Wednesday, February 29, 2012

March Break 2012: Learn with Your Whole Family!

Einstein or Scarecrow Brain Cupcakes?

How will you learn with your family during March Break 2012? Shhh... Here's a little secret we're letting you in on -  we get guests who attend a foodie or ghost walk at other times of the year, and then return with their whole family for March Break or any other holidays. By "whole family", I'm referring to their own parents plus their children, all in tow, for good old-fashioned quality tri-generational time-out filled with equal portion of food, food for thought, fun and a wee bit of physical activity called gentle walking that meets Dr. Oz's approval.

Here's something to mull over: learning happens in everything we do. If you decide to stay home half of March Break Week, learning still happens in everything we do. Yup. Whether you team up to sort laundry, draft a grocery list, or discover a new route to grandma, you are learning together. You could also learn with your family on interactive, theme walking tours... Imagine the fun and challenge in learning Dim Sum chopsticks and tea pouring etiquette for grandparents and the kids along one of our Second Chinatown Foodie Walks;  learning to read a Toronto map circa 1842 on the hunt for clues that would lead us to sites connected with Charles Dickens along In The Footsteps of Charles Dickens: Toronto 1842 Walk; discover how to research a haunted site for one of the four ghost walks.  Learning together, whether it's tri-generational or bi-generational, is a memorable, experiential and fun journey for all. Don't forget to bring along your digital cameras (and spare batteries!).  Have a glance at which repertoire of walks will tickle your family's fancy...

***  March Break 2012 Schedule  ***

Foodies Walks for the budding Culinary Historians/Food Professionals - 

 * Kensington Foodies Roots Walk *
       Saturday March 17, 24, 2012  9:30 AM-1:00 PM
        Meeting Place: Red Pole with Black Cat, 350 Spadina Ave/St Andrew St
        Spots available:  11

 * Second Chinatown Foodie Walk *
        Sunday March 11, 18, 25, 2012 10:00 AM- 1:30 PM
        Meeting Place: Lucky Moose Statue, 393 Dundas St W/Beverley
        Spots available:  11

Literary Detective Walks  for the Da Vinci Code crowd - 

 * In The Footsteps of Charles Dickens: 
     Toronto 1842
        Saturday March 10, 2012 3:00-5:30 PM
        Meeting Place: St. Lawrence Market,
                                middle door 93 Front St E
        Spots available:  12

 * Swansea & LM Montgomery Walk
        Saturday March 24, 2012  3:00-5:30 PM
        Meeting Place: Runneymede Stn,
                               Runneymede exit by phone  booths
        Spots available:  12

Ghost Walks for the Ghost Busters/Vampire Vanquishers - 

 * Haunted Yorkville, U of T & Queen's Park Walk *
        Tuesdays March 13, 20, 2012 6:30-9:00 PM
        Meeting Place:  ROM's front steps between 2 marble lions
        Spots available:  12

 * Phantoms, Players & Pundits Walk *
        Wednesday March 14, 21, 2012 6:30-9:00PM
        Meeting Place:  Old City Hall, front steps
        Spots available:  12

* Haunted Kensington, Chinatown & The Grange Walk *
        Thursday March 15, 22, 2012  6:30-9:00 PM
        Meeting Place: Red Pole with Black Cat, 350 Spadina Ave/St Andrew St.
        Spots available:  12

 * Ghosts, Greasepaint & Gallows Walk *
        Friday March 16, 23, 2012 6:30-9:00 PM
        Meeting Place: St. Lawrence Market, middle door 93 Front St E.
        Spots available:  12

What are you waiting for?  

Space is limited to ensure that participants enjoy an intimate, 
interactive learning experience. 
Book now to avoid being disappointed!

Give us a shout at (416) 923-6813 or 
send us an e-mail booking at

We look forward to a fantastic March Break journey with you and your loved ones!

Thursday, February 2, 2012

The True Story Behind Charles Dickens' Visit to Toronto May 4-6th, 1842...

