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Archive for July, 2014
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There is one square city-block right across the street that is the epicentre of Toronto’s “Entertainment District”.
It is now home to Bell Canada’s Lightbox Theatre and the headquarters of the Toronto International Film Festival sits there as well.
A “Festival Theatre” high-rise condominium towers (40 stories plus) has been erected (above the Festival Theatre HQ), a second tower is under construction and a third is set to begin being built this summer.
First the popular Corned Beef House (just kitty-corner from the hostel) was razed to make way for Tower #2 and now the venerable “Fox and Fiddle” is closing tonight so Tower #3 can be built.
The “Fox” has been the hostel’s “Local” for as long as we have been open and it was the rare backpacker who didn’t raise a pint or try the excellent chicken wings in the two-story Public House.
Such is the cost of progress. When Tower #2 (presently a big hole in the ground) rises to it’s full height, it will obscure the hostel’s spectacular view of the CN Tower, just three blocks to the south.
But all is not lost.
The ever-popular Corned Beef House has relocated just one block east of it’s former home and still makes their excellent (and enormous) sandwiches at reasonable prices. (We recommend the Montreal Smoked Meat!)
A new pub called The Town Crier has opened on John Street (right beside the CBH) to fill the void of the departing Fox. The Crier has more than 50 types of beer and ale on tap and like the Fox is a two story eatery.
It is slightly more elegant and upscale than the aging Fox but still reasonably priced for a “downtown public-house”. And their draft beer selection is superb.
True, we will lose our view of Toronto’s landmark CN Tower. Nonetheless, it will still always be only three blocks south of our hostels doors.
It’s always very interesting to discover why some backpackers are visiting our city. Quite often, it is for reasons you don’t expect.
Take Dale, a young backpacker/martial arts practitioner fromthe UK who is currently staying with us, for instance. He’s a young, polite, personable, soft-spoken but physically imposing young man.
He’s in Toronto to get into a fight. It’s not an argument he’s after, he’s preparing for an absolute fist in the face knockdown, knee in the stomach, kick-em in the head battle.
He’s a practitioner of Mixed Martial “Arts”. A new type of “sport” originating (where else?) in the U.S.A. But he’s in Toronto to train for an upcoming competition.
The words “Arts” and “Sport” are in quotes because public opinion is severely divided when it comes to this new combat spectacle.
Until very recently, it was disallowed in Ontario. It was rather hypocritical of the government when they sanction boxing matches where the objective is to render your opponent oppenent unconcious using your fists.
Mixed Martial Arts went from forbidden to record-setting in Toronto when a competition held in February 2011 (At the Rogers Centre) set a record “gate” of over 10 million dollars. This was almost double the previous record which was also set in Canada (Montreal).
Maybe Canadians (particularly Torontonians) are attracted to Ultimate Fighting Competitions (UFC) Matches because actual bar fights and street brawls are less common here than in other major cities.
A lot of “Sports Bars” carry the fights live on large screen televisions and it is, arguably, a good thing. Bar patrons can take out their aggressions vicariously watching what amounts to a “streetfight” in an UFC/MMA “Cage”.
Lest’s face it, street brawls attract crowds and motorists slow down and rubber-neck at traffic accidents. At least at Boxing and UFC/MMA Competitions, the violence is safely controlled and monitored.
And when you meet young practitioners like our current guest, you’ll find they can be far from a thuggish individuals as they are often depicted. So, we’ll reserve judgment on this new “sport” – and maybe take in a match at the nearest Sport’s Bar.
We had a guest for a few days who operates a website called travelsandtroubles.com. It’s a travel blog maintained by a footloose world-wanderer who has been bitten by by the travel bug very badly.
He’s a Dutchman who’s card reads: “Jielus Hendrik Kuijntjes / Photographer – Author”. (He’s putting the finishing touches on his first novel that is schedualed to be self-published later this year.)
He maintains the blog/photo website that chronicles his travels. When you first call up the url, you see the well-illustrated blog is all in Dutch.
But you can select (from the drop-down menu) virtually any language for instant translation (a miracle of modern comptuters/internet). The English translation is passable and, at least, understandable.
Jielus (or Johnnie) is an adventurer passing middle age and he has somehow achieved financial independence allowing him to indulge his passion for travel.
He was constantly on the go here in Toronto and walked miles and miles everyday of his visit, photographing everything in sight.
But perhaps it is better if you see his photographs and read his impressions yourself. They can be found here: www.travelsandtroubles.com
Marcelo our Chilean Chef left us yesterday. He left via subway for the airport for the eleven hour flight back to his home.
Marcelo has made quite a mark on the Canadiana Hostel. His efforts in recent weeks have raised almost nine hundred dollars to support the Canadian Red Cross’ Earthquake/Tsunami relief program in Japan.
Before he left, Marcelo had one last BBQ for his friends and staff at the hostel. He prepared his famous “Chilean Rib-Eye Steak”, potatoes and Romaine lettuce salad with vinegrette dressing.
His flight wasn’t scheduled until allmost midnight, so Marcelo didn’t leave the hostel until after 7PM. But a lot of his new friends gathered in the lobby to see him off. A few others boarded the subway with him to help him carry his luggage to the airport.
The attached photo of his friends in the lobby will give you an idea of just how big an impact Marcelo made on hostel life.
He’ll be missed.
A big send-off with the new friends of this popular backpacker.
