Stanley Park Ghost Train for Halloween 2010

October 8th, 2010 @ 10:46am (PT) by Rebecca Bollwitt

The Stanley Park miniature railway is hosting its annual Ghost Train and this year’s theme is Alice in Nightmareland. Last night we had a sneak peak at the train ride, haunted farmyard, ghoulish concession and monstrous face painting hi-jinx.

Stanley Park Halloween Ghost Train
Photo credit: John Bollwitt on Flickr
Stanley Park Halloween Ghost Train Stanley Park Halloween Ghost Train
Stanley Park Halloween Ghost Train
Photo credit: John Bollwitt on Flickr

Mortal Coil Performance Society is responsible for the fantastic artwork, scenes, and actors that are out along the Alice in Nightmareland train route. The soundtrack to the ride varies from contemporary fantasy tunes to sounds from Alice in Wonderland, making for a creepy psychedelic ride.

Stanley Park Halloween Ghost Train
Photo credit: John Bollwitt on Flickr

Characters act out scenes, playing cards come to life, objects twirl and spin while the endless clickety-clack of the train on the tracks echoes through the dark forest. The route doesn’t have jack-o-lanterns, Dracula, or skeletons but I think they’ve achieved a whole new level of spooky this year with this trippy attraction.

Ghost Train
Photo credit: John Biehler on Flickr

Aside from the train, there will be nightly activities on the grounds this season that include:

  • Pumpkin carving on Monday October 11th and Monday October 18th
  • A celebration for the new film “Megamind” on Monday October 25th
  • Costume night on Tuesday October 26th

The Ghost Train is open nightly from 6:00pm to 10:00pm until October 31st and the haunted farmyard is accessible from 5:00pm to 9:00pm. The Stanley Park Ecology Society is also leading “Creature of the Night” theatrical walks on the hour, Tuesday through Saturdays from 5:00pm until 8:00pm.

All attractions are open rain or shine and parking is free after 5:00pm in the lot adjacent to the train plaza entrance. Tickets do sell out so you can pick yours up ahead of time via Ticketmaster.

The Stanley Park miniature train has been in operation since 1963 and the Ghost Train has been running each season since 1999. You can follow @Ghost_TrainYVR on Twitter for daily updates or become a fan on Facebook.

If you would like to experience the Ghost Train and Alice’s Nightmareland for yourself, I have six 4-packs of tickets to give away over the next few weeks. Here’s how you can enter to win:

  • Leave a comment on this post about Halloween (1 entry)
  • Post the following on Twitter (1 entry)
Win a 4-pack of tickets to #Halloween @Ghost_TrainYVR from @Miss604

I will draw three winners from all entries on October 12th and another three winners on October 18th. The tickets are valid for admission on any night until October 21st.

Update The first three winners are Michael Kwan, Ally, and @k_westend. I’ll draw three more in a few days.

Update The last three winners are @HudsonHomeTeam, Michelle, Janet, and Christine.

October Events on the Sunshine Coast

October 7th, 2010 @ 3:00pm (PT) by Rebecca Bollwitt

As Wendy Weir from Libre Tea once told me, the Sunshine Coast is the “lost corner of the 604”. I used to go to summer camp each year in Roberts Creek and it quite often I’d have people tell me, “have fun on the Island!” The Sunshine Coast is indeed a part of mainland British Columbia and it’s definitely a region worth checking out.

Gibsons, BC

Just a quick ferry trip away, it offers recreation, entertainment, and some amazing natural scenery. The Sunshine Coast also hosts more festivals per capita than any other community in Canada with its main centres being Sechelt, Gibsons, and the Pender Harbour area.

Gibsons, BC Sunshine Coast Tours - Skookumchuck Narrows / Sechelt Inlet The Gumboot - Roberts Creek

To encourage you to take a trip along an arbutus-lined coastal highway this autumn, I thought that I would highlight some activities going on in the region.

