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Casa Loma

Casa Loma, Toronto

At the peak of his power it is said that Sir Henry Pellatt controlled as much as 25% of the Canadian economy. To showcase his great wealth he built what was at the time the largest residence in North America: Casa Loma, a 98-room Gothic revival style castle set on a hill in midtown Toronto. By the end of his life, Sir Henry had lost everything and his great castle almost came to ruin. Saved and restored by the Kiwanis Club in 1937, the great residence is now open to visitors. It is also one of the few houses which permit interior photography . . . Read More…

A Short Note on Canadian Wine

Ice Wine "Slushies" at Ice House Winery, Ontario, Canada

We love wine; perhaps too much. We love it at least as much as we love beer, which gets much more frequent attention here at EverywhereOnce. Certainly wine has reason to feel slighted. It shouldn’t. The East coast brews some world-class beers, and we’ve been overwhelmed by the embarrassment of brewery riches at our disposal. Our East coast winery experiences have been an embarrassment of a different sort. The “terroir” here just isn’t as well suited to the task, I’m afraid. So we’ve spent less time visiting, and therefore writing about, wineries.

One might naturally think that the cold weather conditions in Canada are positively dreadful for vinting wine. They’d be wrong.

A peculiar thing happens when grapes freeze on the vine. The sugars and other dissolved grape solids do not freeze, allowing for a more concentrated ‘must’ to be pressed from the frozen grapes. From this must, a fantastically sweet “ice wine” is made. Canada is the world’s largest producer of these delicious dessert wines, with Ontario accounting for 75% of Canadian output. If you’re in the area checking out Niagara Falls, Toronto, or other nearby destinations, you owe it to yourself to sample some of these awesome and truly unique wines.

In Bloom

Niagara on the LakeOur paths routinely cross quaint little downtown neighborhoods, where clever little shops in historic structures ever bid the traveler to enter. Of those we’ve had the pleasure to frequent, Niagara on the Lake in Ontario, Canada, is the prettiest we’ve seen.

Timing is everything, and our time here couldn’t have been better. The entire town seemed in bloom. It’s possible we wouldn’t have found the area quite as fetching during a different season, but I’m guessing the impeccable landscaping we witnessed is a year-round feature. Certainly the picturesque Victorian architecture, moderately high-end shops, and close proximity to the Lake Ontario shoreline are worthy attributes for all seasons.

Maid of the Monsoon

What a difference a day makes. With the early morning sun shining, and the crowds from the prior evening mostly dispersed, Niagara Falls returned to its natural magnificence. Its power evident from the plumes of mist rising far above the 170 foot falls and dropping on us like rain whenever the wind shifts in our direction. To really feel their might, though, we needed to get even closer.

Fortunately, we can do just that with a Maid of the Mist boat tour. Departing every 15 minutes, the 80 foot long vessels sail directly into the basin below Horseshoe Falls. Getting closer requires a barrel and suicidal tendencies. Having neither, we board the next available ship and don thin plastic rain ponchos as we stake a spot along the port-side railing.

Within minutes we’re pulling away from the dock and charting a course past the America Falls. It’s immediately clear this tour is a good choice. Everything is more impressive from the river. The falls appear higher, broader, louder and more spectacular in every way. We watch as glassy emerald water, brightly illuminated by the rising sun, rushes past the precipice and transforms into a frothy curtain of cloud.

As we sail past, daylight wanes. The wind picks up and the gentle mist turns to a steady rain. A storm, of sorts, is moving in and getting worse. Our thin rain ponchos flap wildly around us, offering scant protection from the gale. Soon, the entire world is reduced to varying shades of grey. This is no ordinary squall. Elsewhere the sun still beats strongly on the town of Niagara Falls. But here, in the basin of Horseshoe Falls, a hurricane rages.

Barely audible beneath the roar of falling water, 700 horses of engine power labor against the currents. I shield my eyes from the driving rain and steal a glimpse of the cascade that now surrounds us on three sides. A stationary tidal-wave occupies my entire field of vision. The end of the world can’t be more dramatic.

The entire voyage lasts a mere thirty minutes, but it’s long enough to see, and experience, the falls up close. It’s also long enough to get completely drenched. This is one trip we wouldn’t want to take in the chilly off-season. It’s also one we wouldn’t want to miss.


“I waited all night for this, and it was over in five minutes?” You’d think that after all of these years Shannon would be used to that; Read More…

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