Archive for March, 2011

STEAMWHISTLE BEER

Wednesday, March 30th, 2011

There is an histoic Railway “Roundhouse” a little to the south of the CN Tower. It dates back to the era of Steam Engines and used to then them around in the shortest possible distance.

This old structure has been converted into a downtown micro brewery and produces a product called (you guessed it) Steamwhistle Beer.

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It is a “Premium Beer”, meaning it costs slightly more per bottle than some other (more common) brands. But it is actually a superior product and (in our opinion) well worth the price.

We do a weekly tour (every Tuesday) as one of the hostel’s daily events.  You can (for $8) take a guided tour of their facility and watch how beer is made and sample their excellent product as well.

We have decided we might drop the organized tour as a hostel “event” because the tour itself has changed somewhat. (Check out our website where we will soon post an alternate event for Tuesday’s.)

It used to cost just $6 and they were once quite generous with their samples. Those samples have become more and more parsimonius even with the increased price of the tour. We always try to offer our backpacker guests “events” that give them the most for the least.

You can still buy tickets at our front desk and we’ll provide directions to the brewery. (It’s a short 10 minute stroll from the hostel).

If you’ve never tried Steamwhistle Beer, you can purchase a pint at bars very close to the hostel.  Alice Fazooli’s – half a block away on Adelaide St. – offers Steamwhistle Beer on tap as does the popular Corned Beef House – one block away at Adelaide and John Streets.

Take it from us, it’s a pretty nice product.


Steam Whistle - Canadiana Toronto Backpacker Hostels in Canada

Steam Whistle - Canadiana Toronto Backpackers Hostel in Canada

Hostel Bars

Monday, March 28th, 2011

I just read an online review of our hostel and we received a young backpacker’s comment stating that the only negative about our hostel is, “We don’t have a bar where you can meet other backpackers.”

That is easily the most fatuous comment we receive and we get it fairly often. Think about it.

IF we had a bar in the hostel:

1) The cost of a beer would be almost three times the price of going to a beer store any buying your own (which our backpackers all do at present).

2) No alcohol would be permitted to be bought in from outside of the hostel and consumed on the premises (by law.)

3) The bar (by law) must be open to the general public creating a security nightmare for our guests and their property. It also opens up the possiblity of attracting unsavoury characters. (At present, our common areas are reserved for the exclusive use of  residents and their invited guests.)

4) A bar in a hostel in the middle of the downtown nightclub district in a major city (as we are) would necessitate the engagement of “doormen” (bouncers). Isn’t that a pleasant thought?

5) Since the hostel now becomes a “Licenced Premises” the consumption of any and all alcoholic beverages must cease after 2AM (by law).

It is a well-known statisitc among hostel operators that a “bar” in house usually accounts for as much as 45% of a hostel’s total earnings.

We have not opened a bar (and ignore the tremendous profit potential) because we understand that most backpacker’s have a limited budget. We also want this place to “Feel like home.” as our motto statres.

When you enjoy a drink with your friends at home, do you have uninvited guests and thuggish bouncers in your living room? Do you pay three times the price for drinks?

So to the young travelers who are critical of our lack of a public bar, be careful for what you wish for. Don’t give us any ideas that could end up costing you a lot of money.

Hostel Bars - Canadiana Backpackers Hostel in Toronto

PLEASANTLY AUSTRALIAN

Tuesday, March 22nd, 2011

Anita O’Connel and Gemma Burton both hail from Melbourne, Australia.

Australia is a country that often brings to mind a few unpleasant things like: Snakes, spiders, fires, typhoons, drought, floods, sharks. stingrays, plagues of mice and Vegemite (especially Vegemite!).

On the upside, there is (often) a temperate climate, great beaches, sunshine and hilarious home-grown slangs, metaphors and similies such as, “Hangin’ around like a fart in a phone booth!”

Then there are also Gemma and Anita.

They arrived together in September of 2010 and rapidly became two of the most likeable and well-liked guests in the hostel. It seems neither of these popular ladies is ever short of a smile or a kind word.

They are the closest of friends and are quite inseperable. Their Facebook Profiles both indicate they are both married – to each other. Before you get the wrong idea, that’s just another Aussie metaphor for “very close friends”.

They both have more than their share of male suitors, which is about the only time you will find them apart.

Gemma’s pic went up on our wall as “a contender for the title of  nicest guest ever”. Then we planned to put Anita’s pic up as well. The problem was, that the very same description could apply to Anita as well.

