Saturday, June 29, 2013

Other options to see Canada Day Fireworks

Many Canada Day firework displays this weekend!

Harbourfront is launching Canada Eve Fireworks tomorrow (June 30th at around 10:30 p.m.).

You wouldn't know by googling it but there WILL BE fireworks at Ashbridge's Bay on Canada Day. I called the City at information but they could not confirm exactly at what time! I suggest you show up no later than 9:30 p.m. Read about our Victoria Day fireworks' experience at this location.

Toronto Ribfest in Centennial Park, Etobicoke, ends with a blast Monday at 10 p.m. A Ribfest is a whole world in itself (expect a midway).

East York Canada Day also offering a grand finale (and it includes a parade).

On July 1st, I'll attend for the first time the Canada Day Parade offered in Port Credit (Mississauga by the Lake) during their Paint The Town Red Canada Day event, which will end with fireworks at 10:15 p.m. in Port Credit Memorial Park. 

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Thursday, June 27, 2013

East York Canada Day Parade: the one and only!

If you're looking for a Toronto Canada Day parade, look East, as in East York. The other closest Canada Day Parade is in Port Credit (Mississauga by the Lake, see for details).

East York Canada Day celebrations have been going on for 56 years! They've got it all. There's a large midway section in the northern part of the park, food vendors and tents in the middle, shows on two stages and a fireworks display to top it off.

About parking
If you want to watch the parade, I recommend you try to find a parking spot in the big parking lot in front of the outdoor pool just north of Stan Wadlow Park (near the end of Cedarvale Avenue). It will then take you 15 minutes to walk down Woodbine and west on Sammon to get a nice viewing spot. 

We really liked our viewing spot along Sammon Avenue, in a tree-shaded residential area. 

About the parade
When we visited, there were clusters of red-attired people here and there, fully equipped with chairs, parasol, water and Canadian flags. The parade included the usual suspects: good-spirited Shriners, marching bands, dancers, floats, decorated cars, veterans and sports groups. (The Shriners were dressed as hillbillies and were riding a... rolling loo.)

Expect the parade to arrive there at around 10:30 a.m. (it will reach the park at 11:30 a.m.). Click here to see the 2013 route.

Last time I saw Jack Layton, so full of life, in 2010.

About Stan Wadlow Park
East York Canada Day Parade ends its route at Stan Wadlow Park, which has a lot to offer in addition to the day's events especially planned for the occasion. It includes an outdoor pool (open on Monday July 1st from 12 noon to 8 p.m.), a large playground, a funky skatepark and access to Taylor Creek Park with kilometres of paved trail east and west of Stan Wadlow Park.

The fireworks display is at 10:30 p.m. (I'd make sure I'm there at 10 p.m.).

Other Canada Day weekend activity: 
Toronto's Pride Parade (June 30 at 2 p.m.)
Curious about what it has to offer to families? Read my description on



Monday, June 24, 2013

Boy and dog: separated at birth?

Don't they look alike?

I just found this photo of my nephew Cedric and his cousin's dog, Chippie.  

We lost that dog when she was visiting in Toronto last year! We taped posters with her photo throughout the neighbourhood late at night. On the next day, someone had found her and made the long distance call to reach my brother on the Montreal's phone number on her tag.

I've never been more proud to be a Torontonian!

By the way, a good place to visit with a small dog is Pawsway Toronto just west of Harbourfront Centre. You can't miss it with the giant dog and cat by its entrance. (Update from Summer 2013: They've temporarily removed the sculptures due to construction.)

You're allowed to enter the discovery centre with your pet. It's an unusual sight to see an animal at a museum. They even have "oops stations" with a mop to clean up after your pet's mess. Too cute. And in their Purina's Animal Hall of Fame, you'll be able to read about amazing stories of cats and dogs who saved their masters. Very touching.

Then, you can enjoy a stroll along the waterfront. 

