Archive for April, 2009

The Loonie

Thursday, April 30th, 2009

One of the most haunting sounds of the Northern Wilderness is the cry of the Loon. It is an eerie sound – a sort of a cross between howling and yodeling.

The Loon really symbolizes the bush, much more so than the ubiquitous beaver.

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Canada no longer uses the one dollar or two dollar bill. A dollar wont buy you much anymore; in fact you need two of them to get a cup of coffee.

And paper currency doesn’t last very long before it needs replacement. So, in 1987, it was decided to scrap the dollar bill and it was replaced by a large gold (colored) one-dollar coin.

The new coin had the Queen on the obverse and Northern Loon on the reverse side. Hence, it was dubbed the “Loonie”.

Over the years, “special edition” Loonies have been issued to commemorate Canadian achievements and milestones. It has been a real boon to coin collectors.

In 1996 it was decided to get rid of the paper two-dollar bill which cost six-cents to produce and lasted less than a year in circulation.

Enter the bi-metallic two dollar coin. It was quickly dubbed the “Toonie”!

The Toonie features a Polar Bear on the obverse. The bear has been named “Churchill” aftyer the town on Hudson’s Bay in Northern Manitoba that is infested with the giant carnivores.

So the next time you have a Loonie in your hand, take a close look at the obverse side. There are some really unique and interesting collectibles.

Canadiana Basckpackers toronto youth hostel


Canadiana Basckpackers toronto youth hostel


Canadiana Basckpackers toronto youth hostel


Canadiana Basckpackers toronto youth hostel

SWINE FLU; AVIAN FLU; SARS; AIDS ETC.

Wednesday, April 29th, 2009

Welcome to the world of travel in the 21st Century!

We’ve come a long way in the new Millennium. Once, not so long ago most diseases that you might encounter were able to be defeated by drugs like penicillin.

How the world has changed. And we’ve not gotten smarter!

Our domestic animals such as pigs and chickens are posing serious health problems.

An AIDS plagued nation like South Africa has elected a president who believes that a hot shower is an adequate AIDS preventative after having unprotected sex with an HIV infected partner.

Mexico has recently been the source of Swine Flu that has spread the world over in a matter of days thanks to jet travel.

The good news is that a lot of the worry is purely in your own mind. Toronto had an unfortunate outbreak of SARS a few years ago that virtually crippled our tourism industry for a season.

But we who lived through the Summer of SARS did little (actually nothing) to alter our daily routines.

The fact is that in this age of jet travel virtually nowhere is “safe” from diseases caused by ecoli bacteria or ebola virus.

While not trying to trivialize the hazards of Swine Flu (the latest health threat) it is merely another of life’s many dangers. It is projected to make a lot of people very sick in the days to come.

More and more cases of the illness are surfacing hourly. Remember to wash your hands! Thoroughly!

So just pay attention to ordinary personal hygiene and enjoy your travels!

Swine Flu - Canadiana Backpackers Toronto Youth Hostel

Theme Nights

Monday, April 27th, 2009

We have quite a few impromptu “theme nights” at our hostel in Toronto.

We’ve had ’70′s Disco nights, a Mafia party, Casino evenings, Golf nights – you name it!

The latest themes have emulated a past and a present sub-cultures.

Natalie, our staff member and performance artist recently has a birthday. The decided to hot the local pub (the Fox and Fiddle) as an 80′s group.

They went on Karaoke night dressed in the fashion of the ’80′s and sang only songs from that era.

On Thursday following, the same group had a “Chav Night”. A new term from the UK., applied to working-class, designer clad youths, normally engaged in anti-social behavior. (read: criminal).

And just when you think they are running out of ideas for themes, they seem to come up with a new one!

If you have any ideas, just speak up. The crowd of backpackers are usually game for almost anything!

Tara

Saturday, April 25th, 2009

Tara is a gorgeous young redhead from Oz who is in Canada on a working/holiday visa.

Since backpackers and other visitors are here for only a year, they usually take whatever work is available and facilitates their ability to travel.

Tara has been staying at our hostel in Toronto because she has only planned a short time here.

Tara is “pretty fit” as they say. (As in pretty and fit!) So it is not surprising to hear that she landed a job managing a Pilates Studio.

One look at Tara and you can see that she would be an ideal candidate to work the front desk of a gym dedicated to building beautiful bodies.

She is planning to move on to “the Islands” as the Caribbean is known collectively, with her friend who is of Cuban/Hungarian Heritage. What will she do there, you might ask?

Well, whatever it is she chooses to do, you can bet that it will be a job requiring physical conditioning and stamina.

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canadiana backpackers inn toronto ontario youth hostel

Spring is Here

Saturday, April 25th, 2009

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A sure sign of Spring in Toronto is the return of the Robins on their northern migration from their summer homes down south.

But the surest example of the welcome ending of winter at the hostel is the coming of long-distance cyclists. Beginning right now, bicyclists have arrived to begin their trips.

A lot of them take the day or two trip (each way) to Niagara Falls about 80 miles from out hostel in Toronto.

Some others bike all the way to Montreal – 365 miles north and east of Toronto. And the real adventurous ones head west for the Pacific Coast about three thousand miles west, through forest. plains and mountains.

