Thursday, August 31, 2017

Canadian International Airshow 2017

One of Toronto’s favourite CNE attractions brings civilian and military aircraft from around the world to the skies over Lake Ontario with the Labour Day holiday weekend airshow. The event starts with a media day as military planes land at Pearson on Thursday, August 31, continues with a Friday practice and then the show takes centre stage September 1-4 from noon until approximately 3pm. The original airshow started many years ago and took place over Pearson Airport in 1948 before moving to the waterfront in 1949 and in 1956 joined the roster of CNE attractions, which seems like a perfect fit. As Canada's longest-running airshow the CIAS has become the 3rd largest airshow in North America.
The media day event had two F-22 Raptor stealth tactical fighters from the United States, two Canadian Forces Snowbirds and a Canada 150 CF-18 fighter jet.
Two F-22 Raptor Demo team planes attended the media event
You can purchase special VIP tickets to the airshow and enjoy the show from a prime location or you can join the fans from the CNE heading to the bleachers alongside Lake Shore Boulevard. Or, like a lot of Torontonians, you can watch from your lakefront condo or catch a glimpse of the planes as they come into view between office towers. For photos I find that in addition to the CNE grounds you can get some good photos from Hanlans Point Beach beside the Island Airport, or along the lake further to the west of Exhibition Grounds.
Canada 150 colours on the CF-18
"During our 68 year tenure, the Canadian International Air Show has hosted many ‘firsts’ including appearances by the now-retired Concorde, the first Canadian visit by the United States Air Force’s fifth-generation F-22 Raptor fighter jet and the RCAF’s F-86 Sabre in 1952 which, after two tries, broke the sound barrier, providing the crowd with its first opportunity to hear a sonic boom. The U.S. Navy Blue Angels appeared at the Canadian International Air Show for the first time in 1956. The beloved Canadian Forces Snowbirds made their Toronto debut in 1973. Long before Canadian Astronaut Chris Hadfield saw the world from space, he came to our historic show as the back up CF-18 pilot in the early 1980s. We are proud to be part of this Canadian tradition in continuing to inspire people to follow their dreams."
CF Snowbirds - Canada 150 Maple Leafs

Canada's premier aerobatic team flies the Canadian Forces twin seat CT-114 Tutor jet in shows across North America since their formation in 1967. In September this year they are performing at 9 locations in Canada and the United States in addition to many flyovers for special occasions - like the recent flyover of Halton Hills, Ontario in celebration of their winning the 'most patriotic town in Canada' and over Nathan Phillips Square as the Royal Canadian Air Force received new Colours.
The jets scream out from over the Toronto Islands or from north of the city and begin their performances, surprising the crowds as the noise comes after their appearance. This year will feature a number of planes and will include an American Heritage Flight where the old and new fly together. The planes scheduled to perform are: Canadian (North American) Harvards with a Beech 3NM Expeditor, Gord Price and the YAK-50, Mike Wiskus and the Lucas Oil Pitts Special, United States Heritage Flight featuring an F-22 Raptor and a P-51 Mustang, the Royal Canadian Air Cadet League with a Bellanca Scout Tow-Plane and a Schweizer 2-33 Glider, the Canadian Forces Snowbirds and a CF-18 Hornet.

See more of the planes after the jump.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Canadian National Exhibition

