Up The Settings

Back in the early 90s, I did not pay much mind to the graphical fidelity of most games on the Nintendo 64. Blocky features and bulb-like hands which were missing fingers were the norm for many of our beloved characters. Mario could somehow drive cars in Mario Party and pick-up items with those circular hands that were latched onto red logs that clipped into his body and could jump to incredibly heights with those blocky legs.

Now, if I were to play Super Mario 64, I could say the gameplay is timeless, but the graphics definitely aren’t due to how rough and low-detailed everything looks. One cannot say Mario’s eyes being painted one looks as good as those fully modeled eyes on his later models.

Just take a look at this video to see the difference from then and now from A+Start.

Yet, despite being considered incredibly low-detailed and basic by modern standards, you don’t notice it as a kid. When your so enthralled with the game itself, you trick yourself into thinking these were some of the best looking things you ever seen – it also beats the 2D sprites on the screen of a battery-powered Gameboy that you might of had.

And as each new generation of graphical improvements hits, those things become the next best-looking thing available and sometimes it can seem like dark magic when your characters now have fingers, arms connected to their bodies and strong facial expressions.

In short, living in the era when you can directly see the improvements of video game graphics over the course of almost three decades is amazing as the bar is constantly being pushed above what you thought was possible and you can see that progress.

Anyone remember how good Battlefield 3 looked upon reveal?

With so much detail added since the 90s, when you play today’s games such as Devil May Cry 5, Resident Evil 2, and Gears 5, you can tell how much has have evolved by nuisances alone. Animation and lighting have changed how games look and feel and that’s before you add in the highly-detailed and textured models that would crash on old computer system alone.

Even when the improvements are becoming less and less prominent in terms of how differently everything is modeled, textured, and animated  -arms and legs being properly connected to their sockets was a huge leap- the bar is constantly moving.

What we might see in the next 20 years is up in the air, but it can only get better as technology improves and we’re able to look back as see how games appeared in the earlier years of game development.

Did You Know – Richmond Night Market

If there is one thing that tends to draw a crowd, it’s either a fair or a market. And what is one of the major draws of these events, well, it’s the food of course. 

These events barrage their participants with a variety of choices, and sometimes offer things that are difficult to find in the city of Vancouver. Maybe it’s those crisp and crunchy twirled potatoes from one of the food trucks that occasionally pops up downtown, or it’s a deep-fried Mars bar or twinkie. Yet, the Richmond Night Market, in particular, stands out.

Filled with countless stalls packed together that offer a wide-range of street food which includes a wide-range of tasty skewers of beef, chicken and lamb, to crispy pork hock, sweet lemonade, colourful slushies, and fish-shaped red-bean cakes, the Richmond Night Market draws in a massive crowd each night.It is so popular, there are more than a few line-ups and traffic jams as you try to navigate your way through the sea of people to just grab a taste of the delicious food being offered.

Yet, how did this all start? How did the Richmond Night Market take its hold on Metro Vancouver and become this grand event that dominates the Richmond area at Number 3 and Bridgeport Road?

What would become one of Lower Mainland’s most important events began in the year 2000. Founded by Raymond Cheung, the Richmond Night Market started its life in the Continental Centre on Cambie Road. From there, the event grew with each passing year as visitors flocked from all over to attend, causing the event to relocate over the early years of its life to accommodate the demand.

Eventually, there would be a four year hiatus to find a new location for the event. The new site of the Richmond Night Market would be at the corner of Number 3 and Bridgeport Road, the place that we now know and love today – as well as causing more than a few traffic issues near the Bridgeport Station, despite covering 18 acres of land!.

Since then, the Richmond Night Market has seen life-size dinosaurs from prehistoric times pop up, hosted special performances and events over the course of its life, and even held a massive celebration which included an inflatable cake just for Canada during our country’s 150th birthday.

Quite a rapid rise when you think about it. Less than 20 years, yet its popularity is huge, both within Metro Vancouver and the rest of the world. 

