Archive for January, 2011

AUSTRALIA DAY 2011

Friday, January 28th, 2011

Australia Day (January 27th) is in celebrated in the depths of the Canadian winter. (The seasons reverse on opposite ends of the equator). So the ubiquitious Australian backpackers are forced to celebate their national day indoors!

Aussies hardly ever need an excuse to hold a party but Australia Day is pretty special to them. It never requires us to plan an “event” because a celebration happens with seeming spontiaity wherever two or more Australians gather on their National Day.

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In the past, groups of Australians have posed in full beach attire in front of the hostel in a snowstorm on -10C night! (Shirtless in shorts and flip flop sandals!)

There are normally at least a few dozen Australian backpackers in the hostel at any given time. This year was a notable exception because the hostel beds have been monopolized by the Irish of late. (See the previous entry.)

Even the unusual paucity of Australians in residence didn’t prevent Gemma and Anita (both of Melbourne) from organizing a pretty festive celebration.

Genuine Australian beer was purchased. A “BARBIE” (BBQ) was held.  And a lot of non-Australian friends and supporters were invited.

It was a very successful evening. But standby for St. Patrick’s Day in March! with nearly sixty Irish in residence – look out!


THE IRISH IN CANADA

Tuesday, January 25th, 2011

It may seem as if a lot of the hostels blog entries are about the Irish backpackers we host. That’s because there has, indeed, been a plethora of them of late. Since they constitute the largest single segment of our hostel guests, it is only natural that we write about them.

The Irish have a long history of forced migration from their beautiful, but often luckless homeland. In the past, famine has compelled them to seek economic refuge in othr lands.

Like a lot of young travelers, they have come seeking work on year-long working/holiday visas. (These visas have recently been extended to 2 years.) But unlike most youthful backpackers, many Irish have come to stay.

It is in the Irish character to put their stamp on the places to which they emigrate. Perhaps nowhere have they done it so thoroughly as they have in North America.

The Irish diaspora (Diaspóra na nGael) now numbers an estimated 80 million worldwide. (More than 13 times the population of Ireland itself.) Fully one-half of them (40 million) are Americans who claim Irish ethnicity. In Canada our total populaion is 10% of our U.S. neighbours, as one might guess over 4 million Canadians claim Irish roots.

It is claimed that about 80% of Newfoundlanders have Irish ancestry. The family names, the physical features, the main religion (Catholicism), the prevalence of Irish music and even the accents of the people are so reminiscent of rural Ireland that the Irish author Tim Pat Coogan described Newfoundland as “the most Irish place in the world outside of Ireland”.

It has been forecast that the economic recovery in Erie will be a slow process. The Government of Canada has just extended working/holiday visas to two years.

It appears as if we are going to get a lot more Irish backpackers from now on.

What’s in a Name?

Wednesday, January 12th, 2011

What’s in a name? Well, quite often, quite a bit actually.

For instance; Wong, Hashimoto, Singh, O’Riordan, Chapelle, Evans and MacDonald are surnames that are absolute giveaways in determining a person’s ethnic origin.

Given names are not always as clear a determiner. One might say that name like Coleen and Erin suggest Irish heritage; yet they are names that have been adopted by many cultures.

There are ceretainly Irish given names that you can say – with virtual certainty – could only belong to a native son or daughter of the Emerald Isles.

Like names gleaned from ancient folklore such as; Aodh or Aoibheann. Or classic Irish names such as Seamus and Siobhan. Then there are names although once of Irish origin, have been usurped by other cultures; like Katheen or Cassidy.

Enter Cormac O’Byrne from Dublin. you might think that Cormac is a name that you would find only in Ireland; but, it is apparently quite commonly used in Australia (still, likely only by those claiming Irish roots).

But Cormac is 100% Irish (as we would have wagered!) He arrived in Toronto in the fall of 2010 with a working/holiday visa in hand. To begin with, his accent is somewhat neutral, lacking the common Irish lilt.

One of the first things you notice about Cormac is that he is in pretty good shape. Beyond the conditioning bestowed by youth alone. He has a rather athletic aura.

It’s a small wonder he has been hired by Good Life Fitness Gym to work as a personal trainer.

(BTW, I looked up the etymology of the name “Cormac”.  I won’t tell you what it means. You’ll have to look it up yourself. You see, it’s not very flattering.)

..

Cormac - Canadiana Toronto hostels backpackers inn

MS. BOMBERA (FIREFIGHTER)

Tuesday, January 11th, 2011

Elisa Vergera is a backpacker/language student visiting Toronto to take an intensive course to upgrade her English skills.

Back home in her native Chile, she is a full-time University Student and part-time Firefighter.

It seems that all Firefighters in Chile (or as they are called; Bomberos) are “Part Time Professionals“.

