Happy CANADA Day!!!

Happy Canada Day to all my fellow Canadians! There are so many things about this country that are amazing. Seriously, I’m not just saying that! Canada is awesome! So today, I am sharing some of my favourite places and things about Canada. Hopefully it will inspire you to visit!

Toronto, Ontario

Home Sweet Home. Toronto is one of the country’s largest cities and acts as a major cultural hub. I couldn’t even begin to list all the hot spots and attractions available but to name a few. The Skydome Rogers Centre home to the Toronto Blue Jays! The iconic CN tower. Ripley’s aquarium. The Royal Ontario Museum. The Art Gallery of Ontario. See an Opera or a Ballet at the Four Seasons Centre. There is more! So much more but there isn’t room in this post. I’ll do a more fullsum and detailed post about Toronto eventually.

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Ripley’s Aquarium. Me & me stingray friend.
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That is the CN tower above our heads!

British Columbia

My only visit to BC took place over 8 years ago so my details are a bit rusty.. I was also traveling there for a choral festival so I spent most of my trip in a classroom learning music. But we did have the opportunity to visit the famous Capilano Bridge. It is basically a simple suspension bridge, except its 140 meters long and is suspended 70 meters above a river. Exciting & scary all at the same time! I definitely plan on going back to BC one day.

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The Capilano Bridge.

St. John’s, Newfound Land

St. John’s might be one of my favourite places in the whole world. It is by far my favourite place in Canada. The city was stunning. The eastern peak is the farthest east you can be in North America. The whole city smells like sea salt, theres hills all over the place. Quaint little houses. Everything is just so peaceful and calm there. Once again I was traveling there for choir and didn’t get to do half as much sight seeing as I would have liked but I did get to go whale watching!

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Niagara Falls

One of the world’s wonders. The falls and the surrounding area are beautiful. My most recent visit was in the winter so going on a wine tour was out of the question and everything was pretty frozen but still breathtakingly beautiful. Niagara on the lake is also home to the Shaw festival! A fantastic summer theatre festival that runs every year.

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The icy cold falls

The Stratford Festival

The Stratford Festival is my favourite theatre company. Located in (you guessed it) Stratford, Ontario this company started by presenting some of the best Shakespeare in North America. Now the festival (which runs from May to October) presents all sorts of theatre and musical theatre and it always unbelievably amazing. I try to get up there to see a show every year if I can.

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Alex & Mum at King Lear, 2014

White Christmas

Most of the time I hate the cold but it is always nice to have some snow at Christmas time and luckily Canada always has some snow and cold weather for us around the holidays (and long after).

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Cutting down the Folkes Family Christmas Tree

They let my Mama in!

Fun fact: My mum was born and raised in England! She moved to Canada when she was in her twenties, met my dad and never left. But it was only a year and a half ago that she applied for her Canadian Citizenship! It was a very exciting time for my family. She studied really hard for a long time and got 100% on her test. The best part was seeing her receive her certificate.

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Canadian Mama Folkes!

The Cottage

Our cottage is in Muskoka, the true north! It is amazing to be so close to nature all the time. Just a short hour and a half car ride and you are surrounded by trees and water and pure Canadian bliss. I prefer cottaging to camping because you get to sleep and pee indoors but you still get your fill of the great outdoors.

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The Best Part?

The people, obviously. The stereotype of Canadians being nice people exists for a reason. But I suppose I am slightly biased. But seriously, I love my home. I love Canada. Happy Canada Day, everyone!!! True. North. Strong.

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Canada Day 2010
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Sorry For Being So Canadian, EH?!

There is a long running joke that mocks Canadian’s for being too polite. Well, I’m sorry to say that I am not sorry for being polite (see what I did there…). I’m not entirely sure where this joke was started but if I’m being honest, its kind of accurate. I present you with some evidence!

Evidence A)

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Evidence B)

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Evidence C)

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These “Canadian’s are too polite” jokes come in many shapes and sizes, but the one in particular that I would like to bring attention to is the stereotype about how a pissed off Canadian gets vengeance by writing a strongly worded letter. I bring up this joke because I recently wrote a very Canadian letter, or email rather, to the transit company in my city. It was strongly worded and incredibly polite.

Here is the story: Essentially, I was expressing my concern regarding the transfer time between the train schedule and the bus schedule. You see, my commute to and from work is rather laborious. I take a bus, a train and I walk for about 20 minutes. When I am traveling at rush hour it’s no big deal, I read books in that time. However, when I take the late train home, say after working an event or something, the train and the bus schedules DO NOT match up. I’ll give you a scenario, the train pulls into the station at 9:46 pm, by the time I walk to the bus stop it is 9:48 pm. I check the schedule at the stop to find that the bus departed at 9:44 pm! In what world does that make any sense at all? I then find that the next bus isn’t until 10:30 pm! What? I have to wait 40 minutes alone, in the cold, at a dark bus stop for the next ride home?! This has happened too many times to count and I have spent way too much money on cabs because I wasn’t going to wait 40 minutes for the bus.

