Archive for the 'Tourism' Category

Photo Finishes from Cobourg Ontario

in Canadian pop culture, niche blogs, Ontario, Photography, Scholar, Teacher, testing, Toronto, Tourism, visual arts and Web Designer

Picks of Canada, picks of images,

Jacques Surveyer is a writer, a web developer, and a very passionate photographer that lives and works in Cobourg Ontario. Years ago he studied photography at the Ontario College of Art and Design in Toronto before getting an MBA (Masters of Business Administration) from the University of Western Ontario. With this background he found that blogging allowed him to ‘indulge his avocations’ while helping with his consulting business. Jacques is a skilled multimedia magician with a good head for business.

Photo Finishes / Picture That along with TheOpenSourcery.com are two very different tips and tutorials blogs that offer tactics and product reviews for graphics and multimedia processing people. These sites are core to Jacques portfolio as a developer, and they demonstrate to potential customers his expertise in many diverse programming and photo finishing subjects.

Jacques SurveyorOver time Jacques’ two original blogging websites have expanded into ten different blogs. He uses free blog web hosting sites to create multiple presences for specialized tasks. For example JavaScriptures is dedicated to some of the more interesting developments in JavaScript, as applied to lean manufacturing which is serious process to which he jokingly describes Java as the ‘gets-no-respect-like-Rodney_Dangerfield’ programming language.

About ten years ago Jacques Surveyer started blogging on a website platform that he made himself. He built his own blog from the ground up, and people did come, but more people came after he switched over to WordPress.

“WordPress with themes, plugins and a WYSIWYG editor was a vast improvement over my own homemade CMS.”

After six or more years, Jacques is still a WordPress devotee, even though he’s used Drupal and Joomla and has built projects for clients using both programming languages. But he’s quick to reason, “WordPress has stayed ahead of the curve with widgets, jQuery support, and automated updates of not just themes and plugins but also the blog engine itself”.  Jacques did all of society a favour when he weighed in on the classic debate, which is the best open source platform, Drupal, Joomla or WordPress? and in that post it becomes real clear that WordPress is this craftsman’s preferred software.

Jacques loves to take pictures and gradually his interest spread out into photography and travel destination review blogs. He created PixofDetroit, PixofToronto, and PixofCanada to host the photos and stories of his adventures abroad. Later he added commentary blogs like Takethe5th.com and Bookraft.com (his only active Drupal blog) so he could properly articulate his thoughts on government and society.

Then blogs started appearing all over the place. JavaScriptures and NearlyFreeWebsites are two examples which take advantage of nearly free blog software.  Consulting work and help for friends resulted in two gallery sites – ARTSurveyer.com and NeelsPlace.com which are efforts using Gallery blog software and Joomla respectively.

“As Free blog/CMS software has improved I have switched from doing custom websites over to using free blogs like Joomla and WordPress, Weebly and Wix for my nearly cost free blogging and broader web development work.”

Jacques Surveyer prevented from taking pictures of volleyball game on cobourg beach

Jacques’ popular PhotoFinishes blog dips into the political space too. Last summer the intrepid explorer wrote a terrific piece about how the officials at a beach volleyball tournament in Cobourg successfully prevented him from taking pictures of the participants in action, despite the fact that it was public space, with no photography ban signage posted, and no advertisements or precedents prohibiting photography are known.  According to Jacques in this article, the same thing happened at the Royal Winter Fair to his friend a year earlier.

When asked what he likes most about being a blogger, Jacques Surveyer admits that he covets traffic and feels rewarded when his sites grow popular. He recounts with satisfaction the time when his post on KeepanOpenEye debunked Steve Jobs contentions that Flash was slow and buggy, and received over 30,000 visits in one day – that was very gratifying. Also, the Fall Drizzle story on PixOfCanada which visualized the autumn colors in Ontario took in over 75,000 visits in the last months of 2010. To see a pictoral story getting that much attention was also very satisfying for this webmaster.

Jacques Surveyer, yellow leaf road, pixofcanada

Blogging has been good to Jacques, because he’s a new breed of storyteller, a free thinker with real knowledge to communicate.  When I asked him if he’d  do anything different a second tine, he noted that he wished he’d switched to open source or free blog software sooner, and he wished he had taken the time to improve his JavaScript skills earlier. “Skills in JavaScript and CSS make such a difference in the proper styling of a blog.”

This Cobourg Ontario blogger just loves being creative, inventory management and building platforms that push the envelope of the technology.  “The revenues are enough to pay the freight but not much more. But telling photo tales and being able to add my two cents on Toronto, or World scene is both fun and soothing to the spirit.”

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Whimfield, Modern Pre-Industrial Living in Prince Edward Island

in farm blog, food blog, gardening, niche blogs, Prince Edward Island and Tourism

Laura-Jane Koers started blogging in 2001 when the practice of writing personal stories on the web was still called journaling. She describes it as a ‘social outlet for a socially awkward girl’. The practice served her well, and now Canada Blog Friends is proud to present her portal as the most sophisticated blog on the index.

