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Friday, March 26, 2021

Ontario Waterpark Operators are Ready to Open in 2021


March 16, 2021

 Looking forward to working with the Province on a safe re-opening plan

 NIAGARA FALLS, Ont. — Waterpark operators across Ontario are ready to open this summer.

Great Wolf Lodge

Hope is building that the end of the pandemic is near, hope that is most certainly present in the tourism industry where many businesses and attractions have been working hard to develop re-opening plans in anticipation of an exciting — but safe and responsible —2021 season.

“We have been working hard with the province to create safe re-opening plans and appreciate the efforts from the Ministry of Tourism to be our partner towards making sure we have a 2021 season,” says Keith Simmonds, General Manager of Great Wolf Lodge in Niagara Falls and a member of the Waterparks of Ontario Coalition. “But we are at a critical point right now. Having been closed for more than a year, we will need three months to prepare for the summer weather — to get the equipment ready, recruit staff and ensure they are properly trained on the safe re-opening guidelines.”

 Ontario was the only jurisdiction in Canada — and one of the few in North America — that kept water and theme parks closed last summer because of the COVID-19 pandemic. But experiences and data from 2020 overwhelmingly supports waterparks being able to open and operate safely.

 According to statistics from the World Waterpark Association – Canadian Committee, in those areas where waterparks did open, there was no evidence of COVID-19 cases or transmission, assuring a safe re-opening in Ontario in 2021 is possible:

 There were no reports of COVID from any waterpark in Quebec.

  • The waterpark in West Edmonton Mall opened safely and operated without a COVID incident.
  • Great Wolf Resorts operates 18 indoor waterparks across North America; the Niagara Falls location is one of only four that was not allowed to open over the past year. But across the other 14, they welcomed nearly 390,000 guests in 2020 and the early part of 2021 without a single investigation from a public health unit regarding any potential COVID-19 outbreak.
  • Eight of the 12 waterparks in North America operated by Premier Parks opened in 2020 (Wet’n’Wild Toronto was not one of them), and they hosted more than one million guests over the season. There were no COVID-19 outbreaks or investigations of suspected COVID-19 cases at any of the parks in that time. 

Water and theme parks have a culture of safety that is intrinsically ingrained in every aspect of their operation and safety training for staff is extensive.

 Further, the Canadian Lifesaving Societies reports there is no evidence of COVID-19 being spread through water, and various health studies and the United States’ Center for Disease Control and Prevention have found chlorine kills the COVID virus in a second.

 Outdoor waterparks also have the advantage of the ultraviolet rays from the sun killing the virus, and indoor parks have massive air space with state-of-the-art circulation — some including ultraviolet equipment — that is a highly efficient fresh air system.

 “Waterparks have chlorinated pools, ultraviolet light from the sun and specialized equipment and fresh air to fight the spread of the virus, not to mention enforcing physical distancing and other safety measures to keep guests and staff safe,” says Keith. “We have seen by experience that even in a pandemic, waterparks are a perfectly safe option for a fun family staycation.” 

 Allowing water and theme parks to open will also be a boost for the entire tourism sector, and Ontario’s economic recovery in general.

 “Water and theme parks are key players in Ontario’s tourism industry, providing thousands of jobs for young people and attracting visitors who also stay in local hotels and eat in local restaurants,” says Keith. “As part of a ‘staycation’ strategy to help the tourism industry rebound and get families out and about, waterparks are an integral part of the Ontario Reopening Plan.”

 About the Waterparks of Ontario Coalition:

Representing six waterparks and one theme park across the province, the Waterparks of Ontario Coalition was formed to advocate for the safe re-opening of their attractions for the 2021 summer season. Its members include Bingemans Big Splash, Calypso Waterpark, East Park, Fallsview Indoor Waterpark, Great Wolf Lodge, Santa’s Village and Wet’n’Wild Toronto


For more information, please call

 Stephen Murdoch
Vice President, PR
M- 289-241-3997
Twitter: @canadianprguy

Cottagers Plan for Brighter Days with a Free, Fun and Interactive Event: The 2021Virtual Cottage Life & Outdoor Living Show


The Annual Spring Cottage Life Show Helps Cottagers Plan for Brighter Days with a Free, Fun and Interactive Event: The Virtual Cottage Life & Outdoor Living Show

The Virtual Cottage Life & Outdoor Living Show is a one-stop destination where guests can enjoy live talks and demonstrations, connect with exhibitors, shop exclusive offers and plan their next summer project

