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Ontario

Quick Pick: 3 Toronto Florists for a Romantic Bouquet

NO MATTER WHERE YOU ARE IN TORONTO, IT’S EASY TO MAKE A ROMANTIC GESTURE WITH A BOUQUET OF FLOWERS

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A flower arrangement by Sweet Woodruff

This Valentine’s Day, or at any other time of year, surprise your beloved with a lush arrangement delivered to their hotel room before a special night out. Though Toronto has many talented florists, these are among our favourites.

1 Lisa Collins and her team at Sweet Woodruff are known for elegant, timeless arrangements that are especially popular with brides. 889 Dundas St. W., 416-362-8883; sweetwoodruff.ca

2 Apricot Flowers, a modern Mount Pleasant–neighbourhood shop is where owner Cathy Kim creates vibrant arrangements in tone-on-tone shades. 621 Mount Pleasant Rd., 647-347-2044; apricotflowers.com

3 Quince Flowers owner Rosemary Jeffares creates refined but contemporary bouquets by mixing beloved blooms with exotic varietals. 660 Queen St. E., 416-594-1414; quinceflowers.com

—Linda Luong

10 Gifts from the Heart for Valentine’s Day 2016

THESE VALENTINE’S DAY GIFTS ARE SURE TO WARM YOUR LOVE’S HEART

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Make sure you turn the tap (err, cufflink) on the left by choosing wisely from our Valentine’s gift list

They say it’s the thought that counts, but few people have ever turned down a beautiful store-bought product either. We’ve selected this small group of favourites—from local and international brands—to help ensure your Valentine’s gift-shopping experience is a smoking-hot success.

—Linda Luong

Warm Winter Jazz

Juno Award-nominated artist Carol Welsman performs at the Ottawa Winter Jazz Festival.

Juno Award-nominated artist Carol Welsman performs at the Ottawa Winter Jazz Festival.

FEB. 4 TO 7 Two pianos, two keyboards, and a drum kit — these are the tools Mouse on the Keys use to create their haunting, jazz-influenced, experimental music. Based in Japan, the trio blends aspects of rock and roll with the gentler strains of classical, jazz, and funk. They’re just one of several bands performing at this year’s Ottawa Winter Jazz Festival. Other names, many of them from Ottawa, include John Geggie’s Journey Band, Montréal Guitare Trio, The Chocolate Hot Pockets, and Juno Award-nominated chanteuse Carol Welsman. —Amy Allen
ottawajazzfestival.com

6 Effortlessly Romantic Things to Do in Toronto

IT’S EASY TO CREATE EVERLASTING MEMORIES WITH YOUR SWEETHEART WITH THESE NO-FUSS ROMANTIC THINGS TO DO IN TORONTO

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Afternoon tea at Deq, a visit to the AGO, and skating at Nathan Phillips Square—just a few of Toronto’s effortlessly romantic things to do

Forget the chilly temperatures outside. Instead, embrace winter and its seasonal delights. And embrace each other, too by exploring a new destination—or revisiting a longtime favourite—and indulging in a few easy-to-do, good-for-two activities.

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Gallery Highlights Early Canadian Snapshots

Mirrors with Memory shines a light on early Canadian photography. (Thomas Coffin Doane, The Molson family brewery after the fire, Montreal, Quebec, 1858, daguerreotype, Library and Archives Canada.)

Mirrors with Memory shines a light on early Canadian photography. (Thomas Coffin Doane, The Molson family brewery after the fire, Montreal, Quebec, 1858, daguerreotype, Library and Archives Canada.)

Invented in the early 1800s, the daguerreotype is the prototype for photography as we know it today. Images were captured on a sheet of polished, silver-plated copper, allowing each detail to be preserved with pristine clarity. For the first time in history, humans could create images of themselves — and the world around them — as they really were. In Mirrors with Memory: Daguerreotypes from Library and Archives Canada, a series of landscapes and portraits of regular citizens open a window into Canada’s early days. On display at the National Gallery of Canada until February 28.
•National Gallery of Canada, 380 Sussex Dr., 613-990-1985. gallery.ca
Map and reviews

Three Hot Chocolates for Frosty Days

Chilly days call for warm beverages. Try one of these hot chocolates from three Ottawa eateries.

Chilly days call for warm beverages. Try one of these hot chocolates from three Ottawa eateries.

Truffle Treasures: Peanut Butter Hot Chocolate. Truffle Treasures is known for their decadent peanut butter cups — now you can get one in beverage form! 314 Richmond Rd., 613-761-3859, truffletreasures.com

Cacao 70: Giuseppe Lamma’s Bolognese Hot Chocolate. Based on an Italian recipe dating to 1660, this hot chocolate is infused with orange and spiced with cinnamon. 53 William St., 623-860-1991, cacao70.ca 

Stella Luna Gelato Café: Alpine Hot Chocolate. Chef-owner Tammy Giuliani uses fresh milk, quality chocolate, and a bit of cream in this rich, frothy recipe from the Italian Alps. 1103 Bank St., 613-523-1116, slgelato.com —Amy Allen

 

Winter Wonderland: Winterlude

BY AMY ALLEN

The 38th edition of Winterlude, Ottawa's celebration of ice and snow, runs from January 29 to February 15. (Photo: Canadian Heritage)

The 38th edition of Winterlude, Ottawa’s celebration of ice and snow, runs from January 29 to February 15. (Photo: Canadian Heritage)

In many cities across North America, winter is a time when people stay indoors, but not so in Ottawa. Winterlude is the city’s annual homage to all things ice and snow. This year, it runs from January 29 to February 15.

