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15 Great Reasons to Visit Toronto in 2015

BY CRAIG MOY

Perhaps you’ve heard: Toronto is one the most dynamic cities in the world. An endlessly fascinating place to live; an equally amazing destination to visit. Whether you’re an international jetsetter or on a cross-Canada excursion, travelling within Ontario or just looking to be a tourist in your own hometown, there are literally thousands of compelling reasons to visit Toronto. And for 2015, here are 15 more.

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Football Fever: Grey Cup 2014

The Grey Cup makes its way to Vancouver, bringing fast-paced football and four days of celebrations that go way beyond the usual end-zone dance

By JILL VON SPRECKEN

    The 102nd Grey Cup Championship Game will take place in Vancouver, November 30

The 102nd Grey Cup Championship Game will take place in Vancouver, November 30

From the stands at BC Place Stadium to the streets of Vancouver, the 102nd Grey Cup promises to have fans on their feet for a weekend of football and festivities. The Canadian Football League (CFL) championship game will see the sports arena packed to capacity with 52,000 cheering fans on game day. But the celebrations don’t start—or end—there. Street festivals, a parade and concerts featuring Trooper, Tim Hicks, Hey Ocean! and 54-40 mean there’s just as much excitement outside the stadium as inside. (more…)

The 5 Best Pizzerias in Toronto

BY LINDA LUONG

    The Honey pizza from Pizzeria Defina with fior di latte, gorgonzola, pickled pear and roasted pecans (photo: Pizzeria Defina)

The Honey pizza from Pizzeria Defina with fior di latte, gorgonzola, pickled pear and roasted pecans (photo: Pizzeria Defina)

A bit of dough, some tomato sauce, cheese and an assortment of meats and vegetables may be all it takes to make a classic pizza, but that doesn’t mean just anyone can make a delicious one. There’s an art to making this dish that originated in Naples, Italy; these establishments—our choices for the five best pizzerias in Toronto—consistently serve up culinary masterpieces on thin crust.

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20 Holiday Things to Do in Calgary Under $20

Zoolights 2

Zoolights at Calgary Zoo is one of the many holiday activities to enjoy in Calgary.

You don’t have to be a Scrooge this Christmas: get in the holiday spirit with these 20 holiday activities in Calgary that each cost less than $20! Enjoy!

1. Christmas in Inglewood
When: December 6, 13, 20
Where: Community of Inglewood
Cost: Free!
Enjoy special events, free parking, festive window displays, an holiday lights as you shop the unique boutiques in Inglewood for creative gift ideas. Be sure to check out new-to-Inglewood businesses The Nash Restaurant & Bar and Lauren Bagliore Concept Shop.
More Info: calgary-inglewood.com/events

2. Spruce Meadows Christmas Market
When: November 21-23, 28-30
Where: Spruce Meadows
Cost: $10; Seniors and Children 12 and under are Free
A reindeer petting zoo, elaborate light displays, hot chocolate and international food kiosks, fire pits, live music, and holiday entertainment make a visit to this shopping market fun for everyone.
More Info: sprucemeadows.com/christmas_market.jsp

3. Zoolights
When: November 21 – January 3, 6 pm – 9 pm
Where: Calgary Zoo
Cost: $14 General Admission; $11 Child (3-15)
See some unique animals at the Calgary Zoo… ones made out of coloured lights! Bundle up and stroll the elaborate outdoor light displays while enjoying ice skating, a visit with Santa, children’s activities, and carols.
More Info: calgaryzoo.com/events-activities/special-events/zoolights 

4. Once Upon a Christmas
When: Weekends November 22 – December 21, 9:30 am – 4 pm
Where: Heritage Park Historical Village
Cost: $8.50 Adult; $7.50 Senior; $6.50 Youth (7-14); $5.50 Child (3-6)
Nothing feels more traditional than a day at Heritage Park for Christmas and Hanukkah crafts and activities, gift shopping, antique photos, sleigh rides, theatre, and homemade treats.
More Info: heritagepark.ca

