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Ottawa

Getting to the Sweet Spot in BIXI Bike Pricing

Photo by Ian Muttoo

By Amanda Yiu

Montreal-based bike-sharing company BIXI, which launched in Toronto, Ottawa, and Boston in the past few months, may be expanding to Vancouver in the near future, and plans for a 10,000-fleet New York City launch are set for next summer.

BIXI has grown rapidly since first launching in Montreal in 2009, beginning operations in Toronto, Ottawa and Boston in the past four months and rolling out overseas in 2010, in London, Melbourne and DC. The bike-sharing program is undeniably popular, with more than 3 million BIXI trips taken since the beginning of 2010.

For visitors, borrowing a bike at a pay-as-you-go rate can be a fabulous way to explore the city. But be sure to keep your ride short. A friend visiting from Australia last month made the mistake of taking out a BIXI bike in Toronto for the full day and ended up paying over $100 in usage fees. As the breakdown of non-subscriber fees (below) shows, long trips can add up quickly. (Subscribers can pay $95 for a one-year membership, waiving the $5 daily flat fee, but the same time-of-use rates still apply.)

BIXI fees for 8 hours of continuous usage:

$5 flat 24-hour access fee (includes first 30 minutes)

+ $1.50 for 31–60 min

+ $4 for 61–90 min

+ $104 for additional 6.5 hours ($8 x 13 half-hour increments)

= $113.50 before tax

Additionally, a $250 security deposit is charged to your credit card and refunded after 10 days.

(more…)

10 Ontario Hot Spots for Fall Colours

Photo courtesy of Ontario Tourism

By Merle Rosenstein

Fall evokes images of warm woolen sweaters, steaming hot chocolate and fresh apple crumble. In Ontario the end of summer is heralded by an eruption of colour—oranges, reds and yellows painted across treetops—and the gabble and squawk of birds as they migrate south. Autumn is a time of agricultural bounty in the province, displayed in farmers’ markets and at roadside stands: MacIntosh, Royal Gala and other tempting apple varieties are ripe for picking.  The drama of the season and the cool weather makes this a perfect time for a vigorous hike in the country. In the cities and towns, calendars are bursting with events from film and literary festivals to ghost walks and fall country fairs

(more…)

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…)

Via Rail’s Bike Train service connects Windsor to Quebec City

Bikes on trains. Photo by Sandbanks Pro

Bike enthusiasts looking to explore another city’s streets should consider a weekend two-wheel road trip enabled by one of VIA Rail Canada’s bike trains. Cyclists can bring their bikes on board for $20 per direction, and then sit back and relax until they arrive. Cities serviced include the well-travelled streets of Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal and Quebec City, and a few lesser-trod spots like London and Windsor in Ontario and Jonquière and Senneterre in Quebec.

Take the family on Ottawa’s Capital parkway network, which is the reason why our capital often pops up on lists of the best cities in North America to cycle. With the views of the Ottawa River and well-groomed parks, you won’t feel like you’re in a metropolis. In Senneterre, bikers can check out Mount Bell and the dense pines of Aiguebelle Park. Cyclers travelling to Windsor have the vast 42 km Chrysler Canada Greenway ahead of them—rural routes, wineries and the beaches of Lake Erie offer something for all.

Via offers bike transportation on trains with bike racks until October 31, 2011. Find details at http://www.viarail.ca/bike.

Hot Date: International Fireworks Show

Catch the dazzling array of fireworks, on view at the Casino du Lac-Leamy Sound of Light. Photo credit: Mike Alexander.

Aug. 6, 10, 13, 17, and 20. If you love fireworks, then there’s no better place to be than at the Casino du Lac-Leamy Sound of Light, an annual competition that pits country against country in a battle between the best pyrotechnics in the world. For five nights, dazzling theatrical displays light up the sky, accompanied by music. At the grand finale on Aug. 20, see who scores top marks and the coveted Zeus Trophy.

Hot Date: Teenage Musical

The award-winning "Spring Awakening." Photo credit: Joan Marcus.

May 13 to 15. Spring Awakening took Broadway by storm in 2006 with its fusion of morality, sexuality, and rock and roll. Set in the 19th century, the story pits teen desires against adult repression in a stunning showcase that incorporates choreography, humour, and a rock score by Duncak Sheik. (Interesting tidbit, Glee superstar Lea Michele played the lead female role in the original run). Check out the touring version of the groundbreaking musical when it comes to Ottawa this spring. Be forewarned though: the play includes nudity.

