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Best of Canada

What to do during Ice Magic & Snow Days

By: Calli Naish

 

The days are getting longer, the snow is getting deeper, and it’s the perfect time to celebrate winter in Banff and Lake Louise because Snow Days and Ice Magic start this week!

 

January 18, 19 and 20

Watch artists turn massive blocks of ice into glittering sculptures at the Lake Louise Ice Carving festival. The event takes place at the Chateau Lake Louise and although tickets are required between 10 am and 5:30 pm on weekends, the sculptures can be viewed for free outside of these times and during the week.

Photo by Kelly MacDonald, courtesy of Banff & Lake Louise Tourism

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

January 19

The pressure is on at the One Hour, One Carver, One Block speed-carving event! Watch 10 carvers compete as fast as they can outside the Kokanee Kabin at the Lake Louise Ski Resort, and then vote for your favourite sculpture. The carving will take place between 2:30 and 3:30 pm, but you can always check out the impressive results after the competition is over.

Photo by Kelly MacDonald, courtesy of Banff & Lake Louise Tourism

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

January 19

Test your ingenuity and your nerve by entering the Cardboard Sled Derby and racing your own handmade sled down Mt. Norquay. Be sure to design a trendy toboggan because prizes are being awarded for best overall, as well as fastest sled and best crash. The event begins at 7 pm and entry is $10 at the door.

 

January 19 & 20

Lace up your skates and join DJ Hunnicutt and DJ Co-Op at the All-Canadian Skate Parties. The parties are family friendly and are hosted at the Banff High School field from 7 to 10 pm on Friday, and from 1 to 4 pm on Saturday.

 

January 20

Watch local and international snow artists put the finishing touches on the infamous Snow Days snow sculptures from 6 to 9 pm. You can find these masterpieces at the Bear Street festival area where there will be bonfires and dancing into the night.

Photo by Kelly MacDonald, courtesy of Banff & Lake Louise Tourism

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photo by Kelly MacDonald, courtesy of Banff & Lake Louise Tourism

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

January 20 & 21

Celebrate the snow with FIS World Snow Days! To encourage families to get out and explore the snow, kids will ski for free all weekend at the Lake Louise Ski Resort. Plus there are family discounts on tubing and on lessons, making it the perfect time for skiers and non-skiers to enjoy the slopes together!

 

January 20, 21, 27 and 28

Learn how to snowshoe at the Snowshoe Sampler! Meet on the Lake Louise shoreline between 10 am and 3 pm for some games and activities led by a Parks Canada interpretive guide. Snowshoes are provided so it’s the perfect time to try out a new winter sport.

 

January 26

Experience an evening of winter celebration at the Lake Louise Torchlight Dinner. The evening begins at 3:30 pm with après drinks and appies at the Whitehorn Bistro, where you’ll be entertained with an ice carving demo before doing some carving of your own as you ski by torchlight down the freshly groomed runs. The evening finishes off with a buffet dinner at the Sitzmark Lounge and live music by One Night Band. If an evening of dinner and dancing sounds great, but you could do without the skiing, no worries; you can purchase tickets specifically for the post-ski activities. This event is popular so be sure to book your spots ahead of time!

 

January 27 & 28

Excite your creative side at the Ice that Inspires carving demo, where one of the carving competitors will demonstrate the precision and artistry of ice carving. Tickets are required and the demonstrations take place between 10 am and 5 pm at the Chateau Lake Louise.

 

All Festival Long

Step 1: Consult this map (for snow) or head to Lake Louise (for ice)

 

Step 2: Find the 10 snow sculptures in downtown Banff (plus 2 at Mt. Norquay), or the ice sculptures outside the Chateau Lake Louise

 

Step 3: Take a moment to take in the magic of winter in the Canadian Rockies

 

Step 4: Tag @whererockies in your favourite winter masterpiece photos and we’ll feature them in our Instagram Story

 

Transportation

On January 20, 21, 27 and 28, free shuttles will run from the Lake Louise Samson Mall, to the Upper Lake Louise Parking Lot. The first shuttle leaves from the Samson Mall at 10:30 am and the last shuttle leaves from the Upper Parking Lot at 6 pm. No pets will be allowed on the shuttle.

 

Fire + Ice

By Calli Naish

Each year as the larch trees yellow and summer fades to fall, we wait in patient anticipation for the temperature to dip below zero so that we can warm up by an open hearth. In honour of this tradition, here are some suggestions for this winter’s hottest ice activities and coolest fireplaces.

