Vacation Info Archives

PanAm-logoThe 2015 Pan American Games, officially the XVII Pan American Games and commonly known as the Toronto 2015 Pan-Am Games are a major international multi-sport event celebrated in the tradition of the Pan American Games, as governed by Pan American Sports Organization (PASO). The games are being held from July 10th to 26th, 2015 in Toronto, Canada, with preliminary rounds in certain events having begun on July 7th, 2015. Marking the third Pan-American games hosted by Canada, and the first in the province of Ontario, the Games are being held at venues in Toronto and seventeen other Golden Horseshoe communities. Both the Pan-American Games and 2015 Parapan American Games are being organized by the Toronto Organizing Committee for the 2015 Pan and Parapan American Games (TO2015).
The Games are hosting 6,135 athletes representing 41 National Olympic Committees (NOCs) in the Americas, marking the largest multi-sport event hosted in Canada, in terms of athletes competing. A record of 45% of competitors are expected to be women, the most ever for any multi-sport event.The Games’ program consists of 364 events in 36 sports, which includes the 28 sports that will be contested at the 2016 Summer Olympics. Canoe slalom and golf will make their Pan-American Games debut, as well as women’s competitions in baseball, C-1 canoe and rugby sevens.

A total of 36 sports, 51 disciplines and 364 medal events were contested at the games. Basque pelota is the only sport dropped from the last games. Golf (after being added to the Olympic program for 2016) also made its Pan American Games debut. Canoe slalom, the only Olympic discipline to never have been held at the Games, also made its debut, meaning for the first time ever the entire Olympic sports program was contested.

The 2015 Pan American Games used a mixture of new venues, existing and temporary facilities, some of them in well-known locations such as Exhibition Place. After the Games, some of the new facilities will be reused in their games time form, while others will be resized. Ten of these venues were newly built, while fifteen were renovated to stage the games.

Toronto will become one of the most populous cities in history to hold the Pan American Games. In July, Toronto has an average mean temperature of 22.3 °C (72.1 °F) and afternoon maximum average of 26.6 °C (79.9 °F) The average humidity is 74%, and the city (downtown area) averages five days with the temperature exceeding 30 °C (86 °F) and about 65 millimetres (2.6 in) of precipitation, mostly brief periods of showers and sometimes thunderstorms.

In January 2012, the Toronto Organizing Committee for the 2015 Pan and Parapan American Games (TO2015) announced that sixty percent of the originally proposed venues would be dropped, in favour of a clustering system seen at other multi-sport events such as the 2012 Summer Olympics in London, United Kingdom.  Exhibition Stadium will stage the rugby sevens competition.

The opening and closing ceremonies will be held at Pan Am Dome, which will be referred to during the Games as the “Pan-Am Ceremonies Venue” due to sponsorship rules. Some of the competition venues in the Toronto area include Exhibition Stadium, the Pan Am / Parapan Am Fields, the Exhibition Centre and the Toronto Pan Am Sports Centre. Competition venues outside the city of Toronto include Hamilton Pan Am Soccer Stadium, Mississauga Sports Centre, Markham Pan Am Centre in Markham, the Oshawa Boxing Centre in Oshawa, and the Royal Canadian Henley Rowing Course in St. Catharines. Most of the torchbearers were selected by a random selection, while the others were selected by torch relay communities and games partners. The relay began on May 30th, 2015 in Toronto and finishes on July 10th, the date of the opening ceremony. The Games began July 10th with closing ceremonies July 26th, 2015.

wineryRavine Vineyard Estate Winery

For 5 generations the Lowrey family has grown grapes in the soil of one of the oldest commercial vineyards in the area. Known in the past as the Upper Lowrey Farm, this family winery sits atop the ancestral Niagara River that raged 22,000 years ago crafting small-batch organic VQA wines. The result is not only great wines from our mother, Lowrey Farm, but also a wonderful lifestyle that we are eager and proud to share.

Chateau de Charmes

In 1994 Chateau des Charmes opened its new state-of-the-art winery and visitor centre. It was immediately hailed as an agri-tourism landmark. It was the first winery in Ontario purpose-built with the visitor in mind. This was long before there was a Wine Route or a winery tourism business model.

Pauls vision of a world class Niagara wine industry led by high quality estate wineries has reached fruition. Today, the vibrant Ontario industry boasts more than 150 wineries, employs more than 6000 people and receives approximately 1 million visitors each year.

Inniskillin Winery

Inniskillin was granted the first estate winery license in Canada. The Niagara Wine region is coddled and protected in the shadow of the unique natural phenomenon known as the Niagara Escarpment, a massive, geological formation, which was declared a UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve in 1990. Located at the southern tip of this 725-kilometre long ridge, the Niagara Peninsula is considered a cool climate viticulture region, as are wine regions such as Burgundy, Germany, Oregon, Tasmania and New Zealand.

