The 35th edition of the Montreal Jazz Festival looks to be a powerful one, running June 26 to July 6.
There are many others, and for the full listing and pricing info, check out www.laplacedesarts.com
Cute alert: In a video filmed on Jan. 14, a polar bear cub was introduced to snow for the first time at the Toronto Zoo. The clip was posted to YouTube on Wednesday.
On Jan. 6, the zoo also filmed the cub’s first steps:
According to CTV, “After his birth on Nov. 9, staff noticed he wasn't moving strongly, and took the bear from his mother Aurora and to the zoo's intensive care unit. The cub was the lone survivor of Aurora's litter of three, and seemed to slow down following the death of his siblings, the zoo said on its blog, At the time, he weighed less than 700 grams."
The 15th edition of Montreal En Lumiere (Montreal High Lights) runs Feb. 20-March 2, which showcases the city and visiting chefs from San Francisco who are attending to run a series of culinary collaborations, including Michael Tusk (Executive chef/owner of Quince and Cotogna restaurants) and David Barzelay of Lazy Bear. San Fran chefs will create multi-course meals throughout the festival with Montreal counterpart chefs Daniel Boulud, Riccardo Bertolino, Anthony Joyce and Sylvain Levaillant.
There are several lodging packages available which come with one or two-nights’ lodging, admission to various events, gift bags and other offerings, including the “Experience Montreal En Lumiere,” starting at $169; the “Haiti 3D” package starting at $368; “Presenting: Quebec Chefs and Cheeses,” starting at $204; and “Hats Off to Haiti Convivial Meal,” starting at $159.
The festival also has music, performing arts, and free outdoor family activities. For all information and links for lodging and ticket options, visit www.montrealenlumiere.com or call 855-864-3737.
Montreal, an easy one-hour flight from Logan, is great vacation destination anytime, but two special exhibitions, Mosaicultures at the Botanical Garden and Dale Chilhuly at the Fine Arts Museum, make it worthwhile to plan a visit this summer or early autumn.
Mosaicultures is a must for garden fans. The international competition, held every three years, has returned to Montreal after a 10 year absence. On view are more than 40 two-and three-dimensional plant sculptures created by more than 250 horticulturalists representing 30 countries.
These larger-than-life-sized living sculptures accent a roughly 1.3-mile circuit through the Botanical Garden, which is a treasure in itself. Visitors can tour on their own or with volunteer guides.
Mosaicultures continues through Sept. 29. Tickets for the Botanical Garden, including Mosaicultures, are $30; to avoid lines, purchase online.
"Chihuly: Utterly Breathtaking," at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, exhibits eight spectacular site-specific, nature-inspired installations by the master of contemporary glass blowing.
Chihuly uses with vivid colors and organic shapes to create luminous, spell-binding creations that defy conventional conceptions of glass work. Visitors can walk around many of the installations, allowing them to see the intricacies of the works.
The Chihuly exhibition is on view through Oct. 20. Tickets are $11-$18.
Element Vaughan Southwest has opened in Vaughan, Ontario, part of the greater Toronto area, the first international hotel within Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide’s eco-wise Element portfolio. Built green from the ground up, the hotel is all-suite, with 152 units, located between Pearson International Airport and downtown Toronto. According to Brian McGuinness, senior VP of specialty brands for Starwood, Element is the first major hotel brand to mandate all properties pursue the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design certification for high-performance buildings.
Among other elements of Element, the hotels have common work and play areas flooded with natural light via 16-foot windows; light-filled suites with recycling bins, recycled tire flooring and mountings for art and soy-based fabrics; low-flow faucets and fixtures in bathrooms; en-suite kitchens with filtered water and energy-efficient appliances; and Motion, a 24-hour fitness center with signature “pedal-powered” stationary bike charging stations, which powers up personal electronic devices while guests exercise.
