Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Still Filling the Well in Bayfield, Ontario

The view from my hammock in Bayfield, Ontario.
I am currently blogging at my group blog - Four Mugs and a Crock. Come and check us out.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Filling the Well

Now that the chaos, otherwise known as JUNE, is over I can concentrate my energies upon "refilling the well". I have willingly although sometimes snappishly worn myself out on behalf of my family and my students, and now it's time to replenish my spirit and my strength.

June, as all teachers can attest, is the month that saps one's resources more than any other. Year end trips, culminating activities, exam preparation, IEP meetings, graduations, proms, shopping expeditions for said prom and graduation dresses, packing up the classroom, exam supervision, report cards all contribute to the bittersweet emptying of what was, the previous September, a very deep, very wet well.

On the last day of school my inner well resembled that dry and dusty pit of despair as illustrated above. But the proms and graduations are over, the exams are marked, the report cards filled in, lockers are empty though still smelly and supplies are packed into boxes to await another September.

Let the refilling begin.

The refilling of my well began at about the same time that my daughter filled out her prom dress and struck a pose with her beau. She puts a smile on my face and joy in my heart.

Stay tuned for more wellfilling moments.........

Friday, June 13, 2008

The Knickerbockers - Lies (60's punk classic)

This song is for Mapquest - the liars! (Read post below and you'll understand.)

Suicide Rate Soars in Toronto


Not really, but I wouldn't be surprised if it did. I considered it freqently while spending hours in Toronto's traffic yesterday. I went to a JUMP MATH workshop at the University of Toronto and arrived 45 minutes late, even after adding an extra hour to the driving time suggested by Mapquest. It seems that Mapquest doesn't take heavy weekday traffic into consideration when calculating the time it takes to drive from one place to another. Two weeks ago, on a Saturday, my daughter and I calmly arrived in downtown Toronto after a carefree drive of an hour and forty minutes. Yesterday I arrived (not calmly) after three and a half hours of what I can only call EXCRUCIATING TORMENT!!

I don't know how Torontonians do it. Apparently it doesn't bother them to drive 2 or 3 feet at a time and then stop for a break, drive another 4 or 5 feet and stop for a little rest. Leaving aside my shattered nerve ends for a moment, I hate to think what all of this idling is doing to our air.

It wouldn't be so bad, I suppose, if one were a student of philosophy. I had plenty of time to think. I wondered why there were thousands of cars/trucks/transports on BOTH sides of the Gardiner Expressway and the QEW. Obviously people need to roll down their car windows and start exchanging phone numbers. The ones driving out of the city centre need to connect with those driving in - perhaps they could switch homes or switch jobs and they'd have no need to drive at all. Perhaps politicians could enact a law that prohibited workers from living more than 1 kilometre from their place of employment.

Then I noticed the Go Trains rattling by with room for hundreds at a GO. I decided then and there that if I was ever again stupid enough to travel to Toronto on a weekday I would take a train. Imagine, no thousands of cars trying to merge in front of you from all of those on ramps. No stop lights. The time to read a chapter or two while being whisked along at HIGH SPEED while your vehicle, if you have one, sits quietly at home - no wear, no tear, no pricey gasoline.

The only relief for my constantly roaming ADD-addled eyes was the sight of dozens of bikers, no doubt on their way to Port Dover for Friday the 13th. I was entertained by the variety of bikes, the outfits and the amount or lack of possessions. Some were loaded down with side bags and boxes and even a flashlight hanging by a rope where others were travelling lean and mean. But I could tell they were frustrated also as they had to keep their feet firmly planted on the ground - not so easy for those wearing flipflops and its NO way to ride a bike.

All I could do when I finally arrived home (traffic didn't start to move til after getting to Hamilton - took me two hours to travel 55 kms) was grunt to my daughter and lay down on the couch. I was disgusted that the round trip took seven hours in total and almost a full tank of gas. I just checked on the ViaRail website and a round trip would have cost me $69.50 - just a bit more than a tank of gas and much less time and frustration - they even have wireless internet!

Live and learn, that's all I can say.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Thursday Thirteen # 8 - Canada Has Its Own Day

With Canada Day on the Horizon

I thought it would be appropriate to provide a list

of surefire ways of knowing if you are Canadian or not, but I know that


for sure because..................

1. I not only have Canadian Tire money in my kitchen drawers I also keep it handy in the glovebox of my car for those impulse buys such as the campfire bench I bought there on Saturday.

