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Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Everything's coming up roses . . .

   One-Tank Trip for Feb. 20/16

   (c) By Jim Fox

   Can you “dig it?”
   Shake off those recent wintry chills with a blooming good time at area flower shows.
   There’s the Stratford Garden Festival, Canada Blooms in Toronto and the Spring Orchid Show and Sale at the Royal Botanical Gardens.
   Libations offered at the opening party for the Stratford Garden Festival.
   Everything’s coming up roses, tulips, gardenias, petunias, daisies, mums and more at the Stratford show, March 3 to 6, presented by the Lung Association.
   This 16th annual event at the Stratford Rotary Complex (353 McCarthy Rd.) has the theme “Dig It!” and is the “celebration of all things gardening,” said Deedee Herman of the association.
   The show features nine gardens that “showcase the talent and creativity of area landscapers and offer inspiration for the gardening season ahead,” she added.
   Visitors will discover ideas to apply to their own gardens – from water features to the use of colour and form.
   Learn about designing a quiet green oasis, creating a modern setting for outdoor entertaining and meet experts who can assist “creating that magic at home.”

Flowers of all types will be on display in Stratford.
   Visitors will find the Marketplace bursting with items for garden enthusiasts.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

What's happening: February on the Bloor St. Culture Corridor

The Bloor St. Culture Corridor, Toronto's most diverse arts and culture district, is where people come to enjoy more than a hundred different films, exhibitions, concerts, museum events, and art talks every month. February event highlights are below. Complete event listings are on the Bloor St. Culture Corridor web site at www.bloorstculturecorridor.com and on the BloorStCulture mobile app. 
The Toronto Consort presents The Way of The Pilgrim - Medieval Songs of Travel February 12 and 13 at 8pm. From travellers en route to a sacred shrine, to wandering scholars searching for the perfect teacher, this concert features pilgrim songs, crusaders' laments and ecstatic dances from Spain, France and Germany which evoke this exotic world. The concert marks the re-release of the Consort's The Way of the Pilgrim CD, now appearing on the Marquis label. Visit www.torontoconsort.org for more details.
The University of Toronto's Faculty of Music welcomes Louis Applebaum Distinguished Visitor in Film Composition, Lawrence Shragge, on February 9 for a free guest lecture. The People Shall Hear, an evening of great choruses by Bach and Handel will be performed by the Schola Cantorum and Theatre of Early Music on February 28, and a chamber music performance featuring tenor Benjamin Butterfield, accompanied by Steven Philcox on piano, is on February 29. More information can be found at www.music.utoronto.ca.

Owl prowling on wheels in Niagara Region

Screech Owl,  February 28, 2015 (Aline McNulty photo)

 Submitted by Carla Carlson

When I reinstated our Owl Prowls in 2013 after a fifteen year hiatus, I was not prepared for the response.

Hiring a motor coach with a washroom and repeatedly using the words “limited walking” and “lovely luncheon” seemed to have touched a chord.

Or, maybe it was just the phenomenon of social media, that I didn’t have access to in 1998, that drew in the phone calls. Three years later there is still keen interest.

We are offering another Owl Prowl & Luncheon  “with limited walking”, on February 20 and 21 and have beautiful gift certificates if you want to some for your sweeties.

Throughout the years very dedicated Owl Scouts were willing to scout for the owls ahead of time and also guide on the day of the fieldtrips. Anyone who hasn’t done it, including myself, can’t imagine the work that goes into scouting for owls.

Only a keen birder would take on the task of scouting for owls. This year they started in December and they will continue scouting until the day before our actual fieldtrip; that’s over two months of scouting.  The time and miles spent travelling hither and yon in Niagara is immense.