Vaughan is one of Canada’s fastest growing cities, McGuinness said, a city of 288,301 which according to Statistics Canada, the country’s official numbers keeper, had a population of 288,301 in 2011, a jump of 20.7 percent from 2006. Canada’s national average growth is 5.9 percent. For information on Element Vaughan Southwest, visit www.elementvaughansouthwest.com
By Jan Shepherd, Globe correspondent
All eyes will be on the silver ball in Thursday's (May 16) free “Pinballapalooza” in Toronto. Organized by the Stratford Festival to herald its new staging of “The Who’s Tommy,” the day-long event features an attempt to set a Guinness World Record when 100 pinball machines are played simultaneously at 12:40 p.m. Even if you’re not a pinball wizard, the 9 a.m.-6 p.m. celebration at First Canadian Place offers games, ticket deals at a pop-up box office, and performances by “Tommy” cast members. The rock opera about a boy who becomes a pinball wizard despite being blind, deaf and unable to speak is the largest musical ever staged by the Festival. Using 21st century technology to enhance the visual “bells and whistles,” the production is led by Des McAnuff who co-created the rock opera with The Who’s Pete Townshend and directed the Tony Award winning Broadway production 20 years ago. The musical is part of the Festival’s 61st season of diverse repertory presented on four stages in Stratford, a city 2 hours west of Toronto. Visit www. stratfordfestival.ca for information on tickets and performances of “Tommy” and other plays and musicals in the season that runs through Oct. 20. For information on May 16 event, visit www. stratfordfestival.ca/pinball.
By Paul E. Kandarian, Globe Correspondent
National Hotel and Suites in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, which just became part of the Ascend Hotel Collection, is offering rates through December 2013 from $129 to $270. The hotel is now part of a network, though it remains independently owned and run, while gaining a presence on www.choicehotels.com, and also benefitting from giving customers a loyalty program, Choice Privileges, with more than 15 million world-wide members.
The 328-room hotel is located in the heart of Ottawa, Canada's capital city, and is within walking distance of Parliament Hill; Rideau Canal, the country's largest skateway at five miles long; the National Art Gallery; and a variety of stores, restaurants and night life. It's also about 10 miles from Ottawa International Airport, and 15 minutes from the Gatineau Mountains. For information, visit www.ascendcollection.com/hotel-ottawa-canada-CNA16
For a complete listing and ticket prices, visit www.infofestival.com
Those packages include: Two nights; two breakfasts; one ticket for a concert in the TD Jazz d'ici La Presse series (subject to availability); one ticket for a concert in the Rythmes series (subject to availability); 15 percent off any indoor concert ticket (subject to availability); one accreditation offering free admission to the jam sessions at Maison du Festival Rio Tinto Alcan and to the Montreal Guitar Show; a festival t-shirt, shoulder bag with logo, souvenir book, three hours of music to download and a $10 rebate on a culinary walking tour.
There are a number of activities connected with the festival, including a jazz dinner cruise aboard the Bateau-Mouche, $136 per person; a culinary walking tour of Little Burgundy, birthplace of Oscar Peterson and the first jazz and blues bars in Montreal, $55 per person; and Star Wars Identities - The Exhibition, at the Montreal Science Center, $23 per person.
For info on all activities, packages and specials, check out www.montrealjazzfest.com
Valentine's Day is approaching, which reminds of us two things: It's time to be romantic, and winter is half over. There are a number of places, far and near, to warm up to the romantic cause with Valentine packages, and here are some:
The White Barn Inn up in Kennebunk Beach, Maine, is running a romance package for the romantic month of February, which includes a night's stay in a deluxe room adorned with chocolate-covered strawberries and champagne to wash them down with. Included is continental breakfast, afternoon tea and a romantic dinner for two. Rates are $600 for one night, dropping to $565 if staying more than one night. Check it out at http://www.whitebarninn.com/ or call 207-967-2321.
The Opus Vancouver has a "Cupid Concierge" deal for $295 a night, getting you a room, sparkling wine at check-in, a half-dozen roses or orchids delivered to your room before arrival, a half-bottle of Veuve Clicquot, a framed photo of your choice and a handwritten message from you delivered to your room before arrival, breakfast in bed and late check out. Upgrade to a suite for $100 more. See more at http://www.opushotel.com/vancouver.html
Also in Canada, Fairmont The Queen Elizabeth in Montreal has a "Bare Your Heart Package" for the romantic in you, which includes a one-night stay and breakfast in bed, with rates from $219 in Canadian dollars (the exchange rate is nearly even these days), available throughout February (except Feb. 24 and 25). A $10 donation per package sold will be made to Fondation En Coeur, a Quebec-based agency that helps kids with heart disease and their families with support services and information, and helping improve medical services in pediatric cardiology and adult congenital heart disease. Visit http://www.fairmont.com/queenelizabeth for more information.