Embrace The Ice

Climb it. When asked, “what is ice climbing?” Kris Irwin, owner and lead guide of Rockies Ice and Alpine Specialists, gives a slight chuckle before providing the obvious answer: “The act of climbing frozen water with ice axes and crampons.” But this is just the beginning of his insights on the “low impact, high intensity” sport many people are eager to try. The fact that outfitters offer ice climbing instruction (complete with equipment) for beginners and experts alike is one of many reasons Irwin sees so much interest in the sport. People often come to the Rockies for the intensity associated with skiing, but not everyone is able to ski. The nature of ice climbing offers the heights and exhilaration visitors are searching for, without the same stress on the joints. With the age of climbers ranging from eight to eighty, it is a sport that most anyone can try. And unlike skiing, where your lift pass determines your location, climbing will have you following a guide to the best spot for the day. When temperatures are severe, south-facing falls at lower elevations make for a warmer experience; north-facing climbs at higher elevations are perfect for days when we find ourselves welcoming a warm Chinook wind. Other great outfitters offering ice-climbing instruction by experienced guides include Yamnuska Mountain Adventures and Rockaboo Mountain Adventures.

Photo courtesy of Kris Irwin Collection


Layer you can’t live without:

For ice climbing, Irwin suggests a seriously insulated coat with a hood as a must have.


Walk it. If heights seem daunting, appreciate the icy topography of the mountains (and the brave climbers who tackle them) with both feet planted firmly on flat ground. While many people come to the mountains for adventure, we can’t really blame others who visit simply for the landscape. The Canadian Rockies offer unparalleled visuals with snow-covered trees, winter wildlife, endless views, and of course, impressive ice formations. From that first glimpse of ice on Cascade Mountain to the awe you feel looking over Athabasca Falls, the towering masses of ice are fascinating whether you find them around Banff  or Jasper. Get up close and personal during an ice walk. Admire natural ice sculptures from the steel catwalks of Johnston Canyon, search the icy rock walls of Grotto Canyon for native pictographs, and discover the secret behind Medicine Lake’s disappearing act at Maligne Canyon. Though you can explore these canyons on your own, a guided tour will provide you with ice cleats (an ice walk essential) and a guide to offer insights on the area. Discover Banff Tours, White Mountain Adventures, Banff Jasper Collection by Pursuit, and Maligne Adventures provide guided tours.

Photo courtesy of maligneadventures.com


Layers you can’t live without:

For ice walks, dress for a day of skiing complete with snow pants. The guides at Maligne Adventures insist you don’t forget your gloves because the “look, but don’t touch” rule doesn’t apply to ice.


Fish it. If your understanding of ice fishing involves a solitary man shivering over a hole in the ice, then you might be stuck in the past. The sport has evolved to be a social event that is fun for all ages. With heated huts, it might be icy, but it’s not freezing. Head out with Banff Fishing Unlimited onto the beautiful frozen Spray Lakes surrounded by towering mountains. Take a moment to appreciate the serenity before crawling into your fishing hut with a couple of friends. Spend the morning immersed in conversation, and by the afternoon, you’ll be feasting on your fresh catch. Those looking to head into the parks and surrounding areas with their own gear can visit local information centres in Banff or Jasper  to find details on fishing permits and where to get their hooks under the ice.


Layer you can’t live without:

For ice fishing, no one should head out without a toque; however, this item is so essential to Canadian winter warmth that it should probably never leave your head.


Skate on it. Against the backdrop of the towering Victoria Glacier, join together in cold camaraderie on Lake Louise where hockey enthusiasts of all ages and skill levels can lace up their skates and get their sticks on the ice. If you want to join in without a puck, don’t worry: there is plenty of room on what has been considered the “World’s Best Skating Rink.” While it’s certainly the most impressive rink in the mountains, it’s not the only one. In fact, you could probably plan a whole trip skating the natural rinks of the Rockies making your way from The Pond in Canmore, all the way up to Lac Beauvert and Pyramid Lake in Jasper.

Photo by Jake Dyson


Layer you can’t live without:

For ice skating, skates are kind of a must. If you don’t have your own you can rent a pair in Banff or Jasper. Be sure to rent a helmet for the smaller skater-tots out there.


Find Your Fireside

Indulge in a meal that will warm you from the inside out. Boasting menu items like Alberta game meatloaf and a full roast chicken dinner, the floor-to-ceiling stonework of the hearth may not be the most impressive thing at The Iron Goat in Canmore.