5. Christmas Art & Craft Shows
When: Weekends November 27 – December 21
Where: Various Venues
Cost: Free – $7 per Adult
Shop for unique, locally-made gifts at Calgary’s art and craft shows including the Festival of Crafts (Nov 27 – 30), Eau Claire Winter Market (Nov 29 – 30), A Merry Market Collective (Dec 5-7, 12-14, 19-21), The Vixens of Vintage Market (Dec 6), and A Merry Makers Market (Dec 6-7).
More Info: where.ca/alberta/calgary/shop-calgary-seasonal-markets-craft-shows

6. ‘Twas the Night
When: Thursday, November 27, 6:30 pm – 10 pm
Where: The CORE
Cost: Free! Donations to the YMCA are accepted.
Shop ’til you drop and get a head start on Black Friday sales at this after-hours shopping party. TV personality Tanya Kim hosts the red carpet and there will be festive music performed by jazz musician Matt Dusk. Stores will offer one-night-only specials and discounts so you can shop for everyone on your list. Plus… valet parking is even free!
More Info: coreshopping.ca/events/core-twas-the-night-2014

7. Christmas in Kensington
When: November 29, December 6, December 13, December 20
Where: Various Venues in Kensington
Cost: Free! (Except for some movies at Plaza Theatre)
Christmas festivities abound in this eclectic Calgary neighbourhood: Enjoy a pancake breakfast, hay wagon rides, tree lightening ceremony, carollers, and a visit from Santa on November 29; A petting zoo, photos with Santa, and a screening of The Grinch Who Stole Christmas at Plaza Theatre (FREE!) on December 6; Late night shopping, shopping tours, and a visit from Santa on December 13; Christmas tree karaoke, Ugly Sweater Red Carpet Event and a screening of Love Actually at Plaza Theatre ($15 for both).
More Info: visitkensington.com

8. Hawkers Holiday Feast
When: November 29, 6 pm – 12 am
Where: Test Kitchen, 1436-8th St SW
Cost: $10
The food-and-drink party returns to Calgary for a seasonal edition in support of the Calgary Food Bank. Music, beer, food trucks, and a whole lot of fun. The focus is on the food as you get to sample an assortment of vendors’ most popular dishes as well as some limited-edition seasonal offerings.
More Info: hawkersmarket.com

9. Lions Festival of Lights
When: November 29 – January 8, 6 pm – 12 am
Where:  14 St NW, South of 24th Ave
Cost: Free!
Where: Calgary’s beautiful Confederation Park is covered in light displays that are free to view. Walk or drive by.
More Info:lionsfestivaloflights.ca

10. With Bells On
When: December 1 – 24
Where: Lunchbox Theatre
Cost: $25 Adult; $20 Senior; $20 Student
When an uptight, recently divorced accountant and a drag queen dressed as a Christmas tree get stuck in an elevator together, they forge an unlikely friendship in this hysterical, heart-warming play.
More Info: lunchboxtheatre.com

11. Lougheed House Christmas
When: November 28 – December 21
Where: Lougheed House
Cost: $8.50 Adult; $6.50 Student/Senior; $5 Child; $25 Family
Enjoy a traditional Christmas at this beautiful historic site with live music, crafts, holiday lights, complimentary hot cider and homemade cookies, a gingerbread house competition, and a visit from Victorian Santa. In honour of the WWI Centennial this year, there will be WWI-themed activities the weekends.
More Info: lougheedhouse.com

12. Christmas Cooking Classes
When: December 4, 11, 18, 12 pm – 1 pm
Where: ATCO Blue Flame Kitchen
Cost: $20
These lunch-and-learn sessions include lunch, a demonstration on how to make the dish, and a take-home recipe. December’s classes include a course on how to make Holiday brunch using holiday dinner leftovers, Holiday Hors d’ouvres, and Christmas dinner alternatives to turkey and mashed potatoes.
More Info: atcoblueflamekitchen.com

13. A Merry Market Collective
When: December 5 – 7, 12 – 14, 19 – 21
Where: Chinese Cultural Centre, 197 – 1 St SW
Cost: $5; Free for children (12 and under)
This isn’t your typical craft fair! Here, Calgary’s crafty DIY crowd sells handmade, Pinterest-perfect and Instagram-worthy creations. Shop for gift ideas and holiday decor, and take a break to enjoy food trucks, gift wrapping, and Market Collective’s popular photo booth.
More Info: marketcollective.ca

