Monday, October 23, 2023

Much Ado About the Stratford Festival

The Stratford Festival, east of London and two hours west of Toronto, is a classical theatre company with productions spread over four separate locations in Stratford, Ontario and taking place from April to October of each year. They present classics, dramas, musicals but favour the plays of Shakespeare. You can even take a direct bus from Toronto to Stratford for only $34 return (2023 cost).

Stratford Festival Theatre was the first permanent structure opened in 1957 and has 1,800 seats. The newest venue is the Tom Patterson Theatre which opened in 2022, named after the journalist that created the Shakespearean festival in the early 1950s after the railway industry left town.

From the Festival's website, "Drawing inspiration from the Elizabethan apron stage, the ancient Greek amphitheatres and the Roman arenas, the thrust stage designed by Tanya Moiseiwitsch revolutionized the performance of Shakespeare. It comprises a protruding platform, a balcony (now removable), trap-doors, nine acting levels and eight major entrances. Seating surrounds the stage in a semi-circular arc, while two vomitoria, or “voms,” run diagonally from the stage into tunnels under the auditorium."

Festival Theatre

We decided to take in a performance of Much Ado About Nothing by William Shakespeare - with seats along the railing of the left side balcony with excellent views of the thrust stage. And we really liked the play - funny, touching and a great adventure with love breaking out even when they didn't want to fall in love. We liked it so much that we will return to the festival for other productions.
Some statues outside the theatre

See more photos after the jump.

Sunday, October 22, 2023

Royal Horse Show 2023 starting Nov 3

The equine world is heading to Toronto for the show jumping competitions at the 2023 Royal Horse Show which begins Friday, November 3 to Sunday, November 12 at the Coca-Cola Coliseum in Exhibition Place. The Longines FEI Jumping World Cup is held over several days before being decided on Saturday, November 11 with defending Champion Daniel Coyle of Ireland returning to take on any challengers. 

An abundance of competitions and special features, such as Polo at the Royal and entertainer Guy McLean, can also be seen at the 10-day show with all tickets allowing access into the complementary Royal Agricultural Winter Fair in the Enercare Building. Opening weekend November 3-4 and Family Day on Sunday brings its own brand of excitement that will include the Canadian Show Jumping Championship presented by Henry Equestrian and the Mad Barn Indoor Eventing Challenge.

The RCMP Musical Ride at the 2022 show

From the show; "The Royal boasts a huge variety of equestrian competitions open to all ages. Along with Hunters and Show Jumpers, you will be amazed at the many different breeds of horses that pull carts, coaches, wagons and big hitches. Cheer for your favorite high stepping Hackney, shout when the announcer calls “drive on!” in the Road Horse classes or clap and whoop it up when the judge approaches your favorite heavy horse hitch for inspection! The Royal Horse Show is world-class equestrian competition at its finest. Watch over 1,000 competitors vie for more than $1,000,000 in prize money and the coveted title of Royal Champion!"

The Royal Horse Show starts early in the morning with access through the show or through the Royal Winter Fair. Special paid performances begin at 7pm most days with paid matinee performances at 1pm on weekends. You can see the detailed Royal Horse Show schedule here.

Friday, November 3 is Opening night beginning at 7:00 pm with show jumping, Mad Barn Indoor Eventing Challenge, Australian entertainer Guy McLean and the Henry Equestrian Canadian Show Jumping Championship.

Not everything happens on the weekends - the Royal Horse Show runs on weekdays as well. For instance on Wednesday, November 8, also beginning at 7pm, has the Belgian Six Horse Hitch, Polo at the Royal, Guy McLean and the McKee International Jumper Challenge.

And the fun continues every day until the last day of the Royal on Sunday, November 12, starting at 1pm, with the Royal Rodeo and Amber Marshall as guest emcee. You will see bull riding, saddle & bareback bronc riding, pole bending & barrel racing. Also on hand will be the Canadian Cowgirls and Guy McLean.

Fair Hours: Sunday 9 AM – 6 PM, Monday 9 AM – 6 PM, Tuesday 9 AM – 8 PM, Wednesday 9 AM – 8 PM, Thursday 9 AM – 8 PM, Friday 9 AM – 8 PM and Saturday 9 AM – 8 PM.
There is also so much to see at the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair, both shows are a must visit in Toronto.