Saturday October 9, 2010

  • The 10th Annual Gibsons Fall Fair runs Saturday from 10:00am – 5:00pm and Sunday, October 10th from 10:00am – 4:00pm. Festivities will take place at Quality Farm & Greenhouse at 325 Pratt Road. Activities include a craft fair, quilting contest, fibre arts display, and contests for baking, pumpkin carving, sunflowers and scarecrows. Door prize raffles will benefit local charities.
  • Saturday October 16, 2010

  • The last weekend of the Fiddlehead Farmers’ Market at Gibsons Landing.
  • The Sunshine Coast Mushroom Fest at Pender Harbour Community Hall takes place both Saturday and Sunday.
  • The Empty Bowls 2010 fundraiser takes place 11:30am – 2:30pm at the Roberts Creek Community Hall. Your $20 ticket ($10 kids ticket) is good for a handmade bowl from a local potter, lunch and dessert. Proceeds benefit the Sunshine Coast Food Bank.
  • Saturday October 23, 2010

  • The 11th Annual Fall Tune-Up cross country race takes place in Sechelt’s Porpoise Bay Provincial Park. Any proceeds from the event will support Sunshine Coast Athletics (for travel to championship events).
  • The Sunshine Coast Art Crawl is a free self-guided art tour happening on Saturday and Sunday. Follow the highway up and down the coast to spot studios that you can visit.
  • Sunday October 24, 2010

  • Pender Harbour Music in association with MusicFest Vancouver present Suzie Leblanc & Robert Kortgaard in concert at Pender Harbour Music School.
  • Should you have any additional events to list, please feel free to contact me. And remember, you only need ferry fare one-way as the return trip to Horseshoe Bay has no cost for cars or foot passengers.

    Vancouver History: Burrard Bridge

    October 7th, 2010 @ 1:05pm (PT) by Rebecca Bollwitt

    A few months ago I put the call out on Twitter to see what people have been curious to know about Vancouver’s past. There were some great suggestions about Joe Fortes and the Great Fire along with several more tidbits that would be interesting to research. A few people asked about the Burrard Bridge and in particular, the enclosed space between the towers. To answer a few of these questions, here’s a brief history of the Burrard Bridge – from busts to bike lanes.

    Burrard Bridge History

    Opening Day, 1932. Archives item# CVA 99-2656. Photographer: Stuart Thomson.
    Vancouver Sun Run 2010
    Photo credit: Susan Gittins on Flickr

    The basics are that the bridge was constructed from 1930-1932 in order to join downtown Vancouver with Kitsilano by going over False Creek. It officially opened on Canada Day, July 1st 1932 with “A snip of a pair of golden scissors in the hands of Mayor Louis D. Taylor.” [source]

    Architect George Lister Thornton Sharp and engineer John R. Grant used various styles of trusses to create enough of a span for boats to pass underneath and also for the flow of traffic along the deck. The enclosed spaces between its towers on either end are referred to as galleries with small windows that peer out onto the traffic below. From what I hear, those spaces were never used for anything else (no actual gallery or office space) and are just there to hide the steel structure of the bridge. Other unused or now-defunct features include a stairwell from the deck to the beach that was shutdown in recent years as well as a railway bridge underneath the car deck that was scrapped.

    Burrard Bridge
    Photo credit: cmh2315fl on Flickr

    The lamps on either end of the bridge that flicker with a red glow at night are a tribute to Canadian WWI prisoners of war. [source] Vancouver’s coat of arms graces the front of the galleries while busts of Captain George Vancouver and Sir Harry Burrard-Neale adorn bows of ships that jut out from either tower, above pedestrian archways. I wrote a quick piece about the bridge a few years ago and discovered at that time that Sir Harry Burrard-Neale never even came within 5,000km of Vancouver at any time in his life. As he often did with waterways up and down our coast, Captain Vancouver simply named the inlet after an old navy buddy.

    1932. Archives item# CVA 99-4214. Photographer: Stuart Thomson.
    Burrard Bridge
    Photo credit: mikecogh on Flickr

    For many, this bridge offers the best views of a sunset of the annual fireworks in English Bay. The bridge was actually designed so that you can still enjoy the view even while you’re driving. According to the Burrard Bridge Heritage Study by Donald Luxton & Associates in 2001, the handrails along the bridge are meant to provide an unobstructed view of the bay when vehicles are driving between 40 and 64 kilometres an hour. This visual effect is referred to as “stroboscopic”.

    November twilight in Vancouver 2008
    Photo credit: Gord McKenna on Flickr

    In 2007 the Burrard Bridge was listed on Heritage Vancouver’s Top Ten Endangered Sites and in 2009 it began a bike lane trial. It continues to link the downtown core with Kitsilano, Vanier Park, and UBC whether you travel by car, bus, bike, or foot. For a great view of the bridge at any time of day, check out the legendary KatKam webcam.