So we’ve decided to put these two up on the wall photographed together. They are both very nice; both very popular and both very lovely.

Problem solved.

Anita & Gemma - Canadiana Backpackers Toronto Youth Hostels in Canada

Anita & Gemma from Melbourne, Oz.

“IRISH CRACK” (Craic)

Friday, March 18th, 2011

Listen up people, let’s face it;  the Irish love crack! So it’s kind of strange that they can’t seem to manage spelling it.

So when we announced our St. Patrick’s Day Party a lot of the Irish said, “There should be lots of crack!”

Well…No. It’s illegal and think we’d rather do without it. (We just had a failure to communicate.)

Craic or crack is a term for fun, entertainment, and enjoyable conversation in Ireland. Under either spelling, the term crack/craic has great cultural currency and significance.

So once we all got on the same page, we held a St. Paddy’s Day Party and by all reports, there was a lot of “craic” during the evening.

We had Doughy – our friend and Irish Chef – prepare a real Dublin-style “Irish Lamb Stew”.

Then, we had a demonstration of some genuine Irish “Set” Dancing. (That there will be singing at an Irish party is a given.)

The hostel is now considering holding a celebration of every “National Day” represented by hostel guests.We will prepare a “National Dish” and play the traditional music of the country being feted.

And we have guests representing most of the world’s nations.

So if you stay here, you can join us and enjoy the “craic”!

Paddys Day - Canadiana Backpackers toronto hostel in canada

Having some “craic” on the pato of the Canadiana. (Warm enough to use for the first time this year!)

Paddys Day 2- Canadiana Backpackers toronto hostels in canada

Two “real Irish girls; Jill admiring Wendy who really got into the spirit of the day!

Paddys Day 3 - Canadiana Backpackers toronto youth hostels in canada

Colleen a professional Irish “Set Dancer” came to entertain! (Just like “Riverdance”).

Paddys Day 4 - Canadiana Backpackers toronto hostel in toronto, ontario, canada

Two more of our lovely Irish ladies; Linda with Jill (who also danced was in fine voice too!)

FLASHPOINT

Tuesday, March 15th, 2011

TORONTO – a.k.a. “HOLLYWOOD NORTH”.

At the height of the film production boom (and the low-point of the Canadian Loonie) it was possible to witness as many as 50 film and television productions being shot in Toronto on almost any given summer’s day.

Television series production continues throughout the winter. Whether you know it or not a lot of your favorite programs were (and are) produced right here in Toronto.

The online Independent Movie Database (IMDb) lists 4,515 titles listed as produced in Toronto (as of today).

Even the pilot episode for the current hit series “Blue Bloods” (starring Tom Selleck and Mark Whalberg, a film depicting the New York City Police was filmed in Toronto. As was the Catherine Zeta Jones musical “Chicago” and the “Hulk” starring Ed Norton).

The popular TV series “Flashpoint” (on the CBS and CTV Networks) is a drama about the daily work of a Police Tactical Unit. It is not a puerile shoot-em-up show but a thoughtful, insightful and somewhat cerebral depiction of police work.

It stars Hugh Dillon, Enrico Colantoni and Amy Jo Johnson.

The series, now in it’s second season, is unusual for a series popular in the United States. Normally Toronto is “made up” to resemble a generic U.S. Metropolis but the backdrop for Flashpoint is unquestionably Toronto.

Yesterday, the Flashpoint cast and crew came and filmed an episode right inside the Canadiana!

How cool is that?

In case you haven’t seen the series, here are the links:

(IN THE U.S.):http://www.cbs.com/primetime/flashpoint/cast/

(IN CANADA): http://shows.ctv.ca/FlashPoint.aspx

(OVERSEAS):http://www.free-tv-video-online.me/internet/flashpoint/

(The Canadiana featured Episode will air sometime in August on CTV (Canada) and CBS (United States). The Hostel Episode is: Run Jamie; Run! Season 4 Episode 3

Flashpoint - Canadiana Backpackers Toronto youth hostels canada

Flashpoint - Canadiana Backpackers Toronto  hostels in canada

THE CANADIANA MEETING PLACE

Monday, March 14th, 2011

On our websites we often get the same query from lone travelers on our website.

We are constantly asked whether or not a backpacker would be comfortable coming to the the hostel alone.

