It’s Winter… I Think?
As I mentioned in last month’s INSIDER Newsletter, we’ve moved to Thornbury. Thornbury, for those of you who don’t know (I didn’t) is located on Georgian Bay (Lake Huron) just west of Collingwood and the Blue Mountains. For those of us from southern Ontario (along the shores of Lake Ontario), this area is what we consider as “Northern Ontario”! However, I think that my North Bay (aka The Bay) cousin, Jim Brien, would “beg to differ” with me! Still, it seems like “North” to me. Of course, I was born and raised in Toronto, so what else would you expect from me! That being said, my survival instinct (and Judi) told me that I would need warmer (Northern-type) outerwear… good warm gloves, heavy duty snow boots and a -60° Eiderdown Parka with a “fur trimmed” hood! This was all being considered as we took residence in the north. It was late October, just before Thanksgiving, when all this “thinking” began. It’s not that I didn’t own “winter” clothes, I did, but they were getting older and more appropriate for the “South”! Lots of time to investigate and shop! My first “northern winter” purchase was made at Costco. I found the perfect combination of “Gloves and Mitts”! What a find! My hands were going to “love” me! I was on a roll! Still plenty of time to buy boots and a coat. After all, the sun was shining and there were still leaves on the trees. Yes, plenty of “time”… no problems! And then it HAPPENED! The “Snow Hit the Fan”, and I mean, “HIT”! Snow began falling on Saturday night, lasted all day Sunday and continued into Monday morning! We were SNOWED in! Thornbury and Collingwood got the full effect of “lake effect” snow. Not as bad a Buffalo, but bad enough for a “Southern Ontario” boy! And, that’s right, I still hadn’t purchased either a winter coat or snow boots. So much for “plenty of time”! But wait, my friends, all was not lost! Old Man Winter decided to leave our area (at least for a little while) and temperatures started to rise. With warmer weather, the road to Collingwood became useable. I took my chances (the roads were still covered with snow) and drove to Mark’s in Collingwood. I now had a new pair of “Snow Boots”. I was even able to test them out while there was still snow on the ground. My feet now loved me, as well as my hands! Now for the “coat”! It’s on order, and should be here soon. It’s coming all the way from Vancouver, which might be a problem. After all, what do "Vancouverites" know about “northern winters”? We’ll see!
So, here Judi and I are in Thornbury, waiting Old Man Winter to return and raise his sleepy head! This time I’ll be ready for him, I think!
HAPPY “NORTHERN WINTER” TO YOU ALL, FROM US “NORTHERN” FOLK! KEEP WARM!
The Festival Nomad's Report...
November is one of those transitional months, changing over from the splendour of "fall colours", to waiting for the inevitable "winter snows". In between the landscape becomes bleak, at least for a little while. As these changes take place, we anticipate winter events and activities. In November this year, we experienced a sudden taste of winter. In many areas of Ontario, large amounts of snow came quickly. As a result of this early bonanza, ski resorts started gearing up for an early start to the ski season. Unfortunately there hopes and plans were dashed with equal suddenness, as the temperatures rose to unseasonal heights. While this may have wreaked havoc with the ski operators, the thoughts of an early winter likely spurred a shopping frenzy! I know that Judi and I really started to worry about purchasing winter clothing and Christmas presents for family and friends. The benefactors of this sudden weather phenomenon were the shopkeepers who rely on winter sales. Another group who benefited were the Gift Show organizers. November hosts hundreds Craft and Art Shows across Ontario.
December is now upon us, and the thoughts of winter events and activities become a reality. The rash of community Santa Claus Parades which began in November, now start to wind down, as do the Craft and Art Shows. People are now starting to plan seasonal holidays and activities. For many Ontarians, December is about Christmas ~ decorated trees, Santa Claus, brightly wrapped presents and a Christmas feast, but most importantly, it's about family and friends. For everyone, we hope that you enjoy a safe holiday season.
A Season of Traditions...
A few weeks ago, Judi was talking with Gale Fewings of Hutchison House Museum in Peterborough. It seems that the Museum hosts "Hogmanay" each year on January 1st. Here's an excerpt from the Museum's website.
"The Scots have been celebrating Hogmanay since the 16th century. Before the Reformation, the Scots celebrated a wide range of festivals from Christian, Norse and Celtic traditions. At the time of the Reformation, the Church of England cancelled all festivals except the most important feast days and by the mid-16th century, the observation of many of these had been almost entirely abolished. Christian feasts were seen to incorporate and sanctify pagan rituals. The Scottish Kirk forbade the celebration of Christmas, and in 1647 its observance was forbidden by an Act of Parliament. The result was that the Scots focussed on the celebration of the New Year - Hogmanay. By the 19th century, Christmas had been restored as a religious observance and Hogmanay continued as a time of merry-making."
