Ontario, Canada – April 1999

Ontario Awakens from Hibernation

Every February 2 Wiarton, Ontario’s own albino gopher, Wiarton Willie predicates the weather for the next 6 weeks. This year he died before his big day, but his last words reportedly (I’m not making this up) were that we were getting an early spring.

Well, he was wrong! We’ve had a miserable and lengthy winter. I hope his successor offers better weather.

Bitching about the weather is our favourite thing to do here. Probably because we get such extremes. I’ve lived in Florida and I can tell you that summers here are almost as hot and humid. But spring is heaven! Until the blackflies comeÂ…

Ontarions are eagerly crawling out of our caves and enjoying a pleasant spring. Everything is still pretty dead here – by that I mean the vegetation and the cultural life. But it won’t be long before everything is really heating up and coming alive. Spring and summer in Ontario is by far the best time to visit.

Not only is the hiking & camping much more enjoyable, but also I’d say that ¾ of cultural events occur within May to September.

To mark this resurrection of life in Ontario, what better way then attending the “Stations of the Cross” Easter procession in Toronto’s Little Italy District. It is the largest of its kind in North America. I won’t be participating, as it is still too cold for me to be donning a loincloth.

Toronto can really be quite expensive or reasonable. This is true for shopping, entertainment, hotels, and restaurants.

In almost every section of town you can spend a lot on a meal or get something good for around $6 – you just gotta look around a bit. My favourite cheap places to eat are the “Peel Pub” in the entertainment district or “the Sunset Grill” in the Beaches, or “Bachus Roti” in Parkdale area.

Spring’s flowers are best seen at Ottawa’s Tulip Festival from May 14-24. Each year Netherlands sends over tons of free tulips to Ottawa to thank us for our World War II efforts, i.e. we liberated Holland and the Dutch royal family stayed in Ottawa during the war.

The travel lit. calls it the “largest tulip festival in the world”, but I can’t imagine there’s a lot of competition for that title. Before moving to Toronto, I lived in Ottawa and I can tell you that it really is a site worth seeing. Unless you’ve got allergies.

While in Ottawa, check out the national museums. Particularly, the Museum of Civilization and the National Art Gallery. Cool architecture, good samplings of Canadian culture, and moreover, they’re free.

If you’re looking for something to eat, the Market area really is a good place. Sure, it caters to tourists, but for the most part the restaurants there are good quality. Forget cheap. There’s nowhere cheap in Ottawa unless you get the sandwich and donut special at any Tim Horton’s, or there’s always Deny’s.

For some extra adventure in Ottawa, take the tour of the Parliament buildings. While in the legislature pull a Charles deGaulle and yell out “Vive le libre Quebec!!”. Watch as hilarity unfoldsÂ…

Just in case you don’t believe me that Ontario is not still covered in snow, Niagara Falls is not frozen. You can see the Falls for yourself this very minute with the live camera feed.

Note the lack of ice!


If you want more information about this area you can email the author or check out our North America Insiders page.

Ontario is a huge province. I’ve been travelling in Ontario all my life and there are still places I’ve never seen.

Northern Ontario is uncharted territory for me and for most people in fact. There are still vast chunks of it that are accessible only by plane. Which is great for adventure campers. I’ve been to James Bay, but my goal is to make it to Hudson’s Bay, then I will have really done Northern Ontario.

Southern Ontario is the most populous area. Most of the cultural life of the province (even the country) is confined within Southern Ontario.

The City of Toronto

Toronto, the provincial capital, just faced a forced merger with other cities in January of this year. So now Toronto is the third largest city in North America. Proof of our arrival is that we finally have a character mayor, Mel “Nooobody” Lastman, who’s deeply obsessed with the Spice Girls.

Toronto is considered the world’s most multi-cultural city. Consequently, there are some great festivals here almost every month. Stay tuned for updates…

For the definitive webguide to Toronto visit:


There’s always great camping, hiking, canoeing, white-water rafting, climbing, etc. I’ll post some recommendations on good trails and campgrounds as the season progresses.

The provincial and national parks systems are amazing as long as you check on the park’s status. Check out the provincial parks here

National park

Avoid parks deemed “Recreational” or any park close to the urban areas. Otherwise, you will encounter Nirvana blaring at 7am, the bathroom clogged with girls twirling their eyelashes (my girlfriend told me of this) and lakes filled with more tourists than fish.

For a good all purpose guide to Ontario visit this site

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