Skate Arrowhead Provincial Park's Ice Trail free

Beat the crowds with this midweek package from $144*/nt
Is skating Muskoka’s most talked about attraction on your to-do list? It’s time to check it off! Book this midweek accommodation offer and get one FREE one-day vehicle permit pass which gives you access to the ice skating trail, tubing hills and snowshoe trails for everyone in your car. Forget the crowds and head up midweek. Just 10 minutes from Deerhurst, it’s worth the trip!
Package includes:
  • Sunday – Thursday stays until March 10
  • One free one-day vehicle permit pass valid Monday - Friday
  • Includes one free HIT L!ST show ticket, when performing
  • Use of skates, cross-country skis, and snowshoes included with your nightly resort fee (weather dependant)
or call 1-855-243-7102
*Conditions apply. Weather dependent.
Arrowhead’s Ice Skating Trail Goes International
In case you haven’t heard…Arrowhead Provincial Park’s 1.3km Ice Skating Trail is international news! Ontario’s not-so-hidden gem was shared with the world on LIVE! With Kelly & Michael.
Winter Getaways
Calling all snow seekers, après ski enthusiasts and winter warriors, we’re just midway through the winter season which means there is still plenty of time to plan your snowy escape – and we’ve got everything you want right here, including snow!
See more Specials & Packages here >

Toronto Zoo is open all Family Day Weekend

9:30 am to 4:30 pm (last admission at 3:30 pm)
Beat the cold weather and visit one of the Zoo's tropical pavilions!
Photo Credit: Toronto Zoo
Plan your Family Day Weekend Visit to the Zoo using our
Interactive Winter Map

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Family Day togetherness across Ontario

   One-Tank Trip for Feb. 13/16

   (c) By Jim Fox

   Get the family together and head out to celebrate “your” day on Monday.
   There’s fun with activities across the province to mark Family Day on Feb. 15 and throughout the weekend in many places.
   Events range from free ice fishing and snowmobile trail access (where winter has provided) and fun at Ontario Parks, along with a visit to a maple syrup bush in London.
Learn how to snowshoe at Ontario Parks for Family Day. (Ontario Parks photo)
   Here’s a sample of what’s happening and where on Monday:
   - Exeter: Family Day WinterFest South Huron starts with breakfast at 8 a.m., clowns and face painting at the Lion’s Club. There’s skating, snowshoeing, a scavenger hunt, giant snow hills, watching the Good Dinosaur and fireworks at 7 p.m. in MacNaughton Park.
   - Point Pelee National Park near Leamington from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. offers a chance to “chase the winter blahs away over a roaring fire, complete with roasted marshmallows.”

Saturday, February 6, 2016

“On you huskies, mush!” at the Kearney Dog Sled Races

   One-Tank Trip for Feb. 6-16
   (c) By Jim Fox

   “Mush you huskies!”
   Kearney, a community of 800 people located just north of Huntsville, is again going to the dogs for what is billed as the largest dog sled race in Ontario.
   Drawing teams and mushers from across Ontario, Quebec, Manitoba and the U.S. including Alaska, the 22nd annual Kearney Dog Sled Races take place on Feb. 13 and 14.
Spectators cheer on mushers in Kearney for the annual dog sled races. (Explorers' Edge photos)
   There’s no need to travel all the way to the North Pole to witness this iconic Canadian tradition in action.
   Yes, there is winter up there with about 60 centimetres of snow in the bush as of this week, with just one race shortened due to this year’s unusual weather, said Kate Monk, communications director with the Explorers’ Edge tourism region.
   All trails have been brushed, packed and groomed, and are in excellent shape and ready for racing, she added.
   Being held in the Almaguin Highlands, two hours north of Toronto, the races feature an overnight trek through the wilderness north of Muskoka on the western edge of Algonquin Park.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Digital playground returns to TIFF

The fifth annual digiPlaySpace exhibition gives kids the power to control the Elements, draw their own videogames, use virtual reality to travel under the Arctic Ocean,  program robots, play hockey on the big screen and more
Sensory Imaging, Artist: Adrian Sas
Flippaper, Artist: Jérémie Cortial and Roman Miletitch
Elements, Artist: Design I/O
Download PDF
TORONTO — TIFF® will bring families on an interactive adventure this spring with the fifth edition of the award-winning digiPlaySpace™ exhibition. This engaging and educational digital playground invites kids and families to learn through play with a diverse range of the latest interactive installations, including multi-player videogames, virtual reality, Olympic-sized stop-motion sports, green screen escapades, robotic and circuit building activities in a DIY maker space, and more from acclaimed Canadian and international artists. Opening just ahead of March Break due to popular demand, digiPlaySpace runs for an extended seven weeks at TIFF Bell Lightbox, from March 5 to April 24, 2016.