So naturally I did what any right minded Canadian would do, I wrote the bus company a strongly worded letter! To be honest I didn’t expect anything to come of it but it felt good to get my frustrations out. A few days following I got an automated response saying “Thank you for your email, blah blah blah” and I figured that was the end of that. But no! Today I received an email that was too good to be true! You have to see it to believe it!(Note: All personal details have been edited out for privacy’s sake).

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Are you reading this?! Yes, YES! My strongly worded letter made a difference! I made a difference! From now on (starting March 2nd) I will no longer have to wait around for the bus. No, now the bus will wait for me! All because of my polite, eloquent, strongly worded, oh so Canadian letter!

So friends, with that I urge you to be nice! Say Sorry! Let your inner Canadian roam free! You never how positive the outcome may be! True North Strong. 

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The Magic of a Good Deed

Today, I woke up to find that winter had a bit of a hissy fit last night. In fact, it is still having a temper tantrum all over the place. That metaphor kind of got away from me… 10665186_343358862502211_4665858284104106075_nbasically what I am saying is that it snowed a lot over night and it hasn’t showed any signs of stopping. My thoughts when I woke up this morning were something along the lines of:

Lucas’s mum thought it looked beautiful and I thought well yeah it is… when you don’t have to go outside. But I commute to work, so I did have to go outside. On a normal day I take a 30 minute bus and then I take a 30 minute train and then I walk for about 20 minutes. When you tack on waiting time (about 5 minutes for the bus and 10 for the train) it takes me about an hour and a half to get to work each morning.

IMG_4994On a not so normal day, like today when winter throws up everywhere, I waited 15 minutes for the bus, the bus then took over an hour to get to the train station, I then waited 20 minutes for the train and then the train took about 40 minutes. The only part of my commute that remained constant was my walk, which was 20 minutes of cold, wet snow blowing in my face. Seriously, I ask myself every year why I choose to live in this climate and then I remember that Canada is awesome.

So this morning when I got on the bus I promptly realized that I forgot my wallet… Yup. As if this day wasn’t already shitty. The bus driver was kind enough to let me ride for free but the train is not so nice. If you are caught without a ticket you are given a $200 dollar fine. A woman who rides the bus with me asked what I was going to do and I said “I guess I’ll have to take my chances”. As I waited for the train I felt a tap on my shoulder, the woman had purchased a round trip train ticket for me. I was so shocked and happy I could have cried. I profusely thanked her and offered to pay her back tomorrow and she smiled and said “don’t worry, it’s Christmas, pay it forward.” Seriously, the kindness that this woman showed me is above and beyond. Sure, it was a small gesture but it absolutely transformed my dreary, snowy day into a great one.

I decided that I am definitely going to pay it forward, so some time next week I am going to go to Tim Hortons (best coffee in the world) and buy some gift cards. Then I am going to give them out to homeless people in the city. Sure $5 dollars isn’t much to you and me but to someone starving, a meal could be a Christmas miracle.  So today I am urging you to also pay it forward.

Share in the comments! How are you going to pay it forward this holiday season?

10 Ways To Get Into The Christmas Spirit

It is December, people! I am not entirely sure how or when it happened but I am overjoyed because the holiday season has arrived! That being said, sometimes between work, finals, grey skies and over crowded shopping malls, it can be easier to say “bah hum bug” at this time of year. Fear not, friends! I have come up with 10 sure fire ways to get you into the holiday spirit this year and every year to come.


1. Go Ice Skating

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Celebration Square Out Door Ice Rink in Mississauga

Most outdoor ice rinks offer free or very cheap skating and some rinks even offer skate rentals. Skating is the type of activity that is great for dates or group hang outs. It is also a great way to get in some exercise during the season of cookies Christmas…

If you are in Toronto check out Nathan Phillips Square.


2. Build a Ginger Bread House

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Myself, Katie & Taylor – Dec 2013

This does not have to be complicated. Grab some friends and head over to your local grocery store. Ginger bread house kits basically come with four walls, a roof and icing. The rest is up to you! Let your creativity thrive!

The best part? When you’re done decorating, you have a delicious snack!


3. Play in the Snow

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This is only possible if you live in a colder climate, which I definitely do, because Canada. But seriously, brave the cold! Get outside! Embrace your inner child! Enjoy nature! There are so many snow related activities, it could be a list of it’s own. Build a snow man, go tobogganing, go skiing, make a snow angel… The possibilities are endless.


4. Take a Walk & Look at the Lights

Tree branches and trunks wrapped in festive lights.

Is there anything more beautiful than a display of Christmas lights? Personally, I love the twinkle and sparkle of bright lights on a cold, dark night.

My favourite? Lights on trees. Sure, it’s a little eerie but it is also so stunning!