14. Family Christmas Movies
When: December 6, 13, 20, 11 am
Where: Cineplex Theatres
Cost: $2.50
Enjoy some classic holiday films on the big screen that will put you in the Christmas spirit with laughter and whimsy. Movies in this series are: A Christmas Story, The Polar Express, and Fred Claus.
More Info: cineplex.com/Events/FamilyFavourites

15. Festival Chorus: Christmas in Venice
When: December 6, 8 pm
Where: Knox United Church
Cost: $22 Adult; $18 Senior; $18 Student; $12 Child
We all know that the best way to spread Christmas cheer is singing loudly for all to hear! Experience the magic and glory of the Christmas season from historic Venice with rhythmic and memorable melodies by Vivaldi, Palestrina, and Schubert, as well as some Italian folk carols. Plus, the audience sing-a-long will include classic holiday favourites.
More Info: epcorcentre.org

16. Teddy Bear Toss
When: December 7, 4 pm
Where: Scotiabank Saddledome
Cost: $17.50 – $22.50
The Calgary Hitmen WHL team host the Moose Jaw Warriors for this annual spectacle. When the Hitmen score their first goal, the audience showers the ice with teddy bears which are then donated to children’s hospitals and charities. Even Jimmy Kimmel gave some attention to last year’s game!
More Info: hitmenhockey.com

17. Canadian Pacific Holiday Train
When: December 12, 6 pm
Where: ​9511 Horton Rd SW, Gravel Parking Lot on Horton Rd behind The Brick & Schanks
Cost: Free! Food bank donations accepted.
The Holiday Train is coming through town! The 1,000 foot long train has 14 rail cars brightly decorated with hundreds of thousands of technology-leading LED lights and holiday designs.When the train stops, there is a half-hour performance of traditional and modern holiday-themed songs by Odds (you’ll recognize their song “Happy Place” from Corner Gas) and Blue Rodeo’s Jim Cuddy.
More Info: cpr.ca/en/community/holiday-train

18. Christmas Sleigh Rides
When: December 20 – January 1, 10 am – 4 pm
Where: Horsin’ Around Trail Rides
Cost: $10 Adult; $8 Children
Go dashing through the snow in a cozy horse drawn sleigh with Horsin’ Around Trail Rides. When you’re done your ride, enjoy a pony ride, petting zoo, and tobogganing.
More Info: horsinaround.ca

19. Christmas with New West
When: December 20, 7:30 pm
Where: Jack Singer Concert Hall
Cost: $16.05 – $22.10
New West Symphony and Chorus, a 100-member choir and orchestra, presents an upbeat and moving performance of new and classic Christmas songs. Sing along and enjoy the sounds of the season!
More Info: epcorcentre.org

20. It’s a Wonderful Life
When: December 20, 22, 24
Where: Cineplex Odeon Crowfoot Crossing
Cost: $6
This classic, heartwarming holiday movie is a holiday tradition for many—now see it in all it’s glory on the big screen! You know the plot: an angel helps a compassionate but despairingly frustrated businessman by showing what life would have been like if he never existed.
More Info: cineplex.com/Events/ClassicFilmSeries

Guide to Holiday Entertainment in Calgary

By BREANNA MROCZEK, Illustrations By AMANDA SCHUTZ

holiday_post

There is never any shortage of things to do in Calgary, and the winter months are no exception—seasonal shows and holiday-themed events abound! Here are 25 seasonal highlights to enjoy:

1Jake’s Gift Until Nov 22
This charming play honours the spirit of Remembrance Day with a story about a Canadian veteran’s return to Normandy to reconcile his brother’s war-time death.

2Liberation Days Until Nov 9
A community in the Netherlands struggles to return to their “normal” lives post-WWII in this inspiring drama by a Canadian playwright.

3Vanishing Ice Until Jan 4
Explore frozen frontiers and the North Pole—indoors—in this Glenbow exhibition that explores how artists’ interpretations of the arctic have changed over the centuries.

Winte4r Bobsleigh Starting Dec 26
Soar down an Olympic bobsleigh track—piloted by a pro—through 14 twists and turns at 120 km/hr.

5Ice Skating at Olympic Plaza November – March
Bring your skates and go for a glide amidst twinkling, lighted trees in the heart of the city on this outdoor ice rink.

