful!

The latest students to stay at the hostel include Constanza (Connie) from Chile; Marfan from Mexico; Fabiola from Venezuela and Camilla from Brazil.

These lovely senoritas have gone a long way to brightening up a dreary Toronto January. They are examples of southern sunshine that make both the hostel and the city warmer and cheerier as we all pray for spring!

Girls - Canadiana Backpackers Inn Downtown Toronto Youth Hostels

Three lovely Latinas: Mafer; Fabiola; and Jennyfer.

Backpackers Inn T-Shirts

Tuesday, January 15th, 2008

Just a couple of posts ago we told you about “Dingo Dan” who sent us a photo of himself wearing a Canadiana Backpacker’s Inn T-shirt in front of the Capitol Building in Washington, D.C.

We quite often get photos of former hostel guests sporting our shirts in far-flung places. We’ve had them from Yosemite National Park, California; the Grand Canyon, Arizona; Banff National Park, Alberta, famous exotic places like that.

Well, we just got another from way down New Zealand way. “Te Puke” to be exact! (and no, it’s not pronounced the way it looks!) “Puke” has two distinct syllables! (short “u”; long “e”)

The best part is that it came from one of the hostel’s favorite people! Lesley, our former staff supervisor, left us just before Christmas after two years. We ALL loved Lesley!

But after four years of travelling, Lesley finally got homesick for Te Puke (pun intended!) So she pulled up stakes, folded her tent and went home!

It’s January here in Toronto. It’s cold and damp and there is a wet snow falling. Now, Lesley has experienced a couple of Toronto winters so she knows full-well what we are going through.

So what does she do? She sends us a pic of her fishing in the warm summer sun! In our faces Lesley! We get it Lesley! We get it! We also hope you get sunburned!

Jan. 16: (Just got an email from Lesley! The pic she sent is not Te Puke but Lake Taupo – glad we got that cleared up!)
If any of our former hostel guests has a photo of themselves wearing our shirt or hat in a distant or exotic place (beach; boardwalk; bistro; bordello etc.) please send it along to us!

please email them to:

Lesleys fishing trip - Canadiana Backpackers Inn Toronto Youth Hostel

Seems Kiwi’s are too lazy to hold their own rods!

Lesleys fishing trip - Canadiana Backpackers Inn Toronto Youth Hostel

Oh. maybe not!

Our Hailey and Rick (Springfield)

Sunday, January 13th, 2008

Everybody loves Hailey. How do we know? Well, they write it in the hostel’s guest comment’s book. It’s always about Hailey – and only Hailey.

Actually there is one comment about Simon written by “Daisy”. It says, “I love Simon!” Except no one can recall a backpacker named “Daisy” staying at the hostel and the handwriting looks suspiciously like Simon’s.

Hailey is a student at York University in Toronto and is working at the hostel to help pay her way through school. She’s got a sparkling personality and she’s built like a dancer; in fact, she’s captain of the University Dance Team.

So a lot of male backpackers “love” and “adore” our little Hailey. They’re the one’s who tend to spend an inordinate amount of time at the front desk asking questions they already know the answers to, when she is on duty.

What these prospective Lothario’s don’t realize is that none of them stands a chance! Hailey’s heart lies elsewhere. His name is “Rick”. He’s an Aussie and he’s (allegedly) famous!

His full name is Rick Springfield and (apparently) he’s a singer. He’s best known for the song “Jessie’s Girl” (yuck!).

So Hailey’s heart belongs to Rick! Most recently, she drove all the way to Florida to catch his concert and paid a bribe of about $500 to get backstage to meet him! (Doesn’t that sound a bit like stalking?)

Anyhow, it seems that Rick adores Hailey too! Check below for the photo of Hailey and Rick; then eat your hearts out boys!

Hailey & Rick Springfield - Canadiana Backpackers Inn Toronto Youth Hostel

Our Hailey and some guy with a guitar.

A Family Affair

Friday, January 11th, 2008

We get a lot of foreign students in the hostel who have come with the express purpose of learning English.

English as a Second Language (ESL) Schools have become a real growth industry here in Toronto. We seem to be a popular destination for Spanish, Latino, French and Japanese students.

They tend to arrive in groups and most often for extended periods – an immersion learning method, if you will.

The problem is that there is the temptation to stick together and speak their own language. It’s just easier. So it is quite common to hear “groups” of individuals in our common areas speaking French, Spanish, Japanese etcetra.

Needless to say, it’s not a very good method of learning the English language.

We have a “group” from” Chile here for several months. (I put “group” in quotation marks because this group is actually a family.) The four of them arrived about a month ago and share a room in the hostel.

Patricio and Constanza are brother and sister; Rodrigo and Alejandro are brothers and they are all first cousins! They range in age from 20 to 23! And their approach to learning English is first rate. You can already notice a marked improvement in their language skills!

This family chooses not to take the easy route and spend their time conversing in Spanish with other students from Latin America and Spain. They do their best to speak English even among themselves!

