Niagara Falls

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Niagara: The Western Front

Niagara: The Western Front

Foodies and farmers unite for long-table dinners at Kurtz Orchards (Image: Devon Smith)

Forget the typical swirl-and-sip tasting tour. Niagara’s hands-on fun and gluttonous delights include DIY foraging, boozy picnics and long evenings spent feasting on the bounty of nearby farms

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Slideshow: awesome Toronto landmarks made of Lego at the Legoland Discovery Centre

GALLERY: Legoland

The Legoland Discovery Centre inside Vaughan Mills Shopping Centre opens Friday, providing a condensed, indoor version of a Legoland theme park. The 34,000-square-foot space contains several giant Lego people, rides for the under-10 demographic, a 4D movie theatre (the extra “dimension” is wind and rain) and many opportunities to create your own Lego masterpiece. The coolest feature by far is the Lego Miniland, a moving, blinking miniature landscape made of 1.5 million Lego bricks, recreating landmarks like City Hall, the Air Canada Centre, Yonge-Dundas Square and even Niagara Falls—water included.

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Q&A: Wind Mobile CEO Anthony Lacavera, the man that’s battling big telecom

He’s been trading punches with the three big telecom companies for years. He’s just won a huge battle. Here’s what’s in it for you

Anthony Lacavera

(Image: Mark Peckmezian)

When you launched Wind Mobile in 2009, you were a folk hero to disgruntled cellphone customers. Today, Canadians still pay some of the highest rates in the world, and customer service in the industry is as miserable as ever. What went wrong? Did you sell out?
Nothing went wrong. But when you’re competing against a 30-year entrenched oligopoly in Bell, Rogers and Telus, you encounter some obstacles.

Like what?
Where do I start? All three have failed to fully cooperate with the government’s requirement that they allow us to put our equipment on their towers, so we had to build our own. But the worst roadblock was the big three lobbying the CRTC to block our launch in 2009. They claimed that Wind was foreign controlled because my main investor was Egyptian. The CRTC shut us down for two months. I had 700 employees and zero revenue. We burned through tens of millions of dollars. The case went all the way to the Supreme Court, which dismissed it in April.

How did you celebrate the ruling?
I took my girlfriend, Kimberly, to Paris. She’s a shoe freak, so we went to a Christian Louboutin show.

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A new craft beer competition challenges local brewers to use local hops

Despite the recent peak in interest (and consumption) of Ontario craft beers, one crucial component of those brews is seldom made locally: the hops. Now, a new craft beer competition put on by the Ontario Hop Growers’ Association will see Ontario brewers (and Brewmaster students) using regionally-grown hops in the hopes that it will encourage future partnerships between brewers and farmers. (While Ontario breweries aren’t necessarily opposed to the use of Ontario-grown hops, the crop was in short supply a few years back, forcing breweries to rely on imports from the U.S. and central Europe.) About 15 beers will face off next February in Niagara Falls to get things hopping (sorry). [The Great Ontario-Hopped Craft Beer Competition]

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Stephen Marche: the case for a downtown gambling palace at Ontario Place

A Toronto casino is inevitable. Will it be an ugly box built where nobody can see it, or a glorious five-star island of fun?

Viva Las Ontario Place

(Images: GetStock and iStock)

“Toronto the Good” is an epithet applied only by those with a passing familiarity with the city. In truth, Toronto is a place where you can indulge your vices with ease and comfort and the relative security that you’ll be left alone with your degradation. Valerie Scott, legal coordinator for the lobby group Sex Professionals of Canada, recently explained to reporters that Torontonians shouldn’t worry about a sudden explosion of brothels after a ruling that legalizes bawdy houses: “There have been brothels in practically every condo and apartment building in Toronto. People have no idea they exist, we are so discreet.” Toronto’s virtue has always been superficial, little more than a collective pursing of the lips. The same squeamish moralism is now at work on the issue of a downtown casino, and a huge opportunity for the city may well be wasted on its account. The debate we should be having is the one we are most predisposed to avoid: not whether we should have a casino, but how we can make the casino we will have fabulous.