Bigger than ever, the EX makes the end of summer a fun destination and this Labour Day long weekend brings the Canadian National Exhibition to a close. The annual town fair grown massive in the big city has its periods of rise and fall and they now seem to have reinvented themselves by bringing more of what works. More stages and live musical entertainment, more beer gardens, more rides and more games and plenty of free entertainment with such fares as the show at the waterfront – the CNE Aquarama, the show in the sky with the upcoming Canadian International Airshow and a rousing, physical display of athletics on a pile of shipping containers by Rush Parkour.
Bands have also been playing in Bandshell Park, complete with a Ribfest and adult beverages, the less than stellar Casino continues to attempt to provide momma with some new shoes and animals keep getting shorn, milked or fed. Some pretty big names played in the Bandshell this year - Burton Cummings, Sam Roberts, Kiefer Sutherland and Colin James to name a few.
They brought in a new Toronto Sign for the occasion, it says ‘CNE’ with a maple leaf right beside the fountain. If you have questions there are some friendly people wandering with banners, or information stands sprinkled here and there, ready to answer or point the way to your destination.
The Aquarama show was a comedy adventure starring the athletes in a 'Skee School' matchup that featured ski jumping, jet blades (the coolest) and a pyramid of skiers. You crossed over Lake Shore Boulevard and sat on grandstands that overlooked the shenanigans going on in the inner harbour's cool Lake Ontario waters.
Public transit is making it easy to get to and from Exhibition Place and after 5pm on some weeknights you can get a break on the cost of admission. Street Performers have been given sweet jobs to entertain the crowds over the 18 day fair and I watched the Fire Guy charm the crowd and juggle a number of flaming torches while going in circles on an elevated stage. The CNE started August 18 and will finish on September 4, a date officially known as the end of summer. Gates open at 10am and close at 10pm with the grounds staying open until midnight on all but the last day. On the Labour Day holiday Monday the gates close at 5pm, buildings close at 7pm and the rides continue until 9pm.
Unity Pole in Heritage Court, Enercare Centre

With a simple sign the FOOD building draws many people inside looking to escape the deep fried twinkies and mars bars for more refined fare, like fish and chips. Outside the beaver tails and blooming Onions are flying off counters of the food stands. At night the hard part is walking through the lineups that snake and sometimes co-mingle where the rides are side by side or trying to make your way between people in the Enercare Centre. 

See more of the CNE after the jump. Photos by Ann and James Hamilton.

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Importfest 2017

Bringing the tuner lifestyle to the Metro Toronto Convention Centre, along with quite a few beautiful models like Dannie Riel (pictured above), in the one day only show held on Saturday, August 26. The north building held hundreds of modified cars from across North America with competitions for style and engineering with over $5,000 in cash and awards up for stake. There was also entertainment on the main stage and the highly anticipated Importfest Bikini Contest.
"MORE THAN A CAR SHOW. Our ability to merge music, fashion, live entertainment and automotive lifestyle into one-event keeps our audience populated, diverse, and entertained." There were featured DJs and a B-Boy Battle when you wanted a break from the cars.

See more of Importfest 2017 after the jump.

Saturday, August 26, 2017

National Go Topless Day 2017 in Toronto

Free the nipple was practiced in High Park and down at City Hall today and in cities around the world. Saturday, August 26 marks the day when some women group together to exercise their right to go topless in Canada.

In High Park, on the tenth anniversary of the event, a shirtless march was scheduled starting near the Maple Leaf Garden adjacent to Grenadier Park. While downtown a group from Oasis Aqualounge organized a march from their 231 Mutual Street site down to Toronto City Hall where they gathered down near Nathan Phillips Square.

Thursday, August 24, 2017

North America’s First Ever @FantasySportsShow

Fans of virtual sports teams full of actual athletes can attend the premier of the first ever Fantasy Sports Show at the International Centre this weekend. The show is on from August 25 to 27 in Hall 5, starting at 11am each day. "Along with plenty of attractions and seminars to bring your fantasy sports game to the next level, the show will also be hosting some of the greatest minds in the industry, ready to share their insightful tips and tricks with eager-to-learn show-goers. “We are featuring top-notch experts from PlayLine, FNTSY Sports Network, The Fantasy Footballers, Her Fantasy Football and many other exciting guests,” says Mikey Singer, Vice President and Co-Founder of the show. “We’re very excited to offer what will most certainly be an informative, jam-packed weekend to our patrons who are guaranteed to leave with a wealth of new knowledge.”

Headlining the show will be PlayLine co-owner and UFC middleweight champion Michael Bisping, The Fantasy Footballers, FNTSY Sports Network's Gabe Morency and Cam Stewart and Her Fantasy Football.

