hellooo-oh, canada!

sam finds a giant thimble in toronto's fashion district. the trip has been made worthwhile.

Two weekends ago, a number of events occurred. Brad had just received his passport, and it was anxiously awaiting use. I was feeling antsy, since I hadn’t been on a trip in awhile. Brad read about Poutine, a Canadian dish involving french fries, cheese curds, and gravy. And Mike got a new campus job.

So I said, “hey, we should go to Canada.”

And then, we did. A week of planning, lots of international hotel calls (yay google voice – free to canada!), some scurrying and homework-finishing, a five-hour drive, and then – we were over the border.

brad, mike, and carrie on the way home from big smoke burger's poutine

Friday night, we arrived at our Toronto hotel and headed to our first stop: Big Smoke Burger, allegedly home to the best burgers in Toronto and some fantastic poutine. I say allegedly because I have not tried any other burgers in Toronto – but I don’t doubt that theirs are close to the best. And poutine, as weird as it sounds, was incredibly delicious.

st. lawrence market in toronto - what amazing cabbages!

The next morning, we got up early and ate a box of Tim Horton’s Timbits, like true Canadians. Then we acquired our day-long subway passes and began exploring. We started at the St. Lawrence Market, and were amazed at the selection of produce – where does Canada grow all these things?

We bought Kinder Surprise eggs, which are apparently considered contraband in the U.S. But we ate them all (except the surprises!) before crossing the border again.

the historic roundhouse that houses the steamwhistle brewery, toronto

After further meandering, we headed toward the harbor for a tour of Toronto’s Steamwhistle Brewery. The small brewery is located on the historical grounds of an old roundhouse – you know, the place where the trains go on the circle and get spun into their different garages? I had never seen one in real life, so my 8-year-old Brio-loving self was thrilled to see a roundhouse in real life. It was so cool!

steamwhistle brewery in toronto: the bottling line, in brilliant green

The best part of this brewery tour was the brilliant green that Steamwhistle uses for their packaging. It was everywhere!

pizza pizza - a toronto chain with cute trashcans.

After the tour, we headed toward Chinatown for an afternoon lunch. We dashed into an art store, where I bought 13 sheets of the most adorable paper of all time. Then we all had the classic Sam Janis foreign country experience: finding a new fabric store.

king's textiles, toronto

Toronto’s King’s Textiles was located near Chinatown, in what is called the Fashion District. The location is a little bit run down, with lots of (awesome) graffiti. But the fabric store was just my type, with a filled-up warehouse feel and creaky floors that you can’t hear because all the sounds are so well-damped by the cloth.

king's textiles, toronto: filled to the brim with fabric

It was large, but not enormous – however, due to the towers of fabric and the eerie stillness of the air, it would be easy to get lost forever. Mike loved that he and Carrie could stand on opposite ends of the aisle pictured, nearly shouting, unable to hear each other.

The only downside of this store was the pricing – fabrics were more than I like to spend. But I was on vacation, and we were in a big city, so what could I expect? I bought a cute turquoise knit and plan to make a henley of some kind.

While in the Fashion District, we happened upon the giant thimble at the top of this post. That discovery and its photographic proof justify my trip entirely.

The Fashion District isn’t like the Garment Districts in Paris or New York – the area was mostly dedicated to clothing stores, although I did find a few stores selling buttons. And with two boys in tow, my shopping freedom was limited.

colorful graffiti

brad and mike on the toronto subway, excited about the accordion walls and moving floor

Everything in Toronto closes early, presumably because it’s so cold. So we took the long way home, stopped at some stores and ate more poutine, then took the subway back to the hotel. The subway was one long, continuous car with accordion joints and moving floors to accomodate twists in the track: Brad and Mike insisted on riding where the floor moved.

We got in the car and drove to our Saturday night hotel near Niagara Falls, and ate grilled cheeses at a strange diner that looked like a spaceship.

niagara falls

After Church Sunday morning, another Tim Horton’s breakfast, and an exploration of Canadian Wal-Mart to find milk that comes in bags, we headed out to look at Niagara Falls. I have decided two things: 1. It is a large waterfall and 2. It is a very cold place to be in early February.

We were hoping for something louder, more menacing perhaps – but the rushing water was, instead, almost of the peaceful sort. Near the falls, the mist was falling down on us as snow flurries, which was way cool – but a further reminder that February is not the best time for a visit.

the obligatory group picture: four adventurers at niagara falls

We froze, I took lots of pictures, Mike ate yet more Tim Horton’s, and then we headed back to school. Our work was waiting where we left it, but we felt good – especially me. Who picks up and goes to another country for the weekend? I like the idea of being that person – again.

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11 Responses

  1. Stephanie B says:

    Toronto can be a fun weekend for sure… glad you enjoyed it! Next time you feel like an adventure, come to Montreal… it’s like a whole other world (and we have much better poutine ;)

  2. Mama says:

    What a wonderful story about such a terrific adventure. The pictures look great. I want a poster of you and your thimble :) Love you so much.

  3. Aunt Jeanie says:

    That thimble picture – way.too.cute. Did they make that area just for you? I love the tape measure too.

    • Sam says:

      I know I couldn’t believe it! The tape measure was the perfect touch. I’ll have to put up some more pictures.. there were trees nearby in planters that looked like buttons!

  4. Stephanie Saniga says:

    Awesome! I want to be that person too – alas, my passport is expired, so Holly and I did the next best thing – a day trip to Niagara Falls, NY, in January! It was… a very cold experience. But well worth it. So – what is poutine? And I want to see a picture of the spaceship diner!

  5. nothy lane says:

    That spaceship diner is the Flying Saucer and it is cool. Google it for a picture. It’s the only place to eat for $5 in Niagara Falls. I think it’s the best tourist attraction in NF!

  6. Steve says:

    Hamilton’s Ottawa street has a good fabric districk

    Kitchener has some more

    how long are you in the area?

  7. joshua says:

    No hockey!? Come on!

    (just kidding) ;)

  8. Marloes says:

    What a cute website and blog about your trip to Canada!
    Being a Canadian myself, I thought your adventure in our country sounded like fun for you guys. Next time I recommend to come to Ottawa in the winter (don’t forget to bring your skates) and come skate on the largest skiing rink in the world. then after stop in the market to eat some real good beaver tails, hop over to Quebec (10 minutes apart) go skiing (or snowboarding) at one out 4 local ski resorts.
    Hope your next adventure to Canada will be a fun one!

  9. Lynne Demmery says:

    You haven’t tried poutine until you’ve tried the poutine in Quebec. The curds are somewhat different and much better.

    Next time go to Montreal or Quebec City, you’ll be surprised by the amount of english actually spoken there.

  1. September 3, 2012

    […] weekend trip to montreal In January, Brad and I, along with our friends Mike and Carrie, drove up to Toronto for an adventure that all started because Brad wanted to try some delicious poutine. We found […]

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