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Oh Canada at the Princess of Wales Theatre, photo by Mike Keenan

It Makes You Feel Good About Canada!

© by Mike Keenan

For my spouse and me, it's a bit of a nostalgic homecoming. Decades ago, we started off in Cooksville, later to become Mississauga which absorbed the villages of Clarkson, Dixie, Erindale, Malton, Meadowvale Village, Port Credit and Streetsville, and gave rise to the iconic municipal political powerhouse, Hazel McCallion, first elected in November 1978, the longest serving mayor in the city's history. (36 years at retirement in 2014)

Because we know the area well, we decide to stay in Mississauga while we play tourist for a few days in Toronto. This strategy saves us cash on accommodations, and we rely on convenient public transportation (Go Transit) that ferries us to Union Station and back for $17 (Seniors) for two, far less than exorbitant parking costs in Toronto. The Hilton Meadowvale offers easy access, close to the 401 and Mississauga Road, and the rate is gentle - $89 on the weekend!

Meadowvale was first settled in 1820 by Irish immigrants along the Credit River, named from when French fur traders supplied goods to the native people in advance (on credit) against furs. The river provided power for saw mills and a foundry built between 1831-1844. By the 1850s, Meadowvale boasted two hotels, a wagon shop and a school. Old Meadowvale Village later became popular as a haven for artists. Many homes built in the mid-19th century still stand.

After front desk clerk, Yann (from Montreal), cheerfully and efficiently checks us in the twin-towered hotel, the helpful concierge directs us to express bus # 21B at the Meadowvale Go Station, only a few minutes' drive away. With perpetual heavy highway traffic, it takes 45 minutes to arrive in Toronto but only 30 minutes to return.

In Toronto, we enjoy movies, typically not available in Niagara. My spouse is a Woody Allen fan, so we watch Irrational Man, his latest, at the Varsity. My take: It's hard to believe this is the same guy responsible for Manhattan and Hannah and Her Sisters! Woody should retire soon from movie making.

  

It's great fun to walk around Toronto and observe the amazing architecture. Like Mississauga, the growth (in this case vertical) is phenomenal. We also like dining at comfortable, no-hurry places like Marché at multiple-arched Brookfield Place where they offer tasty à la carte choices from eight food stations that range from Asian to Italian to seafood and salads as well as decadent desserts to-die-for.



Brett Lawrie has a message for Blue Jays fans

There is a distinctive buzz in Toronto now as the 'Jays are on a roll, headed for first place in their division. We view many fans wearing distinctive blue and white T-shirts of their favourite players. When it rains, in the same fashion as that of Rogers' dome that closes and shields the players and fans, we resort to the extensive underground Path that transports one throughout the entire downtown area. My spouse shops for shoes in the Eaton Centre, and shows me an outlandish pair for $550 in Hudson's Bay. The reasonable stores have retreated to the burbs, leaving hi-end outlets that attract mainly Toronto's affluent and poorly-researched tourists.

  

The main reason for our visit is to catch the premiere of OH CANADA What A Feeling! at the elegant Princess of Wales (Mirvish) Theatre on King Street not far across from Roy Thomson Hall. This show celebrates Canadian popular music and features tunes from Canadian icons. It's a multimedia production that offers an overview of our musical history, with talented musicians and singers performing renditions of hit songs by established artists accompanied often with period footage of the performers.

Producer, Jeff Parry, says, "It makes you feel good about Canada." Oh Canada is well worth the trip, and after Toronto, this entertaining production tours throughout the country.



Oh Canada What A Feeling | Musical Mines Country's Icons



Oh Canada, What A Feeling! - A Musical Odyssey

Amy Bishop's thrilling, spine-tingling rendition of K.D. Lang's version of Leonard Cohen's Hallelujah (who can forget her performance at the 2010 Winter Olympics!) is incredibly pure and true, rewarded by a standing ovation, and she also shines brightly with Anne Murray's (an Elvis favourite) Snowbird.

The background history is informative. I learn a great deal about our music history, recalling the glory days of Toronto's Yorkville, once inhabited by poets and musicians and young Roberta Joan Anderson (Joni Mitchell) from Saskatoon, who waitressed tables and penned her famous lyrics to Big Yellow Taxi to describe Yorkville's eventual upscale urbanization: They paved paradise/And put up a parking lot/With a pink hotel, a boutique/And a swinging hot spot/Don't it always seem to go/That you don't know what you've got/Till it's gone/They paved paradise/And put up a parking lot. And although Mitchell didn't participate in the historic 1969 New York event, her Woodstock song defined both an era and a generation.

With talented singers and musicians - Jaren Cerf (Wyoming), Peter Grant (Toronto), Kit Johnson (Toronto-Calgary), Jeremy Koz (Winnipeg), David Michael Moote (London), Jeremy Rush (Alberta), Sean Kilbride (P.E.I.), Peter Nunn (Toronto) and Sil Simone (Toronto), our rich Canadian music legacy is traced from the early days of Paul Anka, Mitchell, Neil Young and the Guess Who; to the Seventies with the distinctive voices of Anne Murray and Gordon Lightfoot and the Eighties with Gino Vannelli, Loverboy and Bryan Adams. Other greats include Céline Dion, Ian and Sylvia Tyson, the Band, Steppenwolf, April Wine, Tom Cochrane and baritone-voiced Hank Snow, who raves about his big 1943 Cadillac!

Back at the hotel, we make use of the inviting indoor and outdoor pools, but I skip the convoluted, monster-sized water slide that attracts more intrepid types. It's been an enjoyable trip, and as I leave the Hilton, spotting Pan-Am Para-Olympic participants in the massive lobby, I notice that they have branded a Hazel McCallion Meeting Room here. Cool! As we enjoy the advantage of being on the far western side of Toronto, it's an easy ride home, but we stop, as usual, at Whole Foods in Oakville for a delicious lunch.
 
Marche Restaurant in Brookfield Place, photo by Mike Keenan

Young Jays Fan, photo by Mike Keenan

Hudsons Bay expensive shoes, photo by Mike Keenan

Mike Keenan writes for Postmedia Canada's largest newspaper publisher, printing 44 daily newspapers as well as a web portal, Canoe.ca. Besides regular columns for the St. Catharines Standard, Welland Tribune, Niagara Falls Review and Seniors Review, Mike has been published in the Globe and Mail, Toronto Star, National Geographic Traveler, Buffalo Spree, Stitches, West of the City and Hamilton-Burlington's View Magazine.

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Mike Keenan

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Princess of Wales: http://www.mirvish.com/theatres/princessofwalestheatre
The Hilton Meadowvale: http://www3.hilton.com/en/hotels/ontario/hilton-mississauga...
Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Toronto
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Films featuring: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_films_shot_in_Toronto
Music: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Category:Music_of_Toronto
Places of worship: http://www1.toronto.ca/wps/portal/content...
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Trip Advisor: http://www.tripadvisor.ca/Tourism-g155019-Toronto...
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