Christmas at Canada Place: For a Cause

December 7th, 2011 @ 1:38pm (PT) by Rebecca Bollwitt

Christmas at Canada Place presents the sold out Breakfast with Santa on December 17th and 18th. This popular event is complete with a hot breakfast buffet, performers, music, and of course the jolly old elf, Santa himself. Hundreds of children and their parents attend each year and net proceeds support the Strathcona Community Centre’s Food Security for Children Program.

Breakfast with Santa 2010

I chatted with Recreational Programmer Ron Suzuki about the program back in 2009, when I first sponsored Christmas at Canada Place. “We take parents and we engage children with the parents about where to find good food, how to prepare good food and how to serve good food.” Populated by three public schools in East Vancouver, the community centre is a place for children to hang out but also continue their real-world education. “The public looks to the Community Centre as the ‘safe place’ in the community,” said Suzuki.

The SCC implemented the Strathcona Food Security for Children initiative which aims to prevent hunger and malnutrition of children in Strathcona, one of the country’s most disadvantaged communities. The Strathcona community needs these programs to help relieve the occurrence of transient hunger, especially among its youth population.

Breakfast with Santa 2010

Over the past six years, Christmas at Canada Place’s Breakfast with Santa has raised over $100,000 for this cause, and it’s amazing to see that the event has already sold out again.

You can also support the Strathcona Community Centre by attending their own Breakfast with Santa on December 10th. Tickets are currently available for $5 for a family of four. Call or go online to book your spot and join the community. The Strathcona Community Centre will also be a starting point for a parade down to Dr. Sun Yat Sen Gardens on Wednesday, December 21st for the Winter Solstice Lantern Festival. is once again proud to sponsor Christmas at Canada Place which includes the Woodward’s Windows, Breakfast with Santa.

Karaoke Christmas Trolley Tour 2011

December 7th, 2011 @ 10:10am (PT) by Rebecca Bollwitt

The Vancouver Trolley Company is filling up on holiday cheer as they host Karaoke Christmas tours this month.

Christmas Market
Vancouver Christmas Market. Photo credit: TheVancouverGuy on Flickr. Submitted to the Miss604 Flickr Pool.

These special 3-hour expeditions around the city, suitable for the whole family, include stops at Bright Nights in Stanley Park, VanDusen’s Festival of Lights, the Vancouver Christmas Market, and more.

Tours depart daily from the Queen Elizabeth Theatre December 9th until December 24th, 2011. There is also, of course, the karaoke element. Guests will sing their way from stop to stop, belting out classic carols.

You will have time to get out and walk around at Stanley Park and a donation to the Burn Fund is included in your trolley ticket. Reservations are now being accepted online or by calling (604) 801-5515. Adult tickets are $38, children at $25.

If you would like to experience the Karaoke Christmas tour with a friend or loved one, I have two tickets up for grabs. Here’s how you can enter to win:

  • Leave a comment on this post naming your favourite carol (1 entry)
  • Post the following on Twitter (1 entry)
RT to enter to win @VanTrolley #KaraokeChristmas tour tickets from @Miss604 #Miss604Holidays

I will draw one winner at random from all entries at 10:00am on December 13, 2011.

Update The winner is Brenda!

Vancouver History: Harry Jerome

December 7th, 2011 @ 9:30am (PT) by Rebecca Bollwitt

You may have strolled by his statue in Stanley Park or taken part in the track and field meet named after him. If you have lived in Vancouver for any number of years you are probably familiar with the the name Harry Jerome.

Harry Winston Jerome
Photo credit: Clayton Perry Photoworks on Flickr. Submitted to the Miss604 Flickr Pool.

It was on this day in 1982 that sprinter Harry Jerome passed away. Harry was born in Saskatchewan in 1940 and began running in high school, in North Vancouver. He later went to the University of Oregon and competed in track and field with the Ducks.

Photo courtesy of North Van Archives
via SFU.

He was the first to simultaneously hold world records for the 100-metre and 100-yard events. Harry Jerome was co-holder of the 100-metre world record for eight years after setting the mark at 10 seconds flat in Saskatoon in 1960.

He won a bronze medal at the 1964 Olympics, gold medals at 1966 Commonwealth Games and 1967 Pan-American games. He competed in the Olympics in Mexico City in 1968, retiring the same year.” [Vancouver History]

He was inducted into the Canadian Amateur Athletic Hall of Fame and Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame and received the Order of Canada in 1970.

The BC Sports Hall of Fame opened up in 1966 and he was one of the first inductees.

Harry’s legacy of excellence lives on through the Harry Jerome International Track Classic, which was established in 1983 and took his name in 1984. The 29th annual event in Burnaby will once again welcome Canadian and international athletes next summer.

