Archive for December, 2008

Dinosaur Man

Wednesday, December 31st, 2008

Ryan, from Pennsylvania is an American. Or Canadian. Or Irish citizen. Through a maze of complicated family nationalities, he is entitled to all three passports.

Ryan is an artist by training. But he’s taken on a unique job description that you likely won’t see advertised in the classified section of a newspaper.

Ryan makes Dinosaurs.

I don’t mean that he clones them from DNA preserved in amber a la Jurassic Park, but he builds them from scratch, some of them even life-sized.

These are the mechanically animated life-like models you might see in museums or better theme parks.

Ryan is in Canada negotiating with an institution he will not name top build some models for their dinosaur exhibit.

As you can well-imagine, it is a costly exercise and a highly specialized skill. But it would certainly make for a terrific museum display.

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Ryan – the Dinosaur Man

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One of Ryan’s renderings.

CHRISTMAS 2008

Tuesday, December 30th, 2008

Last Christmas, we set a bit of a personal record here at the hostel. We had more than eighty backpackers here for our Christmas dinner.

This year in 2008, we shattered that record with about 95 people here to enjoy a home cooked Turkey Dinner with all the trimmings.

Teresa our head of housekeeping spent the entire night cooking seven very large birds with a tasty stuffing veggies and two kinds of potatoes and an assortment of desserts.

Christmas is a very important event here at the Canadiana. A lot of young travelers are away from their homes and families for the very first time in their lives. We do our very best to ensure that everyone has a good time and a memorable Christmas.

Some of the people who join us for dinner are in Toronto on working/holiday visas and some have been in the city for months. But they had moved into flats and apartments closer to their places of employment.

We like to say the “Canadiana Feels Like Home” and for many it really does. A good number of former guests now working in the city “Come Home” for Christmas Dinner. It is always good to see them again.

Dinner is served buffet style. It is all put out at a self serve table and guests eat what they like and as much as they like. Literally everything was eaten; however, no one lacked for enough food.

Although fruit juices were provided, most diners had made their way to the liquor store the day before to make sure they were able to enjoy a cup (or two) of cheer with their turkey.

All in all, it was a great way to usher out 2008 and prepare to welcome 2009!

Christmas at Torontos hostel downtown backpackers youth hostel

Christmas at Canadiana Backpackers Hostel downtown toronto youth hostels

Employee of the Month

Sunday, December 21st, 2008

Okay. We’ve started something new here at the Hostel. It’s a monthly prize for the “Employee of the Month” (Eat your heart out McDonald’s!)

At first it seemed kind of silly (like the way McDonald’s does it); however, on a rethink, it’s a pretty good idea.

It is a reward and recognition of a worker who will put in that little extra effort contributing to the success of the hostel.

The first award was given to Wouter (or Walter), a South African/Canadian (a dual citizen) who has worked for us since his arrival from South Africa last year.

Why did the staff vote for Wouter?

Perhaps because there has never been a time when he has refused a shift. Or because there has never been a task too onerous for him to tackle.

Wouter (Walter) has always accepted any job assigned to him without complaint and then quietly goes about his work quietly and efficiently.

Well done Wouter! You’re going to be a tough act to follow!

Oh yes, the prize? Wouter received 10 tickets to the Cineplex Theatres, located right across the street from the hostel. He can choose from a dozen different movies every week.p>

Woulter - Canadiana Backpackers Youth Hostel Toronto Canada

THE WOLF’S DEN

Sunday, December 21st, 2008

A lot of travelers ask for recommendations as to where to stay in other cities. But there are certain places that none of us have ever visited.

About three hours drive north of Toronto lies the town of Huntsville in the scenic Muskoka cottage region of the province. It is situated close to the Eastern Gate of the Algonquin Provincial Park wilderness area.

We had a mother/daughter team from Australia traveling from Toronto to Montreal via Ottawa and asked for a “Scenic Route”. The best route would be via Huntsville and the Park.

There is but one hostel located on that route. It is located very close to the park entrance at a place called Oxtongue, of all things!

As far as I know, there isn’t another hostel within, at least, a hundred miles of the Wolf’s Den. It is a place that is aptly named as there are wolves in Algonquin Park – lots of them!

So short of recommending the place (it was an unknown quantity to us) we simply told them that it existed.

To make a long story short, the Wolf’s Den was as far as they got on their planned six day drive to Quebec!

They apparently had such a good time and liked the place so much, they spent the entire six days there relaxing in front of a Franklin Fireplace with a glass of wine.

They enjoyed the refreshing sauna followed by a roll in the deep snow! They experienced “Snowshoeing” which is about the only way you can travel through deep snow on foot.

We still don’t know what the wolf’s Den is like; however, Helena and her mom Cheryl from Newcastle Oz, simply raved about the place.

So ladies, please append your comments to this entry.

You can check out their website: www.wolfdenbunkhouse.com It looks pretty neat!

Judy, Judy, Judy…

Friday, December 12th, 2008

That is (supposedly) a famous quote from an old Cary Grant movie. I’ve never actually seen the movie and I’m just using it to introduce our next guest.

You guessed it! Her name is Judy.

Judy is another recent University graduate who has opted for a working/holiday visa in Canada and plans to work and travel here for the next year.

Why Canada? Well. she considered New Zealand and Australia (both of whom also have similar reciprocal visa agreements with the U.K.) but decided on Canada becauae she can’t abide hot weather.

Wait until she experiences the full force of our Canadian winter! Oh, Judy, Judy, Judy. but are you in for a shock!

Juy is from what they call the “north” of England. To any stranger looking at a map, where the “north” begins looks more like the middle of the country. But it’s their country so I suppose they can call it what they like.

Her mother hails from Newcastle and is actually a “Geordie” as they call the locals. I’ve met a few myself and they are very nice people if you can decipher their regional accent!

Judy actually attended University in the north of England. She studied Mathematics at the University of Newcastle where she took a First! Quite an achievement!

A lot of doors open for a new grad who receives a “First” in Mathematics. Especially in the further study of sciences or academia. We trust Judy will use her year well in Canada to help her decide on her next move.

Whatever it may be, we are certain she will do well.

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A.B.C.’s of a “Noble” Hostel

Saturday, December 6th, 2008

“A” is for Astrid.

“B” is for many things such as; Broqueville, Belgian, Belle and Beautiful!

All of which collectively describes our lovely French speaking language student. But it’s not just that!

She is a real life European Peer! A Baroness! Which also begins with a “B”. Coincidence? I think not!

She’s a positively lovely lady to host in our humble Hostel.

Humble hostel did I say? Well, come to think of it, we have always run our establishment with the noblest of ideals. At least, we have always tried to!

It seems as if our efforts have finally begun to bear fruit! European Nobility have finally discovered us. The last Baroness I met was more than two decades ago when I was a guest at her hostel.

Actually, it was an upscale Inn that featured excellent cross-country skiing in the hills of Vermont. The Noble Inn was owned and operated by none other than the Baroness Maria Von Trapp. And if that name sounds familiar – it should!

You may recall the heroine of the true life story in the hit movie “The Sound of Music” was named Maria von Trapp.

If we have succeeded in any small measure in offering a bit of “Royal” treatment to our guests it might be said that we took our lead from a very Noble Source!

We are proud to host the Baroness Astrid de Broqueville at our hostel. She is not only downright gorgeous, but down to earth and a friend to all who have been fortunate enough to meet her.

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