Whimfield, Modern Pre-Industrial Living is an online magazine quality niche blog that’s the work of one female genius. The portal centers on a 100-year-old farmhouse on 63 acres of field, forest, and streams, located in a small community outside of Montague, on Prince Edward Island. The stories are written by a girl who emigrated to PEI from British Columbia, with her boyfriend Cameron. It’s a 100% original ‘lifestyle content’ blog that paints the perfect picture of a beautiful young couple, very much in love, enjoying a modern pre-industrial life in rural paradise. They have no modern appliances, except an old tractor, and so they conserve and enjoy the goodness of nature in a manner similar to the pioneers.

What’s most intriguing, is that both Laura-Jane and Cameron work in technology. They run a web marketing and web project management business called Brightflock, and Cameron also has a web application development company called Kibo Software. Follow Laura-Jane on Twitter @ljbrightflock Here are two smart people, and their love story is their most compelling component of their all natural lifestyle without manufacturing software or gadgets.

Cameron and Laura-Jane of Whimfield farm blog in PEI Cameron Lerch is a lucky guy, and his life is chronicled in hundreds of photographs, anecdotes and poems; indeed most of his thoughtfulness gets recorded online. One of the most popular posts on Whimfield is the long version of how they met. The story …It Feels So Good To Love and Be Loved define their characters to readers, as it relates how they themselves defined their characters. Laura Jane writes later that, “The short version is that we were both absolute social outcast teenagers who were ecstatic to find each other. In one another we found support, love, and a best friend. We’ve grown up together. It hasn’t always been easy. We both have a lot of respect for one another and for our relationship itself. Relationships are hard work, but the rewards are deep and many.”

cameron Lerch and Laura-Jane Koers in Buggy at Anne of Green Gables House in PEI Canada

Cameron embraces Laura-Jane’s blogging but, “…back in the old days he had a love/hate relationship with it because I didn’t censor anything. I swore, I gossiped about his irritating habits, and I left no stone unturned. As time passed, though, we developed a set of rules. In order for blogging to work for us both I have to respect his privacy.” And she adds that, “Now that we’re known in our community and we own businesses, he is even more protective of our privacy. He really respects what I do though. He reads all of my posts. And he’s written two of his own posts.”

At Whimfeld, there’s no conflict and that’s okay. Laura-Jane’s new web journal is an information rich look at the life in the country, and it can be grouped into multiple niches. It’s DIY home renovation, environmentalism, gardening, food, travel and photography. This female blogger has a good eye for photos, and a professional approach to blogging around compelling images. She writes, “…I still use my photography to illustrate my points. I love to combine my photographs with my writing. It’s some kind of symbiotic happy existence. I don’t like to write a blog post without an original photo to accompany it. Usually a photo will inspire the post.” 

“Blogging saved me in 2001. I love talking about blogging. I could cry talking about blogging.” Laura-Jane Dec 2009

Whimfield starts with a bang! A fascinating road trip story starts the Whimfield blog. Laura Jane opens the manifest by detailing her migration in Driving Across Canada: How To Sleep in Your Car In The Depths Of Winter with her boyfriend Cameron in a jeep like automobile. The couple slept in their vehicle and rigged a boat heater to run off the battery at night. The lessons learned and the manner in which they are related are truly unique and priceless.

Laura-Jane writes, “It all began with a desire to leave urban Victoria, mostly because of the expensive price of property there. We wanted a farm, but we did not want to be mortgaged to the hilt to get one. So we started looking elsewhere in Canada. It was a simple equation, really. Where could we go that was beautiful, idyllic, and affordable? We trolled real estate websites, and we looked at the most affordable properties that had all of the qualities that we were looking for. We saw a picture of our lonely little house, and it just called to us. We sold everything and drove across the country because of that little house. It was on Whim Road. We couldn’t resist it.”

Read Whimfield: Summer of Discovery to glimpse the passion for nature that drives Laura-Jane and read how she ‘discovered’ her own property blooming and coming to life in the spring. Portable solar power, because the couple closed on the farm in the winter, they more or less bought the property sight unseen and so took front row seats to Nature’s spectacle in the spring, summer and fall.

Cameron and Laura-Jane in Whimfield autumn lane

On the subject of deck building and Farming in Prince Edward Island, Laura Jane continues, “The dream for us was never to be farmers per se. The dream for us was to be able to have the time and freedom to dabble in a lot of things at once. For example, spending four hours a day on web projects, a couple hours outside in the yard gardening or farming, an hour reading a book, an hour playing music, and so on. Variety is the spice of life. Doesn’t that sound like heaven? It does to me.”

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Jennifer Jilks writes My Muskoka

in Activism, Blogging, Muskoka, Ontario, Photography and Tourism

banner for My MuskokaJennifer Jilks is an Ottawa school teacher now living in beautiful Bala, Ontario. She’s over 50 and that’s a huge niche right there. She’s also a travel expert, wildlife photographer, hiker, and blogger who posts twice a week about a special little part of Canada called Muskoka.

