A Taste of CanLit

During my grand detour, I picked up a few CanLit reads from my two favorite bookstores, Bakka-Phoenix Books and Indigo. I couldn’t purchase too many because (1) I had (and still have) a large pile of books to be read; and (2) I couldn’t fit too many books in my luggage. I ended up a total of four books, and I loved them all. Slightly wish I could have picked up more, but luggage restrictions did not permit…

A lot of the CanLit books on Indigo’s We the North shelf touched on immigration. This wasn’t too surprising, and it reminded me of the new immigrant welcome-ish posters I used to see around Toronto. Anyway, a disclaimer: the We the North shelf was not big enough to accommodate all CanLit works. I also looked for (what I thought were) less mainstream books since I wanted to broaden my scope. The ones I picked up only cover a small portion of CanLit.

Here’s my list of CanLit reads in order of date read.

Cocktails at Seven, Apocalypse at Eight

Thank you, Don Bassingthwaite, for bringing us Derby Cavendish. Cocktails at Seven, Apocalypse at Eight (see: Short Bites: Special) is a short story collection that features Toronto’s LGBT community, with Derby Cavendish and friends saving Church Street’s butt every holiday.

Radicalized

Another story collection, Cory Doctorow’s Radicalized (see: Novel Reactions: Radicalized) touched on a lot of what if scenarios. This one didn’t seem to be set in Canada (or exclusively in any state), but it was a great read nonetheless.

Children of the Moon

Children of the Moon (see Novel Reactions: Children of the Moon) is an immigrant story of sorts. It focuses on the hardships faced by two characters, both of whom have reached old age by the time they were recounting their stories. It was quite the emotional read, so be ready to decompress after finishing this book.

The Saturday Night Ghost Club

The Saturday Night Ghost Club surprised me. I’m still not over it. Based on the title, I was expecting the story to be more along the lines of Goosebumps (remember that?), but it was totally different. I loved it so much that if I could only recommend one among the four books, I would pick this in a heartbeat.

Curious Travels: The Grand Detour of 2019 | Old Quebec

Confirmed: my favorite part of my grand detour was my trip to Quebec City.

We stayed in Old Quebec, a little bit outside the walls. Old Quebec was a fortified city, and the walls have been maintained through the years. The walls reminded me of my history lessons: cities were fortified to protect inhabitants from invaders, and at the center or least accessible part of the city is where the royals or generals lived (those living closer to the walls were expendable). Nerd-ing aside, the old town itself was beautiful and well-maintained; Old Quebec is also on the UNESCO World Heritage List (Historic District of Old Québec).

Why I love Old Quebec:

  • the old town vibe without the old town smell
  • the cobblestones and general walkability of the area
  • the walls surrounding the old city and the leveling: upper and lower
  • the boutique shops, independent bookstores, and boreal restaurants
  • the Chateau Frontenac and the view of the Saint Lawrence river

We declared the Chateau Frontenac (Fairmont) our home base. We frequented 1608 Bar while we were there because it was such a great place to unwind. I really liked Bistro Le Sam because of the natural light and the scenic view. For coffee, we visited three out of the four locations of Cafe La Maison Smith in Old Quebec; the one on rue Notre-Dame was my favorite.

PS: Everyone spoke French in Quebec City. I noticed that it was a tiny bit harder for the locals to switch between English and French in Quebec City than in Montreal. It was still quite easy to get by, and this is coming from someone who speaks zero French. The biggest hurdle: all of the books were in French, so I couldn’t read any of the local works.

Curious Travels: The Grand Detour of 2019 | Blue Mountain Village

A two-hour drive north from Toronto, Blue Mountain Village is a resort for recreational activities and events. There are restaurants and shops as well. In the winter, people usually come here to ski, but in the summer, people can hike and do other activities (which I obviously didn’t look into, but feel free to look at their website). In our case, we ate by the pond and just browsed the shops.

I enjoyed coming there for the view. I brought a book along, so I spent some time reading. It has a different scenery and pace from the city, and if you like sitting by bodies of water to unwind, this is a great place to go. Everyone else with active ways of blowing off steam can pursue other activities Blue Mountain Village has to offer.

It’s not very far from Toronto, and it’s a wholesome place to visit with the family and friends. I say go.

Curious Travels: The Grand Detour of 2019 | Distillery District

Historically a whiskey distillery, the Distillery District is an area that has been converted into a public venue that houses boutique shops, art galleries, and trendy restaurants. I always enjoy trips to the Distillery, which is easily accessible by the King St streetcar.

A national historic site, the Distillery also hosts events and campaigns for causes. In April, the venue supported the Daffodil Campaign against cancer and in June, Pride month.

I love the aesthetic of the Distillery. I’m partial to bricks—maybe it’s the warm colors—so I’m glad the developers didn’t go crazy with a modern look. Plus! There is art all over the Distillery (not just in the galleries), and they change these up from time to time, too.

Walking around is fun. I like entering stores that sell local or one-of-a-kind products, things that will remind me of a certain place or memory, and the shops are like that in the Distillery. There is a big Deciem store here, and it can get overwhelming to look at at all of those skin care products. (Research before entering!) As for food, my favorites are Madrina and Arvo Coffee.

The Distillery is, hands down, my favorite place in Toronto.

Curious Travels: The Grand Detour of 2019 | Montreal in Small Plates

When we were in Montreal, we made it our mission go visit small plates style bars around the city. We wanted to do small plates style so that we could order various small plates and share the food. This worked out quite well; we were able to enjoy the place, the food, and the drinks without feeling overwhelmed by the amount of food in front of us.

The one craving we weren’t able to satisfy was churros. A tapas place we tried going to was too busy, and another one was not yet serving dessert because they were still only serving salty dishes. Nevertheless, we made the most out of our trip and enjoyed our small plates tour.

We made it to five tapas places. My favorites were Biiru and Bar Henrietta.

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