2. I not only know what a Robertson screwdriver is but I also use one on a regular basis like the weekend in May when I took apart a sofabed so I could get it out of my trailer.

3. I can easily pay for my lunch just by using change - loonies and toonies. And I am constantly trying to get rid of my change due to the weight of my purse caused by said loonies and toonies.

4. I get very irritated when I spell words like honour, labour and colour and they are highlighted by my computer for being spelled incorrectly. Very irritated!

5. I am irate that they would even consider changing the theme song for Hockey Night in Canada. Tum te tum te tum...tum te tum te tum...

6. I have a friend who went to highschool in Ottawa with Alanis Morrissette.

7. I have followed closely the career of William Shatner.

8. I can sing our national anthem in two languages.

9. I start wearing shorts and sandals when the temperature goes above 0 degrees (celcius).

10. Watching curling on TV has me on the edge of my seat and one of my fave movies is called "Men with Brooms" - it was just on Showcase the other night!

11. One of my other fave movies (out on DVD last summer) is called "Bon Cop Bad Cop" - it is hilarious!

12. I am happy to stand in a lineup of 10 or more people at Tim Horton's at 6:30am to get my daily extra large double cream.

13. I am very loyal to Canadian bands: The Guess Who, BTO, The Tragically Hip, Nickelback, Alexisonfire, Billy Talent, Blue Rodeo, Luke Doucet & White Falcon, Steppenwolf, Rush, Arcade Fire, Jeff Healey, Bare Naked Ladies and the King of them all - NEIL YOUNG!

Wordless Wednesday - Tuesday Edition

Tee hee - I love album cover art. This one is rather unique - I think I'd be afraid to listen to it!

For more Wordless Wednesday - Tuesday Edition look here!
Track Listing
Side 1
Music to Be Murdered ByI’ll Never Smile AgainI Don’t Stand a Ghost of a Chance With youAfter You’ve GoneAlfred Hitchcock Television Theme
Side 2
SuspicionBody and SoulLover Come Back to MeI’ll Walk aloneThe Hour of Parting

Monday, June 9, 2008

Monday Memoirs - Drama Queen

Of course the obvious question here is not why am I on the roof in my mother's skirt and high heels, no, the obvious question is where the heck was my mother when I was up on the roof in her skirt and high heels?

I can't answer that question except to say my brother and I most likely waited until mom was on her way downtown to do her shopping, oblivious to the risky activities her youngest two got up to in her absence.

On the back of the photo the words "no, don't shoot" are written in a childish hand. My brother and I loved to act out skits of our own making, especially since finding mother's old movie magazines in the small closet under the stairs. We tried using a tape recorder that Kim got for Christmas one year but got into major trouble one night when in the midst of creating quite amazing sound effects we dropped the tape recorder onto the glass top of our coffee table shattering it into a million pieces. The amazing sound bite was rather diminished by our mother's wrath.

So we turned to photography and my brother made me, yes made me pose in all kinds of crazy getups in all kinds of crazy locations while trying to emote major silent movie style mannerisms and facial expressions in my limited way(think Gloria Swanson - "I'm ready for my closeup Mr. DeMille). I can't recall the storyline which would rationally explain why someone was trying to shoot me after I had clambered up onto the roof but I bet it would be a blockbuster!

I'm sure they would have missed me anyway as I dove into the upstairs window - the bad guys were notoriously bad shots in old movies, still are in fact.

Weekend Mucking About at the Trailer

Along with trailer ownership comes trailer maintenance. On Friday night there were severe thunderstorms for about 2 hours, and when I went outside in the morning I could hear a steady drip drip drip.

I found that water was dripping over the edge of the eavestrough at the lower end. That can't be good I said to myself. Who knows how long its been since the eavestrough had been cleaned out but I was up for the job, so to speak, at least once I got out the stepladder.

I had no rubber gloves and the only tool that would fit into the narrow trough was a garden trowel. Up the ladder I went, trowel in hand. Wow, you can see all around the park from the top of my ladder - cool.

However, the black sludge in the trough, years old accumulation of maple leaves and maple keys, wasn't so cool. It smelled. Bad. Like manure. But being raised by a man who could stick his bare hand into the entrails of a dead chicken I am no wuss, but I do admit to wrinkling my nose. I scooped with the trowel and bravely dug down with my left hand to lift masses of oozing black guck out of the trough and then tried to toss it onto the same spot on the lawn, over and over again.

