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All across Canada

Hollywood North


The Marine Building: Fantastic Four, Blade: Trinity, Watchmen, Life or Something Like It, Timecop, Battle in Seattle

The Marine Building: Fantastic Four, Blade: Trinity, Watchmen, Life or Something Like It, Timecop, Battle in Seattle (Photo: KK Law)


Vancouver Convention Centre: Robocop, Mission Impossible - Ghost Protocol, The A-Team, Human Target, The Killing, Godzilla (Photo: KK Law)

Vancouver Convention Centre: Robocop, Mission Impossible – Ghost Protocol, The A-Team, Human Target, The Killing, Godzilla (Photo: KK Law)

Vancouver Art Gallery: Night at the Museum, X-Men: The Last Stand, Continuum, Arrow, The X-Files, MacGyver

Vancouver Art Gallery: Night at the Museum, X-Men: The Last Stand, Continuum, Arrow, The X-Files, MacGyver (Photo: Lilly3/Stockphoto.com)

Vancouver Public Library: Double Jeopardy, Stargate SG-1, The Dead Zone, Smallville, Mr. Magoo (Photo: DannyC23/Stockphoto.com)

Vancouver Public Library: Double Jeopardy, Stargate SG-1, The Dead Zone, Smallville, Mr. Magoo (Photo: DannyC23/Stockphoto.com)

While strolling through downtown, you may feel the persistent tingle of déjà vu. Don’t worry: the architecture seems eerily familiar because for over a century, Vancouver has been used as a skilled stunt double in film. The city, which can replicate anywhere from Seattle to Mumbai to outer space, can be credited with many pivotal scenes in cinematic history. Vancouver follows Los Angeles and New York as the third-largest film production centre in the world—there is a catalogue of 20,000 locations for filmmakers to choose from. Check out the Vancouver Art Gallery, Vancouver Convention Centre, Marine Building or Vancouver Public Library for a souvenir shot, and keep your eyes peeled for the many movies and TV shows currently in production. You might even make the blooper reel.


Skate in a Winter Wonderland


Glide gracefully at Robson Square

Glide gracefully at Robson Square

Join the swirl of circling ice skaters at the Robson Square Ice Rink (to Feb. 28), located in the heart of downtown. The alfresco activity is family-friendly and free, with skate rentals available for only $4. Plus, the clear dome overhead offers protection from the elements but still shows off the city’s twinkling lights. Afterwards, warm up frosty fingers with a hot drink from the concession. So go ahead and take a spin around the rink—or an arabesque if you’re feeling adventurous.

Tragically Hip – Fully & Completely

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Iconic Canadian rockers the Tagically Hip hit Victoria February 4 during their North American tour commemmorating the re-issue of the band’s celebrated Fully Completely album.

Audiences will enjoy Fully Completely – the Hip’s third full-length album – played in its entirety. Originally released in October 1992. the album reached No. 1 in Canada and went on to sell more than a million copies while spawning hit singles including Locked in the Trunk of a Car, Courage (for Hugh McLennan), At the Hundredth Meridian and Fifty Mission Cap and more.

The critically acclaimed five-piece group has sold more than 8 million albums worldwide, and earned 14 Juno Awards from more than a dozen recordings.

Queen West Restaurant The Good Son Aims to Please

(photos: Craig Moy)

(photos: Craig Moy)

Naming one’s business The Good Son implies a certain amount of geniality, and indeed, chef Vittorio Colacitti’s new Queen West restaurant aims to please—by drawing together the corners of the culinary world. A contestant on season four of Top Chef Canada, Colacitti applies the lessons of his varied cooking experiences—he’s worked in both fine-dining and corporate kitchens, and had stints at pizzerias in Toronto and Italy—to rise to the challenge of an ambitiously cosmopolitan carte that prioritizes seasonal and local ingredients, but uses them in dishes such as jerk shrimp, sarsaparilla side ribs and a half-dozen wood-fired pizzas. The restaurant’s large dining room is adorned with antique clocks, plates, photographs and other welcome reminders of home.  —Craig Moy

• The Good Son, 1096 Queen St. W., 416-551-0589; thegoodsontoronto.com
Map and reviews

VICTORIA: The city of romance

Victoria – long known as the City of Gardens – may well be gaining a second moniker: the City of Romance.

Topping a long list of recent accolades is Travel + Leisure magazine’s recent ranking of Victoria in the top 20 World’s Best Cities for Romance.

Chateau_Victoria vista 18 wine glasses on table

Photo courtesy Chateau Victoria

Described as having picture-perfect mountain and ocean vistas, and a buzzing farm-to-table food scene, readers say lovers will feel a world away visiting Victoria.

Described as a European-looking Pacific Northwest destination with everything from whale watching to lush parks and unique dining, the region also grabbed third spot in USA Today’s 10 Best Readers’ Choice survey for Best Romantic North American Getaway.