Scott McGillivray, celebrated TV personality, real estate and renovation expert, offers advice about what to consider when buying a cottage 

Sue Aikens, star of Cottage Life TV's hit series Life Below Zero, gives fans a personal tour of her remote home in Kavik, Alaska
Running from March 26-28, 2021Canadian cottage goers can register for FREE admission at cottagelife.com/shows

(Toronto, ON - March 8, 2021) The annual Spring Cottage Life Show is helping Canadians plan for cottage season with the launch of the Virtual Cottage Life & Outdoor Living Show, running online from March 26–28. Following the success of last November’s Virtual Fall Cottage Life Show, the spring show, which typically takes place in-person in Toronto, Ottawa and Edmonton, has gone virtual, offering Canadians nationwide the opportunity to have a variety of cottaging resources at their fingertips. The user-friendly platform allows guests to shop the latest boats, docks and water toys; chat with exhibitors; and find information on builders, contractors, innovative building products and eco-friendly solutions. Attendees can also connect with the experts of Cottage Life magazine, watch virtual seminars and participate in Q&As with guest speakers, including renowned television personality, real estate and renovation expert Scott McGillivray and Cottage Life TV’s Life Below Zero star Sue Aikens. The Virtual Cottage Life & Outdoor Living Show runs from Friday, March 26 to Sunday, March 28. Canadians nationwide can register for FREE admission at cottagelife.com/shows

Whether attendees are looking to buy their first cottage, plan a significant rebuild or small renovation, browsing for decoration inspiration, or simply looking for ways to make the most of their time away from the city, the Virtual Cottage Life & Outdoor Living Show is a one-stop online destination for both new and seasoned cottagers to find inspiration and get expert advice.  

Joining the virtual Main Stage, real estate and renovation expert, and Executive Producer and host of Scott’s Vacation House Rules, Scott McGillivray, chats with Editor of Cottage Life magazine, Michelle Kelly, about the recent real estate market boom in cottage country and offers advice on things to consider when buying a property; Cottage Coach DIYer Adam Holman demonstrates how to build a picnic table for the kids this BBQ season; Blue Ant Media’s Mobile Syrup’s Bradley Bennett gives Cottage Life magazine Associate Editor Alysha Vandertogt his top tech tips on how to work remotely and stay connected at the cottage; and FOCA (Federation of Ontario Cottagers’ Association) Executive Director, Terry Rees, talks with Cottage Life magazine Deputy Editor Liann Bobechko about the growing interest to move to the cottage full-time. In the Cottage Life Screening Room, show-goers will be treated to an all-new episode from Cottage Life TV’s Life Below Zero, Season 8, featuring the standout star from the series, Sue Aikens. Here, attendees will also be able to watch Sue Aikens give a personal tour of her off-the-grid home in Kavik, Alaska and answer fans' questions.

Virtual Cottage Life & Outdoor Living Show Highlights:

Main Stage (Presented by Beaver Homes and Cottages): Cottage Life brings its best-in-class expertise, advice and ideas to life on a virtual stage with a lineup of can’t-miss seminars and demonstrations, including:

Scott McGillivray - Celebrated TV personality, real estate and renovation expert, Scott McGillivray, will take to the virtual stage to chat with Editor of Cottage Life magazine, Michelle Kelly, about where potential cottage buyers should start their search and what to consider when making such a life-changing purchase. Scheduled daily at 3:00 p.m. ET/12:00 p.m. PT. Guests can send Scott their questions in advance for him to answer at the show by tweeting @CottageLife on Twitter with the hashtag #CottageLifeAskScott

Adam Holman - Cottage Coach and DIYer, Adam Holman, will take audiences through a step-by-step demonstration on how to build a kids’ picnic table for your cottage—or backyard! Scheduled daily at 1:00 p.m. ET/10:00 a.m. PT. Followed by LIVE Q&A.

Mobile Syrup Tech Talk - Working remote from the cottage? Cottage Life magazine Associate Editor, Alysha Vandertogt, interviews Bradley Bennett from Blue Ant Media’s Mobile Syrup on how to become a tech-savvy cottager and stay connected up at the lake. Scheduled daily at 4:30 p.m. ET/1:30 p.m. PT. Followed by LIVE Q&A.

Peter Lillico- FOCA (Federation of Ontario’s Cottagers Association) Estate Lawyer, Peter Lillico, conducts an introductory “Cottage Succession ABCs” class, where he will break down where to begin with your succession plan.

