Thursday, July 30, 2015

Toronto @Importfest coming in August 2015

Saturday, August 22 is the return of the Biggest, Baddest car show at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre. The annual Importfest features modified cars, live performances, DJ battles and models - including Miss Importfest Danny Riel. The StreetOutlawz Bikini contest will also return from 6-7pm!

Balloon Fest

Enjoy Illinois will launch over 40 colourful balloons into the skies around Shelbyville from Friday evening to Sunday morning in October. "There will be a Balloon glow and basket burn Saturday night with food and entertainment." The Balloon Fest event happens August 21 to 23 and October 9 to 11, 2015 (all photos provided). Illoniois has quite a few other festivals and fairs, including the Peach Festival in Cobden (with a Miss Peach Queen) and the Ravina Festival.
The Ravinia Festival, taking place June 13 to September 1 in Highland Park, "is the perfect place to start your summer festival tour.
Grab a picnic with friends and then catch some amazing musical acts in the park, including Tony Bennett, Lady Gaga, Steve Miller Band, 3 Doors Down, ZZ Top, and many more – check the schedule to make sure you head on the right weekend. The most relaxing and fun music festival of the summer."
I always loved the thought of going to a Balloon Festival, especially with the balloons in various shapes like a giant Macy's parade gone wild. Fresh Joe is trying to arrange a balloon ride in early September so I look forward to taking some photos of that adventure. A little closer to home is Quebec's Montgolfieres International Balloon Festival from August 8-16.
More of the Illinois Balloon Fest

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Heat Alerts in Toronto

Feel the burn. Be the toast. The Heat Alert for Toronto, declared once again on July 27, continues into mid-week. The warm weather news release follows on Environment Canada information and announced by Toronto's Medical Officer of Health.
Warnings of greater risks from heat-related illness, especially those susceptible to illness, like the young and old or those on medications. Those with heat-related inquires or need assistance can call 311 or find more information here. Here are some fire performers from the annual Buskerfest.
"Members of the public are advised to beat the heat by taking these precautions:
• Drink lots of cool water even before you feel thirsty.
• Go to air-conditioned places, including shopping malls or one of many local libraries or community centres located in each neighbourhood.
• Take cool showers or baths or use cool wet towels to cool down.
• Wear loose, light-coloured, breathable clothing and, when outdoors, wear a
wide-brimmed hat.
• Avoid the sun and stay in the shade or use an umbrella.
• Reschedule or plan outdoor activities during the cooler parts of the day.
• Never leave seniors, children or pets unattended in a car."

TO THE EXTREME! Toronto's Heat Alert was upgraded to an Extreme Heat Alert on July 29. When we do things, we do it to the MAX, just like some kind of cola commercial. You can cool off at some of the following city locations and pools.

"In addition to air-conditioned shopping malls, local libraries and neighbourhood community centres, cooling centres are open during Extreme Heat Alerts at the following seven locations:
• Metro Hall – 55 John St. (This cooling centre opens at 11 a.m. on the day the alert is issued and remains open 24 hours a day for the duration of the Extreme Heat Alert.)
• East York Civic Centre – 850 Coxwell Ave. (11 a.m. to 7 p.m.)
• North York Civic Centre – 5100 Yonge St. (11 a.m. to 7 p.m.)
• Driftwood Community Centre – 4401 Jane St. (11 a.m. to 7 p.m.)
• Etobicoke Civic Centre – 399 The West Mall (11 a.m. to 7 p.m.)
• McGregor Community Centre – 2231 Lawrence Ave. E. (11 a.m. to 7 p.m.)
• Centennial Park Community Centre – 1967 Ellesmere Rd. (11 a.m. to 7 p.m.)"

The City of Toronto's extended hours pool program is in effect again today. The following eight pools will be open until 11:45 p.m. tonight, weather permitting:

• Alex Duff Memorial Pool, 779 Crawford St.
• Alexandra Park Pool, 275 Bathurst St.
• Cummer Park Community Centre Pool, 6000 Leslie St.
• Giovanni Caboto Outdoor Pool, 1369 St. Clair Ave. W.
• McGregor Park Outdoor Pool, 2231 Lawrence Ave. E.
• Monarch Park Pool, 115 Felstead Ave.
• Sunnyside-Gus Ryder Outdoor Pool, 1755 Lake Shore Blvd. W.
• Smithfield Outdoor Pool, 175 Mount Olive Dr.