Silent Night No6v 8 – 14
Calgary Opera commemorates the centennial of WWI with the moving story of a truce between troops on Christmas Eve 1914 to celebrate the holiday and bury their dead.

7Spruce Meadows Christmas Market Nov 14 – 30
Reindeer games, light displays, hot chocolate, fire pits, live music, and shopping in the vendor marketplace: make a visit to this market a family affair.

Once Upon a Ch8ristmas Nov 22 – Dec 21
Nothing feels more traditional than a day at Heritage Park for Christmas and Hanukkah activities, gift shopping, antique photos, sleigh rides, and homemade treats.

9Max & Ruby in the Nutcracker Suite Nov 23
The charming bunny siblings from the children’s TV show perform a kid-friendly version of the holiday classic with upbeat music and storytelling.

10Bach for the Holidays Nov 30
The Calgary Civic Symphony and Cantaré Children’s Choir perform classical holiday music as well as tracks from holiday movies like Home Alone and The Polar Express.

11‘Twas the Night Nov 27
This after-hours shopping party at The Core is a red-carpet affair with host Tanya Kim and festive music performed by jazz musician Matt Dusk.

12Deck the Walls! Nov 25 – Dec 24
An art show you can shop! The walls of Newzones gallery are decked out in various sizes and styles of artwork that are perfect to give as gifts.

13A Christmas Carol Nov 27 – Dec 24
It just wouldn’t be Christmas in Calgary without Theatre Calgary’s heartwarming annual production of Charles Dickens’ classic holiday story.

14Zoolights Nov 21 – Jan 4
See some unique animals at the Calgary Zoo… ones made out of coloured lights! Bundle up and stroll the elaborate outdoor light displays.

15With Bells On Dec 1 – 24
This hilarious, contemporary holiday play conveys the heartwarming spirit of the season.

16Christmas at the Opera Dec 4 – 7
Calgary Opera’s emerging artists and a live music ensemble perform delightful sounds of the season.

17Stuart McLean Vinyl Café Christmas Dec 4 – 5
Stuart McLean shares stories—joined by musical guest Chic Gamine—in the live holiday-themed version of his popular CBC Radio show.

18A Merry Little Pops Dec 6
Sing along to carols and jolly holiday songs with The Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra, a choir, and Santa himself.

19Handel’s Messiah Dec 6
The Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra and Chorus perform this grandiose classical score that has become synonymous with the Advent season.

20Trailer Park Boys: Dear Santa Claus Tour Dec 14
Enjoy some Christmas chaos with the boys as Bubbles’ good-hearted holiday plans are thwarted by Julian’s scheming and Ricky’s pursuit to meet Santa.

21Sleigh Rides Dec 20 – Jan 1
Go dashing through the snow in a cozy horse drawn sleigh with Horsin Around Trail Rides.

22Lions’ Festival of Lights Nov 30 – Jan 8
Calgary’s beautiful Confederation Park is covered in light displays that are free to view.

23Country Christmas Dec 17
Canadian country music superstar George Canyon performs holiday music with the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra—and a meet-and-greet reception is available.

24The Nutcracker Dec 18 – 24
The Alberta Ballet presents the whimsical story of Clara and her Nutcracker with dazzling choreography, detailed costumes, and Tchaikovsky’s timeless musical score.

25Celebrate!
We hope you have a festive holiday season full of fun, health, and happiness as you spend time with family and friends exploring our wonderful city!

5 Vegetarian Restaurants in Calgary

By RACHAEL FREY & STACEY PARKER

Lotus Root Salad at The Coup (Photo: Jason Dziver)

Lotus Root Salad at The Coup (Photo: Jason Dziver)

If you’re a vegetarian, you must love salad—because if you don’t, there won’t be a single thing you can eat on most restaurant menus. Fortunately for your taste buds, these five Calgary restaurants are turning out (mostly) vegetarian menus loaded with options.