Yet, with all that said, you might want to hurry down and take in the experience – and the food – for yourself. Ending on October 14th, your palette will never forgive you if you don’t stop-by to see what the Richmond Night Market has to offer you.

E-Sports – Bigger and Better

A value of $1.1 million. That was the championship prize for the Overwatch League Grand Finals that took place in Philadelphia’s Well Fargo Center this weekend with a classic match-up of Canada facing down the US.

Competition between the two sides was fierce, yet victory eventually went to the San Francisco Shock who faced off against Vancouver’s Titans. Yet, despite Vancouver’s defeat, the team was still able to reel in $600,000 for second-place. Quite a bit of money no matter how you look at it.

Now, in the world of traditional sports, this is little more than pocket change considering what athletes in the NHL or NFL make – with contracts for players capable of breaking over the 10 million mark. Yet, if you could make even $100,000 by simply playing video games, would you do it? Would you turn your hobby into a source of revenue at the cost of needing to practice and learning every aspect of a video game? And when the time comes, would you be able to place yourself on the big stage for the whole world to see on stream services like Twitch?

It’d be hard to convince your parents that you want to be a professional gamer, but times are changing.

If you go back in time to the era of the 80s and 90s, video gaming tournaments tended to be small and held within a very small niche community. It might just be on Saturday afternoon at an arcade with maybe only a dozen players competing in a Street Fighter tournament for less than $100 that almost no one else knows about. Even big events such as Evo – an organization of tournaments for various fighting games down in Las Vegas – happens only once a year.

Compare all of that to now.

Tournaments are getting larger in their prize pools and turnout and are taking place in major venues such as the Well Fargo Center, which is home to Philadelphia’s Flyers and 76ers. More brands are investing in E-sports such as Coca-Cola, Toyota, and T-Mobile. By placing their names behind E-sports teams or video game companies, E-sport’s total revenue is set top over $1 billion in 2019. And even the Vancouver Canucks have recently purchased an E-sports team for Call of Duty by partnering with Enthusiast Gaming.

With so much investment being made in E-sports that allows people to make a living by playing video games, how long will it be until video games become a mainstream sport in the 21st century? The money is there, popularity amongst the younger generation is there, and the way digital media is distributed means almost anyone with a computer can theoretically start ‘training’ and participate in online tournaments to earn a name for themselves.

All of this seems to trend into E-Sport’s continued rise and growth that continues to get bigger and bigger with each passing year.

 

For a Greener World

Climate change. It is something that is debated by politicians and often seen as the impending doomsday by many as we sit on our fossil fuels and continue destructive trends. Even in a city such as Vancouver, we are slow to shift our habits with fossil-fuel burning cars on the street and planes overhead. We love our plastic cups and Styrofoam containers that are easy to take out and dispose of.

And while our city does have plans to become greener, some do not find change in the world is happening fast enough with decades being required to fully go green.

So it happens, on this very Friday, students and youth are gathering to call upon their governments to take more action against climate change. From Berlin to New York, Vancouver, to Sydney, there are mass protests happening to call for action with even some schools giving permission for their students to attend these events. Thousands from all across the world are gathering in their respective cities to make their voices heard and show there is a problem that governments cannot overlook.

All of this comes a year after Greta Thunberg, a young climate activist, inspired people after protesting alone outside Sweden’s parliament last year.

In Vancouver itself, there are “die-in” protests that are happening at the Vancouver Art Gallery and the Pacific Centre where supporters lay down, acting dead to show what inaction will cause to all of us if governments do not change policy and address the issue of climate changer with strong action. This includes the ending use of fossil fuel and move to greener technology.

Scene of

And schools are supporting students with UBC expected to go on a climate strike on the 27th of September. That is major support when one of BC’s largest universities decides to join in on the protests.

So, where does that leave government, however? Will they listen to the generation that will be forced to take up the reigns? Will they listen now or will they wait for the seas to rise and weather extremes to be a norm while on their deathbeds, not having to worry about an issue that affects every human and living creature being on the planet?