Photo courtesy of The Iron Goat

Charcuter-eat at Canmore’s Table Food + Drink, where you can melt into the sofas on the lounge side of their double-sided fireplace. Order big knowing that the extra calories are helping you add a layer of warmth for your next day out on the ice.

One-up the candlelit dinner and curl up close to someone you love for a romantic fireside evening. After dinner at their heritage dining room, find quiet intimacy by spending the night in a cabin at Emerald Lake Lodge west of Lake Louise. The tranquility and seclusion of the area offer a winter getaway and the welcome hug of a comfortable armchair.

Photo of Emerald Lake Lodge by Kendal & Kevin Photography

Heat up on skates at Baker Creek Mountain Resort between Banff and Lake Louise. If there was an award for the most fire, they’d win. With two fireplaces inside their bistro and three fire pits outside, you’ll be begging to go out in the icy cold. Thankfully, they’ve obliged with a free skating rink (and rentals on-site) to enjoy before you head in for dinner.

Relax by the fire in style after an icy day in Jasper. Take in the views from the Skyline Lounge at the Lobstick Lodge or head to the Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge and settle in with a local brew in the lakeside Emerald Lounge.

Start your day when the sun goes down and have your fire on the rocks where the only thing hotter than the fireplace is the cocktail menu. Though Park Distillery is located on busy Banff Ave, once you walk upstairs you’ll find yourself transported to a back-country cabin. The drink menu is nearly endless and it features concoctions shaken with Park’s own spirits, making it an ideal place for a fiery sip. 

Wherever you choose to take off your toque, you’ll find that cozying up to an open fire is the best way to recount the icy adventures of the day.

Best for Brunch

By JILL VON SPRECKEN

Start your day off right at Fergie's Cafe. (Photo: Darby Magill)

Start your day off right at Fergie’s Cafe. (Photo: Darby Magill)

In Whistler, brunch is mountain-activity fuel and a reason to drink mimosas before noon, all rolled into one. Start the day at Wild Wood Pacific Bistro, where nine varieties of eggs Benny (try the sampler plate) and legendary banana bread French toast are on offer. Cheeky Southside Diner serves favourites like the big-ass pancake—go ahead, add chocolate chips—and breakfast poutine. For brunch en français, head to Crêpe Montagne for a delectable array of sweet and savoury crepes. A gem along the Sea-to-Sky for homemade fare, Fergie’s Cafe (pictured) regularly packs its teeny interior with brunch-goers who spill out onto the lawn. Brunch bliss, found.

Insider’s Scoop: Gold Rush! at Canadian Museum of History

By Chris Lackner

The Gold Rush! has come to Ottawa.

Haida box by Bill Reid, 1971. Courtesy Royal BC Museum and Archives.

Haida box by Bill Reid, 1971. Courtesy Royal BC Museum and Archives.

While you can’t get rich, you can check out the shiny new exhibit, Gold Rush! El Dorado in British Columbia, at the Canadian Museum of History, April 8 to January 2017.

For an Insider’s Scoop, we talked to John Willis, curator of economic history at the museum:

Q: What will surprise visitors about this exhibit?

A: The fact that such a gold rush, of massive proportions, occurred in Canada, on its West Coast, 50 years before the Klondike.

The fact that some were willing to travel so far in order to get the gold: some trekked overland the entire distance from (central) Canada; others came thousands of miles from Europe, China, and elsewhere in Eastern Canada (the Maritimes for example).

The distances that have to be travelled within B.C. on terrain that is both rugged and spectacular (this comes out in the videos) this will surprise and impress visitors.

The fact that one could make a living not by prospecting for gold but by selling to and living off those mining the gold.

town-web

This photo depicts the main street of Barkerville just before the 1868 fire that destroyed the town. Courtesy of the Royal BC Museum and Archives.

Q. Why is this exhibit important? 

A: First, it establishes the importance of the 1858 and 1862 gold rushes in the making of modern B.C. history. The era transformed indigenous societies and overturned the traditional fur economy of the Hudson Bay Company. In its wake came a new type of society devoted to exploiting land, natural resources, farmland; fostering trade and building cities. Through this exhibition the society of B.C. is trying to come to terms with its history. This includes the admission tragic errors made in the past vis-à-vis indigenous nations.

Second, the exhibit shows the importance of the larger Pacific sphere to the making of B.C. history especially in the gold rush era. What happened in California, Australia and Hong Kong had considerable bearing on how B.C. got roped into this gold rush economy.

