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sports

Ottawa Weekend Roundup: Best Bets for September 16 to 18

"Of the Appearance of Bees" by Andrew Smith. Photo credit: "Involution," 2011, oil on canvas.

Friday, Sept. 16
This date night, why not grab dinner and a show? And by “show,” we mean “art exhibit.” There are lots of public and commercial galleries downtown with interesting exhibits that range from traditional to contemporary. On now at City Hall Gallery is an exhibition of abstract paintings entitled “Of the Appearance of Bees,” by Andrew Smith. Using colours and figures, these oil-on-canvas images depict the working lives of the winged insects, and you’ll be inspired to ask, “How do bees think, act, and feel?” The gallery will be buzzing with Smith’s works until Oct. 23.

Avid Potter fans probably saw Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, part 2 when it debuted its epic final chapter in July. But if you want to see it with 30,000 watts of sound and a 3D screen that’s more than 16 metres tall, check it out tonight when it opens in 3D at the IMAX theatre at the Canadian Museum of Civilization. See Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, and Emma Watson reprise their roles for the last time as Harry Potter, Ron Weasley, and Hermione Granger when they head towards a showdown with Lord Voldemort.

Saturday, Sept. 17
Hugli’s Blueberry Ranch is the place to be as the leaves change colours and the air turns crisp. Today is the launch of Fall Family Fun Activities, which runs until Oct. 30. This seasonal event boasts a plethora of quirky and exciting entertainment that includes pig races on the Hugli’s speedway (seriously!), a six acre corn maze, plus pirate ship, hay, and pumpkin mazes, pumpkin cannon shows, a hay jump, and puppet shows, among other activities. In the upcoming weekends there are also giant pumpkin weigh offs (Sept. 24) and giant pumpkin boat races (Sept. 25), and other Halloween-themed events.

The West End Studio Tour, which runs Sept. 17 and 18 and 24 and 25, gets art lovers out of the gallery and into the studios and homes of some 20 artists. We recommend checking out Rob Huntley‘s landscape images (especially the aerial ones) for an interesting perspective on cityscapes and landmarks. Other artists taking place include Alice Hinther, Wendy Feldberg, Shlomo Feldberg, Deidre Hierlihy, Andrew King, Jeff Wiebe, Paul Wing, and more. (more…)

Halifax Hosts the Best on the Beach

Top athletes compete at the Junior Beach Volleyball World Championships

By Trevor J. Adams

This summer, a vacant lot on the Halifax waterfront found new life, transforming into a unique urban beach park. Workers brought in 2,000 tonnes of sand, creating a beach like park on the waterfront boardwalk at the foot of Salter Street. (Although there is no water access—that’s one of the East Coast’s busiest shipping lanes out there).

Planners wanted to create a space that could host special events and be enjoyed year-round by locals and visitors alike. The new venue’s first big event is the FIVB Junior Beach Volleyball World Championships, running from August 31 to September 4.

The five-day tournament draws over 400 delegates and athletes from more than 30 countries in Halifax for both the men’s and women’s championships. With top athletes (all age 21 or younger) competing, the action is fast paced and exciting. There is particular excitement for this year’s after Canadians Sam Schater and Garrett May went undefeated in Turkey in 2010, winning the country’s first gold medal. “It was really surreal to win the championship… and knowing that it is coming to Canada next year,” says Schater. ‘[It’s] really poignant for both Garrett and myself.”

Organizers are seeing an upsurge in interest in the sport. “This championship comes as we see the continued proliferation of our sport across Canada,” says Volleyball Canada spokesman Ed Drakich. “Bringing the best in the World Junior divisions and the FIVB tournament to Halifax in 2011 is history in the making.”

Halifax’s unique new beach park makes it one of the more unique venues to welcome the event. Event producer Derek Martin believes the venue and the timing of the championship make Halifax a good fit for the event. “The Halifax Waterfront provides an absolutely stunning location and our date will allow us to celebrate the end of summer with a party that the whole world is invited to attend,” he says.

The Big Leagues
The Fédération Internationale de Volleyball (FIVB) consists of 220 affiliated federations. It governs the sport worldwide through tournaments such as the World Championships, World League, World Grand Prix, World Tour, World Championships, Continental Beach Volleyball Cup, Beach Volleyball World Cup, World Cup, Grand Champions Cup, Junior and Youth tournaments and the Olympics.

The Details
Beginning with 64 teams, the event features five high-octane days of competition, climaxing in the gold medal game at on the afternoon of September 4. Surrounding the competition is SandJam, a series of concerts and special events that are open to the public. Follow the link for more.

