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Back in the summer of 2006, we met Keith and his longtime girlfriend Mandy. Keith was originally from Belfast and Mandy from England.
They were a young, adventurous couple on the first leg of a year-long, around the world trip.
Keith was a former British soldier and had served his share of duty in world hotspots like Bosnia and the mid-east.
With battles behind him, he embarked with Mandy on a backpacking adventure to “see the world”.
Their travels found them in exotic locales: L.A., San Francisco, Fiji, New Zealand, Oz, S.E. Asia, Africa; then home. year later.
We’ve managed to maintain contact with this couple (and other backpacker friends) over the years. This has been made easier by the advent of the Internet. In the past kindred spirits would meet then pass like ships in the night.
Mandy and Keith have settled down and welcomed a son, Fin (Finbar), the next generation of youth hostel client.
We just know he will be an adventurer like his father. The physical resemblance is astounding!
“Minikeef” and Keith.
We’ve just had two lovely young ladies from Belgium visiting our Toronto Hostel. That’s right, from The Kingdom of Belgium.
Now, what do you know about it?
Unless your from there (or the Netherlands or Luxembourg) we are wagering you don’t know very much about the place.
The tiny Kingdom (a little over 30K Sq. Kms. and a population of just over 10 million) is a rather important country. It is founding member of the European Union and hosts the EU Headquarters as well as the HQ of NATO.
It roughly divided into areas of two different ethnicities. In the north, are the Dutch speaking Flemish and the south the French speaking Walloons. (There is also a tiny German speaking enclave located on the border with Germany – Go figure?)
Our Toronto Hostel has been fortunate to host (fairly long term) a number of Belgian student/backpackers – mostly female – here to study English.
They have all tended to have a few things in common. They are studious, well-manered, impeccably behaved and gorgeous!
Tracy is the most recent of the hostels student residents. She graduated from secondary school early and received a scholarship to study english in Toronto.
Just before Christmas, lovely Tracy got a visitor from home – her twin sister Wendy arrived to spend the holiday with her! so, for the past 10 days, we hosted two young beauties from Belgium!
Wendy left for home today but still have another month before we must bid Tracy adieu. We are not looking forward to that day!
Tracy and her twin Wendy (at the hostel Christmas 2010).
Baroness Astrid de Broqueville (at the hostel Christmas 2009).
In a mere four days we say goodbye to 2010 and make the turn to 2011 at what is traditionally the coldest time of year – the month of January!
This has already turned into one of the most difficult New Year’s for travelers. Delays due to heavy snowstorms have ruined the plans of businessmen, backpackers and vacationers alike. Even here in Toronto where there isn’t a single snowflake on the ground!
Pearson Airport (Toronto’s International Air Terminus) has cancelled more than 250 flights today alone!
Northern Europe, including the U.K. and Ireland, has been experiencing an unusually severe early winter snowfall. They really aren’t prepared for the freak weather and the result has been flight delays and even airport shutdowns.
Just as Europe is digging out and returning to normal service, the Northeastern U.S. and the Canadian Atlantic Coast have been savaged by a brutal snow storm!
New York, Boston, Philadelphia, Washington D.C., and Detroit have all experienced flight delays, cancellations and even closures.
Since these airports are all major North American air travel “hubs”, it affects even centres that are snow free -like Toronto. Everybody gets in line to rebook flights and many will be forced to wait a few days!
Here’s a tip if you are finding it difficult to get an EARLIER change of flight:
- DO NOT waste your time standing in long check in lines at the airport counters!
- GET TO A COMPUTER and try to book online! You will stand a much better chance!
BEST OF LUCK! and HAPPY NEW YEAR!
One more Christmas down and what a success it was!
We set a record this year. For instance, at Christmas 2008 we prepared a Christmas brunch/dinner for about 85 lonley, hungry backpackers. Last year (2009) 85 people booked and about 120 showed up!
