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Take 5

Wildlife photos at the Royal BC Museum

Head Indoors for these Winter Escapes.

Victoria is indeed a beautiful city no matter what the season, but during the winter, it’s inevitable we’ll have at least a few days that aren’t ideal for outdoor activities. Luckily there’s plenty of indoor options to both inspire and entertain! Here are five of our favourites…

1. Make it the museum. Victoria is blessed with several fine museums that make it easy to while away an hour, an afternoon or a day! Overlooking the harbour is the Royal BC Museum, with its natural history, First Nations and settlement displays. This winter, meet animals around the world with the visiting exhibit Wildlife Photographer of the Year, from London’s Natural History Museum. Around the harbour, the Maritime Museum of British Columbia explores all things nautical, from pirates to the BC Ferries and everything in between!

2. Take in a movie – IMAX style! Also at the Royal BC Museum is the six-storey tall screen of the IMAX Theatre, showing both the ever-popular IMAX films as well as Hollywood movies given a whole new look with the theatre’s state-of-the art technology.

3. Enjoy a little family fun. No matter what your age, who can resist an entertaining stroll through history and literature at Miniature World or the fascinating world of insects and arachnids presented at the Bug Zoo, both within a few minutes’ walk of the Inner Harbour.

4. Chill out at the rink. Victoria boasts two great choices for hockey, the WHL’s Victoria Royals and the BC Hockey League’s Victoria Grizzlies. The Royals heat up the ice at  downtown’s Save-On-Foods Memorial Centre, while the Grizzlies entertain fans at the Bear Mountain Arena in Colwood.

5. Get inspired in the garden. The world famous Butchart Gardens is a joy any time of year. In addition to the outdoor gardens, the New Year also brings two indoor features, Spring Prelude and the annual historical exhibit. Take a tropical vacation without ever leaving Vancouver Island with a visit to the beautiful Victoria Butterfly Gardens, also on the Saanich Peninsula. With colourful birds, butterflies, fish and flowers, it’s impossible to visit and not be inspired.

Hot Dates: For art lovers

Sobey Art Award finalists at the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia.

•    October 15: Nocturne, the “art at night” festival, brings art to the streets of Halifax between 6pm to midnight. The free event celebrates the visual arts scene in Halifax with exhibitions in galleries and public spaces throughout the city.
•    Continuing through January 8: The Art Gallery of Nova Scotia on Hollis Street showcases works by artists short-listed for the Sobey Art Award. It’s the pre-eminent prize for Canadian contemporary art.

Hot Date: Sites to See

Reflections, by Gravenhurst painter David Dawson, an Autumn Studio Tour participant

SEPTEMBER 24 & 25, 2011 With the arrival of fall comes another longstanding tradition, as area artists open their doors for the Muskoka Autumn Studio Tour. This annual event encourages art lovers to guide themselves on a scenic drive through picturesque northern Ontario with stops along the way at participating studios—a great opportunity to discover what inspires the region’s painters, sculptors, ceramicists, potters, woodworkers, weavers and more. And, of course, be sure to buy a local piece or two. Visit here for a map and more information.

Canada’s Best New Attractions for Summer 2011

Art Gallery of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta

For travellers planning their summer trips in Canada this year, the regional editors of Where magazine have released their top picks for summer travel. The winners of Where Canada’s Best New Attractions for Summer 2011 represent the most exciting attractions – new, significantly improved, or celebrating major milestones this year. A diverse group of attractions from coast to coast, this year’s winners offer a wide range of activities and events suitable for any family, art lover, sports fanatic, nature lover or adventurer. Together, these attractions serve as the top must-see and must-dos for anyone travelling in Canada this summer. (more…)

Canadian Tourism Commission Releases Signature Experiences Collection

Hopewell Rocks in the Bay of Fundy, New Brunswick, Canada. (By Benson Kua)

Ever been asked what are must-see spots by friends visiting from abroad and drawn a blank, or thought about taking a trip to another province but not known what’s on offer besides a city stop?  The Canadian Tourism Commission has released their Signature Experiences Collection. The federally funded program has released an initial list of 48 (undoable in 48 hours, so don’t get any ideas of a Guinness-worthy task) attractions to see, spanning east to west. Aimed at high-end tourists from Europe and Australia, they’re not exactly the waterfalls and whale watching your parents took you on when you were kids.


10 Things to Do for $10 or Less

Who says you have to break the bank to have fun? Not us, that’s for sure! Here are just a few activities you can do in Ottawa on the cheap.
By Misa Kobayashi

The ByWard Market. Photo credit: OTCA.

1) Outdoor markets: $0-$10
This city has an awesome selection of farmers’ markets from which to score baked goods, fresh produce, flowers, jewellery — you name it. Located in the heart of downtown, the historic ByWard Market is a must for its bustling shops and vendors. Another top pick is the Ottawa Farmers’ Market on Sundays in the Glebe neighbourhood. We love the many restaurants that set up shop in the outdoor food court. See www.byward-market.com or www.ottawafarmersmarket.ca.

2) Downtown art galleries: Free
Check out a contemporary art exhibit at the City Hall Gallery, Karsh-Masson Gallery, or Ottawa Art Gallery, all of which are located within walking distance of each other in the downtown core. Even better? All offer either free admission or pay-what-you-can. See the gallery listings for more info.

3) Splash pads: Free
Beat the heat on a hot day with your kiddies at one of the city’s splash pads. Our favourite is Brewer Park (100 Brewer Way), for its excellent picnic spots, sprinklers, mini water slide, and three different play structures. A list of splash pads can be found at www.ottawa.ca.

Buskerfest on Sparks Street.