Monday, July 27, 2015

UNITY Festival Toronto 2015

Dance and Hip Hop music is celebrated over the four day UNITY Charity Festival from July 22-25. The annual event happens in July and finished with a concert in Yonge-Dundas Square. Their goal is to Engage and empower youth as they become leaders in their communities.
"UNITY Beatbox, UNITY Dance, UNITY MC&Spoken Word and the final event UNITY Concert. UNITY Festival has hosted artists like Talib Kweli, Biz Markie, Maestro, RichKid, Queen Godis, Rahzel, Kid David, Moy, Ball-Zee and many more."

See the live graffiti battle after the jump.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Panamania Live Fireworks

Pan Am fun includes fireworks at Toronto City Hall. Victory celebrations and concerts start nightly at 7 pm and fireworks are put on every night. The 35 day festival called Panamania is presented by CIBC and includes over 250 performances and exhibitions of music, theatre, dance, visual arts and fashion - some events are even free.
Waiting for the sun to go down in front of the 3D TORONTO sign

Schedule: Saturday, July 25 12:30 p.m. - Battle for the North Showcase 2:00 p.m. - Jane Bunnett & Maqueque 3:00 p.m. - Justin Hines 4:00 p.m. - Art Battle Canada 6:00 p.m. - Black Violin 7:30 p.m. - Francesco Yates 8:00 p.m. - Damien Robitaille 9:00 p.m. - The Thirst for Love and Water 9:30 p.m. - Calle 13.
The closing group Calle 13 was from Puerto Rico, with some musicians from Cuba, that rocked the house in Spanish.
Calle 13 on stage

They liked to jump when they sang and for one song they asked everyone to jump at his command. You could feel the pedestrian walkway vibrate to the rhythm. They got quite a few calls for encores and the fireworks didn't start until 11 pm.

The Pan Am 2015 Closing Ceremony happens at Rogers Centre, doors open at 5 pm on Sunday, July 26, and will feature Kanye West, Pitbull and Serena Ryder. If you haven't got tickets to the big show, you can watch the event in the atrium of CBC headquarters on Front Street West. The festivities finish with putting out the Pan Am cauldron flames as well as fireworks at Nathan Phillips Square and on the CN Tower.
At City Hall the final day activities start at 2 pm with Ontario Steel Pan, Calypso Rose with Kobo Town and finishing with Sergio Mendes from Brazil.

The City's temporary traffic changes on Sunday, July 26 are:
• Bremner Boulevard from Navy Wharf Court to Simcoe Street will be closed from 3 p.m. to midnight. Bremner Boulevard from Navy Wharf Court and Van de Water Crescent will remain open to local vehicle traffic.
• The eastbound lanes of Front Street, from John Street to Simcoe Street, will be closed from 1 p.m. on July 26 to 1 a.m. on July 27. The two westbound lanes will remain open and will be converted to temporarily accommodate two-way traffic direction.
• There will be temporary closures along Front Street East between Trinity Street and Church Street in both directions between 6 p.m. and midnight. Parking will also be restricted between 3 p.m. to midnight.
• Residents living in the area of the CIBC Pan Am/Parapan Am Athletes' Village may experience intermittent traffic delays between 6 p.m. and midnight.
• Wellington Street, from Church Street to John Street, will be closed from 5:45 p.m. to midnight.
• Rees Street will be closed in both directions from 3 p.m. to midnight.
• All parking and stopping will be restricted on the south curb lane of Front Street from just west of John Street to east of Bathurst Street from 11 a.m. until midnight.
• The sidewalk on the south side of Front Street from Simcoe Street to John Street will be closed from 1 p.m. to midnight.
• The John Street Bridge will be closed from noon until midnight.
• Rogers Centre stairs (east of Gate 2) will be barricaded at the top and bottom from 3 p.m. to midnight.
• The Rogers Centre underground parking (south side of Bremner Boulevard) will be closed to the public on July 26.