Confused?

Well, Chile is rather unusual because the government neither funds nor controls the Fire Services.

Bombero is the word for Firefighter in most spanish speaking countries. In Chile they are all volunteers. Their officers are elected; the organization is a true democracy.

They also must finance the acquistion, maintainence and operation of their buildings and equipment (including firetrucks).

Although they do not rely upon government allocations. The government does not finance specialization courses necessary for firefighters. Instead, they have to pay for it on their own. That is dedication.

Still, the Chilean Volunteers consitute the only professional group of Firefighters in the country. A major fire in an urban highrise is no place for amatures.

Elisa has joined the elite group of Chilean “Bomberos” and trains, works and fights fires side-by-side with her male counterparts.

In Toronto, Elisa dropped by the local fire station two blocks from the hostel doors. After seeing her Firefighter’s Badge, her Toronto “brothers” treated her to a V.I.P. tour, a ride in a Toronto Fire Truck and an in-house prepared dinner.

Firefighters constitue a worldwide “Brotherhood”; it was just a professional courtesy extended to a fellow firefighter.

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Ms Firefighter - Canadiana Backpackers Toronto Hostel Canada

Elisa at the hostel.

Ms Firefighter - Canadiana Backpackers Inn Toronto Hostels Canada

Elisa at work in Santiago.

Ms Firefighter - Canadiana Backpackers hostels in toronto in Canada

Elisa’s fellow Firefighters  of The 19th Santiago Bombero Company battling the “enemy”.

PARIS from PERTH

Monday, January 3rd, 2011

As you likely know, we get a lot of backpackers coming to Toronto hostels on what are called worling holiday visas.

They are normally granted as year-long visas to young people (from developed countries) under the age of 32. These visas are the result of reciprocal agreements between governments.

Paris, from Perth is a young scientist who has come to Toronto aspart of an effort to reinvent herself. She is (or was) a scientist (a pathologist, to be precise) who has tired of working for a “wage”.

She spent a few years in fast-paced London. England. Her visa expired so she applied for a Canadian visa.

Unlike other foreign nationals, Australians are granted 2 year visas and can renew annually ubtil they reach the age of 32. They even have the option of applying for permanent residency after a few years!

As well as being a scientist, Paris is an accomplished photographer who has plans to open her own photography business specializing in location work for special events – weddings, christenings, bar mitzvahs etc.

We really feel honoured because this well-traveled lady speaks so highly of Toronto. A lot of people are married back home in Perth, Oz; but Paris prefers the “energy” of Toronto.

So we welcome Paris to Toronto with open arms and wish her well!

Paris from Perth - Canadiana Toronto Backpacker Hostel in Canada

TWENTY-ELEVEN (2011)

Sunday, January 2nd, 2011

The eleventh year of the twenty-first century was a great time for our Toronto hostel.

New Year’s Eve is often a wild time for all of the hostels in Toronto. Young backpackers (the operative word is young) seize the moment to cut loose.

To the best of our knowledge almost all of the Toronto hostels were full on New Years Eve. A lot of bookings come from young (19 and 20 year-old) Americans who make the trip to Canada where they can legally purchase liquor, go to bars and nightclubs; in other words, celebrate the new year.

These young backpackers often do not have the tolerance to handle the copius amounts of alcohol they can legally consume. This can cause more than a few problems in Toronto hostels.

At our Toronto hostel, the staff had a pretty easy time and enjoyed a virtually problem free New Year’s Eve! We planned a celebration at one of the largest “student pubs” in Toronto.Purchased enough tickets (at $10 each) and sold them to guests at face value,

The Madison Pub is located north of our hostel in Toronto  in the Annex area adjacent to the University of Toronto. In a word the pub is quite elegant and enormous! Five floors, five patios and twelve bars.

Being a “student pub” most of their clientele are university-aged and that fits well with the hostels new years eve demographic.

But The Madison is a bit of a jaunt from our hostel (especially in the cold month of January in Toronto) and we want our young charges to be safe while having fun.

So we arranged a limousine service to transport ticket holders (in groups of four) to the Madison Pub in leather appointed limos for only $5 each! We did this so our backpackers arrive at their destination safely.

Apparently it was an evening of good, clean fun – damage to the third floor bar notwithstanding.

As for our backpackers inn, those who opted for a quieter celebration raised a few glasses at midnight, sang Auld Lang Syne, retired early, then rose early for their first pancake breakfast of 2011, courtesy of the hostel.

HAPPY NEW YEAR ALL!

Twenty eleven - Canadiana Backpackers Hostels in Toronto

Twenty eleven - Canadiana Backpackers Inn Hostels in Toronto Canada

Twenty eleven - Canadiana Backpacker Hostels in Toronto


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