Pan Pacific Christmas Wish Breakfast 2011

December 6th, 2011 @ 3:57pm (PT) by Rebecca Bollwitt

The Pan Pacific will host their annual Christmas Wish Breakfast tomorrow, December 7th, from 6:00am to 9:00am. Stop by the hotel at that time to drop off a new, un-wrapped toy donation for the Lower Mainland Christmas Bureau then stay for a buffet breakfast.

23rd Annual Christmas Wish Breakfast - Pan Pacific Hotel - Vancouver, BC 23rd Annual Christmas Wish Breakfast - Pan Pacific Hotel - Vancouver, BC
Photo credit: Kris Krug on Flickr

“Last year the hotel saw over 5,000 visitors come through the hotel and received 27,000 toys and over $25,000 in cash donations. As for our hungry visitors, the Hotel served over 25,000 eggs, 20,000 sausages, 3,000 kilograms of potatoes and 5,000 croissants!”

I’ve been attending the Christmas Wish Breakfast for the last five years or so and there’s always a large crowd. Line-ups reach outside as the pile of donations grows larger with each arm-ful of toys carried in by volunteers. It’s quite a festive atmosphere and is a great way to get you into the holiday spirit.

I’ll be at the Pan Pacific with a group of local bloggers and we’ll all be up bright and early to take in the action as well. Follow the tag #PanXmasWish on Twitter for updates, especially if you stop by to help out (and enjoy the delicious breakfast).

Pan Pacific Christmas Wish Breakfast 2011

Pan Pacific Christmas Wish Breakfast 2011 Pan Pacific Christmas Wish Breakfast 2011

Update December 7, 2011: We had such a great time this morning among thousands of guests who all brought donations. The gift pile grew with stuffed animals, board games, and several bikes of all sizes. Photos from Jeremy Lim and John Biehler are forthcoming and John Bollwitt took the shots above. I will update with a total once the Pan Pacific and crews collect that information. Thank you for your support, Vancouver!

Amtrak Train to Seattle from Vancouver

December 6th, 2011 @ 2:21pm (PT) by Rebecca Bollwitt

For years I’ve been hearing about how wonderful the train trip is from Vancouver to Seattle. 4 hours straight across the border, coastline the majority of the way, free WiFi, and no worries. I experienced the journey myself just a few days ago and aside from the early departure and a few delays with the Fraser Bridge, it was the smoothest ride to Seattle that I’ve had.

Amtrak Cascades Mud Bay Surrey BC 08-04-2005 10-28AM
Photo credit: Stephen Rees on Flickr

Amtrak Train to Seattle from Vancouver

Departing from the Pacific Central terminal off Main Street in Vancouver, passengers go through US customs and a quick baggage scanner before boarding. The seats are wide and soft, with tray tables, arm rests, and a power outlet under every window. The free WiFi stays pretty strong until more people join the ride around Bellingham and Everett but otherwise I was able to work comfortably.

Amtrak Cascades talgo coach interior
Photo credit: Stephen Rees on Flickr

When you reach the Peace Arch border crossing a few customs agents come aboard to collect your declaration cards (that the agents you spoke with that at the train station already stamped). They may ask a few additional questions but I think overall the stop took less than 10 minutes.

If you would like some breakfast you can make your way to the bistro car, which I found was usually toward the front of the train. They have breakfast sandwiches (heated up in the microwave) and oatmeal, which my friend Dave recommended I try. There are lunch items if your trip is later in the day and the Ivar’s clam chowder was also recommended to me.

What I enjoy most about train travel, aside from the fact that I do not need to drive, is that you get to explore the back corners of your region — where there are no roads. Rail lines snake behind buildings, between ravine walls, and over waterways that are not always in plain sight. We coasted behind Burnaby Lake, looped around Boundary Bay (it seemed as though we were right on the water itself), and hugged the cliff around Chuckanut Drive. Bald eagles, harbour seals, and herons dotted the landscape.

Quick (sped-up) video I shot with my iPhone along the route.

Arriving in Seattle at King Street Station you end up right near Century Link Field (aka The Clink, formerly Qwest Field). Taxis await if you aren’t already within walking distance of your destination. You can also bring your bike along, just select that as an option when you book your tickets.

The Amtrak Cascades route from Vancouver could take you all the way to Portland or Eugene, Oregon — or one of many points in between. Doing a quick fare search, I found that you can book a round-trip for as little as $38 each way. Given the scenery, the comforts, and the time the route takes, it’s an option we’ll definitely consider in the future when we head down for Mariners games.

Disclosure: Review
I was not paid to write this post. Amtrak Cascades did not provide a complimentary trip. My train tickets were covered by the Fairmont Olympic in Seattle.