This is one group/family of ESL students who have a really healthy approach to learning. They are also polite and considerate and a pleasure to host at the hostel.

Canadiana Backpackers Inn Toronto Youth Hostel

Patricio and his sister Constanza with first cousins; brothers Rodrigo and Alejandro.

Dingo Dan

Tuesday, January 8th, 2008

“Women may love Koala Bears, but they go out with the Dingos!”

Have you heard that one before?

Quite a few Aussie guys who have stayed at our Backpackers Inn/Hostel, have earned the moniker “Dingo” as in, “The Dingo took the baby!” (You must remember that one!)

A Dingo, as we all know, is an Australian wild dog that by no means would qualify as a house pet. It’s just a way of calling men from Oz “dogs”; but, particularly nasty dogs at that!

So big (6’3″ or 6’4″) Aussie Dan is a Dingo. Now, most men would take exception to be called a dog. But it seems most Aussie men wear the label like a merit badge!

He sent us the photo posted below and signed it “Dingo Dan”!

Dan was a typical hostel resident/non-resident. He stayed with us for a while when he first arrived in Toronto then sought alternate housing closer to his work place.

He always came back on weekends to participate in hostel events, hit on female backpackers, or just hang out – what the Aussies call a “blodger” (freeloader) , I think. But he’s a good guy and made a lot of friends here at the hostel.

Well, Dan took off heading south after the new year bound for New York, Washington and then on to South America. He was kind enough to send us a pic of him outside of the Capitol Building in Washington, D.C.. wearing a Canadiana Backpackers Inn T-shirt!

We intend to post the photo in our quiet room along with others showing friends and guests in exotic locales wearing Canadiana Backpackers T-shirts.

But I think in Dingo Dan’s case we’ll consider adding a warning – like the Surgeon General puts on cigarette packs – and try to keep female backpackers safe!

Isn’t there still a bounty on Dingo’s Down Under?

Dingo Dan - Canadiana Backpackers Inn Toronto Youth Hostel

“Dingo Dan” visiting the Capitol Building in Washington. D.C.

Re: Steam Whistle Brewery

Monday, January 7th, 2008

OK! OK! I’D MAKE A LOUSY BOOTLEGGER! The previous entry “Psst! Wanna buy some beer” Is shot full of errors! We just heard from THE STEAM WHISTLE and apparently they stop selling their excellent amber nectar at 6PM!

I’ll admit I’ve never been to the Steam Whistle; however, I have been known to sample their fine product! You see, we sell tickets for the “Steam Whistle Tour” where you get a tour of their plant as well as a bellyfull of free samples of their wonderful brew! I’ve been known to ask a tour ticket buyer to pick me up a six-pack while he was there!

Needless to say, it’s a popular tour with a ticket costing a mere six bucks! It is particularly popular with the Brits and Aussies – go figure? I’m told you get a lot of free samples for six bucks! And the beer making tour is interesting and educational.

I’ve been informed by one of the “Canadiana Lager Louts” that when I said “open for sales ’til 11PM, I was mistaking the Whistle for the Amsterdam Brew Pub which does sell until 11 PM! However, it’s quite a bit further away from the hostel (about a 20 minute walk I’d say.)

But that’s not very far for a thirsty man looking for a superior product!

(For the exact opening and sales times of the Steam Whistle Brewery read the comment on the previous entry and we’ve never had a single negative comment about their excellent tour!)

Steamwhistle - Canadiana Backpackers Inn Toronto Youth Hostel

Pssst! Wanna buy some beer?

Sunday, January 6th, 2008

As mentioned in an earlier blog, the sale of alcoholic beverages in Ontario is a virtual Government monopoly. Since there is no alternative source they feel little need to cater to the purchasers’ convenience.

It’s called the Liquor Control Board of Ontario or LCBO for short and it has the distinction of being the largest single purchaser of wines and spirits on the planet.

Stores are few and locations are scattered. They open late and close early. In other words, you’ve got to go to them! When the LCBO decides to close (most stores around 9 PM) you simply can’t buy alcohol anywhere!

Psst! That’s not exactly true……

There are a few Micro-Breweries and Brew Pubs in the city. They are licenced by the Province as “producers” of beer – NOT merely as a pub or tavern.

As a result, they can sell their product out the door as well as on the premises. The closest Micro Brewery is located just south of Toronto’s landmark CN Tower and you can see the tower from our front doorstep! They are open seven days a week, including most statutory holidays.

They sell beer in their bar or you can take a six-pack (or a case of 24 for that matter) home with you until 11PM on most nights. The “Steam Whistle Brewery” (located near the CN Tower) puts out a particularly tasty and popular product.


Steamwhistle Brewery - Canadiana Backpackers Inn Toronto Youth Hostel

Steamwhistle Brewery

Steamwhistle Brewery - Canadiana Backpackers Inn Toronto Youth Hostel

Drink in or take out!

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