Jennifer Jilks of My Muskoka blogMy Muskoka cottage blog is an inside look at life in five Northern Ontario towns including Bala, Bracebridge, Gravenhurst , Huntsville, and Port Carling. She also chronicles the changing seasons as reflected in the shorelines of the Muskoka lakes.

Jennifer Jilks is fifty two years old. Before living in Bala she taught school for twenty five years in Ottawa while raising three kids – now her children are adults, and they are all remarkably different. They are all professionals. Jennifer’s daughter is a hydrogeologist and married to green party candidate Jean Luc Cooke. Her second child is a gifted actor, and the youngest boy is a government statistician.

Living and Dying with Dignity

About Jennifer Jilks

You can learn a lot about Mrs Jilks by reading the sidebar of her blog. Halfway down the right hand column is a picture and link to her book

Living and Dying with Dignity, a daughter/caregiver’s point of view.  She writes here that ‘My mother’s cancer, dad’s brain tumour and dementia changed my life. The book includes information, research, as well as coping strategies from real life experiences.’ And now suddenly we understand what drove her to start this blogspot. It wasn’t fame, or a marketing assignment, or a creative outlet for her photography, but an expression of true self. This woman hopes to share her healing with readers. Jennifer is a Muskoka Hospice worker and the experience of helping people living and dying with dignity rings like a bell and resonate through her life’s work. Indeed her continued care giving and volunteer work at the hospice gives her existence meaning and adds value to her perspective on life in Muskoka.

Jennifer Jilks in WashingtonJennifer Jilks Photography

In addition to chronicling the adventures of her three cats, Jenn’s blog images waterfowl, wildflowers and rodents in high quality photographs.  She submits her pictures to a camera critters blog and to a popular Ontario photo contest website and it was through Lenzr that she first came to my attention. In late November 2009 Jenn_Jilks compiled a beautiful array of breathtaking photos, with multiple entries in all three web challenges.

Jennifer Jilks and Social Justice

Today Mrs Jilks understands the explosive power of blogging. She learned the hard way after posting a series of well researched articles detailing the political, economic and social implications of the Bala Falls hydro electric project.

Muskoka LakesShe generated sixteen comments with a  particularly contentious post on the bala hydro electric project in the fall of 2008  where she was accused of being a puppet for Dalton McGuinty.

Fortunately other bloggers came to her rescue. Jenn’s site is at the center of a local blog ring that doesn’t have a badge yet, but the members appear in an earlier post. Muskoka Bloggers is a list she updates frequently and links to in her sidebar.

Last summer, Jennifer Jilks did her civic duty and published a piece on the 2009 drowning in Bala explaining the water currents better than news media. Jenn lives in the Township of Muskoka Lakes and in one posts she took it upon herself to debunk the The Myths of Muskoka.

My Muskoka blog is already publishing original stories about the 2010 G8 Summit’s impact to ‘locals’ in Hunstville and surrounding towns.

My Muskoka is a very credible citizen journalist, a passionate photographer, and a writer with a soul living inside Ontario’s premier Muskoka cottage country travel destination.

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The House in Arctic Bay, Nunavut

in Nunavut, Photography and Tourism

Clare Kines turned fifty this year. Born in 1959, he was a Royal Canadian Mounted Police officer for 24 years, and served in Manitoba, Quebec, Saskatchewan, and the North West Territories. In 1999 he transferred to Arctic Bay, Nunavut where he spent the last four years of his career.  Clare retired from the RCMP force six years ago, and then went to work full time building a bed and breakfast in this remote part of Canada.  His blog has grown right alongside his business.

Dan Rather at the house in the artic, kigavikThe House and Other Arctic Musings began as an online construction journal in May 2005. Back then it was simply a handy place to record memories and stories connected with the construction of Kiggavik.

The word ‘Kiggavik’ is the Inuktitut name for Gyrfalcon (a local species of bird), and Clare felt this was the most appropriate name for the business, possibly because the house, seen here, resembles a bird in flight.

Clare’s first wife Janice died of ovarian cancer in 1996; he writes, “her illness and death were by far the hardest things I’ve ever had to face in life. There isn’t a day that I don’t think about her.”

Clare Kines of Kiggavik B&B in Arctic Bay NunavutClare met Leah after moving to Arctic Bay and he fell in love again. They have two children: Travis age seven and Hilary is three years old. Leah was born and raised in Arctic Bay and now Clare also says he, “…can’t see living anywhere else. Love is as good of a reason as any for living somewhere.”

Clare adds , “I know that I am amongst the luckiest men in the world, because I’ve found great love not once, but twice in my life.” And readers can see these two do enjoy life together, and that’s a big part of the blog’s content and attraction.  The barren lands are secretly bountiful, and readers do get to explore that beautiful wilderness through Clare’s photography and travel stories.

Arctic Bay (also known as Ikpiarjuk), Nunavut is the northernmost community on Baffin Island, located in a land-locked bay and home to a small, predominantly Inuit population.