Go west and get warmer with the "Back in the Saddle Package" at the Tanque Verde Ranch in Tucson, Ariz., which offers 20 percent off room nights (their rates are all inclusive, with meals and activities) for anyone booking three or more nights from Feb. 10-19. Rates start at $225 per night, not counting the discount. The resort is a working horse ranch with 180 horses on 60,000 acres of desert landscape between the Rincon Mountains, Saguaro National Park and the Coronado National Forest, where couples can horseback ride, hike, mountain bike, swim, fish, enjoy the spa and relax in a room - that has no television. This is about romance, not what's on cable. Visit http://www.tanqueverderanch.com/
Wine is romantic, and the Fairmont Mission Inn & Spa in Sonoma, Calif., unwraps its "Romance in Wine Country Package," with a room, two one-hour spa treatments, sparkling wine and a chocolate strawberry amenity, rose-petal turndown and sparkling wine tasting passes at Gloria Ferrer Winery. Packages are priced from $429 per night, and the special runs Feb. 10-19. The hotel serves what it calls a food lover's "aphrodisiac menu" for $125 per person. Check it out at http://www.fairmont.com/sonoma
Another Arizona resort, L'Auberge de Sedona, offers its "Sedona Snowmance" package for two that highlights skiing and getting warm and cozy later in new guest rooms with mountain views. The package includes two nights, two lift tickets to Flagstaff Snowbowl per day booked, a $75 food and beverage or spa credit per day booked and free winter drinks by the fire, ciders, teas and cocoas (the hard stuff is available but not free). Package savings are 40 percent with rates starting at $265 for guest rooms and $320 for cottages. The deal is valid through March 15. Check it out at http://www.lauberge.com/
Sunsets on the Pacific are pretty romantic, and the "Stay, Spa & Splashes" packages at Surf & Sand Resort in Laguna Beach, Calif., allow you to enjoy them. The deals, with 30 percent off rates starting at $625 a night, include a one-night stay, spa treatment for two, three-course dinner for two at the resort's signature Splashes restaurant, and gourmet breakfast in room (or the restaurant). Check it out at http://www.surfandsandresort.com/
More than 30 Italian museums, including the Capitoline and Vatican Museums, as well as private collections, loaned artifacts and masterpieces to "ROME. From the Origins to Italy's Capital," organized by and on view at the Museum of Civilization, in Quebec City, through Jan. 29, 2012. The exhibition traces Roman civilization from 850 B.C. through the mid-19th century. On view are nearly 300 priceless treasures, including statures, mosaics, frescoes, paintings, busts, sarcophagus, and tapestries.
Never before has any museum attempted to cover the Rome's rich history in a single exhibition. "ROME" takes visitors through 2,600 years spanning five periods of Roman history: Antiquity, Middle Ages, Renaissance, Baroque, and Modern. A number of the works on view haven't been previously displayed publicly anywhere in the world. These include a mid-second century statue of Venus; a circa 1198-1216 mosaic of Pope Innocent III; "Hope" one of three theological virtues from the predella of the Baglioni altarpiece, created in 1507 by Raphael; the Tapestry of the Nativity and central dossal of the baldachin, crafted in the Barberini workshops between 1635-37; and a circular tabletop with the head of Medusa, signed and dated by Francesco Sibilio, in 1825. The exhibition also includes a multimedia installation, "Fontina di Roma," a fountain of film clips in water.
Guided tours, lasting about 45 minutes, provide an excellent introduction to the exhibition and are available in English.
Just in time for foliage season, the Train of Le Massif de Charlevoix, a full-day, gourmet rail excursion, has begun operations. The train, a must for rail buffs, carries passengers to the Charlevoix region, a World Biosphere Reserve carved by glaciers and sculpted by a meteor. The train departs from spectacular Montmorency Falls, just east of downtown Quebec City, and travels to St. Anne de Beaupre, before edging the shoreline of St. Lawrence as it continues east through Baie St. Paul and on to artsy La Malbaie, where there's a three-hour stopover.