"Learn all the tips and tricks directly from the pros on how to compete in the largest DFS tournaments, and more importantly how to dominate your office or friends pool. While you’re there be sure to enjoy the retail shopping and the various featured zones. With an educational and interactive show floor, our family friendly atmosphere will keep you entertained all weekend long."

Focusing on education they say that “By the end of our show we promise that you will walk out a better and more complete fantasy player than when you walked in.” I know my perfect team would have virtual cheerleaders.

Some of the attractions include the Gentlemen's GM area with grooming, fashion, tattooing and other gentlemanly pursuits, the Midway for retail and fantasy shopping and some of the industry's top site operators on hand ready to answer questions, the tailgate experience, the Draft Kings Knowledge Centre, the Halftime Show with the top industry influencers, Bleachers Gastropub for some adult beverages and the Playline Interactive Sports Area: "Do you think you have what it takes to compete with the best of the best? Well chances are you probably don’t, but you can definitely compete with your friends for bragging rights. Run through some of the best workouts inspired by the Pre-Draft Combine and see how you stack up against both your friends and strangers. High scorers will be rewarded with prizes, swag, and bragging rights."

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

One of Ontario's best waterfalls

Flowing west out of Algonquin Park, the Oxtongue River thunders down through Ragged Falls and crosses Highway 60 heading towards the Lake of Bays. There is a sweet picnic spot where you can park during the day and put your canoes and kayaks in the water at the Highway 60 crossing. It has free parking and a pair of porta potties for the comfort of visitors.
The waterfalls are cascading in a slight S bend shape and fan out at the base in a wide outlet full of boulders and logs

Located somewhere north of Toronto and east of Huntsville, the Oxtongue River - Ragged Falls Provincial Park is just on the western outskirts of Algonquin Park. We were in the vicinity of the park when we attended a wedding at Deerhurst Inn in Huntsville. The wedding was supposed to be at the beach on Saturday but bad weather kept it indoors - which was still a great setting for the nuptials. Luckily for us Sunday had perfect weather for a paddle adventure and we parked at the picnic spot and took the kayaks upstream about 1.5km to the base of the falls.
Pulling into the picnic spot

You can park your kayak at the side and hike the paths up to the top of the falls or drive into the park through Ragged River Park Road, leave your car (pay parking) and also take a short hike to the falls. After visiting the falls we kayaked 1.5km downstream of Highway 60 where the river meets Oxtongue Lake.
The river is fairly deep and dark coloured like tea and in some spots we put our feet up on the hull of the kayaks and moved slowly downstream in a lazy river fashion. You can kayak from Highway 60 to the falls in about a half hour at a moderate speed and it really is a beautiful spot with the falls being the cherry on top. The hikes along the river are set in between trees and outcroppings of the Canadian Shield.
Our trusty guide keeps us safe in the forest

As we have not explored this wilderness before we had an experienced guides, fluent in reading a trail, making sure we don't go over the falls and keeping bears away. The friendly guides can usually can be found in the Rockwood area but travel far afield when the thirst for exploring takes hold.

Next door is Ontario's oldest provincial park - Algonquin, which is almost 3,000 square miles in area and filled with even more trees, rocks, rivers and lakes. 

See more photos of the adventure after the jump.

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Centreville after the flood

Some areas are a little soggy but the fairgrounds on the Toronto Islands were opened July 31, 2017 and the ferrys bring scores of families over to Centre Island.
Some rides remain closed; Centreville Train, Bumper Boats and the Swans. Far Enough Farm will not open at all for 2017.
Log flume ride

The Skyride

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Sunrise along the waterfront

The sun rises early in Toronto and it started working right away burning off the mist and moisture left behind from the night. Also working hard as the sun peaks through the low clouds are the boaters pushing themselves and their sculls hard in the inner harbour.