Friday, October 20, 2023

Toronto Snowmobile, ATV & Powersports Show 2023

Known as sleds or machines, Canadians see these powerful vehicles as an adventurous introduction to many powdery snowfalls and a super way to have fun in our winter season. This is especially true as the season can begin by attending the World's largest Snowmobile, ATV & Powersports Show at the International Centre in Toronto from October 20-22, 2023.

This show includes manufacturer displays, test drives, a One Day Sunday Swap and some exciting freestyle shows. Arctic Cat will be on hand with a huge corporate display along with racers and race teams.

From the Snowmobile show, "The Annual Toronto International Snowmobile, ATV & Powersports Show has been attracting record breaking crowds to the International Center for over 30 years; with entrances in both Halls 1 and 2, the shows floor space spanning across Hall’s 1, 2, 3 and 4, plus the enormous Indoor Event Area, making the Toronto International Snowmobile, ATV & Powersports Show the largest of its kind in North America. Proudly Sponsored by OSM, Canada’s leading snowmobile magazine, ATV World Magazine and STV (Snowmobiler Television) attendees visit each year to take in the Massive Industry Showcase and the Colossal Retail Extravaganza and special featured events and Industry Celebrities."

There was quite a selection of vintage machines on display though they lack the macho appearance of new models presented by the industry leaders that just scream power. There were also a lot of tourism and trail promoters from all over Ontario, complete with maps of the areas. In addition to the snowmobiles and ATVs you can find trailers, performance parts, a kid's test track from Yamaha Canada and a massive booth from Royal Distributing.

OFFICIAL SHOW HOURS: Fri Oct 20 1pm – 9pm, Sat Oct 21 10am – 7pm and Sun Oct 22 10am – 5pm. Parking is free at the Centre.

I immediately went to Hall 4 Event Centre and there were 3 motorcycles and a Snowmobile making crazy jumps over two ramps. The Ultimax Freestyle Show is on Friday 2, 4 & 6pm, Saturday 11:30am & 4pm and Sunday 12 & 3pm. The tiktok link to the jump is

Next year's show is scheduled for October 25-27, 2024 at the International Centre and don't forget the Motorcycle Supershow is coming early in the new year on January 5-7, 2024.

See more photos after the jump.

Thursday, October 19, 2023

Salmon are spawning in the Credit River

Cooler weather has released the Salmon to head upstream out of Lake Ontario and into rivers such as the Credit River to spawn. These look to be Chinook Salmon, an introduced species, as they pass through Norval, Ontario - just east of Georgetown. Their spawning cycle runs from August to October. Along the shoreline lie the bodies of fish who struggled hard for the journey against the current and passed on, hopefully they finished their terminal objective. 

From the Salmon's lifecycle, "Adult salmon spawn in freshwater, where female salmon lay thousands of eggs that are fertilized by male salmon. Spawning can occur in spring, summer, fall, or winter and depends on the salmon species. After spawning, adult salmon die and their bodies provide nutrients for the freshwater ecosystem. Eggs are buried in gravel nests, called “redds,” and salmon can stay in their eggs for several weeks to months until they hatch. Once eggs hatch, the juvenile fish, called “fry,” can stay in the gravel nest to feed for 3-4 months. As juvenile salmon grow, they may remain in the freshwater rivers anywhere from a few hours to several years, depending on the species and other environmental factors. As juvenile salmon swim towards the ocean, they begin the process called smoltification–transitioning from living in freshwater to living in saltwater. The “smolts” may stay in estuaries from a few days to several weeks to feed, adapt, and prepare to enter the ocean."

Moving from the Ocean to the freshwater lake the fish return to the river of birth, confirmed through the chemical smell of the water.
Fall colours and salmon on October 19, 2023
Salmon know when to start the spawning run when the rivers rise due to rainfall and the temperatures are between 5 to 13 degrees Celsius. They also stop feeding during the run which would surprise the few people that are trying to catch these large fish.

This section of the Credit River can be found along McNab Park in Norval. There is some free parking at the park and a trail can be found that runs along the river. The site is west of Brampton, just north of Highway 7 near Winston Churchill Boulevard.

Sunday, October 15, 2023

Toronto Everything to do with Sex Show 2023

Hall 5 at the Toronto International Centre is where you can find the last day of the Everything to do with Sex Show by Taboo.
On from October 13 to 15, the Sunday show is definitely more relaxed, intimate and not as crowded as the Saturday event. There is still entertainment and plenty of seminars including Oasis Aqualounge talk about visiting a sex club.