Weekend Roundup: Best Bets for June 24 to 26

The International Chicken and Rib Cook-Off on Sparks Street.

Friday, June 24
Meat lovers, prepare yourselves: The International Chicken and Rib Cook-Off is back for another year at Sparks Street Mall. Running June 22 to 26, this all out meat festival serves up chicken, pulled pork sandwiches, and ribs, all slathered in an array of tasty, tangy sauces. Crowds descend on the mall at lunch time (beckoned by the smell), so head on over (with napkins in hand) for lunch, dinner, or just a snack. Teams from Canada and the United States compete for the top rank of best rib choice, best rib sauce, best chicken choice, and best chicken sauce.

Saturday, June 25
Just when you thought Ottawa couldn’t get any more festivals, FeverFest was born. This brand new independent music festival in Old Ottawa South will showcase a diverse crop of immensely talented Ottawa musicians. Headlining the event is the Goodluck Assembly, and you can also expect the “2009 Online World Beatboxing Champion” Julia Dales (who’s performed for Ellen Degeneres), The Murder Plans, the White Wires, ACRES, Monobrow, Brendan Flynn and the Terrible Liars, and Winchester Warm.

JF Robitaille plays the Raw Sugar Café.

In advance of JF Robitaille‘s debut LP Calendar (which comes out July 5), the Montreal singer/songwriter’s making the rounds at stages in Toronto, Montreal, and Ottawa. He performs tonight at Raw Sugar Café. His style is perfect coffee house music — straddling the line between sweet and melancholy, folk and pop — which has earned him supporting sets for names such as Julie Doiron, The Dears, and Sean Lennon.

The Once Upon a Slam Finals are tonight, with the top eight story slammers from the year competing for the crown and to be named the first-ever Ottawa story slam Grand Champion. For those unfamiliar with “slams,” they are open sign-up competitions where the performers tell a narrative within a certain time limit (no reading from a paper!), and are scored by members of the audience. Ottawa’s monthly story slam series is held the fourth Friday of every month at the Mercury Lounge, and it all comes down to tonight when the top story slammers go head to head. (more…)

30 Things We Love About Toronto This April

3. Ultra

1 Celebrating Prince William’s wedding on this side of the pond with a cup of the royal wedding blend tea from Majesteas.

2 The quiet confines of the Toronto Sculpture Garden.

3 Dramatic 15-foot-tall renderings of roosters in the dining room at Ultra.

4 Crispy thin-crust pizza from Mercatto.

5 A rejuvenating soak in the hot green tea pool at Body Blitz Spa.

8. Woodbine Racetrack

6 The retractable roof at the Rogers Centre—you can gaze at stars in the sky or at the Toronto Blue Jays on the field.

7 Heading lakeside to explore the Harbourfront.

8 The thundering sound of hooves on opening day at Woodbine Racetrack.

9 Admiring the “Canada” bowl, circa 1725, the first depiction of this country in ceramic, at the Gardiner Museum.

10 The adventurous rotating menu at Beast, which has included oven-roasted bone marrow.

11. Purdy's Sweet Georgia Browns

11 Sweet Georgia browns from Purdy’s—toasted and salted pecans with caramel and milk chocolate all in one morsel.

12 Warm and doughy bagels from St. Urbain at St. Lawrence Market.

13 Getting lost in the curated stacks at Type Books, a favourite of resident bibliophiles.

14 The fervor of the “scramble” at Yonge and Dundas, where you can cross the street in any direction.

15 Designer Kimberley Newport-Mimran’s favourite things—an international collection of goods from New Zealand to Sweden at Seventy-Seven.