I would hope that these protests would grow in strength to show the need to rapid change towards a greener and cleaner future. It might be painful, and it might hurt short-term success that many of us focus on, but maybe it is better for there to be harsh pains early on to prevent a possible slow death that we might never recover from.

As inheritors of the world, there is much that needs to be done and if we can voice our concerns peacefully so people would open their eyes, our world still has a chance for a better future.

Film Festival Approaches

Vancouver enjoys being a desirable place to shoot movies. Shows such as Arrow, The Good Doctor, and Super Girl have their production up here and major movies such as Deadpool 2 have had a number of scenes shot here. While all the productions might not be Canadian, this city is coveted by many to work in by our neighbours south of the border. Yet, did you know that we also host the Vancouver International Film Festival which is among the five largest film festivals in North America?

Happening from September 26th to October 11th, Vancouver International Film Festival will be opening with screenings first taking place at Vancouver Playhouse, before shifting to a number of different locations each day.

For those looking for films from different countries which include Denmark, China, France, Spain, Italy, South Korea, as well as Canada itself. You’ll be hard-pressed to find such a wide collection of films that includes top picks from film fests and less known ones that may not find their way to the Cineplex, but are great in their own way.

With films from Italy, VIFF has much for film enthusiasts to see

We value diversity in Canada, so why not celebrate that by viewing what movies the rest of the world has to show? While they might not all be in the English language, it gives those who have any interest in film or entertainment of what others film makers are trying to do and how they develop the medium in other countries that might be different from our own.

Storytelling is a powerful tool, it change the way we think, feel, and broaden our understanding of the world around us. And film not only allows us to listen, but also watch. Sometimes just subtle cues that require no sound are some of the strongest tools in how one can express emotion and story while the spectacle of other scenes can provide powerful imagery and symbolism that captivates people. In short, film can do much to move us, inspire, and keep us in awe, even after the credits have rolled and the story has ended.

So, be sure to decide what you want to see as there are a variety of options which includes tickets and passes. Before you know it VIFF will be upon us and you might be scrambling to grab a seat for films from all over the globe.

Old and New

Say you’re looking out from your apartment in the direction of downtown Vancouver during the sunset. Not only would you catch glimpses of Vancouver Harbour and maybe English Bay gleaming in the background, but also the many high-risers and massive feats of engineering that now form the core of downtown Vancouver.

Yet, we have an interesting mix of structures hidden beneath the towers of steel. If you were to exit at Granville Station and walk onto the streets, you would find plenty of buildings that contrast with the more modern buildings that tower above. If you were to then walk further down Granville, you might find yourself in a different time if it were not for all the people around you.

This is quite different from what you see when you look at downtown Vancouver from a distance

The same can be said about Waterfront Station and Gastown which is right next door. Strip away the modern background they are placed against, and you an area that have been around since the 1900s that carries history through their designs. And all of this somehow mixes together against the backdrop of today’s Vancouver.

Structures made out of wood and stone that only stand a couple of stories high with a generally darker coat of paint intermingle with the gleaming glass and metal beams. You might be getting coffee from the next door café that has housed many other shops over the decades before taking a lift up to the 30th floor of one of the high-rises.

While we obviously don’t have the history of some older nations that have structures dating back hundreds of years, there is still a lot of history from Vancouver’s past that exists in various forms. Just make sure to take pictures the next time you are down in Vancouver’s core. While some of the sites are protected, not all of it might be there as the city constantly keeps changing to meet with the times. And it will be an interesting time when you can compare how our Vancouver looks now, to the one that might be there decades from now.

Canzine This Saturday!

If you’re in need of something vibrant and creative, then this Saturday on the 21st, you should want to check out the Canzine event being presented by Broken Pencil at the Vancouver Public Library – just make sure you go to the Central Branch downtown!

With around 230 vendors going to be present at the event, there will be plenty to see and plenty of different stories you will be able to find through the various works of art. Each artist’s work will be different from the last as you meet people who have different inspirations that form the basis of their work. Some might make you smile, others might make you cry, while others might send you on an adventure.