For much of the 140 kilometer journey, the train slices between shoreline and cliffs, delivering spectacular views of headlands and islands, villages and farmlands. Each of the meticulously refurbished train cars holds 60-68 passengers, seated comfortably around tables. On each table, a GPS-triggered iPad highlights the journey, detailing history and heritage of the region—passengers can activate and watch it as they wish; it's deigned to be an enhancement without being intrusive. Music composed specifically for the journey calls attention to key sights.FULL ENTRY
I love wine. I just don't know a lot about it. But I like to think I know enough not to spit out the good stuff.
Wrong. I was at the first International Cool Climate Chardonnay Celebration in the Toronto area recently, testing out wines at some world-class vineyards, where tastings go like this: You pick up a small glass of wine, swirl, hold up to the light, smell deeply, then sip, slurping to explore and embrace every beautiful note and nuance and then - you spit it out like a pro ball player ridding himself of chaw juice.
It's not pretty. I mean, here I was surrounded by really classy, well-mannered and well-to-do people who were leaning over a spittoon or a bush, whatever was handy, and letting fly like a drunken prom date. It grossed me out as much as fascinated me.
Love shellfish? From Sept, 15-18, 2011, in a giant white tent on the Historic Charlottetown Waterfront, thousands of foodies from across the continent will congregate for the 16th annual Prince Edward Island International Shellfish Festival, a four-day extravaganza packed with culinary demos, celebrity chefs, chowder championships, and oyster shucking competitions.
Tens of thousands of people from around the region and the world are drawn to this vibrant celebration of PEI shellfish.
Sample all the PEI shellfish you can eat at the PEI International Shellfish Festival's biggest ever food pavilion, including local mussels, oysters, lobster, clams, quahogs, and even chowder while enjoying live musical entertainment.
Looking for a place to stay? The Great George Hotel, dating back to the 1800's, is a boutique hotel blocks from the wharf and the historic center of town. The hotel offers the intimacy of a B & B, with fresh cookies served every afternoon, and a deluxe continental breakfast served every morning in the elegant parlor/lobby. http://www.thegreatgeorge.com/
The PEI Shellfish Festival is a joint effort of the PEI Aquaculture Alliance & the PEI Shellfish Association. For more information: 1-866-955-2003
Photos of festival by Necee Regis for The Boston Globe
The only thing you usually get on short flights these days is a dirty look from flight attendants when you ask for anything resembling service. But on a recent Porter Airlines flight from Toronto to Boston – all of one hour, 35 minutes – I got the choice of free wine or beer (including Canada’s own Steam Whistle, which is a terrific brew, I must say), plus the usual beverages, like juice in an actual glass with frosted “Porter” etched on it, along with a boxed lunch of a hard roll stuffed with turkey and roasted pepper, a cup of pesto-laced elbow macaroni, and a tiny Lindt chocolate.
And this was coach, not first class. Porter has no first class. Just class, period, in the way it treats us all the same. Which is to say, very nicely. Flight prices always vary, but most recently were around $170, one way, taxes included, from Boston to Toronto, with two-week advance booking.
Flying Boston-Toronto is about as convenient as it gets. Porter flies into Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport smack dab on the city’s Lake Ontario shoreline where a three-minute free ferry gets you to the mainland and a quick cab drive to your hotel. Flying into the much larger Pearson International Airport 14 miles outside the city requires a much longer and more expensive trip into it.
The passenger lounge at the airport is light years ahead of any public passenger space I have ever seen, a wide open area with desks, comfortable seats and chairs, free Wi-Fi, with free snacks and as many beverages as you want (soda, water, juice) and coffee in real cups. When they announce your flight, you go, leaving your junk behind where Porter personnel constantly pick up passenger detritus. There are only two Porter lounges, Toronto and Ottawa, but Porter officials are looking at putting more in larger markets, including Montreal and Newark, and which some day could include Boston’s Logan International.
Porter flies Bombardier Q400 planes to Toronto, amazingly quiet for prop planes, and with decent leg room in its configuration of two seats per side (70 in all). The flight attendant attire is a throwback, with pillbox hats, and the in-flight mag, smaller than most and printed on quality, heavy stock, looks and reads more like an art journal.
Porter is a great option for Boston-Toronto flights. And you won’t go hungry besides.