“Creative play makes learning fun and enjoyable,” said Elizabeth Muskala, Director, TIFF Kids. “The world of digital media is evolving so rapidly, and opening up so many new possibilities, that exposure to these kinds of innovative experiences is becoming a necessary part of the learning process in kids becoming media literate in our ever-changing landscape. Fostering a sense of wonder and imagination in the critical-thinking process is vital to inspiring future innovators to pursue careers and interests in the arts, technology, math and engineering.”

Family Day and Maple Festival at Kinsmen Fanshawe Sugar Bush in London, Ontario

(News Release)

LONDON, Ontario --Free Family Day at the Kinsmen Fanshawe Sugar Bush on Monday, February 15th from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. (21201-c Lakesdrive Thames Centre. 519-461-1073).
This includes, demonstrations, tree tapping, campfires, marshmallows, and of course our famous pancakes dripping with warm maple syrup. We also have Dan and Mary Lou Smoke coming to perform the forest awakening ceremony at 10:30 am

Kinsmen Fanshawe Sugar Bush Maple Festival
Every weekend in March (5, 6, 12, 13, 19, 20, 26, 27) and ALL of March Break (March 14-18) 9:00 am - 4:00 pm
Adults $3.00 Children 12 and under $2.00

Hours are 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily
Cost is $3 per person, $2 per child under 12 or max of $10 for Car load
Address: Kinsmen Fanshawe Sugar Bush 21202-c Lakeside Dr, Thames Centre
Each weekend we feature local entertainment in the pancake house.
Come and enjoy horse drawn wagon rides, historical tours, demonstrations and our famous pancakes dripping with warm maple syrup. Proceeds from the Kinsmen Fanshawe Sugar Bush go back to the community.

Ahoy! A preview of this summer's Redpath Waterfront Festival in Toronto

Calling All Mates!
Celebrate Canada Day Weekend at the 2016 Redpath Waterfront Festival, presented by PortsToronto. Join us on Toronto’s waterfront July 1-3, 2016 as we welcome international tall ships and the Royal Canadian Navy. Let’s kick off the summer in full nautical style!

This year’s Redpath Waterfront Festival will once again launch the Tall Ships Challenge® Great Lakes Series where a fleet of international tall ships will sail throughout the Great Lakes this summer. This year’s star ships are El Galeon, a Spanish sailing vessel with 6 decks of exhibits and displays for you to explore, and Draken Harald Hårfagre which is the most authentic Viking ship built in modern days and will be arriving from it’s journey across the Atlantic to Toronto’s harbour.

Ontario Family Day Weekend events and winter carnival listings

Monday February 15, 2016
Some activities are weather dependent, please call ahead

City & Location
Hours & Admissions
Contact Information
General Information
Town Park
Mosley and Wells Streets
10am – 4pm



2016 Arctic Adventure in Aurora
Choose from a host of family activities including: Professional Ice Carving, Outdoor Winter Games, Snow tubing, snow shoeing, Live Entertainment, Arctic Golf and new this year Body Zorbs.
Food Vendors will be on-site with a variety of delicious options including Soups for Smiles.
Aurora Cultural Centre
22 Church Street

1pm – 4pm



Join an experience of colour and sounds for all ages - celebrate the spirit of Carnival with friends and family. Create a special 'headpiece' in house, and then dance the afternoon away to the rhythms of Pan Fantasy Steelband. You won't be able to sit down!
Simcoe County Museum
1151 Highway 26,
10:00am – 4:00pm

Adult $6
 Student/Senior $5
Child $4
Preschoolers Free


Strap on your snowshoes, grab your toboggan & head to the Museum to compete in the Family Day Extravaganza.
Snowsnake Challenge – 10am – noon                       The Really Big Shoe - 10:30am                            Sliding Through the Ages – 1pm - Bring your fastest, oldest, largest & strangest toboggans for races & contests of old versus new
Tiffin Centre for Conservation
8195 8th Line of Essa,
 west of Barrie.
10:00am – 3:00pm
$5 per person
3 & under - Free


9am-12pm join in workshops & demos that’ll get you ready for outdoor winter fun: birding, shelter building, photography, ice fishing, orienteering, and visit with a Harris Hawk.
Drop-in outdoor activities 9am-3pm: skating, Kicksledding, traditional snowshoeing, winter scavenger hunt and more. Throughout the day, warm up by the fire or stop at the picnic pavilion where Scouts & Guides will be selling hot dogs.