Winemakers believe that, in general, cool climate viticulture regions produce lighter, fruitier wines whereas hotter regions produce less fruity, heavier wines. Wines from Niagara, along with most cooler climate regions are characteristically higher in acids and highly aromatic.

warof1812The American occupation of Niagara began on May 27, 1813, and lasted until December 10th when they withdrew to Fort Niagara. Despite American promises of security for lives and property, American forces plundered and harassed town residents. As well, fighting continued as small bands of British soldiers, militia and native warriors frequently attacked American outposts and, sometimes, even penetrated into the town. On the evening of December 10th as the British forces approached the old town from Four Mile Creek, they could see the orange glow in the sky.

By the time they entered the town, as W. Hamilton Merritt recorded in his journal, Nothing but heaps of coals, and streets of furniture that the inhabitants were fortunate enough to get out of their Houses, met the Eye in all Directions. He explained that he was confident that he had the authorization from his superiors to withdraw to the American side and burn the town, thus denying the British troops any shelter during the approaching winter.

Outgunned on the lakes and suffering set backs on land, the Americans started a fleet to counter the British ships. The Americans eventually took control on all the lakes except Lake Ontario. It was on Lake Ontario that the building of massive ships reached its zenith. This floating monster was one of the most heavily armed ships in the world and the Americans scrambled to build a more powerful 130 gun ship the USS New Orleans. However, there was one major problem with launching huge ships on Lake Ontario at the end of the War of 1812 there were no canals and these great ships could not leave Lake Ontario.

Niagara_On_The_Lake_cenotaphNiagara on the Lake was taken by American forces after a two day bombardment by cannons from Fort Niagara and the American Fleet, followed by a fierce battle. Fort George National Historic Site is a focal point in a collection of War of 1812 sites which, collectively, are managed by Parks Canada under the name Niagara National Historic Sites. That administrative name includes several national historic sites: Fort Mississauga, Mississauga Point Lighthouse , Navy Hall, Butlers Barracks, and Queenston Heights.

Its stock of Regency and Classical Revival buildings, considered the best in the country from the post-war of 1812 period, led the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada to recommend that the towns historic district be designated a National Historic Site of Canada, a designation which was approved in 2003.

The town contains other National Historic Sites of Canada within its boundaries: the Battlefield of Fort George and nearby Fort George, Butlers Barracks, Fort Drummond, Fort Mississauga, the site of the Mississauga Point Lighthouse, the Niagara Apothecary , the Niagara District Court House, Queenston Heights, Queenston-Chippawa Hydro-electric Plant, Willowbank and Vroomans Battery.

floral-clock4-2-610x4052The Floral Clock at Queenston was built by Ontario Hydro in 1950. The idea to build the attraction came from Dr. Richard Lankaster Hearn, Hydro’s General Manager and Chief Engineer at the time. While preparing for a business trip to England, Mr. Hearn was encouraged by Hugh Duncan, a Scotsman who was a maintenance electrician foreman at the Queenston Generating Station, to visit the floral clock in the Princes’ Street Gardens in Edinburgh. Dr. Hearn did as Duncan suggested, and he was very impressed by the beauty of the clock and by its practical value as an attraction.

After his trip to Scotland, Dr. Hearn commissioned Hydro’s Niagara Regional staff to design and construct a floral clock in keeping with the surroundings at the Queenston station. A “Hydro News” article, describing plans for the construction of the attraction, credits Pat Ryan and Walter Ewart as the clock’s designers. Hugh Duncan supervised construction of the attraction and was in charge of the mechanical and electrical installation work. (Dr. Hearn later served as Chairman at Ontario Hydro.)

The Edinburgh clock, built in 1903, is roughly 10 feet in diameter. In comparison, the Floral Clock is 40 feet wide, with a planted area 38 feet wide, making it one of the largest such clocks in the world. Each year, the face of the clock is filled with 15,000 to 20,000 carpet plants and colourful annuals, planted in unique, intricate designs. Since 1977 The Niagara Parks Commission Horticulture Department (now Parks Department) have been responsible for designing and planting the face of the clock, and a site maintenance worker regularly checks the official time to ensure the Clock’s accuracy.

The hands of the clock are stainless steel tubing: the hour hand is 14.5 ft, the minute hand 17.5 ft and the second hand 21 ft long. Their combined weight is 1,250 pounds. An ivy-clad, louvered stone tower stands 24 feet tall and contains speakers that every quarter hour broadcast Westminster chimes. Under the clock, accessed by a door at the rear of the tower, the concrete foundation includes three small rooms – one for the clock mechanism and its driving motor, one contains switches to supply the electrical power, and one stores the tools required for maintaining the floral face. The clock mechanism runs in a bath of oil. The mechanical workings are driven by a 5 HP DC motor supplied from a DC drive. A tachometer is mounted on the motor shaft and provides feedback to the drive to control its accuracy.

The Westminster chimes are controlled by a programmable logic controller. The sounds are simulated and are broadcast through 2-25 watt co-axial speakers mounted in the bell tower.

Adjacent to the Niagara Parks Centennial Lilac Garden, parking, washrooms and a small gift shop are provided for the convenience of the thousands of visitors who stop here each year. This floral showpiece has become one of the most photographed attractions in Niagara Parks.

The timepiece is located beside the Sir Adam Beck Generating Station No. 1, and its mechanics are still maintained by staff of Ontario Power Generation (the successor to Ontario Hydro).

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