The Metropolitan Hotel Vancouver in downtown Vancouver, British Columbia, has launched a new Runner’s High package to help visitors get out and explore the city and its top jogging routes through picturesque Stanley Park and the green spaces along False Creek. Guests receive a welcome kit with running maps, the latest issue of Running magazine, a 10 percent discount card for the local New Balance store, complimentary valet parking, and a healthy three-course ‘‘carb-loading’’ dinner for two at the hotel’s Diva at the Met restaurant (excludes beverages, alcohol, and taxes). Loosen up at the pool, sauna, and cardio-weight room after your run. Rates: $215 per package, based on double occupancy; some blackout dates apply.
Photo: Metropolitan Hotel Vancouver
Grab Fido and escape to one of Loews Hotels’ 18 US and Canadian properties. Their latest Woofie Weekends package runs through April 30 and includes a one-night stay for you and your BFF (best furry friend), an in-room doggie delight meal, and use of a luxurious Microdry memory foam mat that will provide your pooch with contoured support. What you won’t get: the $25 pet cleaning fee. Rates start at $134, based on availability and double (human) occupancy. You must bring a dog to take advantage of the special.
Photo: Loews Hotels
Quebec's license plates are tagged with the line Je me souviens, which translates as I remember. What I remember about Quebec is the food, the endless bounty, the quality, the emphasis on locally sourced fare. In the states, locally sourced food is the trend; in Quebec it's tradition. And in no place is this more clear than in the Charlevoix region, east of Quebec City, and in no place is it more surprising than Le Massif de Charlevoix, a ski area where the food offered in the cafeteria rivals that served in many fine restaurants.
My midday lunch was a masterpiece, prepared by a chef who took time not only to pull the plate together, but also to present it with flourish. He took special care to add a sprinkle of fresh parsley on my tart prepared with apples and local Migneron de Charlevoix cheese. It came with a red cabbage slaw and a carrot and broccoli vegetable melange. My friend Karen's sole was complemented by a cheese crisp topped with tapenade, rice, and ratatouille. Yes, all this from a cafeteria.
Approximately six entrees are offered daily, in a rotation that changes about every three weeks. There’s always a soup of the day—the leek and chick pea was delicious—served with house-made rolls. And the desserts are equally enticing. Beyond the entrees, there are a la carte choices, such as salads, plates of local cheese or charcuterie, and other healthful options; never anything fried.
Not fancy enough? There’s also a fine dining restaurant, Mer & Monts (Sea & Mountains), where the views own the slopes and over the St. Lawrence complement the food and service.
Photo of Mer & Monts restaurant courtesy of Le Massif de Charlevoix
We don't know who created this wonderful piece of graffiti, but it certainly sums up the sentiments of many Montrealers. We recently returned from three weeks in the city researching a new book, the Food Lovers' Guide to Montreal (spring 2011, Globe Pequot Press). Even as we sampled poutine and pâté chinois, croissants and macarons, we couldn't help but be staggered by the explosion in artisanal cheese-making in Quebec. La Belle Province is beginning to rival La France when it comes to great fromage.
''Everyone's getting crazy with cheese here in Quebec,'' says Pierre Gariepy, co-owner of La Maison du Cheddar (1311 avenue Van Horne; 514-904-0011), a specialty cheese store in Outremont that stocks only Quebec cheeses. The store's namesake raw milk cheddar from Saint-Guillaume just outside Montreal is served in grilled cheese sandwiches, or as little cubes to dunk into cups of piping hot espresso, a tradition in Brittany, according to co-owner Dominique Cormier. The pair also offers a special grilled cheese sandwich of the week to introduce customers to new cheeses.
Many of Quebec's best cheeses are made from raw milk, but thanks to NAFTA, all Quebec cheeses are allowed into the United States, although similar cheeses from France might be banned. A couple of Gariepy's favorites are Pied de Vent, a soft cheese made on the Magdalen Islands by one of Cormier's cousins, and Riopelle de l’Île, a soft cheese somewhere between a brie and a Camembert. It's named for the painter Jean-Paul Riopelle who often vacationed on L’Île aux Grues where the cheese is made.