See scenes from The Thirst for Water after the jump.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Sight Seeing Flight with the Brampton Flight Centre

Seeking an adventure high above the skies of Toronto we hop aboard a Cessna Super Hawk 172P single engine plane and take off from the airport on McLaughlin Road in Caledon, just north of Brampton. Keeping us safe in the wild blue yonder was Brampton Flight Centre (BFC) Flight Instructor and our fabulous pilot, Stefanie.

Known as the Brampton Airport, the member-owned Centre offers Familiarization Flights, Introductory Flights, Sight Seeing Flights, a full-motion Redbird Simulator as well as a comprehensive list of flight training programs. "BFC’s reputation is highly regarded both in Canada and internationally for pilot training as a recreational pilot or to become a professional pilot. We do not charge additional flight training fees for international students. The BFC is an active member of the Air Transport Association of Canada (ATAC) and is a registered private career college under the Private Career Colleges Act, 2005."
A flight that includes up to 3 people can take off from the runways with a skilled pilot at the controls, take an approximate one hour flight over locations that you pick for about $230 plus tax. We decided to visit Toronto, Halton Hills, down to the Lake and following the shoreline into Toronto where we passed by the CN Tower a couple of times, then up through Mississauga, Brampton and Caledon.
Down near the Humber - it looks like some algae blooms are in the water

Seeing Toronto from above is a real treat and trying to pick out landmarks outside the downtown core can be difficult. One place we did want to find from the air was the Cheltenham Badlands, which Stefanie was able to locate.

Posted by Joe Hamilton, Ann Hamilton and James Hamilton.

@ArtToronto 2015 coming in October

Art/TO returns as Canada's modern and contemporary art fair with an opening night celebration on October 22nd at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre (North Building). Beginning in 2000, the fusion of money and art brings together major Canadian and International galleries with investors and collectors.
Opening Night brings the art loving elite for a special collectors preview beginning at 4:30pm and the preview starting at 6:30pm with co-chairs Cathy Bisset-Parkes and Susan Wortzman; "Mingle with artists, gallerists, collectors and art enthusiasts over cocktails and hors d'oeuvres." The previews benefit the Art Gallery of Ontario and gives people the chance to buy the art work before the fair opens, the AGO itself has picked up a number of pieces for its own gallery. Mingling with celebrities and art on Opening Night doesn't come cheap - special collectors can attend for $325 while the preview costs $225 per guest.

Art Toronto opens to the public from October 23-26.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Run Silent, Run Deep: Port Burwell Submarine

Sitting alongside Big Otter Creek as it winds into Lake Erie, the once menacing Cold War Canadian Oberon Class submarine HMCS Ojibwa is available for tours from May to September. A recent day tour into Southwest Ontario brought us to the sub, one of the more impressive historical military displays scattered around our province - don't forget about the working tanks in Oshawa.

Fresh Joe in the forwardTorpedo Room

"Glorified in movies, but hidden beneath the waves in service, submarines have an indefinable mystique. They left harbour in the dark of night and returned the same way, their crews coming and going quietly, dressed simply as regular dock workers. It was for good reason that Canada's Cold War submarine service was known as the “real secret service”."

Five Oberon Class warships were built in Chatham, England for Canada, yet only three saw operation in the military from the 1960s to the 1990s, including the Ojibwa which was brought into the Canadian Navy on September 23, 1965. Decommissioned in the 90s, both the Ojibwa and the Onondaga were saved from the scrap heap and became museum pieces.

Devon shows Joe around the sub

The 295 foot underwater vessel is the vanguard of the proposed Port Burwell Museum of Naval History, a subsiduary of the Elgin Military Museum of St Thomas, Ontario. Three different tours are available: the submariner's tour, the outdoor fish eye view tour and the greater depths tour. The submariner tours moves through the forward torpedo room, the forward accommodations, control room, galley and engine room which used to charge 850 tons of batteries. Moving between sections separated by 36 inch watertight doors and climbing stairs comes with a caution - please don't wear high heels or sandals.