13. Type Books

16 Reveling in the smooth sounds of jazz at The Trane Studio, named for saxophonist John Coltrane.

17 Inventive Japanese fare at Ginza Sushi, with offerings like sashimi boats.

18 Seeing the city on your own schedule with Gray Line’s Hop-On, Hop-Off City Tour.

19 Local retail therapy at Shopgirls, which stocks items by many Toronto fashion, accessory and decor artists.

20 Sampling a variety of vintages courtesy of Eight Wine Bar’s “buck an ounce” program on Friday nights from 4 to 9 p.m.

19. Shopgirls

21 The homey interior of Bobbette & Belle, where framed whisks and vintage plates adorn the walls as art.

22 Slurping back a freshly shucked oyster from Rodney’s Oyster House.

23 The upscale diner ambience of The Counter, which serves all-day breakfast and more.

24 Strolling along Canada’s Walk of Fame and counting how many names you recognize.

25 Inspecting the intricate and ornate silver art deco doors of the Design Exchange.

26. Real Sports Bar & Grill

26 Catching playoff hockey action at the ultimate man cave, Real Sports Bar & Grill.

27 Tracing the career of silent film star Mary Pickford in an exhibit at the TIFF Bell Lightbox.

28 Shopping for vintage finds for less at Haute Classics. You might find classic Chanel and Chloé pieces.

29 The melodious church bells of St. James Cathedral.

30 Soaking in the academic vibe on the University of Toronto’s bustling campus.

30 Things We Love About Toronto This March

2. Thomas and Friends

1 Taking a bite of a delicious ice cream sandwich for dessert at Marben—even in winter.

2 Having fun with the kids—and a big blue tank engine—at Thomas and Friends, live on stage from March 18 to 20.

3 Indulging at the Toronto Wine and Cheese Show, which runs from March 18 to 20.

4 The tweedy atmosphere at Nicholas Hoare—perfect for bibliophiles.

5 Seeing Swan Lake performed with unerring grace by Russia’s famed Mariinsky Ballet.

7. Elmwood Spa

6 Applauding top Canadian musicians as they get deserved praise at the 40th annual Juno Awards on March 27.

7 Rejuvenating skin, muscles and mind at Elmwood Spa.

8 Singing and swooning along with songbird Sarah McLachlan on March 17 and 18.

9 Marrying French and Japanese culinary delights at Forte Bistro’s new sushi bar.

10 The selection of whimsical modern and classic toys from Kidding Awound.

12. The Chef's House

11 Learning all about the vital importance of water at the Royal Ontario Museum’s newest exhibition.

12 Helping George Brown College culinary students hone their skills by dining at teaching restaurant The Chef’s House.

13 Ordering daring fare like pig-face tacos at the Black Hoof.

14 Finding fashionable, organic and oh-so-soft clothes for little ones at Mini Mioche.

15 Being in the audience as Janet Jackson sings her hits at the Sony Centre on March 12.

16. The art of Tim Burton

16 Exploring a world-renowned director’s creative process at the TIFF Bell Lightbox’s massive Tim Burton exhibition.

17 Admiring the skills of Canadian violinist Karen Gomyo, who joins the Toronto Symphony Orchestra on March 23 and 24.

18 Answering the call of the wild from March 16 to 20 at the Toronto Sportsmen’s Show.

19 Picking up spring wardrobe staples at the two-storey H&M on Bloor Street West.

20 Embracing our love of French fare with dishes like milk-poached veal and sautéed sweetbreads at Auberge du Pommier.

23. Secrets From Your Sister

21 Examining the colourful works of ceramicist Betty Woodman at the Gardiner Museum.

22 The savoury-sweet taste of cashew chicken at Golden Thai, one of the city’s most venerable Southeast Asian eateries.

23 Finding the perfect cup size with a personalized fitting at lingerie boutique Secrets from Your Sister.

24 Oohing and aahing as Toronto Raptors guard DeMar DeRozan flies in for another dunk at the Air Canada Centre.

25 The adorable meerkats in the Toronto Zoo’s African Rainforest pavilion.

24. DeMar DeRozan and the Raptors

26 Marvelling at the stories of Robert Munsch, performed live by Solar Stage Children’s Theatre from March 5 to 20.

27 Exploring the varied indoor and outdoor attractions—from a skating rink to a shopping centre—in the Harbourfront area.

28 Sipping a cocktail at Avenue’s commanding onyx bar.

29 Getting a runway-side seat to see the latest couture trends—LG Fashion Week starts March 28.

30 Spotting all the intricate details in Scott Conarroe’s latest landscape photos at Stephen Bulger Gallery.

Hoop Dreams

March is a slam dunk for basketball fans in Halifax

By Trevor J. Adams

If you’re a serious basketball fan, you picked a great month to visit Halifax. One of Canada’s top basketball events is returning to Halifax. The top men’s university teams in the country compete at the CIS Final 8 Men’s Basketball Championship from March 11 to 13. The Halifax Metro Centre on Duke Street hosts the action.

This will mark the return of the event to Halifax after a three-year hiatus. The city has a long and storied history with the high-profile national championship, hosting it from 1984 to 2007. “Atlantic University Sport is excited and proud to bring the Final 8 back to Halifax for 2011 and 2012,” says Phil Currie, executive director of Atlantic University Sport. “When we submitted our bid for the 2011 and 2012 events, we focused on the pride, the passion and the people who are the foundation of the event we have all grown to love.”