The Arts Scene in Arctic Bay

Wild Blueberries by Clare Kines, bloggerClare Kines blogs about the local arts and culture scene referencing Adrian Arnauyumayuq as the best carver in Arctic Bay right now, and showing us a carving by Jutanee Attagutaluk that was a gift from Leah.

“I’m one of the godfathers of Nunavut Blogging.”

Kines has been actively promoting blogging in Nunavut for many years and hosts the annual “Nunies” blogging awards. He has compiled a Nunavut blogroll featuring gems like Way Way Up which has been active since spring 2006. Nunavut Newbie is a female blogger in the area, and Townie Bastard and Northern Sights are two more great arctic blogs. There’s some blog talent up there; Clare’s Nunavut blogroll is everything Canada Blog Friends represents.

picking wild blueberries in Arctic Bay Nunavut Clare Kines was inspired to start his Typepad blog after reading and being affected by another portal called Bootstrap Analysis and its author, Nuthatch.

“That spring the Ivory-billed Woodpeckers potential re-discovery had just hit the news, and I came upon a well written post on bootstrap analysis. It was really my first exposure to blogging.” Clare writes, “At the time we were in the midst of building the house and pouring the concrete into insulated concrete forms to speed construction time and cut labour and material costs. We bought and installed insulated metal panels for the north side of the house and all around the base of the building. My project manager and I had said over and over that we really had to write some of these stories down.  So with the inspiration of Nuthatch and the stories from constructing a house in the high arctic I started. Nuthatch and I have ended up close friends, I think of her as my blogmom.”

Clare Kines of Kiggavik, Arctic Bay, Nunavut

Other than keeping some stories alive I don’t think I had any real goals at the beginning, truth be told I probably still don’t.  I’ve found that I enjoy blogging, the sense of community that has grown about me. When I’ve tried to leave blogging, because of commitments that required more attention I found that I really missed it.  The other thing that I’ve found is that I’ve grown to think of myself as a writer.  Although lately the blog has had more of a photo bent to it, it is first and foremost about writing. Something I’ve come to enjoy.

Clare Kines blogger at Kiggavik in Arctic Bay NunavutI find myself doing things, a hike for instance, and writing a post in my head while I’m doing it. It does make a good outlet for the photography.

At Last is a post about the arrival of Clare’s new born daughter

Photocopy Boy is a post reflecting on the death of a friend

Ghosts of Christmas Past more the memory of a Christmas in Ecuador

Flat roof is a little more recent.

Kines stirred up a fuss in Oct 2007 when he wrote about feral cats near bird sanctuaries and the failure of TNR programs (Trap Neuter Release) to control what he calls an ‘invasive species’.   It was in conjunction with posts that other bloggers had written calling for birders to boycott Cape May NJ because of their support for a TNR program.  It certainly aroused the most passion in the comments.

Clare’s post on the high cost of northern airfare also attracted comments and trackbacks.

A blog at the edge of the world,

A few people have found us through the blog, including clients from Scotland, France and Spain. The vast majority of our customers are government and business people traveling here. Most of them have found us through our reputation.

I rarely blog about clients, except in the most general terms. At times when I have I’ve always checked with them first. Probably our biggest celebrity to stay here was Dan Rather. Who is a very nice, very interesting man.  We talked mostly about wanting to go to space.  But most of our clients, are interesting people.  Part of the joy of this job is that there are so many interesting people that stay here, and many fascinating stories to hear. Check out this Toronto bed and breakfast left floating on the lake shore.

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Vancity Buzz in Vancouver BC

in British Columbia, NHL Hockey, Photography, Sports, Tourism and Vancouver

Vancity Buzz bannerThe consortium of creative thinkers that conspire to craft Vancity Buzz are as diverse as the blog.

Vancity Buzz formed on the 21st July, 2008.  That’s when three contributors first put their heads together to create the best local blog in Vancouver.  And they succeeded in crafting a fine portal, and one that guarantees readers a fine batch of local content, served fresh daily. The photo rich text shares ideas and comedy related to the City of Vancouver, and most recently the upcoming 2010 Winter Olympics; this blog is a digestion of Vancouver sports, politics and populism.

Coal Harbour on Vancity BuzzVancity Buzz is perhaps the first and best place to find obscure Vancouver restaurant reviews, music festival highlights, media meltdowns, and hip videos spiced with local politics, underground art and stories from and about their great city. Readers enjoy sports highlights from BC Lions and Vancouver Canucks, and local sports and recreation stories especially bicycling in Vancouver.

Originally billed as, “the best damn blog in Vancouver. Here you can expect to read on topics from our expert authors ranging from Sports, Culture, Entertainment, Development and any random spiel we feel like. One thing’s for certain, this page is going to be straight no chase!” there’s a heavy slant towards local and provincial politics. Think of this place as a premium online men’s magazine for Vancouver.

This is a men’s mag because of the images and style and general tone of voice; it’s definitely more guy-focused than girl-focused and a video of Megan Fox in the sidebar leaves no doubt. Discussions about Vancouver Canucks, homeless people, and hot models are always going to be more popular with guys.