Need Not Wait in Line, Simply Go!

Furthermore, a number of writers will be appearing later in the day who will be sharing their stories later on in the day by reading their latest works to the public. This includes Ali Blythe, Cassandra Blanchard, Adèle Barclay and Hazel Jane Plante. All of them also reside in Canada, so show your support by being there!

Since 1995, Broken Pencil has been publishing four magazines a year regarding indie artists, reviewing comics, books, and giving commentary and interviews to bring stories to life that you might not see or hear about. Not for them are the usual Marvel and DC works that proliferate most comic stores.

Given how most hobby or book stores generally carry more mainstream draw attention away from individual works that might not have a large backing, Canzine will serve as a major event to allow artists to show their work to hundreds of people and sell everything from comic books to neat little trinkets that you may not find elsewhere.

Being free for the public to attend and near one of the major SkyTrain lines, take a look over at what various artists are doing at the VPL. Support your local artists by seeing what wonderful things that have crafted through imagination and inspiration.

Green Talk, Carbon Rolling

At least in Metro Vancouver, we like to consider ourselves a little green when it comes to how we handle the environment. We’ve had considerable protest against the Trans-Mountain Pipeline over the months, we put our dinner scraps in the green bins, and we place plastics and reusable into the blue tubs to be recycled. Vancouver city itself wants to ban certain one-use disposable items such as plastic straws. Furthermore, we have campaigns by groups such as Return-It telling us to recycle, and we’re also wanting more bike lanes to pop-up in every part of the city.

Even our transportation is slowly getting there. Despite the fact we still cannot get away from our gas-powered vehicles that hit the road to get stuck in traffic a few minutes later. With sources such as the SkyTrain, electrical trolley busses, and just more busses keeping us students off the road, the city is trying to cut down on the amount of greenhouse emissions being produced.

To add to the reduction in carbon emissions, TransLink has just rolled out their first four electrical busses with another six on the way. Each is said to reduce emissions by 100 tonnes and save around $40,000 in fuel costs.

New Electrical Busses. Is it enough?

Yet, even with these improvements will it be enough to get us gas-guzzlers off the road? With so many gasoline-powered vehicles travelling across the city, how are we going to phase them all out in a reasonable time?

How many of us would be able to bear the burden of walking several minutes to and from the bus stop and then reaching our workplace afterwards? It’s healthier, and better for the environment, but it also means planning trips and not having the freedom a car gives. And there is always the issue of not enough buses for everyone or being available to every route.

All of this is a start and it is wonderful that TransLink is rolling out these new busses, but more needs to be done to incentives individuals to get rid of our gas-powered cars. Whether it’s new cars with electrical batteries, or more convenient public transit for everyone, there is still more to be done.

We might be green in spirit with our green and blue bins, but the roads across Metro Vancouver and the rest of BC tell a different story.

 

Tennis on the Rise

You might not care much for tennis or consider it to be one of Canada’s major sports when the winter comes and the hockey skates are donned on, but recent events have stirred up quite a bit of attention for Mississauga native, Bianca Andreescu.

The spotlight has shifted to Bianca with attention being given from media outlets, politicians, and fans who want to celebrate her success. Her win at the US Open last week over Serena Williams and being the first Canadian to do so only serves to increase her popularity and fame in our country. And at the age of 19, she is a massive star for youth who might wish to take up the sport.

With this new spotlight being shifted to this Canadian star that shines bright for the country to see on television and hear about over social media, what does that mean for the future of tennis? Will tennis continue to see a rise in our country? There will be an influx of youngsters wanting to join the sport thanks to Bianca’s success who serves as an inspiration to fellow Canadians, but how much will it grow?

Bianca Andreescu and Tennis has Taken the Spotlight in Canada

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In a report from Tennis Canada in 2017, over 6.6 million Canadians were said to have played tennis at least once – around 18% of Canada’s population – and we are in need of additional courts to make the sport more accessible.