Oh, and did I mention that all this goo (I think a few more years and I would have had my own source of petroleum) was lying under several inches of brackish water? No? Well it was, and as I gradually worked my way down the front of my porch the water slowly started to trickle down the spout out onto the lawn. By the time I reached the downspout most of the water had successfully escaped but looking back I could still see small bits of sludge here and there that I had missed when it was still underwater.

Not one to leave a job partially done I pulled the hose over and started at the other end again spraying water down the trough till it was totally clear of yucky stuff.

I was a little smarter when bagging the goo I had tossed down. Not really yearning to immerse my hands once again in black slime but lacking gloves I put my hand inside a plastic bag and then cleared up the manure pile. Farmer Hazelnut!

I was able to sleep much better that night knowing my troughs were clear.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Wordless Wednesday

Self portrait c.1988

OMG - that was 20 years ago!

For more Wordless Wednesday go here!

Monday, June 2, 2008

Monday Memoirs - Turkey Point

When I was a kid, yeah that's me kneeling on the blanket, my gramma Catton used to rent the same cottage at Turkey Point for a week every summer. This was quite a few years back and it cost about $30 for a week of sunburns, underwater handstands, potato salad and cucumber sandwiches. Yeah, pure bliss! Seated beside me is one of my older brothers - Kim, and one of my older sisters - Dale. I still remember that short set I was wearing - I thought it was so cool. It was white but had these red and white striped thingys you could tie into bows at the neck and on the legs of the shorts.

It was a great place to spend a week - the beaches were sandy and the lake full of dunes - you could walk out a mile and the water would only be up to your armpits. Not that I was a great swimmer, but I never came too close to drowning. The water and the food and the freedom were the best part for me, (no mother telling me to eat my vegetables or not to go out into the lake too far - just gramma who never said no to a second ice cream cone) however, from what my sisters remember it was the gin that my gramma doled out in generous amounts mixed with Wink that provided some of their best memories!

We always rented the same cottage - cottage #4. It is still there, now part of the "Whispering Pines" group of cottages, though updated and a bit more pricey at $535 per week. It has new siding, new windows and linoleum and I don't remember there being a firepit.

#4 was our favourite because in addition to 2 bedrooms it had a sunporch with a couch where another person could sleep.

Here's the sunporch now and you get a good view of the road leading down to the beach - the water isn't too far away. My cousin Murray and I would play on the road with our cars and trucks making roadways in the sand, impatiently waiting for gramma to announce that it was time to go to the beach. There was also a swing at the other end of the road behind a little hedge and a spring coming out of the side of a hill by the swing with cold wonderful tasting water. (Pesticides?)

My cousin Murray usually only lasted til about Tuesday or Wednesday when his dad would have to come and get him because he'd be sunburned so badly. No sunblock in those days. I survived somehow and usually only ended up with the usual assortment of scrapes, cuts, bruises and second degree burns.

Honestly, I was the most battered looking child ever. I was such a tomboy I was forever falling out of trees or falling while climbing over a rusty barbwire fence. Yet I never broke a bone or poked an eye out like my brother Kim. In fact, (correct me if I'm wrong ceeb) I don't remember a single broken bone in our entire family. I give all credit to our mother...."get down from there"...."put that down"...."get off the roof right now"...."stop shooting those arrows at your sister"...."no you can't play with your father's rifle"...."no, you can't drink that"....etc etc.

Now I have my own trailer to go to at a different lake but the feelings are still the same. Everyone needs a place to escape to in the summer, a place to let your hair down with no boss looking over your shoulder, no deadlines....just pure bliss.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Photohunt - ME

In my happy spot! I was there (trailer at Bayfield on Lake Huron) for awhile after school today. I had ordered some chairs and they had been delivered to the local variety store by Sears. It wasn't sunny today though, but after my crazily frenetic Friday, it didn't matter. It was AWAY from it all.

For more photohunt participants click here.

Flipside Friday: The Smiths - Panic (on the streets of London)

There was panic on the streets of London, Ontario today, 450 Dundas St. to be exact as I prepared for a Best Buddy graduation party for 40 with 1/2 of my staff off sick and 3 supply educational assistants, 2 of whom had never been at my school before and the 3rd, well let's just say she needs more support than my students.
Despite the panic we managed to get everything ready just in time, the kids were rowdy but well-behaved and all's well that ends well, so someone said.