Mac Johnson Wildlife Area
4649 Debruge Rd.
10am – 3pm

Free admission

Additional cost
for BBQ


Join us for a special day of family activities. Bring out your skates and skis and skate on the pond or ski on the cross-country ski trails. The ice slide will open weather permitting. Bring your lunch or buy something at the BBQ hosted by the Friends of Mac Johnson Wildlife Area.
Blue Mountain
The Village at Blue Mountain

Saturday to Monday

Events start at 10am

705-444-7398 X 229

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Supporting the polar bears and other critters at the Toronto Zoo

1K & 5K WALK/RUN Presented by Toronto Zoo and Canada Running Series
Photo Credit: Toronto Zoo
Join the cause and move YOUR paws to help one of the world's most vulnerable species! Support our polar bear family!

Open to all runners, walkers and fitness folk of all ages and abilities. Bundle up and bring the whole family for a day of outdoor fun, fitness and fundraising. All proceeds raised from the event go towards Polar Bear Conservation! Support the Toronto Zoo and polar bears and invite your friends, family and colleagues to pledge a participant. For online entry, pledge forms and further information and start times go to CanadaRunningSeries.com.
Please note registration includes admission for the day, non-transferable. Parking is an additional fee ($12)

Remember, all proceeds from the Move Your Paws for the Polar Bear Cause Walk/Run will support the Toronto Zoo’s conservation, education and research activities with polar bears. 

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Heat wave predicted at the 2016 Montreal Boat Show

(News Release)

Brossard, february, 2nd, 2016 - Place Bonaventure will be home of the Montreal Boat and Water Sports Show from February 4th to the 7th. This event, a fantastic nautical get-together and the most important of its kind in Quebec, welcomes thousands of boating and nautical sports. It is for them an excellent opportunity to check out new boats and products for 2016 with the best deals of the year. 

Presented by the Quebec Maritime Association (QMA), Desjardins and Aviva, the 2016 Boat Show has some 500 boats for viewing, including million dollars yachts, never seen before sailboats, activities for the whole family, and three thematic locations benefiting from the presence of boating personalities on site to answer questions and entertain.

Monster Jam tour lands in London, Ontario with more truck than before

London Lineup Features 8 Trucks including Debut of Zombie, Monster Mutt, New Earth Authority & Iron Outlaw!

LONDON, ON – February 1, 2016 – Get ready for a battle at Budweiser Gardens this February! Feld Motor Sports® has announced the 2016 Monster Jam Tour will stop in LondonMonster Jam, the world’s premier Monster Jam truck series, heads into high gear at Budweiser Gardens for three massive shows: February 27 at 12:30pm and 6pm, and February 28 at 2pm.

Monster Jam events are affordably priced for the whole family, featuring Pizza Pizza Kids’ tickets for $15.Tickets are on sale now and are available at Budweiser Gardens Box Office, www.monsterjam.com, or by calling (866) 455-2849.

The event will feature 8 Monster Jam Trucks including Canadian Cam McQueen behind the wheel of Canada’s Northern Nightmare. Other trucks competing include Monster Mutt, Zombie, New Earth Authority and Iron Outlaw, making their London debut, plus, Bounty Hunter, Aftershock and Krazy Train. Trucks are subject to change without notice. The event will also include ATV Racing and the amazing Galactron vs. Reptar show.

Family Day Weekend 2016 at Ontario Parks

(News Release)

On Family Day weekend, Feb. 13 to 15, 2016, six Ontario Parks - Algonquin, Bronte Creek, Wasaga Beach, Killarney, MacGregor Point and Pinery Provincial Parks - plan special events.

Most activities are free to valid park vehicle permit holders, with refreshments served at some events for a small fee.