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Cute mosaic fountain in St. James Town

Around Sherbourne Subway Station

When you get off Sherbourne Subway Station, aim for the east exit leading to Glen Road. A big condo project is on its way along this street and the condemned houses give it an air of ghost town, sure to fire up kids imagination.

Walk south towards Howard Street, turn left to get to Ontario Street, which becomes a pedestrian path running through St. James Town. Check the cute little mosaic fountain in front of Rose Avenue School.

If it's your first time, you'll be surprised to see how animated this part of town is. Closer to Wellesley, you'll find a great playground and a Food Basic. Many merchants sell their flea market merchandise along the way.

St. James Town Public Library is at the corner of Wellesley and Sherbourne (495 Sherbourne).

A whole chapter around subway stations!
Did you know that my 480-page guide Toronto Fun Places... for families includes a whole chapter on things to do and see within a 10-minute walk from each Toronto subway station?

A good way to add fun to an already thrilling outing for a young child: their first subway ride!

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Monday, June 17, 2013

For butterfly lovers (Part 3)

A cliff hanger... in Scarborough Bluffs

This is Part 3 of a summer long project (in four parts) inspired by Flight of the Butterflies, currently playing at the Ontario Science Centre’s until Labour Day weekend!

The Imax movie Flight of the Butterflies opens with a scene filmed up the cliffs off Scarborough Bluffs. 

I’ve explored the area thoroughly when doing research for my guide Toronto Fun Places and recognized Scarborough Bluffs Park. Your kids might like to visit this location “from the movie” during the summer. 

I’ve often seen monarchs frolicking at the end of the summer in this park.

Also read:
(About the movie)
(About butterfly gardens)

(About butterfly tagging at the end of the summer)

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Follow the guide to Kensington Market

This is a free excerpt from my other guide Toronto Urban Strolls... for girlfriends 1. Even though it was not written with kids in mind, many of the Toronto walks in my two walking guides will appeal to bigger kids.
Sonic coffe shop on Cecil Street
KENSINGTON Truly Eclectic Stroll is the kind of stroll which will appeal to preteens and teenagers, because of the vibe, the people watching and the food. This is my go-to stroll when I have visitors who have a taste for funky places. 

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An author on a mission

It will happen to you too!
My little blond guy (who used to accompany me to do research for my guide) is now a 6-foot musician, and my baby girl has turned into a mini version of myself at 16 (but much cuter). And you know what? It will happen to you too!

My wish is for my guide Toronto Fun Places to inspire you to steal some time now and then from your busy schedule to enjoy the ride with your friends and family. believe me, those are the moments that will stick with you for years to come.

Have fun with your loved one!

Nathalie Prezeau

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Saturday, June 15, 2013

For butterfly lovers (Part 2)

About butterfly gardens

This is Part 2 of a summer long project (in four parts) inspired by Flight of Butterflies currently playing at the Ontario Science Centre’s until Labour Day weekend! 

One stroke of genius in Flight of Butterflies, the Imax movie about the monarchs migration, was to present a colourful butterfly garden set in Toronto’s suburbs as a most welcome stop for the tired travelling butterflies. 

I had underestimated the value of such gardens, filled with milkweed and nectar flowers, in the life cycle of monarchs. Now I think differently and it seems to me that after seeing the movie, many kids will want to help their parents create such a garden in the family backyard or the community garden. 

Don’t wait too long to see Flight of the Butterflies if you want to have time to plant!

Montreal’s Botanical Garden offers an excellent online resource to start such a garden.

Also read:
For butterfly lovers (Part 1)
(About the movie)

(Scarborough Bluffs)

(About butterfly tagging at the end of the summer!)

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Monday, June 10, 2013

For butterfly lovers (Part 4)

About butterfly tagging at the end of the summer!

This is Part 4 of a summer long project (in four parts) inspired by Flight of Butterflies, currently playing at the Ontario Science Centre’s until Labour Day weekend! 

If you've not seen the film yet, there's still time before Presqu'ile Provincial Park's annual Monarchs and Migrants Weekend (Saturday and Sunday on Labour Day weekend), hopefully your summer’s grand finale. 