Thursday, May 29, 2008


Thirteen Indicators that Your Almost 18 Year Old is Growing Up!

  1. She is writing her final highschool English University level essay and asked me to edit it. (She's never shown me any essay she's ever written before on purpose! I may have accidentally peeked but that's a different post.)

  2. She tells me on the drive home from school that she's looking forward to doing her homework tonight because of how good she'll feel when it's all done. (Yes, she is my daughter, I checked her DNA!)

  3. She is gainfully employed. (In fact, she may have two jobs as she has another interview tomorrow.)

  4. She postponed her driving test because SHE feels she needs more time to practise. (Hallelujah, praise the Lord!)

  5. She has been going out with the same boy for over a year and he's the first boyfriend since Gr. 9 four years ago when she chose them for their "cute" factor. (Not that this one isn't cute, but he is also gainfully employed, also heading off to university in the fall, and wants to be a LAWYER!)

  6. She told me not to buy water in plastic bottles anymore and carries a reusable water bottle.

  7. After four years of spending her wages on cafeteria food and fast food lunches she now packs a lunch each day with fresh vegetables, fruit and yogurt. (Maybe I should get that DNA rechecked!)

  8. She offers to do the dishes. Offers.

  9. Anti-exercise all her life except for highland dancing, she now walks, jogs and goes to hot yoga. (Have aliens landed and I wasn't informed?)

  10. Wanting to keep up with world events she watches the news. (This is the same girl who thought Much Music was the only channel on TV. )

  11. She told me the other day that if I was having a bad day or was having any problems that I could talk to her anytime if it would help. Awwwwwwwwwww!

  12. She has cleaned up her room several times over the past few weeks WITHOUT me asking her to! This is MAJOR!!

  13. She bought me a new set of plates because she felt bad about breaking one.

I'm sure more indicators will be forthcoming - I can't wait until she can kills spiders on her own!

For more Thursday Thirteen lists click here.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Wordless Wednesday

"Corn Cob Towers" otherwise known as Marina City, overlooking the Chicago River and "the loop". I fell in love with these towers on my visit last summer & took many exterior shots but would love to have a look inside. Does anyone know any links to interior photos?

For more WW click here!

Monday, May 26, 2008

Flipside Friday/Manic Monday - Monster Hospital by Metric

Due to a 5 1/2 hour emergency visit to the hospital Friday night and another trip to the doctor's office today I thought that Emily Haines of the great Canadian indie band Metric singing "Monster Hospital" an appropriate choice.

Signs, Vows and Dairy Queen

I am having a tough time with my post tonight because of several things: first of all one of my favourite movies, Signs is on - I don't know why but I love movies about the end of the world and/or aliens. (Independence Day, The Day After Tomorrow, and most recently, Cloverfield). Yet, ironically, I am a very optimistic person and I don't really think aliens exist.
Also, today is my birthday (I'm not telling...) and I made a vow today - never to use a drive through lane again. You see, some London students were protesting at a local Tim Horton's a few days back and made the front page of the newspaper. They were asking folks to park and walk in instead of idling away in a long line of cars. The students were told that what they were doing wasn't going to make anyone change their habits but I, for one, disagree.

Most of the time I DO park and walk in simply because time and time again it has proven to be much faster. There is usually no lineup inside. I can often go in, order, pay and walk out with my coffee and see the same people still waiting in line. Sometimes I give a little wave implying - "see how smart I am?" But my first ever birthday vow is to never use the drivethrough lane again even if I think it may be quicker or more convenient and/or I am feeling particularly lazy.

Not at Timmy's, not at Wendy's and not at Dairy Queen (the slowest drivethrough lane ever!) Tonight we parked and walked into Dairy Queen and although the lineup inside was long, it wasn't nearly as long as the 20 cars all idling and idling as they waited and waited. The line inside moved quickly yet gave us time to peruse the menu, salivate over the pictures and decide what we wanted to have. AND I could understand what they were saying to me, it wasn't all tinny and garbled.

It isn't easy to eat a sundae and type at the same time so I have had to take many little pauses while I enjoyed my soft icecream, pecans and caramel sauce. Even though this post took twice as long to type, it was worth every mouthful!