Hot Date: Johnny Cash Tribute

Shawn Barker honours Johnny Cash. Photo credit: David Cannon.

May 12 to 15. You might think Johnny Cash has taken the stage for an encore in The Man in Black — A Tribute to Johnny Cash. The acclaimed impersonator Shawn Barker re-creates Cash’s growling vocals and impressive stage presence in a way so authentic his performances have moved the late star’s family and friends. Join in on a night of hand clappin’, foot stompin’ music to re-live the legendary singer’s life and legacy.

Hot Date: Modern Day Shakespeare

The new Ottawa Shakespeare Company presents "Hamlet2011."

April 29 and 30 and May 3 to 7. What happens when you combine the traditional script of Hamlet with music by Arcade Fire and Florence + The Machine, and set the play in present day? You get Hamlet2011 by the newly launched Ottawa Shakespeare Company. With indie tunes acting as the soundtrack, this play features modern costumes and sets, making for a performance of the bard’s work that promises to be unlike anything you’ve ever seen before.

Hot Dining: Notable Newcomers

Sizzling steaks at Sidecut in Whistler

The regional editors of Where recently unveiled their list of 2010’s best new restaurants across Canada.

1. Bao Bei Chinese Brasserie – Vancouver, BC; 604-688-087; www.bao-bei.ca

2. Sidecut (pictured) – Whistler, BC; 604-966-5280; www.fourseasons.com

3. Prime Steakhouse and Lounge – Victoria, BC; 250-386-2010; www.primesteak.ca

4. Charcut Roast House – Calgary, AB; 403-984-2180; www.charcut.com

5. Zinc – Edmonton, AB; 780-392-2501; www.zincrestaurant.ca

6. Habitat Restaurant – Canmore, AB; 403-678-8880; www.granderockies.com/habitat

7. Segovia Tapas Bar and Restaurant – Winnipeg, MB; 204-477-6500; www.segoviatapasbar.com

8. Enoteca Sociale – Toronto, ON; 416-534-1200; www.sociale.ca

9. Taste, the Restaurant at Touchstone – Muskoka, ON; 705-764-5353; www.touchstoneonlakemuskoka.com/taste.html

10. Town – Ottawa, ON; 613-695-8696; www.townlovesyou.ca

11. Fujiyama – Halifax, NS; 902-492-1133; www.sushifujiyama.ca

Wherelist: Best New Restaurants 2009

Where editors from across the country have cast their ballots for the Best New Restaurants to open in Canada in 2009. From creative twists on traditional cuisines to stylish décors and high quality food for reasonable prices, these are the eateries you won’t want to miss from coast to coast.

Veneto Tapa Lounge, Victoria

Victoria’s best new restaurant takes traditional tapas to a whole new level. Led by chef Tod Bosence, the sophisticated, urban Veneto Tapa Lounge offers both a hip bar area and quieter dining room, ideal for enjoying Bosence’s creative dinner menu. Each entree is presented tapas style – those in the mood for beef, for example, will enjoy it three ways: veal ravioli with portabella mushroom ragout and roasted garlic cream sauce; marinated short rib with parmesan polenta cake; and New York strip roulade with spicy lobster stuffing and bordelaise sauce.

Cibo Trattoria, Vancouver

With London’s River Café alumnus Neil Taylor heading up the kitchen and ex-Lumiere general manager/sommelier Sebastien Le Goff in charge, it didn’t take long for Cibo to gain a solid reputation for its vibrant rustic Italian cuisine, thoroughly grounded in West Coast ingredients. Taylor’s dishes, which change by the week (if not the day), are constructed with uncomplicated—but wickedly exacting—flair.

Parker House Grill & Wine Bar, Calgary

Parker House is the kind of place where diners can experience high quality service, ambience and food, for a reasonable price tag. Chef Andrew Keen, known for his excellence in “forgotten fare,” has created a menu inspired by traditional New England comfort dishes with creative twists. For dinner, most entrees (with the exception of their steaks) sit in the mid-twenties range, while diners on a budget can try one of their thin-crust pizzas for as low as $12.88.