Attracting university alumni and fans from across the country, the event has a very sociable quality. “It really is like old-home week,” Currie says. “There are a lot of people who only see each other at the Final 8, so it makes things a lot of fun, really adds to the excitement and energy of the event.”

During the event, downtown restaurants and bars will be abuzz with activity. For sports fans, popular spots include the Split Crow on Granville Street, The Maxwell’s Plum on Sackville Street, the Halifax Alehouse on Brunswick Street, The Loose Cannon on Argyle Street and the Midtown Tavern on Grafton Street.

Organizers promise competitors and fans alike a big dose of Maritime hosptiality. “After three years away, the fans, volunteers and community are anxious to show the rest of the country that Halifax is still the university basketball capital of Canada,” says event chair John Patterson. TSN is televising the event nationally.

The weekend before the big tournament, the Metro Centre hosts the regional championship as well. Atlantic Canada’s top men’s basketball teams will for the AUS Men’s Basketball Championship, with the winner going on to the nationals.

And if all that isn’t enough, you’ll also find professional action at the Metro Centre throughout the spring. Nova Scotia’s only pro hoops team is the Halifax Rainmen. One of the Premier Basketball League’s most popular team, they’re currently in the thick of the playoff hunt.

Ready, Set… Go!

Halifax hosts the 2011 Canada Games—the biggest sports event in Nova Scotian history

By Christina Copp and Trevor J. Adams

In February, all eyes will be on Halifax as it hosts the Canada Games. Running from February 11 to 27, the Games will be the largest multi-sport competition in Canada in 2011.

Sports fans have lot to look forward to during the Games. “Essentially, [there are] 20 different sports, so it’s like putting on 20 national championships over 18 days,” says Melissa MacKinnon, director of communications for the Games. She suggests that outdoor sports fans head over to the long-track speed skating at the new Oval on the Halifax Common. Admission is free.

All of the events at both ski venues are also free for fans. A 45-minute drive northwest of Halifax, Martock in Windsor hosts cross-country, biathlon and snowboard competitions Freestyle and alpine skiing take place at Wentworth, an 80-minute drive north.Other highlights include gymnastics, badminton and synchronized swimming at the new Canada Games Centre in Clayton Park, hockey at the Dartmouth Sportsplex and Halifax Metro Centre and boxing at the Halifax Forum. A 40-minute drive west of the city, the St. Margaret’s Centre in St. Margaret’s Bay hosts short-track speed skating and figure skating. The Metro Centre also hosts the opening ceremonies.

The party will continue after the athletes’ days are done, too. “Celebration Square in Grand Parade will be the place to be each evening,” says MacKinnon. The concert venue in front of Halifax City Hall will feature acts like The Stanfields, Christina Martin and Matt Mays. Martin, a multiple Nova Scotia Music Award Winner, was one of more than 300 acts who submitted their names to perform during the Games cultural festivities.

“I applied to perform during the Canada Games because I want to be a part of this monumental event that is taking place on my home turf,” says Christina Martin. “After experiencing the excitement from performing at the Vancouver Winter Olympics, I jumped at the opportunity to be a part of this fantastic event.”

Games CEO Chris Morrissey is excited about the potential to bring Haligonians, athletes and visiting sports fans together. “Everyone can come together to celebrate athletic achievements while enjoying live entertainment that showcases Nova Scotia talent and culture,” he says.

Running from February 11 to 27, the Games embrace a wide variety of disciplines. For schedule and venue details, click here or phone 902-490-2011.

