By William Thomas

This article is from the June 2018 Issue of Forever Young

They’re dressing them up, they’re making them over and in the process they’re wearing real dog lovers down. There goes a sheep dog with his legs and ears dyed black and his eyes heavily made up with mascara to make him look like a panda bear. It’s the latest fad in grooming circles – making over your dog to look like a wild animal. Wearing vegetable-based dye, mini-spray cans, coloured chalk and water-soluble glue, owners and groomers can make Sparky look like a bear, a snake or even a dinosaur. I’m not making this stuff up.In China, in this the year of the tiger, there are an unusual number of golden retrievers being dyed orange with black and white stripes to look like the ferocious felines. I saw a photo of one such made-up retriever at the opening of a pet park in Zhengzhou, China and he doesn’t look majestic or dangerous. He looks stupid. He looks like his agent talked him into playing the role of a transvestite pooch in a Will Ferrell movie.

Followers of this transforming trend characterize it as “pawsitively” fun and “an unusual hobby.” No, an unusual hobby is collecting ear mite amputees. Spray-painting stripes on your dog until it looks like a dingo is the worst idea in the pet world since choke collars.

Thousands of North American pet owners are dressing up their pets for Halloween, for Christmas, for Easter and for no particular reason and displaying their photos on websites. There’s a picture of a pug dressed up as a gunslinger with cowboy hat and boots, gun and holster. He looks like he really could kill somebody. Namely and rightly so, the lug nut who dressed him up!

Another small dog looks completely embarrassed in an Easter bunny bodysuit with floppy ears while a cat dressed up in a Santa suit looks like he’s going to rake the nose of the woman holding him as soon as he gets out of those black leather boots.

It’s like there’s nothing good on TV, let’s turn Sparky into Napoleon Bonaparte.

I am absolutely opposed to dying or dressing up pets. Okay, once John Grant and I decorated his huge Husky named Nukey with deer antlers and we attached one of those safety flashers to his ass that beeped when he backed up. And yes, it was hysterical but we’d had a few drinks and when it was over we promised never to do it again.

No, unless it’s a sweater to keep him warm or snow boots to protect his pads, pets do not need clothes. Apparently what they really need is ...

By Glenna Turnbull

This article is from the May 2018 Issue of Forever Young

FYng May 2018 Feature

"The bell is ringing, time to line up – you mustn’t be tardy! The teacher will be here any moment to lead us all into the Williams Creek schoolhouse – oh, and don’t forget to take off your hat."

Welcome to Barkerville, where history comes to life, complete with an authentic schoolteacher who expects you to remember your manners!

Walking into Barkerville is like getting to fall straight into an 1870s Western. With more than 125 heritage buildings to explore, you’ll find over 200,000 items featured in their authentic displays, museums, shops, restaurants, and out buildings. You’ll also find special events and even a chance to get educated in the old schoolhouse.

For those who aren’t as keen on being educated inside a schoolhouse, you can learn all about things like the Cornish Waterwheel, how deep shaft placer mining works, or visit the local blacksmith. >>

“We’ve got approximately 45 actors,” says Ed Coleman, CEO of Barkerville Historic Town and Park, “who do about 15 different types of interpretive performances.”

“All of the living interpretation shows are free to enjoy with the price of admission,” notes Ed, “and your admission is good for two days because there’s so much to see and do, we feel people need at least two days to take it all in. Lots of people stay for a whole week.”

In addition to the actors dressed in period costumes that you’ll find on the grounds, there is also a theatre on site called the Theatre Royale. “This summer we’ll have two different shows,” notes Ed. “The first is full of singing and dancing and little skits, called Mrs. McGinley’s Variety Show, and the second one is a 1940s radio show.”

In order to keep things running smoothly in the old town site, they rely heavily on volunteers. “We have a group called Friends of Barkerville that has about 150 people in it. They help us with events and raising funds for specific projects. They also help to promote us as well as volunteering on site,” says Ed. “We also have the community of Wells and Bowron Lake who participate in events and come give us a hand.”