THE COUP
Be sure to arrive with time to spare in order to gain entry to this 17th Avenue hotspot. Well known and loved among Calgary’s vegetarians, The Coup is entirely vegetarian with a focus on fresh, whole, local, organic food. Vegans and gluten-free diners will be comfortable here as well. Don’t forget to try one of their unique cocktails such as the Kombucha Gimlet with schizandra berry, rose, citrus, vodka and elderflower liqueur, topped with hibiscus rose kombucha.
Must Try: Lotus Root Salad (pictured). Okay, technically this is a salad, but it’s a lot more hearty and flavourful than the standard pile of lettuce. Warm Asian greens, lotus root and organic cherry tomatoes are dressed in a citrus ponzu sauce, then topped with toasted pine nuts and perfectly crisped tofu.
• 924 – 17 Ave SW, 403-541-1041, www.thecoup.ca
Map and reviews
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HOTEL INSIDER: Prince of Wales

By LINDA LUONG

The Prince of Wales Hotel

ABOUT THE HOTEL
From the horse-drawn carriages parked in front to the bellhop attired in a red jacket, it’s clear that guests staying at the Prince of Wales hotel are treated like royalty. Named for King George V and Queen Mary, who were guests here in 1901, this property is owned by Vintage Hotels, whose other holdings include Queen’s Landing, Pillar and Post and the Millcroft Inn & Spa among others. This establishment in picturesque Niagara-on-the-Lake is the crown jewel however, meticulously decorated with Victorian-era furnishings but with modern conveniences like LCD TVs, Bose Wave music systems and Keurig coffee machines.

Rich dark woods, ornate wallpaper and mouldings, wood-carved and embellished sofas and chairs upholstered in rich fabrics and embroidery nod to the historic charm here. (Be sure to take note of the beautiful stained glass scene in the lobby.) Cosy seating arrangements and fireplaces are inviting spots for quiet conversations and solitude.

Choose from a range of accommodations whether it’s for a romantic getaway, a mother/daughter bonding weekend, business retreat or even for a wedding party. Book The Royal Suite for the ultimate experience, which has a four-poster canopied King-sized bed, a walk out balcony, a separate seating area, fireplace and a pampering bathroom with a jetted tub.

BY THE NUMBERS
Rooms
110, including pet-friendly rooms
Price Rates vary by season and are dependent on the day of the week. May to October $290 to $640 per night; November to April $220 to $540 per night.
Conference Facilities Seven meeting rooms that can accommodate groups of up to 90 people.


AMENITIES
Named by Spas of America as one of Canada’s Top 50 Spas in 2013, the Secret Garden Spa is an ideal spot for pampering. Choose from individual treatments like manicures, pedicures, facials, body wraps and massages, or day packages, and treatments for couples and mothers and daughters, which exclusively uses the Babor line of face and body products. Choose from signature treatments that are inspired by tea such as the Beau-teas facial or body wrap, or the green tea pedicure. Spa guests are can also relax in the salt water pool.

FOOD
Three restaurants—Escabèche, Churchill Lounge and the Drawing Room—means that guests can enjoy an assortment of dining experiences right on the premises. Upscale Escabèche is a beautiful restaurant with panoramic views of Simcoe Park. Executive chef Chris Smythe utilizes fresh, local ingredients for a seasonal menu inspired by French cuisine, while chef sommelier Fred Gamula—who has been with the Prince of Wales for more than 20 years—can provide expert pairings from the wine cellar, which has more than 8,000 bottles representing Niagara wineries, but also France, Australia, Italy and California.

Churchill Lounge is a more casual spot for tucking into pub-style fare in a library-inspired space with bookcases and leather wingback chairs.

Of local renown is the afternoon tea service in the hotel’s Drawing Room. A cheery space in an elegant palate of crimson and ivory, guests can indulge in this midday treat served daily from noon to 6 p.m. Sip a variety of teas from beautiful fine bone china cups and saucers, while nibbling on housemade scones with strawberry jam, Devonshire cream and butter, pastries, cookies, finger sandwiches or a selection of cheeses.

6 Picton St. Niagara-on-the-Lake, 1-888-669-5566; vintage-hotels.com/princeofwales/.

Treasures From the Forbidden City

By JILL VON SPRECKEN

"Album of Twelve Months of Seasonal Activities." (Photo: © The Palace Museum)

“Album of Twelve Months of Seasonal Activities.” (Photo: © The Palace Museum)

Indulge your inner voyeur and cross the threshold into the Vancouver Art Gallery’s The Forbidden City: Inside the Court of China’s Emperors (Oct. 18 to Jan. 11). The exhibition showcases nearly 200 awe-inspiring artefacts from Beijing’s Palace Museum, a historic site that mysteriously closed its gates to the world for 500 years. The array of rare treasures includes 80 that have never travelled beyond the palace walls, and ranges from paintings and ivory to ceramics and textiles. It’s a peek into the past that’s impossible to resist.

