In the City: Art Metropole 40th-Anniversary Party: 40 Years, 40 Yeahs!

The big circular white clock in the landmark Great Hall of  historic Union Station signalled it’s neon-coloured, white-hot arrivals and departures last Thursday evening  welcoming over 300 members of Toronto’s Arty crème de l’avant-garde to drink, schmooze and iPad-bid on some of the many pieces up for auction at the birthday celebration of Art Metropole, 40 Years, 40 Yeahs!  The 40th-anniversary party was a multifaceted, mixed-medium affair; a queery, beery (Kronenbourg 1664 sponsored) evening with a balloon-stuffed drag queen DJ pumping music from beneath that white-hot clock center piece and turning Union Station into a 21st-century Art House.  At least 25 artists had been enlisted to transform the historic early-20th-century hall into a technology-driven Art Auction and the Great Hall thumped and vibrated to the eclectic vibe.

Pre-party was an exclusive Show-and-Tell event, at which several friends of Art Metropole presented their favourite pieces, and personally described the emotions and meanings the piece of art represented for them.

Art Metropole is made up of 3 of the original members of General Idea, and continues many of the values of GI today. My foggy rememberance of 40 years ago was that General Idea was Art for the Masses, Art for All, Art Afforded by All. Now, 40 years later, Thursday evening celebrated AM’s founding as one of Canada’s pioneering not-for-profit artist-run centres, internationally renowned for its dedication and focus to the collecting, archiving, selling and lending of artist-initiated books, videos, audio recordings, postcards and T-shirts, catalogues, buttons, drawings and periodicals in pretty much any type of media and “especially those formats and practices predisposed to sharing and circulation”.

Art Metropole’s Director, Corrin Gerber has plans for the next 40 years as well and notes that “this anniversary is not only a look-back but a looking-forward”. Early 2015 will see installations centered on Union Station itself; then in June there will be the opening of a “mobile kiosk” in Union Station “for distributing artists’ works in multiple forms” as well as rotating installations on site in the Great Hall.

Heres to 40 more years and at least 40 more Yeahs!

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Here’s where to say Cheers and get Sociable in Halifax:

The micro brewing industry in Nova Scotia is huge and nowhere more evident than in Halifax. Garrison and  Propeller Breweries and the quintessential Alexander Keith’s India Pale Ale (those who like it, like it a lot) are all popular and successful businesses that have a solid, local feel and if you simply  want to do a ‘sampling’ then The Alexander Keith’s Brewery Tour certainly is worth the 16 bucks admission and a good place to start (if you can stomach the sickly sweet historic presentation that four young acting hopefuls put on five times a day). The tour is all of an hour and provides some historical context to one of the first certified brew masters in North America. If you can time it right, try to pound down at least 3 frothy pints of Pale, Red or Dark ale before the crusty bar wench cuts you off. At least that’s what we did!

Onto Garrison Brewing

After our Keith’s experience, we continue to ‘sample’ some of Halifax’s finest micro brewed beer just a stone’s throw from historic Pier 21Garrison Brewing‘s Dan Mackenzie with his easy going charm and infectious humour kept us well informed and topped up during our tasting. Locals in the Maritimes know The Growler: a re-usable bottle that holds a six-pack of beer! Bring it in for a refill of your choice of the ‘year rounds’  Nut Brown Ale, the Imperial Ale or the Tall Ship Amber for a great BBQ or house-warming gift. Why can’t we figure this out in Ontario? This was the best beer time we spent during our five days in Halifax: truly an indication of east coast hospitality. Thank you, Dan!

Some Irish-Themed Pub-Grub

The Old Triangle Irish Ale House is a must for food and music and is always packed. Tourists abound here with a great buzz in the place and plenty of local colour that keeps the room interesting. The Triangle offers great beer choices featuring local on tap from Propeller and Keith’s. They serve some great imports and seasonal offerings paired with continuous local, traditional live music and a wee hint of cover band spilling over. This is a must stop in Halifax, just to enjoy the ambiance, several pints of ale and people watching. Typical Pub Grub with such Irish-themed items as Mussels Molly Malone and Paddy Fernandez Nachos round out a wide selection of crowd-pleasing food to satisfy. Have the Curried Chips if you can, one of my work mates was raving about them. Service by the amiable and funny Cindy was outstanding.