Charles Dickens age 30
portrait by Francis Alexander
His impression of Toronto upon arrival:
"The country round this town being very flat,
 is bare of scenic interest; 
but the town itself is full of life and motion, 
bustle, business and improvement." 
- American Notes, 1842
Tick-tock-tick-tock... Tuesday February 7th, 2012 is fast-approaching... the literary world is in a tizzy as it will be Charles John Huffam Dickens' bicentenary birthday!  Imagine the amount of excitement in 1841 when the British author, Charles Dickens announced that he will tour most of the major cities of United States and Canada in 1842. The news traveled sans help from social media marketing like Facebook, Twitter, or e-mails. One of my favourite musings along the theme walks involves an old childhood TV show. What if we could jump into Doctor Who's Time Machine, go back in time to 1842, to accompany Dickens on his visit of the four Canadian cities recorded in his travel book, American Notes -  Halifax, Niagara Falls, Toronto, Kingston and Montreal! In my prior post, Charles Dickens lands on Canadian Soil First, I mentioned how Halifax, Nova Scotia had the honour of being the real beginning of his North American tour on January 20th, 1842, and not Boston as many academics allude to. The Nova Scotia Archives have been posting the province's historical connections one tweet on Twitter.  Would Charles Dickens be amused or bemused with England being so abuzz with his bicenten- ary birthday. If you happen to be in London, you can pay homage to Charles Dickens at the Museum of London's special Dickens and London exhibit which explores the author links to the English capital (now until June 10th, 2012). You could also drop into the Charles Dickens Museum which holds the world's most important Dickens collections. If you feel inclined to walk in his footsteps on a Friday afternoon, there's the Charles Dickens' London walking tour with one of the best and oldest company, Original London Walks. If you venture to Portsmouth, his birthplace, you'll find there's even the Charles Dickens Birthplace Museum What about Toronto? Well, this Literary Detective and guide is excited about sharing one of Toronto's best kept secrets as in 2012 while participating in not one, but two celebrations! First we're going to celebrate on Saturday February 4th, in advance of the actual date for his 200th birthday 2012. I will personally conduct the In the Footsteps of Charles Dickens: Toronto 1842 Walk. I will read excerpts from my auto- graphed copy of his book, American Notes. This rare copy I bought from an antiquarian shop in Ottawa (none to be found in Toronto), has been autographed by his great-great grandson, Gerald Charles Dickens when he came to perform A Christmas Carol in Toronto in 2000. By the way, 2000 was the auspicious year when I launched this fabulous Literary Detective walk!  The second celebration will be the 170th anniversary of his Toronto visit that took place May 4-6th 1842. For the first time in 12 years, I will run a tour about the time he arrived! (see Schedule below) Here's food for thoughts - we will have some juicy discussions about the real purpose or reasons behind his visit to Toronto. Charles Dickens told no one - except his publishers Chapman & Hall - the real purpose behind his 6-month visit to North America in 1842 from Portsmouth, England on the Britannia accompanied by his wife, Catharine, her maid Anne Brown, and his secretary, George Washington Putnam (read his account of the 1842 American visit: Four Months with Charles Dickens, an article he wrote for Atlantic Monthly in October 1870, shortly after Dickens' death). You can find out the real reasons when you attend one of our In the Footsteps of Charles Dickens: Toronto 1842 Walks...

2012 In The Footsteps of Dickens: Toronto 1842 Schedule at a Glance:
* Sat. February 4th, 2012  3:00-5:30 PM ** Early birthday walk **
* Sat. March 10th, 2012  3:00-5:30 PM   ** March Break** 
* Sat. April 14th, 2012  3:00-5:30 PM
** Fri. May 4th  6:30 - 9:00 PM * Marking arrival in Toronto same time *
** Sat. May 5th, 2012  3:00-5:30 PM * 170th anniversary walk * 
** Sun. May 6th 3:00-5:30 PM * 170th anniversary of actual visit & departure from Toronto *
* Sat. June 9th, 2012 **commemorate death June 9th, 1870** 
* Sat. July 7th, 2012 3:00-5:30 PM
* Sat. August 4th, 2012  3:00-5:30 PM
* Sat. September 1st , 2012 3:00-5:30 PM
Clues to a site he visited while in Toronto! 
* Question to mull over, on your way to one of these special walks with us... *
If we could use Doctor Who's Time Machine to bring Charles Dickens, 
as honourary guest along In The Footsteps of Charles Dickens: Toronto 1842 walks, 
what would Dickens think of his second visit of Toronto in 2012,  and what would he participate in? 
Guess who he met at the dinner party hosted in his honour?
"Walk and be happy. Walk and be healthy." 
~ Charles Dickens (b. February 7, 1812 - d. June 9, 1870)