Twenty-six parks across Ontario are open this winter. Ski, snowshoe, skate and even stay overnight in a cozy camp cabin or yurt. The six Family Day celebrations planned for 2016 are listed below. For more winter outing ideas, check this Parks Blog post, http://www.ontarioparks.com/parksblog/beat-the-february-blues-at-ontario-parks/.

Ontario Parks also reminds families to book their July camping trip in February thanks to its five-month advance booking window. This Parks Blog highlights family friendly parks in different Ontario areas that local families love, http://www.ontarioparks.com/parksblog/book-your-july-getaway/#more-9709

Family Day celebrations:

Leacock Children’s Day to feature Ode to Harry Potter July 30, highlighting Wizarding World

(News Release)

ORILLIA, Ontario -- The Leacock Museum has announced the Wizarding World of Harry Potter will be this year’s theme for the annual Children’s Day staged during the museum’s Leacock Summer Festival.

The Ode to Harry Potter takes place on Saturday,  July 30th, 2016 on the grounds of the Leacock Museum National Historic Site from 1:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.  Visitors and guests will be placed in the very heart of J.K. Rowling’s Wizarding World complete with activities, set pieces, costumes and a Quidditch Pitch.

“Every year we try to find a children’s book or some aspect of children’s literature that we can adapt for our Children’s Day event,” said the museum’s Jenny Martynyshyn. “It has to be engaging, with lots of things for kids to do, and it has to be fun. Harry Potter is all of that and more.”

A Gentleman's Guide to Love & Murder at the Princess of Wales Theatre in Toronto

National Touring Company. The cast with John Rapson as Lord Adalbert D’Ysquith (red) in a scene from “A Gentleman’s Guide to Love & Murder.” Photo credit: Joan Marcus.
TORONTO ― The First National Tour of the Tony® Award winner for Best Musical, A Gentleman’s Guide to Love & Murder, will play The Princess of Wales Theatre in Toronto, May 25 through June 26, 2016.

Gentleman’s Guide tells the uproarious story of Monty Navarro, a distant heir to a family fortune who sets out to jump the line of succession, by any means necessary. All the while, he’s got to juggle his mistress (she’s after more than just love), his fiancée (she’s his cousin but who’s keeping track?), and the constant threat of landing behind bars! Of course, it will all be worth it if he can slay his way to his inheritance… and be done in time for tea.

The most celebrated musical of the 2013-14 Broadway season, Gentleman’s Guide received ten 2014 Tony® Award nominations, eventually winning four awards: Best Musical, Direction of a Musical, Book of a Musical, and Best Costume Design. In addition, it won the Best Musical prizes from the Drama League, Drama Desk and Outer Critics Circle, and received a 2015 Grammy® Award nomination for Best Musical Show Album.

Monday, February 1, 2016

Wiarton Willie's prediction coming; furry babies at the Toronto Zoo

   One-Tank Trip for Jan. 30/16

   (c) By Jim Fox

UPDATE: Wiarton Willie saw his shadow and is predicting six more weeks of winter weather!

   Ontarians are about to learn if they must endure another six weeks of this wacky so-called winter weather – or anticipate an early spring.
   That’s according to the folklore of Groundhog Day and the province’s feisty weather prognosticator Wiarton Willie.
   When the furry rodent is roused from his hibernation next Tuesday morning, the tale will be told.
   According to legend, if it is cloudy when Willie emerges from his burrow, then spring will come early.

   Mac McKenzie, founder of the Wiarton Willie
Festival, with the famous groundhog.

   If it turns out to be sunny and Willie sees his shadow, then winter weather can be expected to continue for six more weeks.
   Many parts of Ontario have had little or no snow this winter and daytime temperatures have been bouncing above and below freezing.
   All is ready for Willie to make his grand prediction as a festival in his honour is already under way.
   The Wiarton Willie Festival is marking the 60th year that followers have gathered for his great prognostication, said Paul Deacon, president of the Wiarton and District Chamber of Commerce.
   “Our community has celebrated our beloved groundhog with festivals, parades and pageants – and this year we’re pulling out all the stops,” he added.

   Chilly Willie
   The current Willie is marking this 10th year in his Wiarton home that was specially designed by the Toronto Zoo.