Canada has always enjoyed celebrating its own, especially given how often we are overshadowed by our neighbour to the south. With our not so distant victory in basketball with the Toronto Raptors and now Bianca Andreescu’s bringing home another victory in what are usually US dominated sports, will we eventually be better known for our victories in these sports that are not considered ‘Canadian’?

While hockey is still massively popular in Canada, these past years, success has been coming elsewhere and maybe, we’ll have a mix of sports being touted as major Canadian sports to follow in the decades to come.

Our Best Friends – Our Pets

There are stories in Metrovancouver of people not being able to keep pets depending on their landlord. Despite these rules, some decide that they still want a pet and will go through extreme lengths to hide them, at the risk of eviction.

So, how far would you go for your furry or scaly friend? Would you try to find a new place just for you and them? Have you brought them into class to ensure they will not be lonely in the house? Do you bring them treats or new toys on their birthday or just any day you feel they need something new? Why do we go to extreme lengths for them? And why does over 50% of Canada own a pet?

While they might not understand every concept we throw at them and sometimes they can do things that we would not approve of, such as a dog deciding to sneak some warm samosas from the table when you’re not looking, they’re still some of the best friends we have. They comfort us, listen, and are generally happy to see us when we get home after a hard day of work. And depending on who you keep as a friend, they ensure we stay fit as they take us for a walk in their favorite places.

dog

(Courtesy of Jeff Ro)

Having a pet is beneficial for us to the point where we have therapy pets are thing for those who need them. Our smaller friends ensure we are never alone and that someone still cares about us, even in our darkest times.

Pets, might be a major responsibility and they can sometimes restrict us in certain ways -the dog needs to go outside and the hamster cage does need cleaning- but they are always around when you need them.

What Kind of Gamer Are You?

If you did not hear, Super Mario Maker 2 was recently set to be released in June. The question, however, is does the game peak your interest? Do you even care? When you play a video game, is it mainly because your friends what you to join them for some couch co-op in Mario or do you play by yourself in a dark room, keeping others awake up night trying to grind out a new skin or weapon for Battlefield?

From flashy shooters of Rage, to spectacular fighters, and grim RPGs, we have a ton of variety to choose from and even the most unlikely gamers might something that they would find something that suits their taste – even if it’s only for an hour or so.

And the reason we play games can differ greatly from each other. Some people might like a challenge, other people might be looking for escapism, some play games to entertain others on stream, while others just use it to burn time until their next shift. There are just so many reason to play video games that it cannot just be condensed under a single umbrella.

Having played many video games, I have often used them to escape from the crunch of real-life, yet they also provide a fun area where to can challenge others that might be just one trying to raise their self-esteem. Winning does feel good, generally.

And that is what I think makes video games so great, like movies. You can have a wide variety of games to suit a certain niche audience and age groups.

There is something for everyone.

More than Just a Display

If you live in Vancouver, you have probably stopped by Stanley Park at least once in your lifetime as a kid. If you have been to Stanley Park, then you have probably also noticed the Vancouver Aquarium that resides there.

Inside its walls, and outside, are a large number of galleries where you can see a thousands of unique water-faring creatures on display. From playful sea-otters to bright clown and tiny sea horses, there is a lot to see. But did you know that the aquarium is more than just a tourist attraction? Have you ever wondered what else is going on that you cannot see?

This cute pre-mature pup arrived at the Vancouver Aquarium to recover after being left alone.

Since opening on June 15, 1956 after being formed by the Vancouver Public Aquarium Association in 1951, the Aquarium has served as a research facility. From rearing species to learn how they develop, understanding our ocean to help maintain them, to animal rehabilitation and release, there is more than just displays for us to see behind-the-scenes. Not only that, but the Aquarium is part of Ocean Wise, a global conservation program.

So keep all of that in mind next time you stop on in. The facility is not just for your entertainment, but is helping our fellow animals and trying to ensure we still have healthy oceans for when you bring either your kids or nephews or friends there.