Gilles Jourdenais, owner of La Fromagerie Atwater located in the yuppie-gourmet Marché Atwater (134 avenue Atwater; 514-932-4653), estimates that about 400 cheeses are made in Quebec. His inventory of 850 cheeses includes about 175 from Quebec that hold their own against some of the best cheeses in the world. A couple of Jourdenais' favorites are Le bleu d'Elizabeth, a creamy and not overly salty blue, made by Jean Morin of Fromagerie du Presbytère in Sainte-Elizabeth de Warwick. He's also a big fan of Le Cendrillon, an ash-covered soft goat’s milk cheese made by La Maison Alexis de Portneuf. Its name translates as ''Cinderella.''
A word of warning: wrap the cheeses well if you plan to pack them in your suitcase.
Patricia Harris and David Lyon also write the food and travel blog Hungry Travelers.
Photos by David Lyon for the Boston Globe.
Canadians celebrate Thanksgiving on the second Monday in October, which is Columbus Day for those on the south side of the border. That means no barrier in the calendar after Halloween before the long run-up to Christmas. In fact, when we stopped at La Baie in Montreal (or The Bay in English-speaking Canada), the interior of the department store that has evolved from the Hudson's Bay Company (established as a fur-trading monopoly in 1670) was fully decked for the holidays in all its glittery, sparkly glory. We were relieved that they were not yet playing Christmas carols. We can forgive them for rushing the season because the store has a gift for shoppers from other countries. Since the Canadian government no longer grants tax refunds to visitors for goods purchased in Canada, La Baie has taken it upon itself to offer visitors an automatic 15 percent discount on most purchases. In Montreal, the deal is only available at the flagship store in the downtown shopping district (585 rue Sainte-Catherine ouest). Visitors need only stop at the customer service desk on the main floor to pick up a card before they begin browsing. And, yes, we have to confess that we took advantage of the savings to start our Christmas shopping.
-- Patricia Harris & David Lyon
Photo by David Lyon for the Boston Globe
Our friends always ask for new recommendations for hotels in Montreal, and we usually have to demur and suggest checking the current deals on the city tourism web site. (That's how we've gotten the best rates for years.) But after touring a hidden gem that's often overlooked, we have to rave about the renovated Hotel de l'Institut. It's the hotel of the provincial hotel and tourism school, where students take a three-year course with separate hotel management and culinary tracks. The culinary students work in the kitchen under a French chef and wait tables at the school's smart fine-dining room with a contemporary bistro-style menu based on Quebec products. The hotel students work at the front desk and in management behind the scenes.
The 42 rooms re-opened in June after a makeover from traditional to sleekly modern. All but two rooms have small outdoor terraces, and every room has a work area with desk and wifi. Book now for summer weekends to get a south-facing room with a fantastic view of the fireworks at La Ronde during the International Fireworks Festival (June-August). The lively Plateau location is terrific at any time: It's just a short walk up rue St-Denis to the densest collection of good restaurants in the city, and the Sherbrooke Metro stop is beneath the hotel if you feel the need to zip down to Old Montreal.
Hotel de l'Institut, 3535 Rue St-Denis, Montreal. Tel: 514-282-5120 or 800-361-5111, ext. 5120, www.ithq.qc.ca. Weekend specials currently start at $129 (Canadian) per night for single occupancy, $144 for double occupancy. The Gourmet Package is also a good deal, with overnight for two, dinner with wine, and breakfast for $275.
– Patricia Harris and David Lyon
Patricia Harris and David Lyon are working on Food Lovers' Guide to Montreal, to be published spring 2011 by Globe Pequot Press.
Photo by David Lyon for the Boston Globe
The tree, in the front of the modest home of Misner and his wife, Roseann, a retired couple in tiny Kentville, Nova Scotia, will be cut down Nov. 16, bundled up, hauled to Boston Common and lighted in an official ceremony Dec. 3.
This marks the 40th year that Nova Scotia, the balsam-fir capital of the world that annually produces nearly 2 million Christmas trees, has donated a tree to Boston, in continued thanks for the Hub's help in providing relief to the city following a devastating explosion in Halifax Harbor on Dec. 6, 1917, that killed 2,000 residents.
"Only thing I've done to that tree, really, is trim the bottom branches so I don't whack my head on them when I cut the lawn," Misner said. "These trees don't have a deep root system, so a good wind can topple them. One this big that's lasted this long, I guess, is what they're looking for."
It is an honor to be chosen to donate the tree, the Misners said, and when the official cutting-down ceremony happens, schoolchildren will be brought in to watch, local dignitaries will gather, and regional media coverage will be huge, they say.