Late summer, and the beginning of Fall will see the arrival of still more cyclists who have opted to make the trip west to east and arrive in the city having cycled all the way from Vancouver.

This is one vast country but it takes a cyclist to realize just how large it really is!

Sandra

Saturday, April 25th, 2009

Have you ever heard of a place called Aalesund? Well, neither had we.

It is a town of some 40 thousand souls on west of  Oslo on the coast of Norway.

We reckon that it must be a pretty nice place as lovely Sandra Karlsen hails from there. Sandra is a veteran among backpackers, having spent two years in Oz.

After returning to Norway she was again taken by wanderlust and obtained a working visa to Canada. She hasn’tbeen looking too hard for a job however.

You see, Sandra misses the Ocean as she grew up beside it. She has set her sights on Vancouver where she can enjoy both the mountains and the sea.

She’s staying in Toronto because she has heard what a vibrant town it is during the summer with festivals and free events sponsored by the city.She wants to see it for herself before heading west.

Toronto’s loss really will be Vancouver’s gain. We wish her best of luck.

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The Nunavut Invasion

Saturday, April 25th, 2009

Nunavut is Canada’s newest Territory. It is comprised of the eastern portion of the Northwest Territory having been separated in 1999 when it was declared a separate region.

It is an enormous, wild and sparsely populated region with less than 30,000 inhabitants in an area the size of Western Europe.

The group of young Inuit are here under the auspices of the YMCA. They are here for a whirlwind of daily activities to give these young people a taste of  the big city.

We think it a singular honor and compliment that a venerable institution like the YMCA  (with it’s own housing facilities) chooses to house their guests at our hostel.

The group hails from an area north of Churchill, Manitoba. It’s a place famous for its’ population of Polar Bears – the world’s largest (and most dangerous) carnivores.

We know that our group of young travelers are no strangers to the hardships of the northern wilderness; but hang onto your hats! You are in for a grand adventure!

Welcome to Toronto!

Canadiana Backpackers Inn Toronto - Youth Hostel

Repeat Visitors

Saturday, April 25th, 2009

Gary Holley is a regular visitor to our hostel in Toronto. BY may count he has been here, at least, six times over the years.

Gary works in the high-stress field of Social Work dealing mostly with the mentally challenged.

He chooses to spend a lot of his vacation time here in Toronto. He finds the city to be clean, safe, tolerant and ethnically diverse.

It is also within easy reach of his home. He can jump in his car and be here in a matter of hours.

He like many experienced travelers will only stay in backpackers hostels. As he put it you can meet people from all over the world.

He also likes to wander through the city’s ethnic areas such as Little Portugal, Chinatown or Little Italy to mention only a few.

Gary is a regular here at the Canadiana. He qualifies enough to be a member of our “family”.

We’re pleased that a veteran traveler like Gary chooses to stay with us on his regular sojourns to Toronto.

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canadiana backpackers inn toronto ontario youth hostel

Happy Birthday Natalie

Tuesday, April 21st, 2009

The fact is that backpackers do  not need an excuse to party. So it’s really a festive occasion when they actually have one.

Birthdays are one of the most common reasons (excuses) for wild and crazy times. Especially when they celebrate somebody like Natalie’s birthday.

Natalie is a hostel staff member who is a practitioner of “performance art”. Like dressing up in a red summer frock and high heels and walking around the city in the snow and slush in the dead of winter.

So you can imagine the kind of party they had for her birthday!

They baked a chocolate cake with her name spelled out with “Smarties” and ablaze with candles before retiring to The Fox and Fiddle (a local pub) for some serious alcohol abuse.

The party (as is traditional) carried on until the wee hours of the morning. We won’t say how old Natalie is except to say – over twenty-one!

..

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canadiana backpackers inn toronto ontario youth hostel

As you can see it was a quiet and dignified affair!

James

Tuesday, April 21st, 2009

Sometimes it becomes necessary to reinvent yourself.

James is a former professional soldier. As an NCO he took part in the historic Battle of the Medak Pocket, the largest combat the Canadian forces had been involved in sice the Korean War.

In 1993, a Battalion of the famed Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry, interposed themselves in between the Serbian and Croatian Armies to prevent a Croatian invasion.

The gruesome aftermath of that battle gave the world the term “Ethnic Cleansing”.

At the time of the U.N. action in Croatia, the Canadian Forces were stretched so thinly that almost half of the fabled Princess Pats consisted of “reservists” known derisively as “weekend warriors”.

The Patricia’s and the reservists attached to the battalion were the only troops who held fast in the face of a full-scale Croatian army assault. All other U.N. Forces withdrew in the face of the Croatian Army threat.

The Canadians fought an eighteen hour battle under artillery and tank assault and the 850 strong force finally forced the withdrawal of Croat Forces. Medak Pocket is merely another glorious episode in the many battle honors of the PPCLI.

Since they were “Peacekeepers”, the Canadians lacked tanks and artillery support and stood firm with little more than their personal weapons, a few anti-tank rockets and fifty caliber machine guns.

James retired after the battle having been seriously wounded by three bullets. He has decided to return to University and has been staying at the hostel until his University residence accomodation becomes available.

We wish him well and salute his service to Canada.

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