Terry Rees - FOCA (Federation of Ontario’s Cottagers Association) Executive Director, Terry Rees, talks with Cottage Life magazine Deputy Editor, Liann Bobechko, about the growing popularity to move to the cottage full-time as a direct result of the pandemic. 

Great Outdoors (Presented by Subaru Canada): Ahead of the bird spring migration season, online show-goers can hear from expert birder and Director of Citizen Science and Community Engagement for Birds Canada/Oiseaux Canada, Jody Allair, about the exploding popularity of bird watching. Jody will reveal some recognizable bird songs to listen for at the cottage, and chat with the Editor of Cottage Life magazine, Michelle Kelly, about ways to make your property bird-friendly.

Cottage Workshop (Presented by Home Hardware): Master Cottage Life builder Wayne Lennox and workshop partner Brian Halbot show audiences how to build an economical and water-efficient outhouse. 

Cottage Lifestyle Stage (Presented by On the Water Designs): The Cottage Lifestyle Stage promises to be the social hub of the virtual show, where guests can have fun experimenting with some tasty outdoor entertaining ideas. Cottage Life resident cook Tony Armstrong returns to whip up some fun and delicious family-style meals and snacks. 

Cottage Life Screening Room (Presented by Timber Mart): To celebrate Cottage Life TV, now in Free Preview, online show-goers can catch new and returning fan-favourite shows in the Cottage Life Screening Room alongside a special guest star appearance from Life Below Zero, Sue Aikens.

Sue Aikens - Cottage Life TV’s Sue Aikens, will visit the Screening Room to give fans a personal tour of her remote home in Kavik River Camp, Alaska. Season 8 of Life Below Zero, starring Sue Aikens, premieres March 9 on Cottage Life TV during the channel’s nationwide free preview event, running now until May 2. Sue Aikens' personal tour of Kavik, Alaska is scheduled daily at 2 p.m. ET/11 a.m. PT. 

The Cottage Life Screening Room playlist includes an all-new episode from Season 8 of Life Below Zero, a series produced by BBC Studios Los Angeles' production arm, and an exclusive sneak peek of the new original Cottage Life TV series Wild Pacific Rescue, which follows the Vancouver Aquarium’s Marine Mammal Rescue team as they save and rehabilitate some of the ocean’s most extraordinary creatures, ahead of its world broadcast premiere on April 14 at 8:00 p.m. ET/PT.

Cottage Life Booth: While visiting the flagship booth, show-goers can meet and share their cottaging stories with the Cottage Life editorial team, take advantage of the Cottage Life magazine subscription offer, listen to The Cottage Life Podcast and take advantage of the Cottage Life Project Plans’ show special where guests can find everything from simple weekend DIY projects to more detailed builds. 

For the latest show details and to register for FREE admission, visit: cottagelife.com/shows.

Cottage Life Media, a division of Blue Ant Media, has been the definitive source for weekend living entertainment since 1988. Cottage Life Media publishes Cottage Life magazine and broadcasts the Cottage Life television channel across Canada. Cottage Life Media produces the annual Spring and Fall Cottage Life Shows in Toronto, the Ottawa Cottage Life & Backyard Show, Cottage Life Cabin & Outdoor Show in Edmonton and the Seasons Christmas Show in Toronto. cottagelife.com/shows


Media Contacts:

Jakki Roussel
Senior Publicist 
Blue Ant Media
T: 905.484.1787
E: jakki.roussel@blueantmedia.com

Melissa Michaels
Communications Coordinator
Blue Ant Media
T: 647.238.3775
E: melissa.michaels@blueantmedia.com 

Tuesday, March 9, 2021

Woodstock Ontario Museum launches birdhouse kits and contest

 (Media Release)

WOODSTOCK, Ont. – The Woodstock Museum is inviting people to get crafty this spring, with a new Build Your Own Birdhouse Kit & Contest.

The birdhouses were inspired by the Museum’s new exhibition, Brick by Brick: The Heritage Architecture of Woodstock, which is on view now until May 22, 2021.

“The exhibition celebrates Woodstock’s built heritage and explores the history and architectural significance of some of the city’s oldest buildings,” explains Karen Houston, Museum Curator and Manager of Culture.

“With the birdhouse kits and contest, children and adults can learn more about basic building techniques and have fun creating their own little piece of history!”

The birdhouse kits are on sale from March 8 – 31. Kits can be purchased in advance through an online order form and will be ready for pickup April 6 – 17. 