And Victoria’s list of romantic accolades continues to grow as Amazon.ca recently announced the city as winner of its Top 20 Most Romantic Cities in Canada ranking for the second year in a row.

Balancing traditional romantic activities like horse-drawn carriage tours, afternoon tea and beautiful gardens, with unique experiences like outdoor adventure, stunning hikes and an amazing variety of local culinary opportunities, it’s no surpise to locals that the region is striking a chord with romantics.

So where do Victorians look to share a little romance? Here are a few of our favourites.

1. The jewel of Victoria’s extensive parks system, Beacon Hill Park is a mixture of formal and informal spaces filled with romantic spots, particularly in the late spring and summer when the gardens are in full bloom. Stroll the gently arched stone bridge across Goodacre Lake, climb Beacon Hill to soak in the views across Finlayson Point, take in a performance at the Cameron Bandshell or just relax with a picnic amid the blossoms – with beauty around every corner, a little romance isn’t hard to find!

2. From High Tea on the veranda overlooking the Inner Harbour to a martini in the Bengal Lounge, who can resist the charm of this grand dame of Victoria hotels, The Fairmont Empress? A tasting tour of some of Victoria’s celebrated Saanich Peninsula wineries offers a romantic escape through picturesque rural landscape, or head to the west coast community of Sooke to the culinary delights of Sooke Harbour House hotel, restaurant, gallery and spa, long considered one of the Capital Region’s most romantic spots. Perhaps consider a little Coastal Romance package from the spa…

3. A favourite among cyclists or those looking for a leisurely drive around the city, the views along the picturesque Scenic Marine Drive are unparalleled. Take a hand-in-hand stroll along the Causeway or West Song Walkway, or sit back and relax beneath a cozy blanket while Victoria Carriage Tours takes you on a horse-drawn tour of the city’s most romantic sites.

4. Consistently voted as one of the city’s favourite restaurants, Il Terrazzo’s infinitely romantic setting is ideal for a candlelit tête-à-tête beside a warm brick fireplace. For those with loftier goals, the twinkling lights and expansive views of the city are equally romantic at Vista 18, high atop the Chateau Victoria hotel.

 5. A rose by any other name….still smells sweeter when enjoyed with someone special. Victoria’s renowned gardens provide the ideal backdrop for romance, from the traditional Rose Garden in Oak Bay to the historic treasures at Abkhazi Garden, just minutes from downtown in the Fairfield neighbourhood. The Butchart Gardens is famous for its romantic setting, complemented by varied dining options, including afternoon tea and fine cuisine in the Dining Room Restaurant, offering views to the stunning gardens. Visit in the evening after June 15 and see the gardens in a whole new light with Night Illuminations, continuing through the summer.


Photo courtesy The Fairmont Empress


On A High Note: Calgary’s Intimate Live Music Venues


Hired Guns play to an excited crowd at the Ironwood Stage & Grill (Photo: Jason Dziver)

Hired Guns play to an excited crowd at the Ironwood Stage & Grill (Photo: Jason Dziver)

When the sun sets, the sound of live music and laughter escapes the historic Garry Theatre just east of downtown Calgary. The comfortably worn-in brick heritage building that’s home to the Ironwood Stage & Grill, a music club featuring live performances every night of the week, with two shows daily on weekends. It seats 140 yet maintains a cozy, intimate vibe.


Worn to be Wild: The Black Leather Jacket


One of the punk jackets on display at Worn to be Wild: The Black Leather Jacket (Photo: courtesy Glenbow Museum)

One of the punk jackets on display at Worn to be Wild: The Black Leather Jacket (Photo: courtesy Glenbow Museum)

Like a second skin, it still holds the shape of the body that broke it in. The leather is barely visible beneath patches proclaiming the wearer’s favourite bands and hand-lettered quotes musing on the failings of humanity. Bristling with swathes of silver spikes and studs, festooned with chains, this black leather jacket screams, “I’m not like you, and I’m proud of it!”

It’s one of many uniquely customized leather biker jackets on display at the Glenbow Museum’s Worn to be Wild: The Black Leather Jacket, February 8 to May 4. The collaborative creation of Milwaukee’s Harley-Davidson Museum and Seattle’s Experience Music Project (EMP) museum, the travelling exhibition explores the garment’s meteoric rise as a pop-culture icon.


Your 7 Best Bets for Entertnment in Winnipeg’s Exchange District


Best Entertainment in Winnipeg's Exchange District

Best entertainment in Winnipeg’s Exchange District: The Weakerthens at Centennial Concert Hall (Photo: Alana Elliot)

Winnipeg is a city of endless activities and distractions, but if you’re looking to take in a show while you’re in town, the Exchange District offers some of the city’s best entertainment. Our local experts have been taking in the cultural presentations in this neighbourhood for years, and have compiled their picks for the best music, film and theatre venues. Here, in no particular order, are the best entertainment spots in Winnipeg’s Exchange District.