VancouverismVancouverism
Here’s what makes the blog special – writers like Urban Dweller define something called ‘Vancouverism’. In the subtext it’s actually possible to read and enjoy their pride for Yaletown, Coal Harbour, North East False Creek and soon South East False Creek. The authors believe these are truly the communities of the future, and they are the byproducts of excellent city planning, mainly by a man they identify as Mr. Beasley, a visionary most famous for reshaping their beautiful city – they love him as they create a blog that celebrates Vancouverism.

Yet they are afraid of, and loath Surrey
The writers’ affection for metropolitan Vancouver contrasts their opinion of Surrey: “Upon entering it was obvious that Surrey doesn’t know what it wants to be, the city is so poorly planned, no doubt due to the rapid cul-de-sac infested development that took place over the years. I think I saw one cyclist, a few pan handlers on Scott Road, more suburban style strip mall in development and SUV’s galore. It felt like Prince George but with more people, not a good thing. As I approached Newton it was evident Mayor Watts has her work cut out. The urban decay in a suburban setting is truly horrendous. I pray I don’t ever have to go back. Oh and where are all the buses in Surrey? 400,000 people and I didn’t see a single fucking bus my whole time there. Egregious. If the future lives there we are in serious trouble…”

The blog boasts that approximately 80% of their readers live in BC’s lower mainland. They don’t shy away from politics. They are obvious social liberals, fiscal conservatives that despise all manner of taxation and any form of government control.

The Accolades
asshatsFreebase.com gave VCB five award nominations last year,
–         Dec 2008 Best Humour Site
–         Dec 2008 Best Site for Events
–         Dec 2008 Best Group Blog or Multi-Author Site
–         2008 Best Sports Site or Blog
–         2008 Best New Blog
But unless I’m mistaken, and perhaps we can read about it in the comments of this post (anyone?), I don’t think VCB won any prizes in any of the categories. It’s a fact that Urbanspoon Vancouver [a restaurant and review site; rates reviews from critics, food bloggers and friends] ranked VanCity Buzz at 41 out 100. But perhaps this is a start mark, the beginning of their journey.

Vancity Buzz – Tuesday July 27 2008
…Now I’m off to go throw pennies at the French hobos hanging outside the liquor store on Alberni. Hopefully they’ll get the message and hitch a ride back to “La belle Province”.

Most Contentious Posts:
Not surprisingly, VanCity Buzz has ruffled some feathers and the most contentious posts appear to be political and societal, based on the number of comments.  Its a fact Vancity Buzz defends pitbulls, and openly criticizes Vancouver’s approach to the homelessness problem, and makes public their disapproval of Surrey. These hot button issues have raised some eyebrows.

The Authors of the VanCity Buzz Spot
Now here’s where it gets a bit confusing. VanCity Buzz is himself an author, probably the principle brainchild of the blogspot. He has a good blog style and writes the meat and potatoes of the blog – usually the posts that most directly relate to the city.

Money J Skeets introduced himself in August 2008 in The Case of Matts Sundin and has held true to his promise of delivering sports gossip and musical goodies.  He also chronicles local street scenes and serves up late nite music in a weekly ritual – this writer is certainly very original with maximum style, and yet there are no pictures of him on the site. Money J Skeets is the 2nd most prolific contributor, but there doesn’t appear to be any pictures of this author, unless you count the shot of Nelly flashing his gold teeth?

Urban Dweller is outside the box and 100% original. He writes about the dark underbelly of the city and thinks in unusual patterns; he once detailed the physical element in poker.

Suburban Don lives in Richmond BC and writes about goings on in suburbia. He started strong and profiled Olympic athletes and some local businesses before gradually fading away.

Vancity Maverick – according to him, his writing is “focused on political matters from an analytical perspective, sometimes in a politically incorrect manner.”, but his pen has been silent for a spell.

VanGirl her real name Clo Harvey and she’s a very pretty freelance photographer from Australia that currently resides in Vancouver; she likes to shoot landscapes, cityscapes, people, pets, nightlife; self-taught photog, shoots digital and film, edits own work Clo’s online photo albums: http://cloimages.shutterfly.com/

InterVan-Buzz works in communications as a promoter / marketer / producer; “I am a young entrepreneur who has fallin in love with marketing. I believe it is a great tool… such a variety of ways to utilize it. Music & Fashion have become a big part of my life.”

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Endless Banquet in Montreal

in food blog, Montreal, niche blogs and Tourism

medieval banquetAnthony J Kinik and Michelle Marek really do appreciate their life in Montreal, and they share their passion for their city’s culture and cuisine in an extraordinary ‘food lovers’ blog. Their weekly adventures in the old city are filled with details relating to hidden fruit and vegetable markets, butcher shops, seafood shops and of course restaurants and Montreal spa and posh hotels and resorts, even portable toilet rentals and off the wall ideas.

… an endless banquet is a blogspot you can actually taste, and the authors do a great job presenting their anecdotes and knowledge in very readable prose. Readers will appreciate the novel manner in which AJ inserts his appetite into his daily adventures, and I love how both he and Michelle smother their text with expert details. Food lovers will savour the ‘before and after’ pictures of the ingredients contrasting the finished dishes. The photos usually accompany detailed recipes along with tips and tricks regarding preparation and delivery.