Each kit costs $10 and contains seven pieces of half inch plywood cut to size with predrilled holes, one piece of dowel, a one inch finishing nail, wood glue and a link to a step-by-step video demonstration.

The birdhouses can be assembled with parental supervision using a hammer and scissors and can be decorated with additional materials at home.

Photos of the decorated birdhouses that are emailed to the Museum will be featured on Facebook. The public will then have the opportunity to vote for their favourite in each category: Ages 5 – 8, Ages 9 – 12, Ages 13 – 16, Ages 17+.

The winners will receive a trophy sponsored by the Woodstock Heritage Advisory Committee.

More information about the Build Your Own Birdhouse Kit & Contest can we found at www.woodstockmuseum.ca



466 Dundas Street

Woodstock, OntarioN4S 1C4

Telephone: (519) 537 8411

Email: museum@city.woodstock.

From: Karen Houston

Manager of Culture and Museum Curator

e. khouston@cityofwoodstock.ca

t. 519.537.8411 x 2900           

 Press release forwarded by Tourism Oxford

Sunday, March 7, 2021

All things Elvis as virtual tours give a behind-closed -door look at the life of the "King of Rock-n-Roll"

    By Jim Fox

   Special for Postmedia Network/Sun Media newspapers

   MEMPHIS, TENN. – Graceland is a mansion fit for a king – the king of rock ‘n’ roll, that is.

   For the first time, Elvis Presley’s Graceland in Memphis is offering virtual live VIP tours that go deeper than the escorted walking visits.

   The usual on-site tours are now limited due to the pandemic.

                                                  An early photo showing Elvis outside Graceland.

   These new virtual ventures dig deep into the Elvis fascination to reveal many of his eclectic tastes through his choice of furnishings and style.

   Even though he “left the building” for good with his death in 1977, the Elvis passion continues unabated around the world.

   “In a typical year, Graceland hosts hundreds of thousands of visitors from more than 125 countries including Canada and all 50 states,” said Debbie Miller of Elvis Presley Enterprises.

   These tours are for virtual tourists to enjoy from the comfort of their home and those who have always wanted to visit Graceland but never had the chance, she added.

   The personally escorted two-hour tours offer a “behind-the-ropes look” at the mansion and include the far-out jungle room where Elvis and his musician friends recorded most of the songs for his last two albums.

   There’s also an onboard tour of the Lisa Marie airplane, named after his daughter, and a walk through Elvis’ entertainment complex.

   The Convair 880 jet, nicknamed the “Flying Graceland” by Elvis, has two half-baths, a lounge, conference and sitting rooms and a master bedroom.

                                                The 1955 Cadillac Fleetwood Elvis gave to his mother.

   Virtual visitors from around the world can see various artifacts, including Elvis’ cars, jumpsuits, gold records and movie memorabilia.

   So popular are the virtual tours that additional dates continue to be added due to demand, including three new customized visits, said publicist David Beckwith.

                                                  The manicured grounds of Elvis’ mansion in Memphis.

   Tours are hosted by Angie Marchese, called “one of the world’s foremost experts on all-things Elvis Presley.”

   As vice-president of Graceland Archives and Exhibits, she highlights artifacts and tells stories that vary from tour to tour, making each experience different.

   “Virtual Live Tours provide guests a VIP experience with an in-depth look into Elvis’ life,” she said.

   “The artifacts spotlighted and stories told will vary from tour to tour making each experience unique,” she added.

   Viewers also have the opportunity to ask questions and watch their tour over and over again as they are archived for a week and presented live through a private, closed Facebook group.

    Highlights of the four tours are:

   - The Graceland Experience is recommended for first-time guests and gives a thorough overall look at the mansion and attractions. It is offered next on a new date, March 13 (with Feb 25 and March 25 tours sold out).

   - The Mansion, on April 5, is new for a “deep dive” into Graceland and the grounds.

   It explores the “personal side of Elvis” and his family and includes a visit to the trophy building and the recently restored racquetball building.

    Starting at the front door, it winds up with a quiet moment in the Meditation Garden grave site.


                             Meditation Garden is the grave site of Elvis and family members. (Jim Fox photo)

                                                     Other photo credits:  Elvis Presley’s Graceland.

 -   Elvis’ Life and Career looks at the museum with stories about artifacts on display including his cars, motorcycles, wardrobe jump suits and concert set pieces. It’s offered on April 19.

   - The Archives Vault is the third new addition that goes into the “top-secret facility” where Elvis’ personal items not on display are stored.