Friday - 5:00 PM - Midnight
Saturday - 1:00 PM - Midnight
Sunday - 12:00 PM - 5 PM
And parking is free

Saturday, October 14, 2023

Going back in time at the Oxford Renaissance Festival

History comes alive at the Oxford Renaissance Festival 2023 in the Dorchester Fairgrounds and many of the visitors dressed up in costumes from their favourite part of history, or fantasy world, that you could imagine - even many of the dogs were wearing dragon costumes although one Dalmatian was draped in a crocheted covers as a cow complete with udders.

The three day event runs from October 13 to 15, 2023 in the Dorchester Fairgrounds, close to Highway 401, and open from 9:45am to 7pm. Saturday's calendar of events was supposed to get showered on throughout the day, however the ren festival was spared the deluge and was instead kissed with cold winds and cool temps until finally the sun broke through the clouds and blue skies appeared.
Full metal contact jousting

Getting the trebuchet ready
The knights also battled with swords
Entertainment was plentiful and crowd favourites included the full metal jousting as crowds cheered for their knight to become champion in the games, the demonstrations of the pumpkin firing trebuchet and the black powder explosion when the canon was fired. Saturday and Sunday's schedule were identical and there was always something interesting going on. Attendees also enjoyed the Birds of prey by The Eryre, comedy, acrobatic performances by Starlight Aerialist and the Fire Stage with Nekrotic and Valkyrie. There were several stages in addition to the Royal Arena and Fairyland.

Vikings had a small village setup near the trebuchet and the vendor area contained a large number of tents. Nearby was the Boars Head tavern to quench your ancient thirst. Overall a great way to spend a day with family, friends and a couple thousand friendly strangers.

See more photos of the festival after the jump.

Friday, October 13, 2023

UK band Demob Happy hits Toronto Nov 18

Alternative rock band Demob Happy from England are jumping into their fall tour of North America beginning in Mexico and ending in Toronto on November 18, 2023. The group is playing Adelaide Hall in downtown Toronto (250 Adelaide Street West) on the 18th, with doors open at 6pm and the concert starting at 7pm. Photo at top is Demob Happy's Divine Machines Album Art, provided by the group.

With 27 cities on the fall 2023 'The Divine Machines' tour taking place in just over one month the band must certainly believe in what doesn't kill you must make you stronger! The band features singer-bassist Matthew Marcantonio, drummer Thomas Armstrong and guitarist Adam Godfrey who formed the group in Newcastle upon Tyne in 2008.

“We’re really excited about reconnecting with a lot of the awesome fans we haven't seen in years,” Mercantonio says. “America has always welcomed us with open arms, and we love touring the beautiful vast vistas. It's a dream for any UK band, and this time feels no different." On being asked to open for DFA 1979, he smiles and replies, “We're very excited and humbled. They've been one of our favorite bands forever and one of the bands we bonded over in Demob’s early days. They're heroes of ours. We're psyched!”

Adelaide Hall is a perfect place to get to know the band as the venue showcases some of the best live music and upcoming artists in Toronto. You can catch some of their songs as described by their publicist, "You can get a feel for the album with its raucous first single “Voodoo Science,” doomsday follow-up “Run Baby Run”, and their new single “Sweet & Sour America.” Released in advance of their upcoming North American tour – their first venture Stateside since 2019 - the single highlights the band’s penchant for riff-driven rhythms wrapped around Velcro-y melodic hooks."

I love the comments on their Youtube channel including this one from JohnHyattfilms, "Really love this band. This song (Haydes, Baby) is such a great example of a band growing into something greater. Come to Canada one day!" and from Kamciadek, "They are just sooooo good!!! Love all of their songs! If you have a chance of seeing them on stage: DO IT!!!"

Kevin and Sabrina will be at the concert and will update us after the show.

See Demob Happy's concert dates on the The Divine Machines album fall tour after the jump.

Monday, October 09, 2023

Win tickets to Toronto Snowmobile, ATV & Powersports Show 2023

Update: Contest closed, thanks to the winners

Just in time for the lowering temperatures across the GTA as fall reminds us that winter is coming is the Toronto International Snowmobile, ATV and Powersports show from Friday, October 20 to Sunday, October 22, 2023 at the International Centre. I have a free set of tickets to the show - good for one day of the three day show, that you have a chance to win. To be entered into the draw just send me an email, text or comment on this post, or on an associated social media post. I will pick the winner on or before October 16. Did I mention that this is the World's largest Snowmobile, ATV and Powersports Show! If you are going to buy tickets check out there website where you can find a $3 discount ticket offer - get them now before the discount ends.