Third, the exhibit touches on the quirks of human behaviour in a gold-rush setting. Men and women (but mainly men) travel by the tens of thousands to one destination or another intending to make it rich quick by mining the gold.  They are carried away by an enthusiasm for the riches promised by gold.  Men suffer from gold fever that sets them on a path to the gold fields, however distant. That path was referred in the newspaper of the day as a “highway to insanity.” As a collective mania, the psychology of gold fever does resemble the kind of up and down and sometimes foolish human behaviour associated with the stock market.

Wheel and flumes at the Davies claim on William’s Creek, 1867. Courtesy of the Royal BC Museum and Archives.

Wheel and flumes at the Davies claim on William’s Creek, 1867.
Courtesy of the Royal BC Museum and Archives.

Q: What are your favourite aspects of, or artifacts from, the exhibition?

A. I enjoy seeing the life size version of the B.C. Express company stagecoach that dates from the era and was used on the Cariboo Road. The vehicle is in excellent shape, it was lovingly restored in the late 1980s.  And it can’t help but conjure up images of the old west.  coachThe freight saddle or aparejo positioned in a display window opposite the stage coach belonged to a local hero, French-born Jean Caux, nicknamed Cataline.  It is interesting for it reminds us of the challenges of getting freight into and out of the rugged and mountainous B. C. interior.

There is an explicit recognition of things Chinese: a picture of Hong Kong harbour full of ships circa 1860, and later in the exhibition a display of exquisite Chinese artifacts (fan, game pieces, pipe, mud-treated silk garments, shoes etc.).

Turnagain Nugget is the largest existing gold nugget ever found in British Columbia: it weighs 1,642 grams (52 troy onces) and is approximately 4.2 cm high, 18.1 cm wide and 9.2 cm deep. Courtesy of the Royal BC Museum and Archive.

Turnagain Nugget is the largest existing gold nugget ever found in British Columbia: it weighs 1,642 grams (52 troy onces) and is approximately 4.2 cm high, 18.1 cm wide and 9.2 cm deep. Courtesy of the Royal BC Museum and Archive.

A huge and engaging painting,  Slim Jim or the Parson Takes the Pot,  shows a group of men playing a gambling game of cards. A probable con-man disguised as a priest has surprised his fellow players by winning the hand. The picture reminds us that all forms of gambling were popular in gold-rush communities, where there were men (only) and money a plenty.

The painting is so big that the box in which it came barely fits, height-wise, in the corridor of our museum

Finally the Pemberton dress, a beautiful silk-dress, with its budding hoop skirt and delicate engagements (frills that go up the sleeves), which dates from the B.C. gold-rush era, reminds us that women were present in this society — as entrepreneurs, supporters of culture, as instigators of all kinds of business and community activities. The theme is well carried in the book by New Perspectives on the Gold Rush; as well as in the exhibition catalogue: Gold Rush! El Dorado in British Columbia.

Editor’s Pick: Top 5 Kid Foods Reimagined

Photo courtesy Marion Street Eatery

Photo courtesy Marion Street Eatery

With gourmet renditions of homey dishes on trend, chefs are getting in touch with their inner child. These childhood favourites are all grown up.

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Nine of Toronto’s Best Views (and Photo Opportunities)

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The view of downtown Toronto from Humber Bay Park West (photo: Craig Moy)

At street level, it’s easy to get a sense of Toronto’s busyness—its many packed restaurants, its workers hustling to and from their offices, its ever-present car traffic. What’s not always evident, though, is the megacity’s sheer scope. These prime vantage points and rooftop roosts show just how far the Big Smoke stretches.

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Editor’s Pick: Top 5 Ways to Keep Warm

TNF Womens Shavana Parka Courtesy TNF

Photo courtesy of Wilderness Supply Co. (The North Face shavana parka)

Embrace the cold and look good doing it. These products will keep you toasty all winter long.

In the Exchange District, Bill Worb Furs Inc. boasts a collection of furs, leather and shearling. Fur hats range from aviator to New York style adding glamour and warmth. 312 Ross Ave, 204‑942‑6600

Proper winter footwear is a must for navigating the city’s shops and festivities. Canadian Footwear offers winterized-models of boots for the whole family, with brands like Rieker. 128 Adelaide St, 204-944‑7463, 1530 Regent Ave, 204-944-7466, 1504 St. Mary’s Road, 204-7474

Head to Wilderness Supply Co. for stylish, insulated winter jackets like The North Face shavana parka (pictured) that keep wind and snow at bay. Water‑resistant fabric cuts the cold and blocks winter winds. 623 Ferry Rd, 204-783-9555

Treat your tootsies to handmade moccasins and mukluks at Teeka’s Aboriginal Boutique in The Johnston Terminal at The Forks Market. Beautifully detailed designs made with leather, fur and beads adorn authentic Aboriginal footwear. The Forks Market, 1 Forks Market Rd, 204-946-0539 

A winter ensemble isn’t complete without a pair of soft sheepskin mittens from The Wonderful World of Sheepskin. These mitts combine fashion and function and keep hands warm. 250 Dufferin Ave, 204‑586‑8097

10 Museum Shows for a Cultured Spring

DON’T MISS THESE UNIQUE NEW AND ONGOING EXHIBITIONS AT SOME OF TORONTO’S TOP MUSEUMS!

