Great Places in Canada: vote now ... Caribou antler snow goggles for Will & Kate
There's only a month to go in the "Great Places in Canada" contest, and communities across the land are vying for attention.
Among the categories up for grabs are favourite street, favourite neighbourhood and top public space. And there's competition from all over Canada.
Folks down in Niagara-on-the-Lake, usually a tad reserved you know, are pushing for Queen Street to be named Canada's top street. I think it's ridiculous to suggest a highway should be known as a great street, but Alberta folks are suggesting Icefields Parkway should get some votes. Come on guys. Even in Alberta you understand what an urban street is, right?
Other streets making a mark in the voting, I'm told, are High Street in Grand Falls-Windsor Newfoundland, Yonge St. here in Toronto (too easy), Main Street in Summerland, B.C. and the Niagara River Parkway, which falls under the same, if less spectactular, category as the Icefields Parkway in that it's not really an urban street.
I'm surprised not to see Main Street Vancouver or Fourth Ave. in the Kitsilano area of Vancouver in the running. But perhaps folks out there are too busy weeding their tulip patches, or gunning to stop the Kitimat pipeline, which sounds increasingly like a worthy environmental cause the more I read about it.
Toronto's Parkdale is currently in first place for top neighbourhood.
"Parkdale is the dynamic and inclusive community I am proud to represent," said city councillor Gord Perks, who's a very earnest and decent chap as I recall from my days at City Hall. "The secret is out ... it's one of the best places in Canada."
Victoria Park in Kitchener currently is one of the top ranked nominations for Canada's Great Neighbourhood, as is Plateau Mont-Royal in Montreal; a very worthy nominee. Roncesvalles Village is getting some votes, too, which makes sense. I just spotted a story in the paper this morning on The Ace bar on Roncesvalles, and it looks like a spot worth trying.
Mayor Gregor Robertson of Vancouver is pushing the Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese garden as the top public space. Also gunning for that honour is Botanical Beach in Juan de Fuca Provincial Park near Renfrew, B.C. Oooh - a B.C. bun fight!!
There are 33 nominations so far, and they've collectively received some 3,400 votes. Nominations can be made until Jan. 31, and voting takes place until Feb. 29. Judges will decide on semi-finalists in early April and announce the winners in late April of this year. People's Choice awards also will be made in each of the three categories.
Go to www.greatplacesincanada.com to make a nomination or vote, or simply to follow along.
WEIRD GIFTS FOR ROYAL COUPLE
I love these stories about strange gifts that people give to visitors. None are better than what Will and Kate got when they made their trips to Canada, Australia and New Zealand after their marriage in 2011.
Someone in Australia (I presume with a sense of humour) gave Prince William a jar of vegemite, and how awesome is that? In Canada, the prince and the Duchess of Cambridge were given a pair of "caribou antler snow goggles," surely perfect for a night on the town in London. Someone gave Kate a tartan fascinator, which I think Don Cherry might want to wear some night on Coach's Corner. The Canadian Ministry of Foreign Affairs also gave Kate three pairs of shoes, although I can't imagine why. The governor-general gave her a quilt, which seems a little more practical.
In a touching note, folks in Christchurch gave Prince William some rubble from the Christchurch earthquake, as he visited following the earthquake last February.
Prince Charles went to Portugal last year and got a bottle of port (I'm sure he used it quickly), and four bottles of olive oil. The Spanish government gave him a cured ham, which he undoubtedly had trouble getting past British Customs owing to the UK Ham Protection Act, which designates that "only hams made in Berkshire by Englishmen of certain heritage who swear the European Union is the sworn enemy of mankind may be allowed to be consumed within the borders of glorious Britain. Said Englishmen also must agree that it's remarkably improper for the Americans to have let Meryl Streep make a movie in which she dares to play the role of the Most Dearly Beloved Margaret Thatcher, and by the way any self-respecting Brit could tell the accent's dead wrong."
PORTER GOES TO WASHINGTON
Good for Porter Airlines for announcing a sixth U.S. destination on Wednesday. The aggressive, Toronto-based airline says it will begin flying from Toronto's Billy Bishop Island airport to Washington Dulles International on April 16.
"Greater Washington is a region that our passengers have told us is their number one priority for new Porter service," Porter president and CEO Robert Deluce said in a press release. "We expect great interest for both business and leisure trips and look forward to bringing competition to the route."
Amen to that.
Jaunt.ca is offering a great deal for an overnight getaway to the lovely Fairmont Chateau Montebello in Quebec. For $119 you get a night's stay, plus a $25 spa credit.For $238 enjoy two nights, a $25 spa credit, a $25 Food and beverage credit and a $25 activities credit (good for snowmobile, ATV (All-terrain vehicle) and curling).
The deal is valid Jan. 15 to April 30 but some blackout dates apply. See www.jaunt.ca for details on this and other getaways, including downtown Toronto and Niagara, where you can go check out what the fuss is all about with Queen Street.