So it should come as no surprise that Anthony J. Kinik has some training as a storyteller. endless banquetHe originated from California where he earned a PhD in film studies; states that he’s always been interested in food, and actually began taking cooking classes when he was just ten years old. I’ve read and discovered that he loves soup and ‘uses pepper in everything’. Kinik is no stranger to print media either. He’s written for Gourmet, and the Montreal Mirror.

Michelle Marek, the blog’s co-author (and Anthony’s girlfriend) originated from Vancouver where she was inspired to cook by her mother. She was a vegan for 12 years, but now “eats anything”. *Its interesting to note that she despises TVP (textured vegetable protein) and chose to avoid it as a vegan.

AJ and Michelle met in Montreal in 1999 and soon discovered they had lots of similar interests, which includes books and films, cats and of course food. Both artists consider Montreal to be “a great eating city, a city of gourmands”

In 2004, AJ and Michelle were cooking and entertaining together more often, usually after exploring the city’s markets, collecting cookbooks, and reading copious amounts of food literature. All of this cuisine art really impacted Michelle, and she quit her job as a subtitle editor for films and enrolled in pastry school; now she works as pastry chef.

Aj and Michell from Enbdless BanquetThe blog began in Nov. 2004 when, AJ relates, “we did the only sensible thing. One dreary day, we headed down to a Vietnamese restaurant in Chinatown, and over a good bowl of pho, we came up with a name–” and the name is “…meant to convey a sense of the ideal life.” And he goes on to write that, “…the Internet opened things up quite a bit and provided many new voices. In terms of food writing, it provided a forum… for food cultures that had been marginalized.”

Salad on Endless BanquetBy the summer of 2007 the blog was getting 15,000 hits per month. Today the content includes recipes (many pulled from other publications) and reviews. Anthony and Michelle have written a book, APQO, a short work dedicated to the enjoyment of four fruit: the apple, the pear, the quince, and the orange.  The authors write good pieces about visits to local Montreal restaurants, they publicité en ligne and pass judgment on the Montreal Food Guide which reviews eateries in their city. Here’s AJ’s Flickr page.

Endless Banquet gives AJ and Michelle the ability “to broadcast our dream version of Montreal. Consider this a condensed, lushly illustrated, two-dimensional version of our beloved city.”

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Casie Stewart in Toronto

in Canadian pop culture, Culture Blogger, Fashion Blogger, Ontario, Personal Blog, Toronto and Tourism

Casie Stewart Banner

Casie Stewart is a blog nerdCasie Diana Stewart is a restless 26 year old artist, poet and blogger. She documents urban charity events, shopping excursions, and fashion parties. She writes about herself mostly, and describes her adventures cycling in Toronto, surfing (online & on waves), her art and assorted photography projects, sewing & making clothes, funky local stores, and twitter. She’s a pretty girl with a good sense of humour, and a very popular blogspot.

Casie Stewart: this is my life has the byline, people . places . things . thoughts: in attempt to keep more memories, and that’s a good honest motivation for starting and maintaining a personal blog. This writer puts vanity aside and impresses readers with her candor, and her ability to relate details and get specific alongside her innermost thoughts.

Casie StewartIt all started in June 2006. Casie needed something to do while her boss was away. “I posted a bunch of stuff one day, and the rest is history.” Her first posts were CGI cartoons she drew herself and short rants about her life and the things she was doing.  “When I started blogging, I wanted to create a place where I could keep memories and record things as they happened. I’ve got so many thoughts and not the best memory. I created my blog in attempt to keep more memories. It’s worked really well. I often look back to remember what I did, wore, and said.”

Casie Stewart up wallCasie has dual citizenship; Canadian and New Zealand. She once lived in Sydney Australia (Bondi Beach), Indiana, and New York. Her parents emigrated to Canada to raise their children, and Casie grew up in Cambridge, Ont.  Casie says she’s always been artistic and entrepreneurial; when she was 14 she co-wrote an anthology of poetry and prose called Jeans. In 1996 she won the Miss Teen Pageant in Cambridge and the Young Entrepreneur of the Year in part because she was a founding member of the Cambridge Youth Council that opened a skate park, a drop-in center, and now celebrates the 11th year of the Rock the Mill festival.

Casie spent two years working in the head office of “a large private retail organization,” and “had a great career as a Queen West hipster and party girl which lead to knowing alot of really cool & interesting people.” After she got tired of the party life Casie got into the Toronto tech community and joined forces with other tech-minded people to organize events such as #genyTO, Twestival, and Pay it Back Toronto.

Casie Stewart Do GooderCasie Stewart’s most popular post was born last October when she explained her famous Toronto Sun September, 2001 Sunshine Girl appearance, and that’s understandable, check out the picture. This splash occurred about four months after her second most celebrated post, Blackberry Message Pending Problem which brought mass Google search traffic as thousands of other Canadians struggled with the same issue. And please check out Steamrolled By Drunkards because its easy to see why’s she’s loved as she relates a great story about visiting an event at the Steam Whistle Brewery to meet people she knows on Twitter.