Our Greatest Addiction?

Have you ever felt your hand digging into your pockets or purse to slowly pull out your smartphone in public places or even at home at the dinner table? You are so tempted by the sweet lull of your phone buzzing or the anticipation for an update to appear on one of your social media feeds. Next thing you know, you’ve faded into a different world as other events are going on around you.

There is no denying that the smartphone has become integral to our lives. From keeping up-to-date with our friends or favorite artists, to snapping quick photos of the delicious, warm food we eat, to sending messages and writing e-mails to everyone we know.

But it does raise the question, are we becoming too attached to our phones?

iPhone

(Image courtesy of Borsidublin)

Ever since I got the Discord App on my phone, I find it hard to put the phone away if an interesting conversation comes up and I feel an urge to respond, hoping that conversation does not die because of inactivity. It allows me to keep up with my online friends and fellow gamers and I can say, it has not done me good with attention spans running shorter and shorter every month. And worse, I have browsed at my phone at the dinner table rather than talking with friends or family who are across from me.

I am not sure how big of a problem things will be in the future, but I do believe we need to find ways to pry ourselves away from the glowing screens. We already have TVs, computers, and tablets so we should find a way to not open our screens, especially when there are people across from us who we can talk to.

Parking Is Up. Sort Of.

If you traveled into Burnaby by car, you’ve probably passed by Metrotown. Containing hundreds of stores that include grocery, a wide-variety of restaurants and food stalls along with a Cineplex hosting the latest releases, you are enticed to take a glance on what is going on in BC’s largest shopping mall. And if that does not interest you, there are plenty of other places right beside Metrotown that makes it an excellent stopping point to reach places like Crystal Mall or the various stores along Kingsway.

And if you decided to park at Metrotown, you have found a way to use that four-hour time limit. Whether it’s just exploring the nearby area, watching three hour Marvel movies, or sneaking away using the Skytrain and then returning at the last moment to avoid the ticket, you have a lot of time for your vehicle to stay parked at the mall.

If you need to stay for awhile, you might want to check where you are.

What you might not have known is the time limit being cut back by two hours in certain spots at the mall since May 1st of this year. These locations along Kingsway between Sussex and Nelson are having their free parking reduced to two hours. Thankfully, you can still take your car underground and be met with a four hour parking limit. In the worst case scenario where you really need to keep your car on the surface, you can pay for two more hours.

It is unlikely that this will affect most of us and even then, Metrotown has enough parking spaces for one to drive their car to a new spot once those two hours are up. Still, it is something to keep in mind if you got to leave your car behind for a movie or two.

I Am Canadian

Have you ever taken the time to notice the skin-colour of your friend? Did you even care that they were a different shade from your own? Or did you simply hang out with them because they were a great person that you knew you could count on.

With Vancouver in particular, we have colleagues from many different cultures and countries and yet we are all able to work and live together.

Even with differences in colour, you still have people of different origins talking about things that link us together. Often, hockey and sports is one thing that is brought up before we take a seat at the Tim Hortons to keep the conversation going. At the same time, you likely still have traditions in your household that have been brought over and tells of your family’s ethnic history in some way.

Drapeau canadien - Canadian flag

Canada is a wonderful place where we can maintain aspects of our own culture, but we can still be labeled as Canadian and share in that diversity. I might be of Chinese-descent and still maintain certain aspects of that culture, but I have always considered myself as Canadian first and I am sure others have as well.

Given that many of us are here in Canada due to one member of our family immigrating into the country at some point in history, embracing the diversity that we have is what makes us strong. If we as Canadians are looking to define ourselves, it should be our ability to work together with a diverse group of people.

For those of us who will stay in this country, we are all Canadians. And we do not need to lose all aspects of our previous culture to share experiences with those around us.

Legitimizing Games?

Video games are part of daily-life and they surround us wherever we go. Whether it be someone playing a mobile game on their phone on the bus next to you or the clashes that pit you against friends in Mario Kart. However, what would you do if games started to go up on the big-screen in a sport-like environment with teams competing against each other that is viewed by crowds of enthusiasts who cheer for their favorite team or player?