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Nik Wallenda’s high-wire walk across Niagara Falls tonight is being live-streamed

(Image: Kevin Burkett)

Tonight, would-be Niagara Falls high-wire walker Nik Wallenda will find out if all the government lobbying, fundraising and firehose dousings were worth it. The stunt artist will take to his steel cable at 8 p.m., and we’ll be watching Where.ca’s live stream to see if the safety harness he is being forced to wear will save him from a watery death—and if angry falcon parents will decide to go on the offensive. Exciting stuff. Watch the live stream [Where.ca] »

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Nik Wallenda makes walking across Niagara Falls sound like no fun at all

(Image: kevint3141)

Nik Wallenda’s high-wire act across Niagara Falls is supposed to rake in $120-million for the local economy, but it would seem the daredevil won’t even make enough to cover his costs. Wallenda told the Toronto Star that his stunt will cost about $1.2 million to pull off and ABC, who is broadcasting the event, isn’t paying him very much (he declined to divulge his paycheque). Sponsors have also been scarce, so Wallenda has been trying to drum up $50,000 through Indiegogo.com, offering private wire walk lessons for $10,000 a pop or $5 for an exclusive photo. Another headache: the helicopter company that’s supposed to rig up the wire doesn’t have a permit to fly over the falls, leaving Wallenda with about a week to find alternate plans. Money problems, bureaucratic annoyances and the risk of falcon attacks? We knew there was a reason we never took up tightrope walking. [Toronto Star]

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Risks of wire-walking across Niagara Falls: mist, falcon attacks, weird newspaper stories

(Image: Bob Caple)

Stunt artist Nik Wallenda’s fast-approaching attempt to walk a steel cable strung across Niagara Falls has given rise to any number of entertaining—and entertainingly ridiculous—newspaper stories. Our faves this week:

• Wallenda’s stunt not so death-defying after all
Wallenda did say he’s not thrilled at sponsor ABC Television’insistence he wear a harness, but his disappointment is nothing compared to that of the Toronto Sun’s Joe Warmington. Harnessing a lot of ire for a column about a tightrope walker, Warmington rages against the “watered-down” stunt and blames “nanny-state Ontario” for the added precautions. Warmington even asks that the event be canceled, pointing out “that he could fall into the falls is the whole point of doing it in the first place.”

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Openings

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Introducing: Windows by Jamie Kennedy, the locavore chef’s new Niagara Falls venture

The man with his name on the place (Image: Karolyne Ellacott)

Jamie Kennedy (Gilead Café, formerly of Jamie Kennedy Wine Bar and JK Rom, etc.), describes his new venture, Windows by Jamie Kennedy, as “a taste of Niagara and a feast for the eyes.” Given his commitment to local and seasonal food, it’s fitting that dining at Kennedy’s latest restaurant will require a journey to one of the world’s natural wonders. We took a trip down to Niagara Falls to check the place out.

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Confirmed: a brave (or foolhardy) tightrope walker will cross Niagara Falls in June

Wallenda on the wire during a previous stunt (Image: kevint3141)

Having finally convinced the Niagara Parks Commission that he’s not going to fall to a watery death, a date has been set for American daredevil Nik Wallenda to cross Horseshoe Falls along a steel cable. On June 15, the world will turn its eyes on Southern Ontario to witness the stunt, which should pump $120-million into the local economy and will likely be more memorable than a trip to the casino or wax museum.  [Globe and Mail]

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Politics

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Rob Ford’s Sheppard Line could be built solely by casino-money—500 years from now

(Image: Christopher Drost)

Metro blogger and noted Rob Ford critic Matt Elliott attacks the idea of a Toronto casino today (and without invoking the future of the city’s children). Instead, he does some math to see whether turning Ontario Place into a massive and swanky “entertainment destination” really could bankroll ambitious projects like the mayor’s cherished subway line to Scarborough. Doubling the direct revenue the City of Niagara Falls got from its casino in 2010 (because Toronto’s casino would be much bigger), and estimating that a subway would cost $300 million per kilometre, Elliott calculates that a casino-funded line to Scarborough Town Centre would open in—drum roll—about 500 years. Which is about as long as it’ll take for urban and suburban councillors to come to an agreement about whether a casino is a good idea. Read the entire story [Metro] »