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Happily Never After: Matchstick at the GCTC

A lighthearted musical with dark undertones, Matchstick chronicles the life of a woman who is married to a very notorious man.

A lighthearted musical with dark undertones, Matchstick chronicles the life of a woman who is married to a very notorious man.

JAN. 21 TO 31 A girl from a poor country meets a boy from the land of opportunity. They fall in love, get married, and live happily ever after. That’s how the story always goes, right? In the case of Matchstick, not so much. Told through music, the play unravels the true-life tale of a woman who discovers she has married “one of the most hated men in the world.” As for the man’s identity? You’ll just have to see the play to find out. Part romance, part musical, part dark historical drama, Matchstick deftly walks the tightrope between comedy and tragedy. —By Amy Allen
•Great Canadian Theatre Company, 1233 Wellington St. W., 613-236-5196. gctc.ca

Get Hyba Activewear by Reitmans at the Eaton Centre

REITMANS’ HYBA LINE OF ACTIVEWEAR ENCOURAGES FASHIONABLE FITNESS AT THE EATON CENTRE

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Did you make a get-in-shape resolution for 2016? Head to Hyba for affordable fitness apparel for women in a range of petite-to-tall sizes. The label’s CF Toronto Eaton Centre pop-up shop, which is open until March 31, comes courtesy of parent company Reitmans and features colourful performance pieces in three categories: the Go-Getter for high-intensity workouts, the Mindful Mover for yoga, and the Fun Seeker for athleisure looks.  —Linda Luong

• Hyba, CF Toronto Eaton Centre, 416-598-2065; reitmans.com

13 of the Most Unique Cafés in Toronto

VISIT ANY ONE OF THESE UNIQUE TORONTO CAFÉS FOR HIGH-QUALITY COFFEE AND DECADENT BAKED GOODS—PLUS BONUSES LIKE AMAZING AMBIENCE, SUPERIOR SERVICE, GREAT VIEWS AND EVEN BOARD GAMES!

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Boxcar Social makes its coffees and espresso-based beverages with a often-changing selection of beans from world-renowned roasters (photo: Boxcar Social)

Is a proliferation of cafés any indication of a city’s success? It’s not hard to argue in favour of the idea. Those who pass time at coffee shops necessarily have the leisure to do so. Leisure implies financial comfort, freedom—at least temporary—from work. Others, of course, use cafés as de facto workspaces, with caffeine helping fuel their creative contributions to the economy. And then there are the café owners themselves, who must be sufficiently confident in a city’s commercial vitality to have opened their businesses in the first place.

Ever dynamic, downtown Toronto hosts innumerable independent coffee-sipping spots. Many of the most popular, like Dark Horse, Sam James, Crema and Jimmy’s, are successful enough to support multiple locations across the city. There are far more excellent cafés than can reasonably be counted here, so let’s just say we hold the 13 places below in high regard—not only for their beverages, but for their delicious snacks, congenial ambience and other intangibles, too.

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Salute The Commodore in Parkdale

THE COMMODORE BRINGS SEAFOOD AND NAUTICAL STYLE TO THE WEST END

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The Commodore’s subtly nautical dining room (photo: Joel Gale)

The eastern portion of Parkdale (or, if you prefer, farther-west Queen West) continues to be a focal point for interesting, low-key eating experiences: hipster taco hub Grand Electric still draws crowds, while Chantecler and recently christened Miss Thing’s have cachet, too. The Commodore is one of the newest additions to this worthy group and boasts many of its hallmarks, including a designer—but not too designer—dining room, highly curated cocktail and craft beer program, and an overall intimate vibe. A menu highlighting smaller, shareable portions is also de rigeur for the region; in this case it champions unique seafood-forward dishes like swordfish crudo with sea asparagus and crispy chicken skin, brown butter–sauced shrimp, and squid ink and calamari ragu risotto. Without going overboard, the restaurant accentuates its naval nomenclature and ocean-going offerings with an interior reminiscent of a ship’s hull, and an above-the-bar assemblage of lights that could pass for the suckers on a squid’s tentacles.  –Craig Moy

• The Commodore, 1265 Queen St. W., 416-537-1265; commodorebar.ca
Map and reviews

Quick Pick: 3 Design Events This Month in Toronto

JANUARY OFFERS DESIGN LOVERS AMPLE OPPORTUNITY TO DISCOVER THE LATEST TRENDS IN DECOR, FURNISHINGS, CONCEPTUAL PRODUCTS AND MUCH MORE

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Toronto’s Studio Woolf and curator Sara Nickelson created Untitled (Idolization Space) for this year’s Come Up to My Room

Light-fixture lovers, ergonomic-chair enthusiasts and conceptual-space aficionados have much to celebrate this month in Toronto, thanks the return of three major design events.

JANUARY 23 & 24 The biggest, of course, is the Interior Design Show, an en masse expo featuring the brands and products that will set the trends in home and business styling for the year to come. Metro Toronto Convention Centre, 255 Front St. W., 416-585-8000; interiordesignshow.com

JANUARY 18 TO 24 The Toronto Design Offsite Festival offers a more experimental counterpoint: across the city, galleries and boutiques host installations that aim to create a dialogue around edgier, independent design being practiced locally and abroad. Various venues; todesignoffsite.com

JANUARY 21 TO 24 Arguably even more immersive is Come Up to My Room, an annual artistic takeover of the Gladstone Hotel. This year’s edition includes a re-creation of Ferris Bueller’s bedroom, a bathroom that explores identity through African barbershop signs and murals, and another suite that makes explicit the sanctification of our modern, image-obsessed culture. Gladstone Hotel, 1214 Queen St. W., 647-792-5961; comeuptomyroom.com

—Craig Moy