Now a crowd of 250 people does not sound like a lot for The Gaming Stadium which has set-up its temporary facilities in Richmond, but it’s definitely a start. They’re creating a centre where people can meet and compete in games with the permanent structure set to be completed in the summer of 2021, it will be the first of its kind in Canada to be custom-built for the so-called E-sports.

Official logo of The Gaming Stadium

But will E-Sports ingrain itself in MetroVancouver and cause a swell in both professional gamers and gamers in general? E-Sports itself is growing with the 2010 total prize pool from E-sports tournaments going from over $5 million to $45 million in 2015 with 89 million viewers across the globe in 2014.

This is much different from small online tournaments created by volunteers for games such as Company of Heroes 2 with not even a fraction of that prize pool. Rather than hanging out in your room, a dedicated space to compete will appear. At the same time, E-sports is not something discussed outside dedicated group or on casual display unless you look for it. When was the last time your friends talked about a Counter-Strike team pulling off a clutch bomb defuse?

Still, with dedicated venue being established, it further legitimizes games being viewed for our entertainment and played in a professional manner. And it makes playing video games seem more natural and normal as you now have it entering this strange area of professional play that is able to generate money and views.

While I do not think it will cause E-sport team flags to be posted beside Canuck banners, there will be more Vancouverites watching and playing games, especially as the younger generation is exposed to more video games that many of us have spent countless hours on. And there will be more talk on video games.

Hockey Sticks, Winters, and Tim Hortons

If it is not a Starbucks, then it’s probably a Tim Hortons. That’s one common thing you will find in many Canadian cities, and even on our own BCIT campus as everyone flocks to the Timmies for either a coffee, sandwich and/or donut. If you are a Canadian have probably been to one, and if not, someone has likely have brought in a pack of timbits to a gathering or meeting.

First established in 1964 by Miles G. “Tim” Horton -who also happened to be an NHL player- and quickly expanded across Canada under Ron Joyce after Horton’s death in a traffic crash, we Canadians have a connection to the restaurant chain. Whether it’s because we enjoy our tiny bite-size donuts that come in a pack of 20 to 50 or because it’s something we can pick-up on the way to work, all Canadians know what a Tim Hortons is.

But did you know that Tim Hortons is expanding? Have you seen a Tim Hortons outside Canada? I have yet to find one, but if you looked at their website, they have links to locations such as the Philippines, China, UK, and Mexico. It is interesting how one of our cultural icons is going abroad.

If you’re Canadian, you’ve probably seen this.

Will this create a new image of Canadians and be one of the other things we are known for in the world? What will other countries see of us as the franchise slowly begins to enter new markets that extend overseas and into other countries? Will we go from the stereotype of hockey sticks and cold winters to hockey sticks, cold winters and timbits? Will timbits replace poutine?

Keep an eye out the next time your abroad. If you see a Tim Hortons in a place outside Canada, maybe ask around to see what people think of Canadians or if they know that the franchise is Canadian-based to begin with. Maybe we’ll have a new stereotype placed on us that includes our favorite little treats.

The Old, but Majestic Parliament Building

With summer almost upon us, we might fancy travelling to new places as we prepare our bags to go on a much needed vacation. Whether it be warm tropical locations across the seas to remaining on the continent and seeing family, summer gives us the best opportunity to see parts of the world in excellent weather.

One place that you might find interesting and within your budget range if you don’t want to travel far or stay in the country is Victoria. There, you can take a picture of yourself at the BC Parliament buildings located downtown and still tell your friends you went somewhere interesting.

Parliament Building

(Image courtesy of David Stanley)

This majestic building was first opened on February 10, 1898 and was designed by English immigrant Francis Rattenbury, a 25-year old showing we don’t need to be old and grizzled to get it right. Not only is it the heart of BC’s government, but it and structures such as the Empress stand as a contrast to our modern world. As we use more glass and steel, these venerable structures still stand to show off older build techniques and a style that is no longer in use in our modern age. There is also a lot of history that has passed through its halls when you think about how long the building has been active. And it is one of those buildings that at least gives a sense that our country has aged and gotten older over its lifespan.