I’ll get you my pretty. “I’ve had a few surprises with people recognizing me because they read my blog. That’s a huge compliment and change from being a party animal when people recognize you for other stuff.”

Casie Stewart for charityOops he did it again. “I was surprised when the owner of Well Hung, a postering company postered some stuff from my blog on Queen Street in bright neon. Toronto b&b that was a pretty rad surprise! He’s done it a couple times now too!”

Casie’s Twitter

Casie’s Facebook When I asked Casie Stewart about the future of her blog, she replied, “The goal of keeping more memories is still the same. However, now I’m working more on creating a brand, and a following. No one besides me really read it for the first two years. Then, I went through some drama and said one day, ‘Hey, I’m a writer and I can do this. I’m gonna share this with everyone. I’m a blogger now’.

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Zucket in Toronto

in Blogging, Fashion Blogger, niche blogs, Personal Blog, Toronto and Tourism

Sass Zucket is a twenty three year old Asian girl from Hong Kong who grew up in Vancouver before coming east to go to school. She’s smart. The girl was enrolled in the University of Toronto at age 16 and graduated at 21 with a degree in human biology and genetics. So what’s she doing now? She’s a party girl, and a world famous blogger.

Zucket is a sneak peek inside Toronto’s hottest parties from a slightly jaded female perspective. The blog is fun to read like e-talk is fun to watch, but it’s meaner and grungier than anything on television, and kind of dirty. Each post images some form of consumption and chronicles rock stars, fashion models, booze, bands and bar fights.

Zucket is a great blog because of the author’s narrative insights into these candid photos. Her readers Laugh Out Loud in comments when she reminds them that a certain friend wore the same shirt two Saturdays in a row (with photo links to prove it) or who paid for who’s drinks all night. She has meaningful conversations with celebrities, and only very occasionally writes about shopping, clothes and cosmetics and Toronto party rentals no you’re more likely to find posts detailing the nutritional value of her favourite Chinese foods.

Sass fraternizes with professional photographers, including Kavin from Shark vs Bear, and Pete Nema, Dana Richardson, Raymi’s boyfriend Phil, and Carl W. Heindl of eroder.com . When these talented artists snap shots of Sass enjoying Toronto, she hunts them down and copies them from their Flickr pages, and Facebook galleries to repost on her own blog. That way her readers can enjoy seeing her mocking boys upstairs at the Drake Hotel, or rocking out on dance floor of the Wrong Bar, or even recovering in the sunlight of a Sunday at the Lakeview Lunch.

She’s part of a community. Momentary glimpses inside Toronto’s west end nightclubs is just one of the things that makes Zucket such a premier online attraction. LG Fashion Week Finale Party: Atop the Top of the Burroughes hooked this subscriber. That post is an exciting behind-the-scenes look at a fashion party meltdown. Zucket’s descriptions are brief and leave me hungry for more details, and her friends are beautiful and candid. Readers can’t find this stuff anywhere else, except perhaps on other blogs… like Raymi The Minx ?

Zucket spawned from Raymi; she’s a spin-off. When I asked Sass about the similarities she replied: Yes, I know Raymi, she is one of my closest friends. I started reading her blog and then figured out that she lived within a 2 block radius from me. Stalked her and the rest is history. Today the keyword Raymi the Minx is the fifth largest tag in Zucket’s sidebar; the first four being Alcohol, Party, Toronto, and Babes. It’s not hard to see why this blog is so popular.

Near the beginning of Sass Zucket’s weblog, I came across something very personal, a key to understanding the origins of her blog. And when I asked Sass why she started blogging she replied, …I started blogging because I hated my ex-boyfriend and his new girlfriend with a raging passion. I had so many mean, awful things to say about them that I also thought were really funny. My friends were tired of hearing me whine but I wasn’t tired of whining and needed a venue to vent. I’m also kind of a megalomaniac so I decided a blog was a good way to delude myself into a sense of celebrity. My attention seeking tendencies haven’t changed, so I’m still blogging. It has become such a large part of my lifestyle and routine, that I’d rather blog before bed than wash the make-up off of my face.

Follow Sass on Twitter?

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Net Chick in Vancouver

in British Columbia, Personal Blog, Photography, Tourism and Vancouver

Net Chick banner

Tanya Marie Davis has been writing her thoughts online for over eleven years! That makes her the most experienced blogger, with the oldest domain yet profiled on this friendly index. The thirty something British Canadian lives alone in Vancouver, and plays a big part in the city’s social net. Her easy going manner, self deprecating sense of humour, detailed profile page, and straight forward contact info tells readers that she’s very comfortable with who she has become…

Net Chick pink hairNetChick, This Chick’s Life is the personal journal of a popular west coast socialite who uses her blog for the forces of good. There are no Google ads or tacky widgets anywhere in the sidebar, just a lipstick promotion over a blog roll bearing links to other Canadian pioneers, most of whom also live in Vancouver.