4) International Busker Festival: Pay-what-you-can
This annual fest lights up Sparks Street Mall from July 28 to Aug. 1, when performers from around the world strut their stuff. Enjoy daily shows that captivate and delight with performances that are all about unusual — and often daring — talents. See www.sparksstreetmall.com.

5) Lunch at Di Rienzo: $5-$10
This authentic grocery and deli, located in Little Italy, is part corner store, part sandwich shop. Locals arrive in droves at lunchtime, so there’s often a line-up out the door. Choose your bread, your toppings, and your meat, and grab a seat at the park across the street, or take a stroll through the charming neighbourhood. 111 Beech St., 613-729-4037. (more…)

Hot Shopping: Gifts of Distinction

Zwicker's on Doyle Street is Halifax's oldest commercial art gallery.

Zwicker’s Gallery on Doyle Street is the oldest commercial art gallery in Halifax. Dating back to 1866, it features antique nautical charts, maps and engravings. The expansive selection also includes contemporary works by emerging artists, Inuit and Native works, sculptures, ceramics and antiquities.

Hot Dates: Anchors Aweigh!

The "Hello Sailor" exhibition explores "gay life on the open wave."

It’s a side of nautical history that hasn’t gotten much attention in local museums, up until now. Adapted from an exhibition created by National Museums Liverpool (U.K.), Hello Sailor explores “gay life on the ocean wave.” The Maritime Museum of the Atlantic on Lower Water Street hosts the exhibit throughout the summer. Additional displays present a Canadian and Nova Scotian perspective.

Yours to Discover: Day Three

Winter’s on its way out; it’s time to get a head start on exploring. Guide yourself with our specialized itineraries, or contact one of Toronto’s many tour operators to delve deeper into this multifaceted metropolis. And don’t forget to check out previous Yours to Discover posts, here: Day One, Day Two.

Thompson Landry Gallery

Gallery-going made easy.

This city has a reputation as being staid and somewhat conservative, but when it comes to
the creative arts, it’s actually quite adventurous.
For proof, one need but stride down Queen Street—west of Trinity Bellwoods Park are numerous galleries operating on the leading edge
of the contemporary art scene. Among the area’s major denizens are Angell Gallery, conceptualist-leaning Clint Roenisch Gallery and photographic specialist Stephen Bulger Gallery. In recent years, the Museum
of Contemporary Canadian Art
has become a major creative locus, thanks to its consistently well-curated shows and a new partnership with the National Gallery of Canada in Ottawa.

Straight in the opposite direction, the Distillery Historic District hosts an equally varied mélange of artists and craftspeople. Within its restored industrial buildings you’ll be introduced to top Quebecois painters at Thompson Landry Gallery, internationally renowned contemporary works at Corkin Gallery and Clark and Faria, and even Israeli artists at Julie M Gallery. Local artisans sell their creative ceramics, jewellery and more at many other boutiques and studios here. You can even print your own images at photography hot spot Pikto.

Gallery Gevik and Feheley Fine Arts

Further north, posh Yorkville hosts many longstanding fine-art houses, the majority of which represent well-established painters and sculptors whose works have gained significant recognition. Keen to see recent pieces by Ed Bartram or Stephen Hutchings? Head to Mira Godard Gallery. Love the imagery crafted by Norval Morrisseau or Haida artist Robert Davidson? Kinsman Robinson Galleries has it in spades. Or find a new favourite at Loch Gallery, Feheley Fine Arts, Gallery Gevik and many more.

For an insider’s view of the West Queen West scene, look no further than an Art InSite tour with effervescent expert Betty Ann Jordan. And partaking in a Yorkville Art Walk offers a great primer of that district’s top galleries.

Hot Dates: Local Talent

In the heart of downtown Halifax, Art 1274 Hollis is an ideal place to discover unheralded local artists. One of the co-operative gallery’s member artists is always on site. In March, it showcases works by Pat Shattuck and Marilyn Hatfield.

Hot Dates: Art Highlights

Work from Kloqowej (Star) by Mi'kmaq basket weaver Caroline Gould.

•    Outpourings, a retrospective exhibition tracing François Lacasse’s experiments with form in over 20 paintings, continues at the Mount Saint Vincent University Art Gallery.

•    Art 1274 Hollis features creations by local artists. In January, it showcases works by Karen Phinney and Nora Gross, followed by Raymond Smith and Golumba Kim in February.

•    From January 14 to February 27, the Mary E. Black Gallery on Marginal Road hosts Kloqowej (Star) by Mi’kmaq basket weaver Caroline Gould.

Visual Learning: the 2010 Scotiabank Contact Photography Festival

Toronto’s annual festival of photography asks how the medium’s vast dissemination has transformed the way we understand and interact with the world around us.

On display as part of MOCCA's primary exhibition is "Green Kitchen" and other works from the Cache-Misère series by John Armstrong and Paul Collins. The artists add painted images to photos, altering their narratives.

One of the abiding ways by which change is affected in a given art form is through the introduction and subsequent application of new or improved technology. The invention of the printing press ushered in a new epoch for literature and the written word, colour film transformed the way movies were produced and consumed—the present adoption of 3D techniques could herald a similar evolution—and the amplified electric guitar forever changed popular music. The historical register of these changes is long, and it continues to grow longer.

Of late, the impact of technology has arguably been felt most of all by the photographic arts, and for more than a decade the Scotiabank Contact Photography Festival has chronicled the evolution of picture taking with a month-long program of curated exhibitions across the city. This year’s massive event looks at how digital-age advancements—instant-gratification social networking websites, the incorporation of high-quality cameras in portable and relatively affordable devices, the accessibility of easy-to-use image-processing software, and much more—have led to photography’s exponential growth and ponders the effect of the medium’s pervasive influence, as predicted by Canadian communications theorist Marshall McLuhan.