   Viewing some of the thousands of artifacts “can only be seen through this virtual experience.” Available on April12.

    Thank you, thank you very much

   Joining a virtual tour costs $98.50 US

   Details: Graceland.com; or call 1-800-238-2000 or (901)332-3322

    Elvis had the ultimate man cave in the Jungle Room

 (ELVIS -  Sidebar

    It’s just as the “king” left it.

It’s a jungle in there at Graceland’s Jungle Room.

Upon walking up the stairs past the two lion statues at the front door, you can feel the aura of Elvis.

   As the doors swing open for your tour – whether virtual or in person – you almost expect to see Elvis welcoming you to the party.

   Tour guide Angie makes a left turn and we follow along the cavernous hallways.

   Soon come upon a wood-panelled kitchen with harvest gold and avocado appliances where Mary Jenkins Langston toiled as the Graceland cook before and after his death.

   You can almost smell the aroma of fried peanut butter and banana sandwiches – Elvis’ snack favourite.

   There’s the office where dad Vernon handled the star’s business and Graceland staff.

   His ultimate cave, the Jungle Room, will again rock for Elvis Week in August with some of his old band mates.

   Check out his jukebox loaded with Elvis and his friend’s 45s as well as a pinball machine and piano.

   The newly updated Trophy Room is jammed full as is the Archives building never before open to the public.

   The stories just keep on coming as Angie gives us insights we’re told “cannot be heard or seen anywhere else” during this unscripted two-hour visit delving into the personal story of Elvis and his family.

    One oddity is found as we take a virtual ride over to Elvis’ $45-million entertainment complex.

   That’s the television set with a bullet hole in the picture tube.

   Elvis admitted pulling out his .45-calibre pistol and let the TV have it.

   That was because he was unhappy with the singing of the U.S. national anthem by friend and Canadian singer Robert Goulet, he said.

   There are also numerous show outfits including those tight-fitting jumpsuits as well as the sweaty scarves he put around the necks of adoring female fans at concerts.

   The only thing we don’t see is upstairs in Elvis’ bedroom and bathroom where he died at age 42 in 1977, out of respect for the family.

                                                                                                                           -- Jim Fox



An earlier story about the tours can be found at:



 Jim Fox can be reached at onetanktrips@hotmail.com

For more One-Tank Trips: http://1tanktrips.blogspot.ca 


Stratford Festival planning for summer season in two outdoor venues



March 1, 2021… With an eye to summer performances, the Stratford Festival is planning a new Stratford experience, to be held in the open air, under two magnificent canopies, one at the Festival Theatre and one at the Tom Patterson Theatre.

  Artistic Director Antoni Cimolino and Executive Director Anita Gaffney foresee a season of about a dozen outdoor productions between late June and the end of September. They plan to offer a combination of plays and cabarets, running roughly 90 minutes each. The Festival will also offer streamed versions of the productions, along with a number of Forum events to be watched in person or online.

  All in-person plans hinge on public health conditions allowing attendance at live events.

  “We are creating a schedule that can contract, if required, and also expand in response to the opening or closing of the province and community,” Gaffney says. 

  Adaptability is the watchword of the times. And while it is essential to be nimble in order to react quickly to changes in public health guidelines, it is equally crucial to be prepared and ready for the best case scenario. By moving outdoors, the Festival felt able to offer a safer environment to patrons, while also being able to welcome up to 100 people, rather than the indoor limit of 50.

  “We don’t yet know what the public health environment will allow in terms of live performances come summer,” Gaffney adds, “but it is only through significant and thorough advance planning that we can put in place the safety measures that will be essential for any eventuality. We believe outdoor performances offer us the greatest opportunity for a successful season.”

  The two canopies are a pragmatic adaptation of the tent in which the Festival first performed in the early 1950s. By eliminating the side panels it makes air flow possible, while the big top offers protection from the elements.

  Following the current government guidance on outdoor capacity, each canopy will seat 100 people, in socially distanced pods. Should these restrictions relax come summer, there is flexibility to moderately increase capacity.

  “These canopies harken back to our founding but they are also emblems of joyful renewal,” says Cimolino. “Like everyone, we can’t wait to emerge from this pandemic. While we have several months to get through before vaccinations open the world up wide again, this season allows us to build a bridge to 2022 and beyond, when we will be able to return to large-scale productions in our four theatres.”

  The Festival plans to announce titles, dates and casting in the spring.


  Box office: Toll Free 1.800.567.1600 | Local 519.273.1600