 Deep Fried Salami at Maxwell’s Plumb

The Maxwell’s Plumb a block from Argyle Street’s trendy pubs and eateries offers 60 Beers listed on tap and always a loud and gregarious crowd. Great attentive service by the young ladies (at least the night we were there; generally reviews on-line are mixed) and the (infamous) deep fried salami (we ordered it a second time, although I was not so happy at 3 am) is a ‘local tradition’. Their beer selection pretty much covers everything from Quebec-based Blanche de Chambly to Murphy’s Irish Stout, several Belgium beers and tons of Maritime-based local breweries, with the 80 oz ‘Brewtender’ the way to go. If you are looking at a stop-over between more trendy places and can stand the fried food and stinky pub atmosphere, then you can’t really go to wrong with Maxwell’s Plumb.

Get all ‘Socialable’

The Lower Deck, overlooking Halifax’s waterfront can be a great choice pretty much any night of the week. This is party central so be prepared for long line ups and elbow-to-elbow revelers and particularly on the Sunday night we were there. ‘Sociable’ is what they say in Nova Scotia to mean ‘Cheers!’ or ‘Party!’ And the cheering, jam-packed crowd sure was social, egged on by the six piece house band playing everything from traditional island music, to Peter Frampton, to the Bee Gees. Their Beer Market and Tap Room at Privateers’ Warehouse cater to larger events and private functions so whether you are looking at your next corporate event or simply a rowdy and loud night cap to round out, as in our case, a full day of work and beer tasting, then make The Lower Deck your last stop in Halifax.

Quaff and ‘Social’ well my friends, any time in Halifax. Cheers!

An edited version of this post originally appeared on 
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The Big Red Tour Bus

A recent article by Plansify’s Mike Snowden“Travel Like A Local” Is Broken. Here’s How We Fix It about ‘ having an authentic local experience that is the very definition of good travel’ generated an interesting, internal discussion in me. I started writing about the experiential, ‘travel like a local’, mantra waayyy back in 2003. This ‘local focus messaging’ seems to permeate TBEX and other travel conferences that I have attended of late. While this certainly is a great motivator for a younger, inexperienced traveller still trying to find their niche, my own personal experience has shown me that at a certain point, going local just doesn’t cut it anymore; I get tired of forcing myself to ‘live as the locals do’ and simply just want to jump on a big red, double-decker tour bus and be driven around a bit.

In fact, on a recent trip to New Orleans, we did just that: hopped on and hopped off one of the locally-run, Grey Line tour buses that provided ample picture taking opportunities (albeit during several drenching, Louisiana downpours) teamed with our tour guide Charlie’s unique, local voice and immediate ability to answer questions. This allowed us to fully embrace the city, it’s space, it’s accessibility and neighbourhoods and THEN return to those places where we could poke about with our eyes open and experiencing. An added bonus? We kept bumping into Charlie on our walk-abouts of the city and took advantage of his friendly, free neighbourhood advice.

I live in Toronto and am up on the latest and greatest: Roncy, Ossington Village, West-Queen-West, Gerrard India Bazaar but still recommend to visitors the top 10 and then let them figure it out from there. Of course, all from the comfort of the Big Red Tour Bus! As Mike Snowdon (and travel guru Robert Reid) say “….we all need bothIn the words of Robert Reid, it’s smart to travel ‘in the company of locals’ – but with the eyes of a traveler.”

Travel Well, my friends!



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Arriving on the Normandy Beaches.

Arriving on the Normandy Beaches..

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Rouen to Gent: Across the Normandy Countryside

Rouen to Gent: Across the Normandy Countryside.

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Good Friends Arriving in Buenos Aires, Argentina


Our year-long, followsummer adventure is coming to an end…(No pictures)

Originally posted on followsummer:

Our friends Deirdre and Mark arrive from Chicago today for 10 days of travel with us in Argentina, including trips to Bariloche and Puerto Madryn. It is a grey day, the streets still wet from an early morning spring rain.

Dee and Mark were scheduled to arrive at the apartment just after noon, and we had planned to get them briefly settled for one night (we fly to Bariloche tomorrow), and then take them on a tour of Buenos Aires. Unfortunately their plane was delayed for over 3 hours due to Thanksgiving snow and sleet in Chicago, and we finally welcome them to Argentina just after 5 p.m. The sun has broken through, though, and is showing them a beautiful late spring afternoon

The Final Weeks of Our Year-Long Adventure

We are moving into the final weeks of our year-long adventure, and Dee and Mark’s arrival signals this. We have…

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Train to the End of the Earth

This gallery contains 7 photos.

Originally posted on followsummer:
The alarm goes off way too early this morning. All I want is another 4 hours of sleep, but I drag myself into the shower and pretend to wake up. We are going to the end…

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