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The Sun’s homepage has a bit of news, and a lot of scantily clad ladies

(Image: Screenshot of Torontosun.com)

The Toronto Sun’s website is never dull (remember this? And this?), but today marks the first time we’ve felt the need to shield our screen from the prying eyes of colleagues. The newspaper went the not-so-subtle route with the house ads for its annual swimsuit issue, emblazoning its homepage with photos of nubile ladies seductively holding beach balls and lowering themselves into swimming pools (for a second we thought we’d stumbled upon a Quest ad). The “Sunshine Girl Swimsuit Issue 2012” will appear in a special section in tomorrow’s paper. Alas, unlike Sports Illustrated’s annual romp in the tropics, the Sun’s version has no sunny beaches or exotic locales—it was shot at a couple of hotels and a waterpark in Niagara Falls.

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Stunt artist gets the green light to walk across Niagara Falls on a tightrope

Nik Wallenda doing something crazy (Image: kevint3141)

Back in December, Canada cemented its reputation for being both a bore and a buzz kill when officials nixed an American daredevil’s plan to walk a tightrope over Niagara Falls, even though authorities on the American side had already agreed to it. Now the Niagara Parks Commission has reversed its decision, allowing Nik Wallenda to walk the line this summer. The reason for the about-face: apparently, Wallenda convinced Ontario Minister of Tourism and Culture Michael Chan and allayed safety concerns from commission members and park staff (we’re pretty sure a report that the stunt could generate $120 million for the area played a role, too). Wallenda, a Guinness record holder and descendant of the famous Flying Wallendas, will be the first person to walk across the falls since 1896, and, if he falls, likely the last. No pressure though. Read the entire story [National Post] »

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Windows by Jamie Kennedy set to open in Niagara Falls this February

Jamie Kennedy and chef de cuisine Ross Midgley (Images: Jamie Kennedy Kitchens)

Back in May, we reported that Jamie Kennedy was lending his expertise (and perhaps more importantly, his name) to a fine dining restaurant on the 14th floor of the Sheraton on the Falls Hotel, to be called Jamie Kennedy on the Falls. The restaurant is now set to open sometime in the next month, under a new name: Windows by Jamie Kennedy. “We’ve been told mid-February,” Jamie Kennedy Kitchens spokesperson Jo Dickins told The Dish. Partner Canadian Niagara Hotels has already started the search for staff to work under chef de cuisine Ross Midgley, with Tony Aspler running the wine program. The restaurant hopes to draw GTA residents familiar with Kennedy by sticking with his famously locavore philosophy—but we’re sure the views of the falls won’t hurt either.

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How Deadmau5—a.k.a. DJ Joel Zimmerman—came to make $100,000 a show and have four million Facebook fans

Mouse pad: Joel Zimmerman’s downtown condo has jägermeister on tap. (Image: Matt Barnes)

Mouse pad: Joel Zimmerman’s downtown condo has jägermeister on tap. (Image: Matt Barnes)

A steady August downpour drenched Chicago’s Grant Park on the final night of the Lollapalooza music festival. The rain and the force of thousands of feet had turned the park into a swampy field of splattering mud. The show should have been a flop; instead, it became a frenzied dance party, like Woodstock on methamphetamines.

Some of the dancers wore cartoonish, oversized mouse helmets that bobbed side to side and back and forth. The helmets’ eyes were blank and bulging, their crescent mouths leering grins. They were worn as a tribute to the musician Deadmau5, who was the headlining act that night. Deadmau5 (pronounced “dead mouse”) is the nom de guerre of the Toronto electronic music artist Joel Zimmerman. When he performs, Zimmerman wears his own electronically enhanced mouse mask, what fans call a Mau5head. The helmet looks goofy, but it’s important: it was key in Zimmerman’s transformation from a dance music outsider into a mainstream icon.

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