If you’ve never been to Barkerville before, you might be surprised to discover it has one of the oldest heritage Chinatowns in North America. “Half of Barkerville’s population, about 2500 people, were Chinese citizens that came from the Guangdong Province in China,” notes Ed. “We do a Chinese Autumn Moon festival every August and have an ongoing Chinese interpretive program.”

New this year, Ed says, they’ll be introducing an Indigenous program. “We’re starting a five year Indigenous program as the Indigenous population became involved in Barkerville in the early 1900s.”

Also new this summer, they’ll be constructing an interpretive mining tunnel. Ed says, “People will be able to experience what it was like to go down a mining tunnel”

In addition to all the free activities and interpretive shows, there are several extra activities you can do for an additional fee, such as panning for gold or going on a stagecoach ride.

“We have planned events throughout the summer, such as a Cowboy Drover Festival, an annual Indigenous Day celebration and a Canada Day celebration,” says Ed, so it’s best to check the barkerville.ca website to find out all that’s going on.

For those wanting to travel to Barkerville, please note, pets are not allowed on the grounds. There is a self-serve lock-up kennel where you can leave your dogs at a cost ranging from $5 to $15 per day, depending on the size of the cage. Only service dogs are permitted in the town site.

By John and Sandra Nowlan

This article is from the April 2018 Issue of Forever Young

feature image april 2018

You have to admire the Dutch for their love of bicycles. The flat terrain of Amsterdam is ideal for bikes and the very fit residents have embraced the two wheeler. One estimate claims there are more than 840,000 bikes for its 850,000 residents. That’s almost four times the number of cars, with 57 per cent of Amsterdammers using their bikes on a daily basis, rain or shine. Exclusive bike lanes are on every street and visitors have to be very careful to avoid collisions. Bicycles have the right of way!

Amsterdam, with its easy access to the magnificent Rhine River, is also a wonderful city from which to begin a river cruise into the heart of Europe. Our ship, like all river ships on the continent has strict length, width and height restrictions to navigate the many locks and low bridges. Many ships have incorporated several clever design features that make them standout in their class.

More than 80 per cent of the rooms of our ship were a generous 200 square feet. Most impressive was the floor-to-ceiling and wall-to-wall windows (the “open air balcony”). Our “panorama” windows slid open to allow guests to lie back on the comfortable queen size bed (angled for a perfect view outside) and enjoy the river, its busy traffic and amazing sights along the banks.

Before our river cruise began, we were offered a walking tour of central Amsterdam, a canal cruise along the many waterways of “The Venice of the North” and a new venture, art classes in a gallery that specializes in the work of Dutch master, Vincent van Gogh. After a brief lecture, our group was encouraged to take up brush and palette and create our own “masterpiece” in the van Gogh style. Great fun!

As we began our journey up the Rhine, we marvelled at the little touches that made our ship so special. Our spacious room (lots of storage space) included small sofa, a large screen TV with many channels and movies (including a bow camera and Fireplace Channel) a marble bathroom (larger than on most river ships) with make-up mirror, a night light, an efficient and roomy shower and high-end L’Occitane toiletries.

There’s a comfortable back lounge on the third deck with games, a small library and a high quality coffee machine available 24/7. Our main lounge on Deck 2 was large enough to hold all passengers comfortably for daily excursion briefings and nightly entertainment (on several nights, guest musicians came aboard for concerts).

Each evening the front of the Deck 2 lounge became a bistro, a complimentary alternate dining area for 24 guests that features a tapas-like tasting menu of exquisite small plates (like Smoked Salmon Wrap with Dill and Mustard Cream) accompanied by appropriate wine selections. It was a wonderful experience for us but the excellent servers needed more training to be knowledgeable about the wine they served.

Many ships, like ours, are not totally all-inclusive (bar bills, some excursions and gratuities are extra) but the value for money is very high. At lunch and dinner, the free wine selection is excellent and there’s always a complimentary excursion in each port of call.

Cuisine is a highlight with these small cruise ships and the dining room was bright and spacious with room for all guests. The executive chef told us the emphasis was on fresh, healthy local foods. Like on our ship, there’s a breakfast omelette station with fruit, bacon, eggs and sausage standards. The pastries were fresh (often bought in the towns we visited) and for your cereal the variety of seeds offered (flax, chia, millet, puffed quinoa and buckwheat) was remarkable. There was even honey in the comb, something we’d never seen on a river ship.