You can learn more by visiting "Hogmanay". After reading the article, I started to think about other seasonal "Traditions". In Cobourg and many other communities, they open the "Town Hall" for the annual "Mayor's Levee". It's the opportunity for all citizens to meet and "rub-shoulders" with the Mayor. Like many families, my friend Paul Putman, always tries to attend church on Christmas Eve. He prefers the midnight service. Judi and I like organize our Christmas and holiday visits the same each year. The only thing that seems to interfere with our plans is the weather. Other "Traditions", for many, is the buying of toys for less fortunate children. Lately we've been hearing about more fortunate children saving their allowance to buy presents for these other children. Seniors are also on the minds of many. Christmas can be a very lonely time for seniors. Including them in family activities can be very up-lifting for both the senior and the family. Buying food to give to the "Food Bank" or dropping money in a "Salvation Army" pot is another great Tradition. Whatever your "Tradition", we hope you enjoy it. If you don't have one, why not create one this year!
"Make your own Traditions."
What to do... What to do?
That's the question that I have been asking myself over the past few weeks. This year, Judi and I want to buy "family oriented" gifts. Ones that the whole family can use and participate in. As a result, we have been "Googling" and phoning various activities to try to get a "feel" for what they offer, their cost and if they have any special "holiday offerings". Our conversations were interesting. One facility we talked to had "no specials" and very quite restrictive on their times. Another person, we spoke with. did have a special coupon, but it expired at the end of the year, this year. Not very a very good Christmas gift. Other venues did offer good "Christmas Gift" oriented discounts. The main information that we discover was that there is an activity, event or facility to visit for just about everyones taste. It would be nearly impossible for me to list them all, so let me give you an idea of some of the types we found. As I mentioned above, there were a wide range of discounts and incentives. The first area I looked at was "Holiday Movies". I found a website that listed and rated a number of films. You can visit their website at http://www.movieinsider.com/movies/holiday/2014/. The next area I investigated was plays. There are a number of theatres offering holiday performances. There are, of course the Toronto Theatres, but for out-of-Toronto theatre goers, you might consider the Grand Theatre in London, the Capitol Theatre in Port Hope or the Grand Theatre in Kingston. The Brockville Arts Centre is offering a full range of events for the holiday season. For a larger selection of theatres, you can visit Theatre Ontario at http://www.theatreontario.org/resources/onstage-theatre-listings.aspx. For the sport enthusiasts, winter and the holiday season offers many alternatives. As I mentioned previously, skiing will be available shortly. In Ontario, there is no shortage of ski resorts and hills to ski or toboggan on. Also during the holidays there are hockey tournaments and curling bonspiels. Many communities open their ice arenas to public skating. If you are in the Toronto area, the Toronto Harbourfront Centre has their "Natrel" Rink. The Toronto Zoo is open during the holidays, as is the new Ripley's Aquarium. Most Museums are also open ~ the Royal Ontario Museum (ROM) - Toronto, the Canada Agriculture and Food Museum - Ottawa, Canadian Canoe Museum - Peterborough, Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum - Hamilton and the Canadian Bushplane Heritage Centre - Sault Ste. Marie. If you'd like a more complete list of Ontario Museums, visited Museums Ontario at http://www.museumsontario.com/en/58. In addition to the above, there are lots of other things to do ~ shopping at the Toronto Eaton's Centre, Vaughan Mall or at your own preferred shopping centre; visiting one of the many Ontario festivals and shows taking place or attending a music concert featuring your favourite artist. Whatever activity you decided on, and as you can see, there are lots to choose from, Judi and I hope that you and your family have a great time!
"Judi at the Candy Store, looking for Christmas treats!"
With the end of 2014 nearing an end, Judi and I want to thank all the many people who have helped and worked with us in the past. Their contribution and participation has been greatly appreciated. 2014 has been an interesting year! We revamped our websites, twice! We moved to a new community, after living for 25 years in our old one! Change, however, always comes with both regrets and exciting new challenges. As the New Year approaches, we wonder what 2015 will bring. Certainly there will be new adventures and new beginnings. We do have plenty of plans. One includes the development of a new website, Canada Visited. As 2015 unfolds, we will tell you more about Canada Visited and what it means to Judi and me. In the meantime, we will be enjoying our new community, especially over the holidays, and we will continue making Ontario Visited websites the best that they can be.
We hope that you all have a great Holiday Season, a Very Merry Christmas and a Happy, Healthy and Prosperous New Year. If you plan on partying and drinking over the holidays, please be careful and plan on safe transportation home!