30 Things We Love About Toronto in January & February 2011

3. Brookfield Place's Allan Lambert Galleria

1 Trying top restaurants during Winterlicious, from January 28 to February 10.

2 Recalling the enchantment of childhood at a performance of The Secret Garden.

3 Emerging from the PATH into Brookfield Place’s airy, light-filled atrium.

4 Scoring street-inspired men’s fashions at Cartel (page 43).

5 A history lesson at Stephen Bulger Gallery’s display of vintage Canadian photos, from January 23 to February 27.

7. Francoise Beauchemin of the Toronto Maple Leafs

6 Conquering winter in style while wearing an iconic Canada Goose parka.

7 Win or lose—cheering on Francois Beauchemin and the Toronto Maple Leafs.

8 Admiring the mural adorning the exterior of Lee’s Palace while waiting for a concert to begin.

9 Applauding independent plays at the Next Stage Theatre Festival, from January 5 to 16.

10 Performing figure-eights at Harbourfront Centre’s Natrel Skating Rink.

13. The Toronto skyline from Ward's Island

11 Grabbing an on-the-go organic snack from natural food market The Big Carrot.

12 Taking advantage of post-Christmas sales at the Toronto Eaton Centre’s numerous brand-name stores.

13 Hopping into the Year of the Rabbit with a celebratory meal in Chinatown—Chinese New Year is February 3.

14 Catching the ferry to Ward’s Island and snapping an icy shot of the skyline.

15 Belting out Bon Jovi’s best tunes when the band plays the Air Canada Centre on February 14 and 15.

15. Bon Jovi

16 Getting a head start on summer with a blood orange margarita from Reposado Tequila Bar.

17 Relishing a strike at new, high-end bowling alley The Ballroom.

18 Sitting in the car of your dreams at the Canadian International Autoshow, from February 18 to 27.

19 Rocking out on January 15 at Kool Haus with indie darlings Tokyo Police Club.

20 Taking a close look at Robert Mapplethorpe’s photos, on display at Olga Korper Gallery through to January 15.

21. The Paper Bag Princess

21 Finding fabulous finery at vintage boutique The Paper Bag Princess.

22 Treating your valentine to something sweet from Dufflet Pastries.

23 Warming up with a big bowl of pho from Golden Turtle (125 Ossington Ave, 416-531-1601).

24 Sipping coffee while playing a board game at Snakes and Lattes.

25 Cracking up with comedy queen Lisa Lampanelli on January 22.

30. Poutini's

26 Having a snowball fight in High Park—there are so many trees to use as cover.

27 Seeing amazing ice sculptures during Bloor-Yorkville’s IceFest, on February 26 and 27.

28 Salivating over a perfect pair of designer jeans at BodyBlue.

29 Savouring the rich and spicy Mayan hot chocolate from Soma Chocolatemaker.

30 Indulging in a gooey Canadian classic at Poutini’s House of Poutine.

Hot Dates: Still Swinging

Jose Bautista

ON NOW The final month of this year’s Major League Baseball season has arrived and it’s a great time to find a seat behind home plate. Although the Toronto Blue Jays are out of the playoff hunt, the young team remains competitive and will be battling to spoil the post-season hopes of rivals like the New York Yankees, Texas Rangers and Tampa Bay Rays. Another reason to cheer: at press time, Jays’ right fielder Jose Bautista is the league’s home run leader. These games will prove decisive if he hopes to clinch the slugging title. Rogers Centre, various times, $13 to $76; call 416-341-1234 or visit here for tickets.

Hot Date: Top-Seeded Tennis

Defending Rogers Cup champion Andy Murray

AUGUST 7 TO 15 Bring on the testosterone—and the tennis. The annual Rogers Cup tournament sees such aces as Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Andy Roddick and Novak Djokovic serve, volley and smash for the US $2.4 million purse. Scottish-born pro Andy Murray
also returns to defend his title against more than 50 qualifiers in this crucial tune up before the U.S. Open. Rexall Centre, $20 to $315; call 1-877-283-6647 or click here for a schedule and to purchase tickets.

30 Things We Love About Toronto This June

1. Down some dumplings (photo by Andrew John Virtue Dobson)

1 Dipping steamed dumplings into chili-peppered soy sauce at Mother’s Dumplings.

2 Jamming along to Jethro Tull and Procol Harum on June 18 at the Molson Amphitheatre.

3 Feeling sexy in a new bikini from Avec Plaisir Fine Lingerie and Swimwear.

4 The dinner-hour hubbub fueled by sake and affordable Japanese pub fare at popular izakaya Guu. (more…)

Building a Better Ball Team

The Rogers Centre hosts the Blue Jays' home opener on April 12.

And so it begins. After a promising start turned dramatically sour last year, the Toronto Blue Jays enter the 2010 Major League Baseball season with the lowered expectations of a team in the first tentative stages of a long-term rebuilding process.

Some recent history: Since their wistfully remembered early-‘90s World Series championships, this city’s boys of summer have been unable to return to the playoffs. Despite a few modestly successful regular-season campaigns, the Jays have played a consistent second (or third, or fourth) fiddle to powerful division rivals the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox, as well as the once-lowly Tampa Bay Rays. A stellar 27–14 start to the 2009 campaign proved to be a false fount of confidence—the team was plagued by injuries and inconsistent play, and ultimately finished with a losing 75–87 record. Underperforming stars Alex Rios and B.J. Ryan were summarily released, much-maligned General Manager J.P. Ricciardi was given his walking papers, and in December, ace pitcher Roy Halladay was unsurprisingly traded to the Philadelphia Phillies.

(more…)