5. Cut Down Your Own Tree162788_474587778557_5876635_n

About 25 minutes north west of my house there is a tree farm where people can go to cut down their own Christmas trees. My family has only ever done this once but it sure was a blast. My brother got to wield a hack saw and we got to pick out the most perfectly shaped tree for our living room.


6. Decorate Everything

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Literally everything. Cover your tree with ornaments, put a tinsel garland on your railings, hang stockings from your mantle, put a hat on the dog, put fake snow in the windows, hang snow flakes from the ceiling. I’m not even kidding, decorate it all then your heart can be filled with joy in every room of the house.


7. Attend a Christmas Concert

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 This past Sunday I went to Roy Thomson Hall to see the Toronto Symphony Orchestra (TSO) Annual Family Christmas Concert. It was excellent! The whole program was fun and constantly entertaining as it was geared towards children. The TSO started by playing a few familiar Christmas carols, then they accompanied a short film with the help of a narrator. The second act was more carols sung by the Cawthra Park Chamber Choir. As you can see in the picture, Santa even came for a visit at the end of the show. A professional orchestra and Christmas music and Santa?! Does it get any better than that?!


8. Dress in your Holiday Best

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Bust out that ugly Christmas sweater, bedazzle your nails to your hearts delight. Are your favourite colours red and green? Wear them together without fear of judgement. Personally, I opt for a lot of silver and gold during the holiday season.


9. Listen to some Christmas Music

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I am a bit of a music nerd so good Christmas music always gives me the feels. With artists releasing new Christmas albums every year there is so much to choose from! Sure, the songs are the same but the arrangements are different.

This season I have been playing the newly released album by Pentatonix. A-capella Christmas music? Yes please.


10. Take a picture with the Man in Red

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Our 2014 Family Christmas Card. The inside reads “Naughty or Nice”
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This is my bestfriend’s dad. A.K.A. The Best Santa ever!

No one embodies the spirit of Christmas more the jolly Ol’ St. Nick. So head to the mall & have your picture taken with father Christmas himself. A photo with Santa is guaranteed to make a great Christmas card in the future.


Well, there you have it, folks. I’m already feeling more Christmas-y just from writing that post. Did I miss your favourite method of spreading Christmas cheer? Is it singing loud for all to hear? (Elf reference, anyone?) Now it’s your turn, share in the comments!

How do you get into the holiday spirit? 

The Reason Why Men Need Feminism

I’ve been thinking a lot recently about my feminist voice and my feminist opinion. I began to identify myself as a feminist about 2 years ago. I studied sociological theory in university and in my studies I took a fantastic course on feminist ideologies in a sociological context. Feminist theory was not a new concept for me, I have always believed in gender equality, but this course gave me the knowledge and the language that I needed to take the step towards identifying myself as a feminist.enhanced-buzz-wide-4112-1417113067-9I am very lucky. I have never been victimized or hated for my beliefs but I often get eye rolls or “yeah yeah yeah” responses to my feminist opinions. And not from strangers, from my family and friends. Don’t get me wrong, these are great people, they love me and respect me but they don’t understand the feminist movement and so they, along with many others, find it annoying and unnecessary. Not super recently but at some point in the recent past I was asked a question by a male friend (I’m paraphrasing here): “why do I need feminism? I can vote, you can vote. I work and get paid, you work and get paid. We have equal rights. So why do I need feminism?” At the time I wasn’t quite sure how to answer his question, I was drinking and quite honestly I was tired of arguing so I said “you just do” and we left it at that. But his question has been sitting in the back of my mind since then and the other night I think I arrived at an answer…

UBC Assaults

Ladies, has this ever happened to you? Your walking alone at night, you’ve got your headphones in and all of a sudden you notice someone walking behind you? Immediately your body stiffens, you turn off your music, you increase your pace and you cautiously look over your shoulder every 10 seconds to make sure you aren’t being followed. By the time you reach your destination you are practically running through the door. This situation. Right here. This is why men need feminism.

Did you know that if you ask a male his top 5 fears statistics sate that most male fears be physical. Heights, spiders, snakes, small spaces, ect. Where as if you ask a woman, the fears are primarily safety based. For example: being followed, being attacked, being alone, ect. Is this because men are scary and bad? No. Is this because women are irrationally afraid? No. Is this because our sexist society has taught women to irrationally believe that men are scary and bad? YES!

Sexism is noNew-Feminismt limited to women. Last night when I was practically running home because a man was walking behind me I realized that my assumption about him, which was entirely based on his gender, is just as bad as him assuming things about me based on my gender. Women shouldn’t fear men and men should not be feared. But they do and they are. Because our society promotes fear and victimization. Because our society teaches men that they can have whatever they want. Because our society tells women that they are objects to be wanted. Because our society is not a feminist society. How messed up is that? For me, feminism is the opposite of man hating. It is man loving. It is woman loving. It is everyone loving!

So to answer your question male friend of mine, you need feminism because you deserve to be respected instead of feared. You need feminism because your female friends deserve to feel safe in their communities. And you need feminism because you just do.