    Your Midtown Experience

    October 7th, 2010 @ 10:30am (PT) by Rebecca Bollwitt

    Earlier this week I documented a day that John and I had in Midtown. We were sent out on behalf of The Rolston to experience a chunk of downtown between False Creek & Helmcken, Burrard & Homer. We walked all around the area, had some amazing baked goods, brunch, spa treatments, lunch, dinner, and an evening drink. It just so happens that they would also like to have one of my readers experience this mini-tour downtown with a guest.

    Sunday in Midtown, Vancouver - Nu for brunch

    Here’s what you’ll be able to win:
    $20 gift card for Tartine Bread and Pies
    Location: 770 Beach Avenue

    $120 gift card for Absolutely Fabulous Urban Spa
    Location: 1500 Hornby at Beach Avenue

    $120 gift card for Nu Restaurant
    Location: 1661 Granville St, under the Granville Bridge & right on top of False Creek

    $120 gift card for Sanafir Restaurant
    Location: 1026 Granville St

    $75 gift card for Sip Lounge
    Location: 1117 Granville St

    $20 for cab fare at the end of the evening

    To enter to win this prize pack (valued at over $450) please leave a comment on this post listing your favourite downtown Vancouver neighbourhood. West End, Davie Village, Yaletown, Coal Harbour, Eastside, etc.

    Mine is the West End because if you head in one block from Robson or Davie the sounds of the city fade away while you can hear birds chirping, lawnmowers, and leaves crunching under the feet of puppies out for a stroll with their owners. Not to mention the variety of restaurants within just a few short blocks and the abundance of green space. I’ve been living in the West End for 5 years and I think this sense of community is something The Rolston would like to achieve in Midtown.

    I will draw one winner at random from all comments on October 13th at 12:00pm. The winner can do all of these activities in a day or space them out. Please note, reservations may come in handy on a weekend and the winner will want to book their spa appointment in advance.

    Update The winner is Johanna Goodyear — have fun in Midtown!

    The Live Sessions with Hayley Sales Tonight, Win Tickets

    October 7th, 2010 @ 8:56am (PT) by Rebecca Bollwitt

    The Chan Centre at UBC has been presenting The Live Sessions concert series over the last few months. These intimate performances are also live recording sessions for CBC RAdio 2’s “Canada Live” series and the next concert will be with Hayley Sales. A Vancouver Island girl who grew up on a blueberry farm, her latest album Bird Became a Book is being described as having a unique and personal ‘folk Island style’ sound.

    I have a pair of tickets to give away to the Hayley Sales Live Session tonight (October 7th). Here’s how you can enter to win:

  • Leave a comment on this post (1 entry)
  • Post the following on Twitter (1 entry)
  • RT to enter to win tix to Hayley Sales tonight @chancentre from @miss604

    I will draw one winner at 1:00pm and they will receive a pair of tickets for tonight’s show beginning at 7:00pm at the Chan Centre’s Telus Studio Theatre.

    Update The winner is Toby Sullivan. Thanks for participating in this quick contest!

    Clara Hughes to Lead Take a Hike Bike Ride in Stanley Park

    October 6th, 2010 @ 12:14pm (PT) by Rebecca Bollwitt

    Six-time Olympic medalist Clara Hughes will be in Stanley Park tomorrow morning (October 7th) for a bike ride with the Take a Hike Foundation. Hughes, who is also set to be honored on Canada’s Walk of Fame this year, is hosting this event to celebrate Take a Hike’s 10 year anniversary.

    Take a Hike is an alternative education program that engages at-risk youth through a unique combination of adventure-based learning, academics, counseling, and community involvement.

    Clara Hughes
    Photo credit: John Biehler on Flickr

    I sat in on a press conference during the Vancouver 2010 Games after she won a medal as a part of the speedskating relay team where she announced that she was donating her medal bonus ($10,000CDN) to Take a Hike. She also gave the teacher who founded the program tickets to her 3000m race at the Olympics.

    Thursday’s event will start off with a press conference at 10:30am over at Second Beach. Hughes will give a talk about her life journey and the Olympics, which is bound to be incredibly motivational. She and Take a Hike students will then set out on a biking tour of the park.

    If you’re in the area, I encourage you to check out her speech – even during the press conference in February I was moved by her determination and inspirational words of wisdom.