Thursday, May 22, 2008

David Cook - A Well Deserved Victory

There seems to be a new kind of guy garnering respect these days and I like it. A self-described "word-nerd", David Cook - a humble, off-beat, weirdly intelligent rocker type (who wears argyle sweaters) with a raspy raw perfectly pitched voice, won the day at American Idol. For once, talent won out over the cutesy, teeny-bopper syrupy-sweet young'un type. (Remember Clay?)
Not that David Archuleta doesn't have an incredible voice - he does- but not much range in the types of songs he can sing. A balladeer, another balladeer.
Rock on David Cook. Let's see what you can make of your chance.
And fellow Canadians, Canadian Idol starts up on June 3rd. YAY!

Best Buddies - Track and Field

My student, in blue, is running the 400m helped out by three members of our Best Buddies Club: one girl jogging ahead on the left, another pointing as she runs and a third jogging along on the other side. With the help of her buddies she kept running all the way around the track.
Our first place ribbon winner in the long jump. I love my other student watching in the background (grey T-shirt, blue pants) as he is jumping at the same time.
My best picture poser! "This is a shotput. See?"
"And this is how you throw the shotput!" She was third overall.
Our buddies sure had fun, even though it was so cold. How cold was it? I don't know, but I saw a lawyer with his hands in his own pockets.
Running the relay, despite a valiant effort in the last leg by our 100m 1st place winner the gap was too big to close, but we cheered all the way to the finish line.
I call this photo "The Agony of De Feet."
But we can never be sad for too long, not when we are surrounded by best friends and blankets."Wow, I sure threw that ball pretty high!"
(That's me smiling - I think my smile froze into place!")
Making it to the finish line is a wonderful feeling.

A day with my best buddy is the best kind of day.
Meeting up with an old friend who moved away a year ago.
Tears of happiness.
I love my yellow baton. I don't really want to pass it on. Maybe I'll just keep it. Maybe no one will notice.
I am fast, I am Superspeedyfeet woman!
Look at my form, look at my steely-eyed determination, look at the goosepimples on my arms and legs. Hurry up and start the race already!

The End

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

David vs David

The psychics have picked David Archuleta, but greater financial success and album sales are predicted for David Cook.

We'll know the winner in about 15 minutes - hang in there!

Special Olympics - What a Great Day!

These aren't my students. I hope to have some photos up tomorrow from our track and field meet today. But the same competitive spirit is there in those smiling, victorious faces.

As the track meet was in another city, we endured a bus ride filled with exuberant special athletes and many peer coaches from our hugely successful Best Buddies Club, about 22 in all, plus 7 staff, all singing Kumbaya at the tops of their collective lungs, over and over and over again. And then again. Coulda been worse, coulda been 100 bottles of beer on the wall.

It certainly wasn't the best day weatherwise. Only about 9C, windy and overcast except for a 2 second glimpse of the sun through a tiny break in the clouds at about 10:00am. But other than a few rain drops we remained dry, frozen solid, but dry.

But I heard no complaints, except from my staff (and me) while guzzling gallons of strong, hot coffee and gorging on double chocolate muffins and cookies provided by our most excellent hosts (St. Joseph's Highschool in lovely St. Thomas, Ontario - thank you!)

We managed to score quite a few ribbons for shotput, highjump, long jump, 100 and 400m races but the best prizes were the looks on the faces of our kids as they crossed the finish line with arms raised in the air, jumping up and down because they finished the race.

We met up with old friends who had moved away and made many new friends too as evidenced by the frequent exchange of facebook info - I had to keep loaning out my pen - sheesh! Love was in the air! Things were heating up!

The ride home was much quieter, I even heard a few snores! And our bus driver, God bless him, made a pit stop for us at Tim Horton's. You can never have enough hot coffee on such a chilly day. We made it back to school with the same number of kids as when we left - that spells success for me.

American Idol is certainly a long drawn out affair tonight, I enjoyed David Cook singing with ZZ Top. And it was nice to see Donna Summer still hobbling around - she sounded pretty good. Which David will win??? Being more of a rock fan I'm hoping for DC, but DA has the preteen and little old lady market cornered. It'll be a close one.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Thursday Thirteen #7