Canadiana Backpackers is a pretty highly-rated hostelry. (Voted No. 1 in North America in 2003). We are well aware that our success can be attributed, in no small manner, to the efforts of our dedicated staff.
At the Canadiana, we try to address ssome social concerns of our staff members. Every month we focus our efforts on raising money for a project of a staff-members choosing.
We offer weekly low-cost meals for backpackers (Lasagna, Spaghetti, Empanadas, Burgers, BBQ etc.). All profit from the sale of these dinners is donated to a cause chosen and supported by a Canadiana Staff member.
This month, we have another particularly worthy cause to support. Myriam (a.k.a. “Muffin”) is our weekend front-desk receptionist. She has also earned a Masters Degree (Social Work) and currently works as a Youth Counsellor in Toronto.
Myriam spent a year working in Yellowknife, Northwest Territories and she has asked us to help her support a cause very close to her heart.
This month, all money earned from dinners will be donated to The Centre for Northern Families, Northwest Territories.
The Mission Statement of this organization is to aid a marginalized Indigionous Community by advocating for better housing, community support, youth programs and women’s shelters etc.
In this program, everybody wins.
Backpackers can enjoy a nutritious, low-cost meal and support a worthy cause at the same time. So if you like our hostel and facilities, you can help us “give back” to the community and save a little money in the process.
(You can check the photo and write-up below to get an idea of Myriam’s worthy cause.)
As many of you may already know, the hit TV Series “Flashpoint” filmed an upcoming episode right here at the Canadiana Hostel.
The show is in it’s second successful season (CTV Network in Canada and CBS Network in the U.S.A.)
Film production is a high-pressure, high-stress environment so our hostel staff all did their best to keep a low-profile and allow the cast and crew to get on with their work. All except our Vera, of course.
We didn’t want to intrude by sticking our cameras into the faces of the actors so we got very few pictures of the series stars.
Vera (sigh) had no such compunctions. Anyone who has met our Canadian-born, U.S. raised, Spanish-speaking staff member knows she is anything but shy!
These pics are of the production and cast of “Flashpoint”with Vera “front-and-centre” (just where she always likes to be!)
Filming at the Hostel.
Vera (in her Ninja suit) with the stars of the series.
Three of the lead actors
Vera (front and centre) with Flashpoint Cops.
‘The venerable Toronto Maple Leafs Hockey Team failed to make it to the playoffs yet again. This has become a normal seasonal occurance by what is (by far) the most profitable professional hockey franchise in the world.
Fan support is so intense and so certain, the owners do not feel the need to spend the millions of dollars it takes to put together a winning team. The Leafs have not won since 1967
But hockey is Canada’s National Sport and it is a rough-and-tumble sport with no faked injuries, or diving when checked and no backing down from a confrontation. (In other words, lots of fights!)
When a foul is charged against an opposing player a “penalty” is assessed to the offender by the referee. Professional hockey players have been known to take matters into their own hands. They do this quite often.
They face their opponent, they toss their sticks aside, drop their gloves and go at it with their fists. This is just considered to be just another “part of the game”.
With the Leafs out of the championship hunt (yet again), you might think that the hockey season is over in Toronto. (But you would be wrong.)
Toronto is also home to an American Hockey League (AHL) Team – the Toronto Marlboroughs (or simply “The Marlies”).
The AHL consists of professional “Minor League” teams which serve as “farm teams” for the National Hockey League (NHL) Teams. Players are all awaitng the “call up” to teams of the NHL and a shot at the big money paid in that exalted league.
Marlies home games are played at the Ricoh Arena in the Canadian National Exhibition (CNE) Grounds about 20 minutes from the hostel.
As of this writing, the Marlies are still in the hunt for their league’s championship. With the AHL you have the opportunity to catch some seriously wide-open, hard-hitting hockey for a fraction of the cost of NHL tickets ($28 asopposed to $160 ofr NHL tickets).
And in the minor leagues all players are giving 100% effort in order to impress NHL “Scouts” who are always in attendance.
The Marlies season has just ended but there is still a Toronto Raptors Basketball Game this Sunday and baseball season begins today April 7th!
Blue Jays home games will be a regular part of hostel “special events” when we will escort you to a game at a ridiculously low price.
(Watch our website for details of upcoming baseball games as well as Toronto FC - Professional Soccer League games.)
We’d like to profile a pretty special hostel guest with this blog entry.
Marcelo is withn us from Chile and he is here studying to improve his English skills. But he is also a socially responsible environmental activist.
He has written a book on the importance of water (in Spanish) that I am unable to read. I’ve given it to a Spanish speaking friend who will give me a synopsis once she has read it.
At first glance, his book seems to outline the value and importance of water and the necessity of maintaining water quality. It is really understandable since Chile is the location of the most desert in the world.
Marcelo is a professional chef back home in Chile who is currently in training to become a fully qualified Sommelier or Wine Steward.
There have been several natural disasters worldwide in recent years and an earthquake in Marcelo’s country caused hundreds of deaths last year.
Marcelo had thus been acquainted with the type of disaster experienced (on a much larger scale) by Japan’s devastating earthquake/tsunami.
Chef Marcelo volunteered his time and prepared a Lasagna dinner for hostel guests, The sale of his excellent dinner raised over $600 for relief efforts through the Canadian Red Cross.
Nicely done Marcelo!