Now, the new and old can exist side-by-side, which we see in Victoria as you have a mix of old buildings sitting beside glass offices, but the question is what would you prefer to have a picture taken off? The Parliament Building or one of the new high-rises going up in Vancouver? Probably the former as it stands out and that style of building is no longer being produced. And let’s face it, it’s unique and fancier thanks to the stone used to put it together.

Being only a few hours away from Vancouver, it isn’t hard to visit BC’s capital to grab a photo of the Parliament and yourself. Not only do you grab a great photo, but also a little bit of history that will be around for generations to come.

What is Canadian Cuisine?

When you walk down a street such as Kingsway or Davie Street in Vancouver, you’re barraged with an assortment of restaurants. Everywhere you go, there are plethora of different foods that are available. From the bright spicy Szechuan, to beautiful and bold Indian curries and the colourful platters served in Greek restaurants, we have the benefit of having an amazing variety of choices to choose from.

You could go to a new restaurant every day and never scratch the surface of what is being offered. To make sampling harder, new places constantly going up that offer new curiosities for the growling stomach. There are just too many places and too many items for one to go through.

Yet, despite living my entire life in Canada, I have never seen a restaurant labelled “Canadian Cuisine”. Have you found one in your time in Canada?

Poutine

When people talk about Canadian cuisine, you generally end up with the poutine and Nanaimo Bars. And while a number of items have their origins in Canada, they are often attributed as “North American” or “Westernized” rather than “Canadian”.

This likely comes from the fact our country is relatively new in comparison to European and Asian countries which have centuries of culinary cultivation and development that can be placed under a single umbrella or generalization, but I wonder if the future holds restaurants that will be labelled “Canadian”. Our diversity has its strengths, but identifying what foods are truly ours is not one of them.

Maybe we will see restaurants with a unique blend of items that encompass Canadian cuisine as the new generations of chefs to make new styles of food and establish new restaurants that leads to new stereotypes about our food. Until then, however, if someone asks me what Canadian Cuisine, I really can only give one response: poutine.

The Not So-Cold Canadian Winter

Have you ever heard of the joking stereotype that Canadians live in a winter wonderland and igloos are common place? It’s one that tend to pop up every so often when discussing with Americans.

Interestingly, like all stereotypes, there is some minor backing to this as we are further north than are neighbours to the south and places such as Prince George have snow for almost half the year. Yet, whenever Vancouver starts to get a little bit of snow, the entire city goes into a sort of panic as most are not accustomed to driving in semi-frigid conditions. I’m sure if the snow rose up to one’s ankles there would be concern for most city-goers.

.

Yet, coming from the North, I always found the panic amusing as I was accustomed to spending at least an hour outside shoveling the driveway and make mounds that were over a metre high. And if you needed to drive anywhere, you just took it a little slower and made sure you swapped out to your snow tires before November hit.

It’s interesting how Vancouver and the Lower Mainland stands out from the prairies, the north and the east where our weather rarely goes below freezing with heavy snowfall that forces us to bring out the shovels. Instead, we are met with heavy rains and dark brooding clouds that hover overhead until spring decides to pop its head around. A very stark contrast to the snowstorms that hit places like Prince George before the sun shines overhead and forces everyone to wear sunglasses in the cold.

Vancouver is blessed with being an oddity compared to the rest of Canada that gets large amounts of snow during winter. Though, when people say us Canadians are accustomed to the cold, I can imagine many Vancouverites going against that view as they lack the big heavy winter jackets, snow pants, thick gloves and winter hats that pop up in the rest of Canada.

So remember, when it starts to get cold in Vancouver, know that there is always worse and you are lucky to be in the strange little bubble that differs from the rest of Canada.