Picking a tree from around the province is a year-long job, said Ross Pentz, who bears the happy title Christmas Tree Specialist for the Nova Scotia Department of Natural Resources.
"We have people all over the province, keeping an eye out," he said. "And we had our eye on this one for a while."
When the Misners got the call that the department was interested in their tree, Roseann Misner was flabbergasted and honored.
"I said, 'You really want our tree?'" she said. "It's an honor, the explosion is so much part of our history, it's taught in school and everyone knows it."
On that fateful December day, the French munitions ship, the Mont-Blanc, collided with a Norwegian cargo ship, the Imo. The Mont-Blanc caught fire and drifted to shore, where thousands gathered to watch it burn, unaware of the explosive cargo: 2,300 tons of pyric acid, 35 tons of benzene, and 200 tons of dynamite.
The ship soon exploded, a fiery mushroom cloud a mile and a half high billowing into the sky. The blast, which flattened a two-kilometer-square area of the city's shoreline, instantly killed those watching on shore and in nearby homes. Many who watched farther away were blinded as the concussive wave shattered windows in their houses. The ensuing tsunami from the blast swept many more to their deaths. Parts of the ship's anchor landed miles away. It remains the largest non-nuclear explosion in world history.
The area is one familiar with tragedy. The Titanic sank in 1912, hundreds of miles off the coast; 150 victims are buried in Halifax. And in 1998, Swissair flight 111 went down off the coast of Halifax, killing 229. Memorials to the crash are in Bayswater and Peggy's Cove, a short drive from Halifax.
Within 24 hours of the blast in Halifax Harbor, Boston rallied, gathered supplies, and sent off relief trains to Halifax. It is a gesture Canadians have not forgotten.
"In a small community, when something happens to a family, it's all about casseroles and hugs," Roseann Misner said. "When the explosion happened, it was in the form of the relief effort from Boston."
(A comprehensive exhibit on the tragedy can be found at the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic in downtown Halifax, see http://museum.gov.ns.ca/mmanew
The multimedia exhibition "RIFF: When Africa Got Us Groovin''' at Quebec's Museum of Civilization through March 13 looks at the enormous impact of African rhythms on popular music over the past hundred years. On display are such traditional African instruments as talking drums and thumb pianos, as well such mainstays of Latin music as maracas and timbales, and early jazz instruments. The exhibition includes items from such popular musicians as Benny Goodman (clarinet), James Brown (cape), and Tito Puente (marimba and mallets). 85 rue Dalhousie, 866-710-8031, www.mcq.org/index_en
Posted by Mark Feeney, Globe staff
In celebration of the Northern Forest Canoe Trail's [NFCT] 10th anniversary, the organization is calling on all paddlers to help achieve the goal of going 740 miles in one day - a distance equal to the length of the trail.
From sunrise to 5 p.m. on July 24, miles will be counted per person, not per boat, to help accumulate the 740 needed miles. You don't have to be a serious paddler to have a big impact, so all levels of experience are welcome. For example, a canoe with 3 people making a 5 mile trip counts as 15 miles toward the total goal.Visit the NFCT site to see the 13 mapped sections of the water trail. Choose a portion of the trail close to home or take a road trip to a far off destination. People paddling from Vermont into Canada or from Canada into Vermont should have a passport to show at border patrol stations. Paddlers can pre-register their miles for this free event, online, or by calling or texting to 802-279-8302.
Photo of Rangeley, Maine, paddlers by Mike Prescott
June 22 kicked off another season of The Image Mill, the free, hourlong multimedia presentation on the harborfront grain silos in Quebec City. Created by Robert Lepage and Ex Machina, the presentation is the largest projection ever made, measuring roughly 650 yards wide by 32 yards high. It brings to life Quebec City's history and heritage, zipping through hundreds of years with engaging -- at times mind-boggling -- images accompanied by sound. It can be seen Tuesday through Saturday beginning at 10 p.m. through July 31; beginning at 9:30 p.m. through Aug.; then at 9 p.m. Sept. 1-6. Later dates and times have yet to be confirmed. Best viewing is from the docks between the Old Port Market, Dalhousie Street, and Quay Saint-André Street. It's outdoors, so dress for the weather.