The reason for that was the appearance of a lot of the hostels past guests who are here on working/holiday visas and are now temporary Toronto residents. They live here in the city but without many close family or friends. And the only “home” in Toronto is through our hostels doors.
This year 95 people booked in advance. Last year we prepared 10 large turkeys, veggies, salads and deserts. We actually ran short of turkey for the very first time! We did actually have enough but we cut it very close!
So this year the hostels list said 95 were coming. Well 150 lonely, hungry backpackers showed up! That is a new record here at thew Canadiana Backpackers Inn.
One of our hostels virtues is we learn from our experiences. So with 95 backpackers booking the hostels Chritmas dinner, we naturally expected more! So this time we prepared 14 very large birds with trimmingd and deserts for all the hostels guests and friends!
At least, Teresa (a.k.a. Superwoman) our head of housekeeping prepared them. She worked solo (her choice/demand) right through the night!
Here at the Canadiana Backpackers Inn we like to think that among all of the hostels in Toronto. This place becomes a “home” away from home for travelers young and old; some experiencing a Chritmas withpout their families for the very first time.
If you take a look at some of our pics below, you will see why we believe everyone had a pretty festive time.
So next is New Year’s! Then, after that, everything should return to normal!
Once again, the hostel is feeling the effects caused by too much snow. That’s seems very strange when you look outside and note there is no snow on the ground whatsoever. Toronto is virtually free of snow!
The problem is “across the pond” in Europe. There is a two-fold problem due to the volume of snow covering a great portion of Northern Europe.
Firstly, they rarely experience such heavy winter snowfalls; and secondly, they do not have the necessary equipment to deal with it when it does occur.
It truly is a caprice of nature that the snow… a) does not fall where it should and… b) does not fall in a place where it can be dealt with quite easily.
Airport closures and flight delays or cancellations have forced a lot of backpackers to cancel their bookings with our hostel.
Fortunately, delays work both ways. Those who were planning to travel home to destinations in Northern Europe could not get flights due to airport closures and thus extended their stays at our hostel.
They were stuck in Toronto so to speak. A fact that removed the effects of cancellations of travelers from Europe to Toronto.
A lot of people and businesses were inconvenienced by the strange weather patterns of the winter of 2010/2011. But we have been affected not at all.
We wish the best of seasons for all.
London: A city ill-equipped to deal with even light snowfalls. (Light by Canadian standards.)
A heavier snowfall like this cripples most European airports!
The lot of a stranded backpacker at a snow-closed airport.
John Hetherington – Educator
Of all the hostels in Toronto, we get in addition to the usual compliment of youthful backpackers, a lot of people from vitrually every profession and walk of life staying with us.
We have had literally every type of tradesman as well as computer specialists, architects, lawyers, physicians, police officers, athletes, students and entertainers – you name it!
We also have teachers. A lot of teachers. They range from educators on sabbatical to teachers chaperoning student field trips.
Which brings us to John Hetherington a remarkable educator from West Ferris Secondary School in North Bay, Ontario. It’s a small culturally homogenous city/town directly north of Toronto (about 250 kilometers).
John visits the hostel two or three times every year, most often with a group of students on a trip to the big city.
The groups he leads come to culturally diverse Toronto with the purpose of experincing the lives of people of different cultures, languages, customs and religions.
It is an admirable program designed to promote tolerance and understanding in a world all too fearful of differences.
In the past, John has cycled to Toronto on his off-time just for fun and exercise. But, today’s issue of The Globe and Mail (Canada’s National – and arguably best – Newspaper) has profiled other things John does during his leisure time.
As well as encouraging the development of cross-cultural understanding, it seems he fosters a sense of social responsibility in his students.
This is the article in today’s newspaper. You can read all about it here and we encourage you to do so:
Nicely done John! Hope to see you again soon!
John Hetherington – reclining front and centre of his young charges in front of our hostel.
Robert hails from County Wicklow in the Emerald Isles. He’s part of the current massive exodus of economic refugees from Ireland.
