Moose, mountains and Mounties

The Canadian Tourism Commission has decided, in its wisdom, to pull its money out of the American market. The reason? According to Delivering Value, the Commission’s 2012 report, the average American only spends $518 per trip while each Brazilian traveller spends $1,874. But look at the 2012 totals. There were 11.8 million U.S. tourists in Canada compared to 81,000 from Brazil. Total spending by American tourists in Canada was $6.4 billion compared to $3.7 billion from the next ten countries combined: Australia, Brazil, China, France, Germany, India, Japan, Mexico, South Korea, and the United Kingdom. Why turn your back on...

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Worth the wait

I’ve been using the new BlackBerry Q10 for a week and so far I like it. Of course, my previous model, the 8700, was at least seven years old, so there’s lots new to learn and do. I like the keyboard. It’s crisp and responsive although the keys are much smaller than my previous model. Still, you hardly need to use the keys for emails. There’s excellent predictive software plus dictation to create your missives. The price at Rogers for the hardware starts at $249 but there’s a $50 mail-in coupon. If you grumble, the associate finds another $50 but...

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The Pose

It was around 2005 when I first saw The Pose. I was researching a book and looking at some family photos. In one of them, a daughter then in her late 20s, was standing on the right of a group with her left hand slung on her hip so her arm formed a 90-degree angle at the elbow. She lived in New York City so I put it down to some affected custom among Upper East Side socialites. In the years since, The Pose has grown in use all the way from the Red Carpet at the Oscars to local...

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Lucky guy

Yesterday I joined a group of birders tromping through Minesing Swamp near Angus, just west of Barrie. I’ve done this sort of thing regularly over the last twenty-five years while living in three countries: England, the United States and Canada. No matter where you go, the groups are always the same: a knowledgeable leader, one or two keeners who know every bird, some middling folks like me, and a newbie who knows nothing. It’s also always a learning opportunity. Yesterday one of the other participants patiently instructed me in the difference between the Greater and Lesser Yellowlegs. Books are fine,...

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The dark side

Psy’s first big hit, Gangnam Style, reigns as the most popular item ever on YouTube. Since first published last July it’s had more than 1.5 billion views. Everybody copied the happy dance, from pre-schoolers to Peter Mansbridge. It was good, clean fun. Mark Twain once wrote, “Everyone is a moon and has a dark side.” Well, we’re seeing Psy’s dark side in his follow-up offering, Gentleman, which in its first week of availability has already been watched 178 million times. There isn’t enough of a new dance routine but that’s a minor issue.¬†Psy’s view of the world has become deeply...

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Harbingers of spring

I saw my first robin of spring a month ago today. At least I think it was a new arrival. So many American Robins are now wintering in Toronto that it’s hard to know when a migrant arrives. But this one was solo, working my front lawn for worms. Those who stay through the winter tend to be found in flocks. Now that we’re in mid-April other spring migrants are returning. Kinglets are here, a bird so tiny that you wonder how they survive the trauma of the trip north. So, too, red-winged blackbirds, singing conk-a-ree with their scarlet and...

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On the attack

Now that Justin Trudeau has been elected leader of the Liberal Party, we know what will happen next. The Conservatives will mount a multi-million dollar TV ad campaign aimed at sending him into oblivion. After all, that’s what they did to Michael Ignatieff. Remember that ad? It showed Ignatieff riding down an escalator looking like the deus ex machina figure in a Greek tragedy arriving to save the day. The voiceover pronounced, “He didn’t come back for you.” The Conservatives went after interim Liberal leader Bob Rae, too, in the months before he announced that he would not be a...

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New look, same old prices

I have seen the future and it is Wal-Mart. I wrote that sentence while living in the U.S., just before Wal-Mart arrived in Canada in 1994. There’s no question that Wal-Mart has altered the face of Canadian retailing. Within two years, Wal-Mart became the biggest retailer in Canada with about one-quarter of the department store market share. I spent hours watching the inner workings of Wal-Mart at the time, attending internal meetings and interviewing senior people. Wal-Mart succeeded mostly because employees on the floor run the supply chain with handheld devices that can call up inventory levels and have the...

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