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Toronto and Niagara Falls

Earlier this month I traveled with the family to (as the title indicates) my hometown of Toronto, and also to Niagara Falls, Ontario, which is an only an hour and a half away from the city. It was a great trip!

Yvonne initially traveled with the kids to meet up with her sister and her sister’s daughter at our cottage on Paudash Lake, northeast of Toronto, in late June and early July. They had an amazing time. In fact, we discussed making it an annual tradition to bring the kids up to the cottage for Canada Day each year.

When Yvonne and her sister arrived in Toronto after staying at the cottage they visited the Toronto Botanical Garden for a few hours, and had a lark replicating the poses of the various statues placed throughout the grounds.

After they spent a few weeks at the cottage I met Yvonne and the kids in Toronto, where we hung out with some of my old friends. One of the places we enjoyed the most was Snakes & Lattes, which is a board game café in town. There are three Snakes & Lattes locations in Toronto, and somehow I have already been to all three of them! Apparently they’ve also opened one in Tempe, Arizona? Well, I haven’t been to that one.

Shadows Over Camelot

One of the games we had the most fun playing was called 5-Minute Dungeon. It’s a cooperative game where players need to contribute to defeating a variety of monsters and bosses. We liked it so much, we visited 401 Games at Yonge & Wellesley and bought a copy! They’ve created a Marvel version of the game as well which I have yet to try (but I hear it’s just the same game featuring characters from the Marvel Universe).

Snakes & Lattes on Eglinton Avenue in Toronto

And after Snakes & Lattes we had lunch at Sneaky Dee’s, an old hangout at College & Bathurst. In a rapidly changing world, Sneaky Dee’s manages to remain the same ol’ place, which is a good thing.

We stayed at the ÏCE Condominiums at York Centre while we were in Toronto, which is located right next to Maple Leaf Square (aka Jurassic Park when the Toronto Raptors are playing basketball). We stayed on the 51st floor, which was pretty tremendous! We had a great view of the Toronto Harbour.

The view from the ÏCE Condominiums at York Centre
The ÏCE Condominiums fitness center

While we were in the Toronto area we also toured the University of Toronto and McMaster University for Amelia, who at least at this point is hoping to go to medical school one day. She preferred the University of Toronto and its different colleges. And you can’t beat all the ethnic food you can find in the area – we had Korean food multiple times!

Callum at the University of Toronto
McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario

After our Toronto visit we headed south to Niagara Falls, Ontario (as the Canadian side is better, of course). We stayed at a hotel right near the Falls (the hotel overlooked the falls, but our room didn’t).

While we were at Niagara Falls we also went on the Hornblower boat tour, which is the Canadian version of the Maid of the Mist (though I swear when I was a kid the Maid of the Mist was also on the Canadian side). That was quite a wet experience.

We also stayed at the Great Wolf Lodge in Niagara Falls, Ontario, which was fun. We played MagiQuest (which we’ve also played at locations in Myrtle Beach and Boston when the kids were younger) and hung out at the crazy indoor water park they’ve constructed inside the hotel.

Finally, we returned to Celebration, and went to Epcot with our friend Melissa. It was really fun! All in all it was a great couple of weeks.

The Bubblegum Wall at Epcot
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At our cottage in Ontario

Last month, after visiting friends in Toronto, Callum and I headed to our cottage on Paudash Lake, in the Highlands East region of Ontario’s cottage country. Yvonne and I bought the place back in August of 2005 when we thought we were going to be moving to either Ottawa or Toronto. However, we ended up moving to the southern States, so we didn’t end up visiting nearly as much as we had originally planned. I have a whole cache of memories of being a kid tromping around Ontario’s cottage country (on the same lake in fact), so it’s definitely something I wanted my kids to experience as well… however, our living in the southern States and eventually France made that difficult.

So I was very pleased when Callum and I had a few weeks to travel to Toronto, rent a car, and take the drive north to spend some time up at the cottage. We visited some old friends, made some new ones, did some kayaking and swimming, went on a hike in Silent Lake Provincial Park (which was pretty buggy to be honest), and relaxed amidst nature’s splendor. Oh, and I did a lot of grilling by the lake of course!

Joe Bay, Paudash Lake

Paudash Lake deck

Paudash Lake sunrise

Lower Paudash Lake

Paudash Lake flowers

Before flying back to Orlando, Callum and I spent a few more days in downtown Toronto, where we went on an open-top bus tour (during a heat wave!) and walked around the city. And I got to see the treehouse from Mr. Dressup at the CBC building! Which is only cool if you happened to grow up in Canada. Which I did, so I thought it was very cool!

Toronto Harbourfront

Mr. Dressup's treehouse

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