Tanya Davis blogs from and about that beautiful city, and often joins her friends, Miss 604, Raincoaster, Tris Hussy and others at live events that help make Vancouver the foremost social media crucible in Canada. Although much smaller than Toronto, this city’s bloggers connect in real life at parties, sporting events and most recently, at the opera.

This Chick’s Life is as unique as it is popular. A two sentence description in her sidebar reads, “…a thirty something girl living her dream in downtown Vancouver.’ But what is her dream exactly? Perhaps its the expression of her independence? To live alone after her divorce? In posts from autumn 2002 and the winter of 2003, which are the oldest posts available to readers, Tanya is slight on details and uses the word ‘boyfriend’ with defining the term. Later, readers will discover and come to cherish NetChick’s semi perpetual search for a mate. The theme runs through later posts too, and as Tanya grows older she gets more and more comfortable sharing details.

Similar to Carrie Bradshaw, (Sarah Jessica Parker’s character in Sex in the City)  this single girl details the shortcomings of so many would be suitors that attempt to solicit her affections. It’s a fascinating study of (for) men, especially those who craft corny first contact messages. The activity empowers female readers, and makes men a little anxious – lately Tanya has been reposting whole conversations, or rather, intact solicitations from strangers that have no idea who they’re talking to, or what league they’ve just stepped into…

Net Chick, Tanya DavisA social butterfly, NetChick has adopted, or rather, inherited an earlier link exchange ritual (from Michele, a landmark early blog) known as Weekend Meet and Greet. It’s a simple idea that works to convince a community of readers to leave a chorus of comments for everyone’s benefit. This type of online activity is the spit and polish that sophisticated blog pioneers put up to harness the passion of the next generation. NetChick’s meet and greet has just two rules:  participants must first say hello, and then visit the blog above their comment; in turn the next visitor greets you and visits your blog.  Irregardless of all extenuating factors, the exercise is good for at least one visit.

On March 1st 2009 Tanya used her blog to do some good for society when she wrote to Support the Canadian Freestyle Ski Team With Canada Post and encouraged her readers to CatchAir.ca

Tanya Davis seems like the quintessential early adopter, a hot girl geek that’s always been in style. She embraces new technology and uses it to elucidate random elements of her existence; NetChick Flickr photos show off her friends and family, you can find Tanya on Facebook, and or follow NetChick on Twitter.

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Midnight Poutine in Montreal

in Montreal, News Media, Photography, Quebec and Tourism

Midnight Poutine logoUnlike other domains profiled here, Midnight Poutine is not someone’s personal blog, but rather, a blog collective owned by an entrepreneur named Tim Shore. The writers get some of the revenue paid by advertisers.

Tim Shore also owns blogTO which serves Toronto, and Beyond Robson in Vancouver – all under the holding Freshdaily.ca, which as of Feb 28th 2009 is still under construction. But Tim and Fresh Daily are not the subject of this profile – this post is all about Midnight Poutine, because it’s such an absolute gem. The picture below is very indicative of the type of citizen journalism that doesn’t wait for snow removal or police barricadfes to come down before finding and reporting the truth from a Montreal pedestrian’s perspective.

Montreal bike riderWhat is Poutine?
Poutine is a dish consisting of French fries topped with fresh cheese curds, covered with brown gravy. It’s comfort food, especially in Quebec and it’s a signature dish in many Montreal eateries.

What’s in Midnight Poutine?
Midnight Poutine.ca is a perfect blog name. It correctly suggests unique content about Montreal night life, arts and culture. Readers who spot the domain name in a blog roll are instantly motivated to investigate, just to see if the destination lives up to what they imagine it should be, and it does.

About Midnight Poutine
Tim ShoreMontrealers need Midnight Poutine. It’s a personal ongoing account of the city’s happenings. It’s a delicious high-fat source of rants, raves and musings. It provides the insight you never find in newspapers and the details and tangents that would never fit in a weekly. It possesses cheese-like flexibility. It’s sometimes snarky, often unusual and always informative. Your order has arrived. Dig in.

A blog with seven authors
There are at least seven contributors in the About Us index. Some write more than others, but each maintains a presence in their genre to offer readers a smattering of local content that cannot be found in newspapers or anywhere else online. My favourite author is Jeff daSilva, I like his style the best and identify most with his local news subject matter.

Jeff daSilva
Jeff daSilvaJeff is a fashion working rock/skate type guy who loves dodgy bars, pubs, and all sorts of music. A terrific example of Jeff’s work is something he wrote after visiting a liquor store, in the province of Quebec where he postulates that BYOB will soon have  a new meaning – bring your own bag. Liqour laws are different all over Canada.

SAQ in Montreal

The portal is popular and will, in the future, help Montreal become a better city – some of their link bait content includes a rant post about the bus fares and cost of public transit . This post is one of their most popular, even though it’s entirely in French!

Midnight Poutine has a very popular Flickr photo group, with thousands of images, and has just emerged on Twitter where they have 13 followers – these are early days.

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