Vancouver Roaster Celebrates 25 Years

By JILL VON SPRECKEN

This fall, the folks at Bean Around the World are raising a glass—better yet, a mug—to 25 years of top-notch coffee with West Coast roots

Bean Around the World roasts their beans daily. (Photo: KK Law)

Bean Around the World roasts their beans daily. (Photo: KK Law)

Some leave their heart in San Francisco, but founder Pete Boëda found his when he spotted his first coffee roaster while visiting the Golden City in 1978. Though it took over a decade, Boëda’s newfound love came to fruition when he opened a small cafe complete with in-house roaster—not a common sight at the time. Now, 22 independently owned cafes, each with their own unique style and flavour, bear the Bean Around the World name. (more…)

You Gotta Eat Here in Calgary

By RACHAEL FREY

Comedian John Catucci hosts Food Network's You Gotta Eat Here. (Photo: courtesy Shaw Media)

Comedian John Catucci hosts Food Network’s You Gotta Eat Here. (Photo: courtesy Shaw Media)

From posh urban eateries to down-home country diners, Food Network’s You Gotta Eat Here showcases beloved Canadian restaurants, with host John Catucci sampling the most outrageous and mouth-watering dishes the nation’s chefs can concoct.

Fans of the show don’t have to just sit at home and drool, though. Head over to one of the 15 Calgary restaurants featured on the past three seasons and eat what John ate, or discover a hidden gem on the menu. You Gotta Eat Here airs Fridays at 7 pm on the Food Network.

BEER REVOLUTION
Premium beer and wood-fired, thin crust pizza are served at this unpretentious rock ’n’ roll bar. The 24 draft lines change several times per week with a focus on breweries outside the mainstream. Try the Blazing Saddle Pizza with blackened steak, banana peppers, white cheddar, mozzarella, crispy onions, cajun remoulade, seasoned arugula and horseradish aioli.
What John Ate: Pizza Spring Rolls — crispy, deep-fried rolls filled with pepperoni, green peppers, mushrooms, basil, mozzarella and spicy marinara sauce.
1080 – 8 St SW, 403-264-2739, beerrevolution.ca

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50 Things We Love About Vancouver’s Granville Island

By JILL VON SPRECKEN and SHERI RADFORD

Want to explore False Creek on your way to Granville Island? Take the Aquabus mini ferry. (Photo by Dominic Schaefer)

Want to explore False Creek on your way to Granville Island? Take the Aquabus mini ferry. (Photo by Dominic Schaefer)

1. Commuting via Aquabus or False Creek Ferries.

2. SeaVillage, a charming collection of floating homes.

3. Browsing for fresh produce, bread and seafood in the Granville Island Public Market.

4. Spotting orcas with Wild Whales Vancouver.

5. Ocean Concrete, the oldest and largest tenant on the island. It’s been there since 1917.

6. Edible Canada at the Market, with its fresh regional fare on the menu, plus foodie tours and a gourmet artisan retail shop.

7. Watching buskers perform: musicians, jugglers, magicians and more.

8. Hand-pressed, hand-bottled sake from Artisan SakeMaker.

9. Splashing around in the Granville Island Waterpark.

10. Watching artisans hard at work in their studios.

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Nordstrom’s Grand Entrance in Calgary

By BREANNA MROCZEK

(Image: courtesy Nordstrom, Inc)

(Image: courtesy Nordstrom, Inc)

Make room in your closet for fall fashion! The iconic fashion retailer Nordstrom makes its Canadian debut in Calgary at Chinook Centre on September 19, with doors opening at 9:30 am.

Nordstrom is certainly making its arrival into Canada a grand entrance: before you even get to the fashion, there’s eBar coffee bar, Bazille full-service restaurant, a beauty boutique, free wifi, and personal stylists to consult. Once you make your way to the racks of covetable clothing, you’ll find exclusive brands and high-end statement pieces right alongside modestly priced everyday wear.

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