In addition to the manufacturer and vendor displays there is plenty of excitement in store with the freestyle event with snowmobiles completing extreme jumping between two large ramps - these machines get high in the air and will even do backflips, sponsored by Ultimax Belts.

Here are some of the highlights of the show.

The CASI ATV Youth Rider Training Course (offered free).
Manufacturers on hand: Yamaha, Arctic Cat, Ski-Doo/Can-am and Polaris, Honda, and Kawasaki
Antique, custom and classic sleds.
Tourism Displays
Aftermarket Trailers & Gear Galore
ATV Village
OFSC Snowmobile Clubhouse
Yamaha “King of the Drag”
OFSC Driver Training
Sunday Swap Meet (Sunday Only)
Used Snowmobile & ATV Market
There is also a Kelly Shires Breast Cancer Snow Run.

Parking is free, adult tickets are $25. Show hours are Friday (1pm - 9pm), Saturday (10am - 7pm) and Sunday (10am - 5pm).

Monday, October 02, 2023

Screaming Heads at Midlothian Castle

Luckily the statues don't come with the associated audio as the hundred or so giant Screaming Heads would make a terrible symphony of sound. Instead the large sprawling property in Burk's Falls is nestled in the perfect slice of nature. The strange attractions found at Midlothian Castle are the creation of artist Peter Camani, a former high school art teacher, who poured concrete into a large scale sculpture garden. We thought it would be a perfect place for a medieval faire or maybe a music festival and it turns out they have an annual techno Harvest Festival in September.
The Midlothian Castle
Artist and sculptor Peter Camani at work

The site is a few minutes off of Highway 11 as it winds through the Muskoka, just 30 minutes north of Huntsville or 3 hours from Toronto. It's easier to drive there if you are already in the area and don't have to worry about the weekend cottage traffic. But once you get there the parking is free and plentiful, plus there is no cost to enter, although you can make donations in appreciation.
The three ghosts
Some of the ample parking

Walking along the edge of the parking you can see three ghost like structures, followed by the castle set beyond some impressive gates and columns then a series of small stores selling various artistic items. You can take several paths throughout the property, including a a stroll through a grass valley running beside a small creek.

See more of the Screaming Heads after the jump.

Sunday, October 01, 2023

Algonquin Park in peak fall colours

Ontario's massive park is bursting out in fall colours right now which adds so much to the natural beauty of Algonquin Park. Created in 1893 to help preserve some of the wilderness and headwaters of quite a few important rivers you can find so much to see and do  with a lot of the park accessible along Highway 60, just 3 hours north of Toronto. You don't have to go far into the park to see spectacular fall foliage - it's gorgeous enough along Highway 60 as the hills and valleys are full of colour (Colour Change : 100 - Leaf Fall : 10). They have electronic signs out warning people not to stop in live lanes on the road - this would be a very dangerous situation as so many are heading up to see the colours.
Some of the views along Highway 60

From the park's website; "The essence of Algonquin is in its vast interior of maple hills, rocky ridges, and thousands of lakes – 7,635 square kilometres of forests, bogs, lakes and rivers. The only way to explore the interior of this park is by paddle or on foot. There is also a second Algonquin - along the 56 kilometre stretch of Highway 60. Here you can enjoy camping at one of eight campgrounds, hike one of 14 interpretive trails, take part in the extensive educational Discovery Program, and visit Algonquin’s exceptional Visitor Centre, Logging Museum and Art Centre."
There are several Algonquin Outfitter locations in and around the park. They can drop off kayaks and canoes to your campsite or to the beach or docks where you depart for your voyage

We biked the amazing old rail trails, kayaked in rivers and lakes, camped in a forest of pine trees at Pog Lake campground and explored some of the museums, information centres and the nature walks. The only things we didn't do were portage between lakes and fish! Sadly the only moose or bear that we saw were in the visitor centre - stuffed.
On the multi-use rail trails in the park
Remnants of an old railway bridge
Past rail lines run along and through forests. This one is where an old sawmill was located
 On Rock Lake. We traveled between Rock Lake and Whitefish Lake

See more photos of the fall colours and the park after the jump.

Doors Open

Scarborough Bluffs





Lake Ontario

Nathan Phillips Square