His interests include music, specifically guitar music and of course, actual guitars.
But purchasing a quality acoustic guitar can prove to be a pricey proposition totalling many thousands of Euros. It is indeed, quite an investment for a budding young musician.
Young Robert solved this problem admirably. In the process, he proved himself to be a master craftsman.
He bought a book on Guitar Making and ordered the wood and tools from a specialty store in the U.K. He then proceeded to work carefully, step-by-step, over a period of several months.
His painstaking efforts resulted in the production of a absolutely gorgeous, sweet sounding guitar that would likely not be out of place in the hands of an Andreas Segovia or a Liona Boyd.
Robert managed to create a masterpiece on his first effort!
He is seeking to use his obvious skills as a craftsman in to gainful employment. We think that will be a tough row to hoe. But just wait until they get a look at that guitar!
For step-by-step photos of the construction and completed instrument go to:
Robert playing his self-made masterpiece.
It’s the Christmas Season once again and we are trying our best to keep our guests warm and happy!
We have become well known for our Thursday BBQ when we prepare burgers for a mere $4. Starting at around 6PM.
We realize that a lot of backpackers/travelers are a little light in the wallet, particularly at this time of year. So, in keeping with the Spirit of the Season, we decided to reduce the cost of our burgers.
We decided to give them away for free!
Some of our staff members spent a good part of the day preparing burgers of 100% ground beef!
We’ll be checking the feedback from our guests to see if we will continue to do this on a regular basis!
SO, IF YOU WERE HERE, PLEASE LET US KNOW WHAT YOU THINK!
There was an Irishman who arrived at our Toronto Hostel in the summer of 2007 (that sounds like the beginning of a joke and maybe it is!)
Everyone called him “Doughy” but his real name is…nobody can seem to remember his real name!
Anyhow Doughy first stayed at our hostel until he found his own lodgings in Toronto and found employment at an upscale French Eatery; you see Doughy is a professional chef!
Although he is considered by his peers as a gourmet chef, he could often be seen munching MacDonald’s Cheeseburgers or Submarine Sandwiches in typical Irish fashion.
We said so long to Doughy in the late summer of 2009 when he returned to Dublin. We didn’t say “goodbye” because we knew it wouldn’t be that easy to be shed of him! (Plus the fact that we really didn’t want to see him leave.)
Doughy was like one of the hostels fixtures during his entire time in Toronto. He would somtimes prepare huge trays of steak-and-kidney pie for our staff and his many friends – superb!
Anyhow, Doughy is back in Toronto; much to the elation of our local pub (the Fox and Fiddle) whose profits suffered greatly from his absence!
Welcome home, Doughy!
“LIVE! FROM NEW YORK! It’s Saturday Night!”
It is also Anna-Teres, all the way from the Big Apple via Sweden. She showed up at the hostel after the grueling ten-hour plus bus trip from her home in Brooklyn.
Most travelers arriving after such an ordeal want little more than a meal, a hot shower and a bed. But Anna-Teres went straight out exploring. Queen Street., King Street, the CN Tower etc.
When you first see her the second impression you have is how fit she is! (The first impression is she is simply gorgeous!)
Now this transplanted Swede works for a large, nationwide NYC Law Firm managing their records department. Hardly the domain of a fitness fanatic you might think.
But Toronto is used to athletic Swedes. Swedish hockey stars Borje Salming, Mats Sundin and Inge Hammerstrom all wore the blue and white of the venerable Toronto Maple Leafs.
Anna-Teres’ passion is physical fitness and she is considering a mid-life career change. She runs a fitness company as a sideline called; “B Fitness For Life”. She hass been offered a contract to run a fitness program at an upscale resort in Jamaica!
So she’s in Toronto until Saturday evening to attend a seminar on a new fitness regimen called: “The Hourglass Workout” developed by a Toronto Fitness Trainer.
NOW we see why she’s so fit and where she gets that incredible figure!