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Abbas Kiarostami’s exhibition, Doors Without Keys, continues at the Aga Khan Museum through to March 20 (photo: Craig Moy)

The permanent collections at Toronto’s major cultural institutions are always worth exploring, but this season their limited-run shows are also very compelling. From two distinct displays of doors to an anthropological examination of tattoo art, there’s something for everyone at these unique new museum shows.

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Where to Shop on Corydon

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Courtesy of Radiance Gifts.

One of Winnipeg’s most vibrant ‘hoods, Corydon Avenue offers a cultural mix of shopping and dining from around the world, with trend-setting boutiques, specialty stores and restaurants catering to the cool and hip.

Start a spree at Radiance Gifts for beautiful salt lamps, and dazzling crystals like smoky quartz. Zen out with a collection of books on chakras and essential oils. radiancegifts.com

Across the street at Peepers Swimwear, find colourful bathing suits perfect for a winter getaway, with brands like Speedo and Roxy. peepersswimwear.com

For natural and fair trade goods, visit Humboldt’s Legacy on Lilac St. Gorgeous scarves, pillow shams, and throws made from recycled saris are eco-friendly and chic. humboldtslegacy.com

Nearby, step inside Whodunit? and bring out your inner detective, with books on crime fiction. whodunitcanada.com

Head north on Corydon to Nunavut Gallery and see over 4200 beautiful works of Inuit art. Paintings and sculptures by contemporary Canadian artists make a statement in any space. nunavutgallery.com

More Winnipeg shopping districts:

5 Shopping Neighbourhoods in Winnipeg
Where to shop at The Forks
Where to shop on Academy Road
Top 5 Handmade Hotspots
Where to shop in The Exchange District

Editor’s Pick: Top 5 Wild Poutines In Winnipeg

loveys2Photo courtesy Lovey’s BBQ

In a city with as much Francophone influence as Winnipeg, it’s not hard to find that glorious mixture of french fries, gravy, and melty cheese curds. These spots branch out from the classic with irresistable toppings and tasty twists.

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13 of the Most Unique Cafés in Toronto

VISIT ANY ONE OF THESE UNIQUE TORONTO CAFÉS FOR HIGH-QUALITY COFFEE AND DECADENT BAKED GOODS—PLUS BONUSES LIKE AMAZING AMBIENCE, SUPERIOR SERVICE, GREAT VIEWS AND EVEN BOARD GAMES!

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Boxcar Social makes its coffees and espresso-based beverages with a often-changing selection of beans from world-renowned roasters (photo: Boxcar Social)

Is a proliferation of cafés any indication of a city’s success? It’s not hard to argue in favour of the idea. Those who pass time at coffee shops necessarily have the leisure to do so. Leisure implies financial comfort, freedom—at least temporary—from work. Others, of course, use cafés as de facto workspaces, with caffeine helping fuel their creative contributions to the economy. And then there are the café owners themselves, who must be sufficiently confident in a city’s commercial vitality to have opened their businesses in the first place.

Ever dynamic, downtown Toronto hosts innumerable independent coffee-sipping spots. Many of the most popular, like Dark Horse, Sam James, Crema and Jimmy’s, are successful enough to support multiple locations across the city. There are far more excellent cafés than can reasonably be counted here, so let’s just say we hold the 13 places below in high regard—not only for their beverages, but for their delicious snacks, congenial ambience and other intangibles, too.

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Now Open: Anya Boutique

IMGP0870Discover treasures of minimalist design at new Exchange District shop Anya Boutique. The shop carries womenswear essentials including trousers, sweaters and t-shirts from Canadian and international brands like Product of Privilege and luxury knit brand LINE the Label. The shop specializes in products made by artists and designers who focus on local production. A collection of accessories like handcrafted Moyi Moyi leather bucket bags and one-of-a-kind hand-sculpted clay necklaces from Surface Handmade make up the product mix. 88 Albert St, 204‑416‑1323