Like the crazy canuck that I am
here are my belated vacation suggestions.
I am providing a list of the best hostels and locations in Canada.
Many of us will be sticking closer to home this summer due to the high cost
of petrol, so here are some economical yet fantastic places to stay.
Staying in a hostel isn't just for teenagers. My daughter and I travelled
around Canada during her Highland dancing days and stayed at many of these
hostels for as little as $12.00/night, in a private room. While she was under twelve
my daughter stayed for free.
1. Riviere-du-Loup, Quebec: situated on top of a cliff overlooking the mouth of the St. Lawrence River. My daughter and I tried to go whale-watching while we were here but it was too foggy during our stay. (We were successful while staying on Cape Breton Island two years later!)
2. Why not stay in a heritage building in downtown Victoria, B.C. for as low as $18.00 a night. Do I sound like a travel agent? You won't regret it!
3. Wentworth, Nova Scotia. Can I just say here that I love Nova Scotia with all of my heart, except for the part I will always reserve for Alberta (see #4)!
4. There is no place on earth more beautiful than "Kananaskis Country" unless its Nova Scotia (see #3)! This was the most rustic of the hostels I've stayed in and it was my favourite. My daughter and I played all day in the creek nearby creating a new tributary we named after ourselves (check out "Harrison Creek" when you visit!) all the while keeping one eye out for bears. I lived in Alberta for a year a lifetime ago and will never stop yearning to be back amid the magnificent Rockies.
5. Lennox Island is part of Prince Edward Island and is the place to visit if you enjoy sea-kayaking and inexpensive accomodations that are breathtakingly! ($20/night)
6. I can't say enough about the quality of the Auberge de Jeunesse in downtown Montreal. We were attending a national competition at the Sheraton Hotel which was located only a block away. I think I paid $10.00 a night and my daughter stayed for free. Needless to say we had a lot more fun shopping than our friends who were paying $200+ at the Sheraton!
7. Can you believe this place? Located at Pointe-a-la-Garde on the shore of the Baie des Chaleurs on the Gaspe Peninsula (just across the bridge from Campbellton, New Brunswick) this castle-like hostel was quite the experience. We stayed in an octagonal tower room and ate every home-cooked meal in a banquet hall lit only by candlelight. Our host who built the castle with his father, cooked & served every meal himself (authentic Quebecois cuisine). Around the table guests were present from all over the world and many an interesting story was shared. Be prepared to hike and enjoy the amazing views. On our last night guests took turns spooking each other with scary tales while the seemingly pre-arranged thunder crashed and lightning flashed & then we dashed (sorry, couldn't help myself!) back to our tower while the wind howled to find that the hydro had gone out - we shivered and huddled together for warmth and protection from the ghouls in our beds and agreed this was the best holiday ever!
8. You could stay in a doghouse in Quebec City and be happy, but luckily you don't have to. This hostel was ranked in the top 3 of all North American hostels in 2005. If you are still pondering where to go this summer put Quebec City at the top of your list. This summer they are celebrating the 400th anniversary since the founding of the city. Sounds like a party to me!

9. Whale watching, canyonning, hot tubs on the beach, the very best of the Gaspe Peninsula close at hand. Spectacular! In winter, the mountains are close by for skiing and the hot tubs are still in use.
10. This hostel at Banff was newly built when I was there and top-notch. It has an excellent restaurant and so much to do close by. Hot springs, hiking around Lake Louise, cable cars up into the mountains, lots & LOTS of wildlife. You can't go wrong visiting the Rockies.
11. What vacation in Canada would be complete without a visit to Charlottetown on Prince Edward Island? This hostel (home) is gorgeous - hardwood floors, cherry banisters, bay windows, home baking for breakfast - more like a cozy bed and breakfast.
12. Here's a hostel I'd love to visit - the northernmost hostel in Canada located in Dawson City, Yukon. Go panning for gold, visit a gold mine, paddle the Klondike River, enjoy native arts and crafts. This is one place you won't soon forget.
13. Edmonton, Alberta: we loved this hostel! And we loved Edmonton! My daughter was dancing at the West Edmonton Mall which is THE largest mall in North America and the 4th largest in the world. Not that I'm advocating malls but this place has an ice rink, a water park, a hotel, an amusement park complete with roller coaster, a submersible submarine, indoor golf, movie theatres, petting zoo (etc etc) and over 800 stores and services. My favourite part was Bourbon St. which is of course based on New Orleans. When you're stuck in one location for a week with 100's of children (dancers) this was a pretty entertaining spot.

Another cool reason for travelling to northern Canada in the summer is the longer days. I was able to sit outside in the hostel's courtyard reading past 10 o'clock at night. I really appreciated that after long days of entertaining the kiddies!