Creations Dining Room & Lounge, Sawridge Inn Edmonton South, Edmonton

Artful, delicious dining at Creations—the paint’s barely dry and the buzz is on for the eclectic Canadian fusion cuisine of Creations, the stunning new dining room and lounge in the atrium of the Sawridge Inn Edmonton South. Walls of fire, water, badlands hoodoos and a huge dreamcatcher treat the senses as menu items entice patrons to explore palate pleasers such as Sherried Beef Caprese.

Rustica Steakhouse, Canadian Rockies

Rustic has earned its place as one of the Canadian Rockies’ top restaurants for its elegant ‘mountain lodge’ atmosphere and uncompromising dedication to Canada Prime Beef. But it’s the cuisine of Caribbean-born Chef Stefan Mahon that keeps them coming back for more. Only the top 0.3% of beef in Canada earns Prime designation (a superior grade to AAA)—Stefan’s New York cuts, grand filet mignon and prime rib chops are prepared with a signature dry rub, seared under a 1500°F (815°C) broiler and presented on 500°F (260°C) plates with garlic butter.

Hermanos, Winnipeg

Winnipeggers are feeling the Latin heat thanks to the fiery flavours of South American cuisine at this year’s arrival of Hermanos Restaurant and Wine Bar. Set in a 5,500-square-foot warehouse in the Exchange District, fast lunches, tapas and mains are found on the mainly Argentinean- and Brazilian-influenced menu. The crispy fried empanadas are a must-try.

Raw Aura, Mississauga

Raw Aura, true to its name, offers a menu of entirely raw cuisine—the better to emphasize the natural and nourishing properties of fruit, vegetables, nuts, seeds and sprouts. In an intimate yet airy space, friendly staff dish out delectably fresh fare including a “peace wrap” bursting with avocado, tomatoes, carrots, kale, sprouts and hummus, and zesty lo-mein featuring noodles made of zucchini and golden beets.

Loire, Toronto

Loire, a self-described “casual gourmet” spot, well-situated along increasingly foodie-friendly Harbord Street offers fresh, seasonal dishes that could include chili- and cornmeal-crusted Lake Erie whitefish, grilled New York striploin and a succulent beef or lamb burger on challah bread. This intimate restaurant effortlessly straddles the line between relaxed neighbourhood fave and boldface fine-dining destination.

Teca, Muskoka

Overlooking Lake Rosseau is Teca, a fine Italian restaurant located within the luxurious Rosseau Resort & Spa. Surrounded by the natural beauty of the Muskoka Lakes, find this decidedly urban dining room and a centrally located open kitchen that dishes up authentic rustic Italian fare. Tuck into freshly made pasta—from papperdelle and gnocchi to spaghetti and meatballs—or thin crust pizza made in a wood-stone oven, as well as veal chops, fish, striploin and rack of lamb.

The Grand Pizzeria & Bar, Ottawa

Nestled on one of the most auspicious corners in Ottawa’s bustling ByWard Market, The Grand Pizzeria is a popular addition to the downtown dining scene. Built in the late 17th century, this enviable location once housed The Grand Hotel. Today, it’s home to the perfect pizza pie. Traditional Italian appetizers (antipasti, salads) make way for the main attraction: authentic Napoletana pizza. The dough is created and hand-pressed by Master Pizzaiolo Pasqualino Oliveri, who placed first in the 2004 European Pizza Championship, among other honours.

Pipa Restaurant & Bar, Halifax

Chef Luis Gaspar and partner Victoria Dunham Gaspar are longtime veterans of Halifax’s dining scene. And when they decided to embark on a project all their own, they saw a glaring omission in the city’s dining scene. Specializing in Portuguese cuisine, with rich, filling and full-flavoured dishes. Pipa is the only restaurant of its type in Halifax, specializing in Old World and Brazilian dishes such as Moqueca (fish stew) and Feijoada (a stew of meats and black beans). Seafood dishes abound, including fresh grilled sardines.

What’s Hot in January Across Canada

Halifax

Roots-rock legends Blue Rodeo return to the Halifax Metro Centre on January 28, performing concert classics like “Hasn’t Hit Me Yet” and “Diamond Mine,” along with their newest material.