Only the CN Tower pokes through the early morning clouds

Friday, August 18, 2017

CNE 2017 opens

Water is receding from the lakefront and Exhibition Place is safe from flooding, now everyone can go faster. The midway is up, opening day was Friday, August 18 and the waterfront shows have already started. The Ex continues until September 4, finishing with a weekend of the air shows and the Labour Day parade.

On Saturday, August 19 will be the 96th Anniversary of the Warriors' Day Parade and the soldiers will march from 10:30am to 11:30am. "The Warriors’ Day Parade is the longest running veterans’ parade in the free world and has been a part of the CNE since 1921. The parade, which this year salutes the 100th Anniversary of the Battle of Vimy Ridge and the75th Anniversary of The Dieppe Raid starts at the Princes' Gates and continues down Princes' Boulevard." Remeber that veterans and one companion can ride for free on GO Transit and the TTC on August 19.
P-51 Mustang - photo by Joe Hamilton
Snowbirds - photo by Joe Hamilton

Flying high above the skies of Toronto will be the 68th annual Canadian International Airshow (CIAS) from September 2-4 with performances by the CF-18 Hornet, the US Air Force F-22 Raptor, the P-51 Mustang and of course the Canadian Forces Snowbirds aerobatic team.

Down at the water, between Exhibition Place and Ontario Place is the CNE Aquarama show includes water studies during an all Canadian "Skee School". And from August 24-27 the Nautique WWA World Wakeboard Championships presented by Rockstar Energy will have the the World's best wakeboarders competing.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Canada 150 winning ONE Condoms

Canadians took to designing condom wrappers with a certain amount of humour with hundreds of entries received by ONE Condoms. Contest judges selected their top 50 designs and public voting has produced a number of winners, including grand prize by Emma Scott with an "I'd Tap That' design followed by her other design "Get (P)laid" which came in second.

“I never thought I would be so excited to see my art being ripped up and thrown away, but here I am putting my designs onto ONE Condom wrappers for all consenting adults across Canada,” said Emma Scott. “This contest was the perfect way for me to sprinkle my sense of humour into my design work, and I'm so glad Canada loved them!”

Other runners-up included a rooster Loonie, some moose doing it, Canadians apologizing in bed and a toque reference.
“I couldn’t resist such a quirky contest in celebration of this great country of ours. I was laughing throughout the entire process of creating this design, and I’m thrilled that I could bring that feeling to other people. I hope it makes people laugh all over this wonderful and loving country,” said A. E. Thompson, who created the “Loonie ONE” design.

Some regional winners included these designs.

And some staff picks.

“We’re so impressed by all the designs across Canada, from loonies and lumberjacks to condom igloos and beavers,” said Davin Wedel, founder of ONE Condoms. “Starting condom conversations, ONE Canada-Condom at at time!” Winners get a cash prize and a one year supply of condoms with their winning artwork. ONE Condom will also donate tens of thousands of condoms to Canadian organizations which promote sexual health education and outreach.

"Condoms are the most effective way to reduce the risk of sexually transmitted infections and unplanned pregnancies. ONE was founded in 2004 with the core belief that if you put interesting and engaging artwork on condom wrappers, it helps start a conversation about the use of condoms and safer sex. ONE’s signature, circular condom wrappers feature hundreds of different designs and unique design collections."

Festival Music House tiff 2017 lineup

Returning to tiff on Sunday, September 10 at the Velvet Underground with an all-star lineup of Canadian artists and bands connecting to festival tastemakers. The exclusive concert at Velvet Underground is at 508 Queen Street West in Toronto and is produced by Arts & Crafts on behalf of Radio Starmaker Fund features Belle Game, Gabrielle Shonk, Matt Mays, Hollerado and DJ/Producer Grandtheft.

“Since its 2010 debut, Festival Music House has acted as a catalyst of connection between the film and music world,” said Aaron Miller, Programming Director at Arts & Crafts. “We’re excited to return to TIFF for the eighth edition of FMH with a solid lineup of fresh Canadian talent and established artists.” 