WINTERLUDE: Free Pancake Breakfast!

On Feb. 2 at 10 a.m. stop in at Marion Dewar Plaza for a free pancake breakfast, as part of this year’s Winterlude festivities! (Photo: NCC)

Free food. Yes, free food! The best way to stay warm and energized during all your winter fun is to eat a hearty breakfast. For the ninth year in a row, show up at Marion Dewar Plaza at Ottawa City Hall on Saturday, Feb. 2 at 10 a.m. for a free pancake and hot chocolate breakfast. The early bird gets the pancake, though, because it’s only while supplies last! This is a great way to start your day before heading across to see the ice sculptures in Confederation Park or go for a skate on the Rideau Canal.

WINTERLUDE: Spectacular Ice Sculptures on Display at Confederation Park


Confederation Park transforms during Winterlude, as spectacular ice sculptures take over during the two-week festival. (Photo: National Capital Commission)

Get ready to “ooh” and “ahh” as professional and amateur ice carvers create fantastical creatures out of blocks of ice. The theme for Winterlude’s ice-carving challenge in Confederation Park is “Imaginary Garden,” which is just what the park will turn into once these chainsaw-wielding artists have completed their masterpieces. Show up at 5 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 1 to watch the award ceremony. There will be plenty more ice carving during Winterlude, too, including the 26th International Ice-Carving Competition (Feb. 1 to Feb. 3); the Ice-Carving Championship (in three rounds on Feb. 9: 11 a.m., 1 p.m. and 3 p.m.); a Public Ice-Carving Challenge where amateurs can register to take part (Feb. 16, 11:30 to 2:30 p.m.); and one for the kids: Young Sculptors at Work (Feb. 17, 1:30 p.m. to 3 p.m.). And be sure to walk through the park at night to see these beautiful ice sculptures in their best light!

Weekend Roundup: Best Bets for January 25 to 27

Friday, January 25

Get your dancing shoes on for the Canadian Museum of Nature’s Nature Nocturne event.

Night owls can dance the night away in the storied halls of the Canadian Museum of Nature during Nature Nocturne, the museum’s after-hours event for adults. DJ TDot and classical guitarist Chris Milne will get your feet moving while you take in interactive art exhibits by the Luminartists, heARTbeatgal, and Greta Grip. Don’t worry about all that moving and perusing making you hungry: food and drink will be available for purchase.

Kick off the weekend with a birthday celebration. Your local Royal Oak pub honours Scotland’s favourite son, poet Robbie Burns, in the traditional way: lively music and an ode to a haggis. Check out their website for artist listings by location and don’t forget to wear your kilt!

In “The Way We Feel,” a full cast of award-winning roots musicians comes together at the Centrepointe Theatre to honour Gordon Lightfoot, one of Canada’s most beloved and enduring musicians. Hear Cadence, Lori Cullen, Oh Susanna, Suzie Vinnick, and many others as they offer their takes on Lightfoot’s iconic songs.

Saturday, January 26

Rae Spoon plays the National Arts Centre.

Coming to the National Arts Centre: author, musician, and voice for change Rae Spoon. The transgendered artist’s latest offerings has move into the realm of experimental and electronic music. Their writing and music – Spoon encourages the use of the gender-neutral pronoun – explores the emotions of grief and hope, and the experience of growing up queer in evangelical Alberta.

Ottawa Dance Directive is Ottawa’s newest professional dance centre, supporting the local contemporary dance community. Come out and see what the IN House Company choreographers are up to and support their residency program with BODYSPEAK RoughCuts at the Arts Court Theatre.

Artistic Director Zhu Liying brings together local art troupes, community organizations and artists in the China Wind 2013 Spring Festival Show, a celebration of China’s many cultures and landscapes. Celebrate the upcoming Chinese New Year at Centrepointe Theatre with song, dance, and breathtaking costumes.

Sunday, January 27

The National Arts Centre orchestra plays at the National Gallery of Canada for a special Sunday afternoon event.

The National Gallery of Canada pairs up with the National Arts Centre Orchestra to present Music for a Sunday Afternoon. Hear five musicians perform three pieces, including Messaien’s “Quartet for the End of Time,” in the Gallery’s picturesque Great Hall.

Hockey’s back! Watch the Ottawa Senators trounce the Pittsburgh Penguins at Scotiabank Place. It’s fun and games for all with the Metro Family Game: everyone gets to enjoy a non-alcoholic drink and hotdog included with each ticket purchase, and the kids get extra fun with mascots, face painting, and more.

Not quite ready to brave a traditional haggis feast? Mark Robbie Burns Day with a whisky tasting event at the Billings Estate Museum. Sommelier Geoffrey Skeggs, a “beer and scotch guy,” leads the tastings and their perfect food pairings.