Vancouver & Whistler

The 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games are almost here, and they’re bringing a lot more than just sports to Vancouver and Whistler. The Cultural Olympiad 2010 (Jan 22 – Mar 21) is the culmination of three years of Cultural Olympiads on the West Coast, and it features some of the world’s best artists, musicians, dancers, actors and performers. Vancouver highlights include Joni Mitchell’s The Fiddle and the Drum at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre (Jan 22 – 24), Nevermore: The Imaginary Life and Mysterious Death of Edgar Allan Poe at the Granville Island Stage (Jan 21 – Feb 6), and Steve Earle and Joel Plaskett at The Orpheum (Jan 23).

Whistler highlights include Canada’s first theatre of snow and ice, Nix (Jan 22 – Feb 27), Corb Lund at Whistler Village Square (Feb 19), and the Nunavut-based circus Artcirq at the Squamish Lil’Wat Cultural Centre (Feb 20).

Ottawa

During the Carleton Cup Triathlon on Jan 30, fearless participants—athletically inclined or otherwise—skate for nearly 7km up and down the Rideau Canal, run through the ByWard Market, then slide into The Aulde Dubliner & Pour House to pound back a drink. First one in gets the bragging rights, but the real winner is the Canadian Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. Led by controversial-yet-charismatic frontman Axl Rose, the newest incarnation of Guns N’ Roses will tour to promote Chinese Democracy, an album that was 15 years in the making.  They stop into Ottawa Jan 31.

Calgary

Known for its memorable songs like, “Matchmaker, Matchmaker,” the Tony Award-winning musical, Fiddler on the Roof plays at the Jubilee until Jan 17. Throughout the month of January, One Yellow Rabbit’s High Performance Rodeo offers theatre-lovers innovative plays, skits and acts from around the world. Highlights include Kawasaki Exit, a play about the dark-side of Japanese social networking sites and The Pajama Men, a comedy duo who perform their act in their pjs.

Winnipeg

World-class men’s curling talent sweeps into Winnipeg for the BDO Canadian Classic Open Jan 20 – 24. Top names like Canada’s Olympic representative Kevin Martin and Scotland’s reigning World Champion David Murdoch are expected to participate.

Edmonton

Coleman Lemieux & Compagnie, one of Canada’s most accomplished dance organizations, brings three brilliant performances to Edmonton Jan 20: In Paradisum; Soudain, l’hiver dernier; and Fifteen Heterosexual Duets, all choreographed by James Kudelka.  Artistic Director Laurence Lemieux promises “an exhilarating voyage to the heights of paradise and the depths of the heart.”  Edmontonians revel in the winter months at the Winter Light Festival. Every weekend brings a blizzard of family fun with many events such as ice carving, ice-skating, art shows and much more. On until Mar 12, free admission.

Canadian Rockies

The Olympic Torch Relay comes through Banff Jan 20 and the town is celebrating outdoors with live music. Watch as teams carve massive blocks of ice into glittering sculptures at the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise during the Ice Magic Festival, Jan 22 – 24 (if you can’t catch the carving, admire the art until it melts away in a few months). Or hit up Jasper in January for ski lift ticket and hotel discounts, plus fun events like the polar bear dip, Taste of the Town, music and skating parties, Jan 15 – 31.

Toronto

Important figures of history continue to draw crowds in the present. Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart looms large over the city on select dates between Jan 13 and 24 as the Toronto Symphony Orchestra presents the Mozart@254 Festival, its annual concert series commemorating the 1756 birth of the Classical Era’s greatest composer. This year’s program features guest artists including famed baritone Russell Braun, violinist Pinchas Zukerman and many others. Or, have an archeological encounter with the great rulers of Egypt, by visiting the Art Gallery of Ontario’s ongoing exhibit, King Tut: The Golden King and the Great Pharaohs. The massive display showcases rare artifacts from the days of Khafre, Amenhotep IV, Rameses II and other significant monarchs, as well as more than 50 exquisite treasures from the tomb of Tutankhamun. On until Apr 18.


The WHERE List: Canada’s Top Ten New Attractions for Summer 2009

Muttart Conservatory, Edmonton (Photo: Darren Kirby)

From coast to coast Where Editors have chosen the best new or improved attractions in the country. From dramatic glass pyramids in the prairies to canopied aerial bridges in the rain forest to exploring the wonders of the ocean, these are attractions you won’t want to miss. (more…)