The 3 hour greater depths tour "will be led by a team of qualified submariners who are there to lead you through the submarine, answer your questions, and explain how things work. These exclusive tours are for the "hands-on" visitor who wants to learn how to open and close the torpedo tubes; start the engines and activate the snort intake and exhaust; experience ultra-quiet mode; or get into the one-man-control to learn how to "fly" the boat. One of our radio experts will be on hand in the radio shack, ready to take you through the process and let you try your hand at sending a message."

Clovermead and Lake Erie

Scorching temperatures during mid-summer send us on a day trip along the many ports and into the shallow, sandy waters of Lake Erie. We pick Saturday because the Clovermead Adventure, Honey and Bee Farm isn't open on Sunday and its been awhile since we last visited. In fact the 24 million bees, plus or minus, have been very busy and the place has seen many great additions to the Adventure Farm. We leave home after 1pm to try to avoid some of the weekend crowds - which worked out great.
During the trip we listen to Stompin' Tom Connors singing his Canadian folk songs, especially his song of Tilsonburg, his 'back still aches when he hears that word' about the back breaking work in the tobacco fields.
The giant yellow pillow and jump pad with misting sprinklers
Billy Goats have an elevated expressway through part of the grounds

Deciding to avoid the City of Hamilton we head west on Highway 401 and take the Elgin Road/County Road 73 (exit 203) south through Harrietsville. Both Clovermead and TCM  Metal Art are along this route and we love to stop at the metal works so that we can add to our collection of their interesting pieces. This time we picked up a hummingbird feeding from a flower which will join our first hummingbird. These large and small steel pieces are meant to be put outdoors where the original shine caused when creating the art rusts over time and provides a lovely finish.

I won the rubber ducky race

Further south in Aylmer we come to the bee and human fun zone at Clovermead. The adventure land costs about $11 plus tax and includes 4 person pedal go carts, a fast tricycle track, friendly farm animals, a mist maze, zip lines and many more fun activities. We start up with a wagon ride along the outskirts of the property and then it is right to the pedal power rides, followed with some jumping action on the giant pillow and the adjacent jump pad with misting sprayers. Exploring some of the buildings we find large bee hives safely behind thick and see through plexiglass walls. I can report that the bees seemed busy.

In October the Adventure Park opens their pumpkin patch and shoot off a few of the big round vegetables with special air canons. They are open daily 9am to 5:30pm from June till the end of October.
Joe holds up a submarine

Among the fine shoreline of the shallow Great Lake there are many ports and beaches to chose from, almost all are perfect for beach picnics and enjoying the cooling waters on a hot summer day. Today we decide to hit Port Burwell because it is the home of a retired military submarine, the HMCS Ojibwa. The large seaborne, underwater, cold war military machine became the first of the artifacts planned for the Museum of Naval History. We were too late for the tour but they let us have a peak at the torpedo room.
We stop at a store in Port Burwell that seems to carry everything and Fresh Joe buys an Explorer 300 blow up dingy and we head down to the beach for some sun, sand and swimming. If you enjoy weed free swimming in not too cold water, the Lake Erie shoreline is perfect for you. Sand bars continue out quite far, sometimes you get shallower the farther you go from shore, before it starts to gradually drop off. I like to float on some pool noodles and just enjoy the water. It was really exciting to see a couple of horses on the beach, it was so Californian!

We didn't have time to fit in a visit to Winter Wheat in Sparta which is another fun destination in South West Ontario. That we will save for next time. See more of the trip after the jump.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

It's a cosplay summer in Toronto

As summer heats up, so does the season of Comicon. Celebrity guest announcements from Fan Expo 2015 have been coming fast and furious for the September 3-6 show at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre and Atomic Lollipop is currently in town now at the Toronto Science Centre from July 17-19. Get your geek and costume on.

Also coming up is Unplugged Expo July 31 to August 2 at the Toronto International Centre.

Doors Open

Scarborough Bluffs





Lake Ontario

Nathan Phillips Square