Glad you asked. First, a little bit of Toronto’s history:

“Toronto” is the Huron Native word that means, “Meeting Place”. And we like to say that our “Toronto Hostel” (or “Toronto Meeting Place”) is the easiest place to get to know people in the entire city.

Take the case of Eli Gonzales of New Jersey. Although we haven’t seen him in over four years, we still maintain contact with him (and others) as he often posts comments on our Facebook Websites.

Eli found himself “stuck” in Toronto alone over Christmas of 2006.  He didn’t know a soul in Toronto and was prepared for a quiet and rather lonely Christmas.

Eli is a trifle shy and tends to be a trifle withdrawn. It didn’t last long here in the hostels common room. Eli quickly made a lot of friends and went into “party mode”.  He visited several nightclubs with his new found friends and then enjoyed a Christmas turkey dinner with 80 or 90 other “lonely” travelers!

He had such a good time that he returned Christmas of the next year and stayed to ring in 2008 with us!

This once shy Data Entry Operator for Dassault/Falcon is now an accompished practitioner/competitor of Kempo Karate. And in his own words, “Can’t wait to come back to visit or hostel!”

Eli - Canadiana Backpackers toronto hostel in canada

Eli - Canadiana Backpackers toronto hostel in canada

On Fire @ Canadian Music Week

Saturday, March 12th, 2011

Spring is just around the corner in Toronto. A sure sign is the first of the Music Festivals of 2011  “Canadian Music Week” is in full swing.

It is one of the larger music fests held annually in Toronto. This is the 29th year of the CMW.

This year it will feature some 800 bands showcasing their talents at 60 downtown  venues.

For every festival held annually in Toronto our hostel plays hosts to several performing groups and media representatives.  This is largely due to our prime location right in the middle of the largest entertainment district in Canada (and very likely largest centralized club area in North America).

This year it is our pleasure to host “On Fire” an up-and-coming Aussie group from Melbourne.

They are in Toronto (fresh from Boston, U.S.A.) having incorporated Canadian Music Week performances as part of their 2011 World Tour. The North American tour will continue until mid-April when they head for China to take the Middle Kingdom by storm.

You can really tell that this trio is one the top groups (of the over 800 bands performing) by the superior venues they have been allocated to play.

They will perform at the Hideout on Queen Street (a ten minute walk from the hostel) and have already performed (Friday evening) at the legendary Horseshoe Tavern (one block away) – a tawdry chic venue whose stage has seen performances by the Rolling Stones.

It might be a good idea to keep your eye on this group and take in a show if they are in your area. Someday you might be paying big money to catch their performance.

You can check out their website:

http://www.theonfires.com/

The On Fire - Canadiana Backpackers Toronto Hostels Canada

Kent, Marty and “Max” – On Fire!

GO (to the) RAPTORS!

Wednesday, March 2nd, 2011

The NBA (National Basketball Association) has 29 team franchises in the United States and one alone in Canada. The Toronto Raptors represents the first modern day NBA franchise outside of the U.S.A.

But Toronto and a Toronto team are by no means newcomers to the league. The NBA was founded post WW2 (1946) when the first games were played in Hockey Arenas.

In fact, the very first NBA game ever was played at Toronto’s fabled Maple Leaf Gardens and featured the New York Knickerbockers vs The Toronto Huskies. (Toronto lost 96 – 78)

Here at Canadiana Backpackers Inn in Toronto, we purchase tickets in bulk for some Toronto Raptors home games at the Air Canada Centre. It’s just a 10 to 15 minute stroll from the hostels front door.

A staff member guides the group and a pro-basketball game can be watched and enjoyed for only $32.

In this week’s game the valiant Raptors fell to the Dallas Mavericks 114 – 96 (such is life); however, in last night’s game the Raptors led by their Spanish Star, Jose Calderone beat the New Orleans Hornets (96 -90).

They have now headed off to London (UK) to play two games vs The New Jersey Nets. They have been picked as one of the two NBA Teams to “sell” the game overseas acting as ambassadors of the sport!

GO RAPTORS! GO!

Toronto Raptors Game - Canadiana Backpackers Toronto Youth Hostels Canada

The gang from the Canadiana supporting our Raptors!

Toronto Raptors - Canadiana Backpacker Toronto Hostels Canada

The ACC (Air Canada Centre) – A Toronto venue for Hockey, Basketball and Rock Concerts.


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