After you’ve seen the movie and got the kids all excited about monarchs and the idea of holding a butterfly in their hands, tell them that you know exactly the place and time when they’ll be able to try this themselves and help with the research (now running under the name Monarch Watch).

The year we showed up for the Monarchs and Migrants Weekend was declared a bad one because it was so windy. Well, if this was a bad year, I wonder what a good year would look like! There were plenty of them in the bushes around the light house and everyone present got the chance to tag a butterfly

Spoiler alert! 
One very interesting thing we learned about monarchs migration in the Imax movie is that the butterflies we tag at the end of the summer are not the same as the fragile insects who would leave orange dust on my fingers when I tried to touch them in the summers of my youth.

Those born at the end of the summer are “super butterflies”, very sturdy, with strong feet sticking to our hands. They live longer. So don't worry, these butterflies won’t get hurt from being handled by your little scientists. All they need to de is listen to the instructions from the volunteers on site!

Also read:
(About the movie)
(About butterfly gardens)
(Scarborough Bluffs)

Note that weather allowing, volunteers also bag migrant birds during the Monarchs and Migrants Weekend.

While you're there

We brought a picnic (there were many spots by the water). We walked on the long boardwalk through the marsh. We did a trail through a forest in another part of the park (see the Presqu'ile Provincial Park link on my website). 

I saw many families riding their bike through the forest (there's a bike lane painted on the road).

On our way back, we drove through Kingston Highway and stopped to by some apples along Highway 2.

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For butterfly lovers (Part 1)

The Imax movie Flight of the Butterflies

Were you the kind of kid to chase butterflies during your childhood? Then you might want to read about this summer long project (in four parts) inspired by the monarchs movie currently playing at the Ontario Science Centre’s until Labour Day weekend! 

A couple of years ago, I finally got to visit Presqu’ile Provincial Park with a friend and our two teens during their annual Monarchs & Migrants Weekend, an event involving monarchs tagging which always takes place on Labour Day Weekend. 

Wondering what this has to do with the movie Flight of the Butterflies Now that I have seen it, I know for a fact that taking your kids to see the Imax film now will greatly enhance your family's experience at Presqu'ile on Labour Day weekend! 

We were all so thrilled by the opportunity to tag beautiful monarchs during this event that I want to entice you to consider it this year as a “grand finale” activity at the end of your summer. 

About the movie 
I don’t want to say too much about what we learn in the Imax documentary. It would spoil the fun of discovering the marvels of monarchs migration through the story of Canadian zoologist Frederick Urquhart’s journey. He is the one who developed the butterfly tagging system and got the answer to a very good question: Where do the butterflies go for the winter?
Fred Urquhart in National Geographic, 1976

If you’re too curious, visit this link for an excellent summary of Flight of the Butterflies, but resist spilling the beans to your kids! 

Allow them the pleasure of seeing the mystery unfold through the eyes of a scientist (a fantastic story of perseverance and human passion spreading over 40 years) and through the adventures of Dana the butterfly. 

Expect fantastic panoramas of green and blue hues with splashes of orange, and 150-foot wide butterflies filling the giant screen. 

The movie is truly relevant to Torontonians as it features scenes shot at the Scarborough Bluffs, in Toronto’s suburbs and over the CN Tower.

About Ontario Science Centre
General information: Ontario Science Centre
Movie: Flight of the Butterflies hours (book your ticket online at no extra charge to secure your seats!)
Current exhibition: Game On 2.0, until September
(I've seen many dads glued to a video game from the 80's!)
Membership: If you want to visit more than once, I strongly recommend you get a $130 family membership (good for free admission for a year for 2 adults and up to 4 kids, and members pay only $5 for parking).

To be continued in Part 2...
(About butterfly gardens)
For butterfly lovers (Part 3)
(Scarborough Bluffs)
For butterfly lovers (Part 4)
(About butterfly tagging at the end of the summer!)

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