Notes from the release follow.

Belle Game. Image courtesy of Belle Game.

Led by the hypnotic vocals of Andrea Lo, Belle Game weaves ethereal soundscapes into blown-out, crush-pop confessions. Sonically, Belle Game exists somewhere between new-age visions and unkempt basements. Their debut album, Ritual Tradition Habit, earned the band critical praise from Pitchfork and Rolling Stone, while their emotional live performances prompted Paste Magazine to name them one of the “10 Great New Bands from CMJ”. From hushed anthems to distorted instrumentals, Belle Game is always teetering between two worlds. Whatever the mood, it’s always a celebration of the hard times and a refusal of fear.

Gabrielle Shonk. Image by Norman Wong.

Raised in Quebec City and singing in both English and French, Gabrielle Shonk is the natural product of a creative household, with a blues-musician father and artist mother. Gabrielle’s instantly popular first single, “Habit,” introduced her voice to millions of people; her original music is a heady blend of soul-infused folk where melody shines atop a lively groove. She is currently working on her debut album, which offers a broad spectrum of sonics - from gossamer to guttural, celestial crossings to barroom stompers.

Matt Mays. Image courtesy of Matt Mays.

After departing from the seminal alt-country collective The Guthries back in 2002 and switching between solo and band projects, enigmatic singer-songwriter and Canada’s own rock n’ roll son, Matt Mays is back with a sixth studio album. "This is party rock for the heartbroken," says Mays of his new album. Once Upon a Hell of a Time is scheduled for release this upcoming fall, and will be following up the award-winning Coyote, which landed Matt a 2014 JUNO Award for Rock Album of the Year.

Hollerado. Image courtesy of Hollerado.

In 2009, Hollerado released their debut album Record In a Bag, scoring two Top 10 radio hits with “Americanarama” and “Juliette”. Five years and another album later, Hollerado began dedicating themselves to project 111 Songs, wherein they wrote custom songs for hundreds of specific fans. This extensive and continuous song writing project built the working framework for the release for their new single, “Born Yesterday,” which hints at the sheer energy of musical and creative offerings to come from the band in 2017.
Grandtheft. Image by Peter Don.

Grandtheft is a Toronto-based Producer and DJ whose music is spun worldwide and has garnered support from Pretty Lights, Hardwell, Skrillex, Annie Mac and Diplo. His original song "Keep it 100" with Keys N Krates won the MMVA for Best EDM Dance Video and was featured in the Minions movie trailer. Grandtheft continues to define his sound with his debut EP, Quit This City, on which the first track features Canadian compatriot and Arts & Crafts pop darling, Lowell. With performances at festivals including Coachella, Ultra, TomorrowWorld, HARD Fest, EDC and Mad Decent Block Party, Grandtheft's following has incresed astronomically in the past two years and shows no signs of slowing down. 

The full FMH 2017 lineup is listed below, and can also be found at:

Sunday, Sept. 10
Belle Game (8:30 p.m.)
Gabrielle Shonk (9:30 p.m.)
Matt Mays (10:30 p.m.)
Hollerado (11:30 p.m.)
Grandtheft (12:15 a.m.)

Elora Gorge

Water has cut quite the gorge in Elora and the town and the river valley are a fun place to spend a day visiting, especially not in winter! We parked near Victoria Park and headed towards the edge of the cliffs where you can find the stairway down to the river bed of Irvine Creek. This small creek leads into the Grand River which flows into Lake Erie.

Their is a new zip line across the gorge and you can kayak and tube in the Grand River or just hike the trails winding through the forests. The water temperature was perfect today and the waters are full of baby fish and crayfish.
The town of Elora is a popular tourism destination, full of shops and ice cream, based in incredible stone buildings. The old hydro generator has been moved away from the old Mill and a new 1 MW generator has been built on the footprint of a previous 1911 site.

See more of the Gorge and Elora after the jump.

Doors Open

Scarborough Bluffs





Lake Ontario

Nathan Phillips Square