Story and photos by Liz Campbell

This article is from the March 2018 Issue of Forever Young

FYng March 2018 Chateau 1912

It has the distinction of being the most photographed hotel in the world. Indeed, it’s the only hotel in the world that has a stamp as well as a coin bearing its image. It’s probably unique too, in having its image on a page of its country’s passport. And this year, this Grand Dame of Canadian hotels is 125 years old.

In preparation for her birthday, the Château Frontenac in Québec City has had an $80 million renovation and refurbishment, which began in 2013. It was important, Robert Mercure, general manager of the hotel explains, that “while we included modern design elements, we had to respect the heritage of the hotel.” After all, he adds, some very important historic events have occurred on this site.

Here, 410 years ago, stood Fort St. Louis, the founding site and capital of New France. Later, Château St. Louis was built on the same spot (the excavated foundations can be visited from the Dufferin Terrace just outside the Château Frontenac).

In the late 19th century, William Cornelius Van Horne, then General Manager of the Canadian Pacific Railway, began building a hotel here, as an elegant stopover for train travelers. Named after Louis de Buade, Comte de Frontenac, the flamboyant governor of the colony of New France 200 years earlier, the Chateau Frontenac, opened in 1893.

During World War II, the Quebec Conferences of 1943 and 1944 were held here. These meetings enabled Winston Churchill, Franklin D. Roosevelt, and William Lyon Mackenzie King to determine the course of the Normandy Landings and the final stages of World War II.

The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) was founded here in 1945. And Québec Premier Maurice Duplessis (1936 -1939; 1944-1959) lived at the Château Frontenac during his mandates. His office is now an elegant library.

The Nouveau Château, as it has been dubbed since the renovation, remains elegant and beautiful, its historic details preserved. The copper roof has been replaced; but it will be a few years before the 36,000 kg of new copper is once again the distinctive verdigris green so familiar on older postcards. Beautiful works of art and souvenirs have been created from the salvaged copper; some of these are for sale in the Galerie d’Art in the hotel lobby.

Eight newly-created, elegant suites in the Château Frontenac honour some of the famous people who have stayed here, or who have had connections with the hotel: Winston Churchill, Pierre and Justin Trudeau (Justin stayed here as a child), Alfred Hitchcock (who filmed some scenes here for his film, I Confess), Queen Elizabeth II, Grace Kelly, Celine Dion (who was actually discovered by an executive from Sony Music while performing here), Theodore Roosevelt, and of course, William Cornelius Van Horne.

Story and photos by Mark Wessel

This article is from the February 2018 Issue of Forever Young

FYng Feb 2018 Vienna Market

When I first visited Vienna in 2016, the city’s promotional theme was ‘Vienna, Now or Never.” It was inspired by the fact that the city had been recognized that year by consulting firm Mercer, as number one in the world for quality of living. So the thought process was that you really should go there to find out what the fuss is all about, or perhaps you never will. Of course, what those crafty Viennese knew all along is that once you experience this achingly beautiful city, you will feel the urge to return from the moment you depart; and that urge will stay with you until you go back again.

Last summer, a little more than a year after my first visit, our 30th anniversary was more than enough justification to both share not only some of my favourite Vienna experiences with my wife Dee-Anne, but also to continue to explore the city’s enticing mix of old an new, with each district possessing its own unique character.

For those who have never visited, Vienna conjures up the image of the city as the birthplace of Mozart (and Marie Antoinette), home of the world class Vienna Philharmonic and Vienna Boys’ Choir and arguably, the centre of the classical music universe (although the Germans and Italians may wish to dispute that. And while all of that is true, Vienna is so much more.

But far from being a museum piece, Vienna’s vibrancy stems from the fact that it is constantly reinventing itself and finding new ways to showcase the old with the new. The first time this reality hit home was when we checked in to the grätzlhotel. The whole premise behind grätzlhotel’s unique experiential model, is to transform abandoned stores into hotel rooms. So instead of the stereotypical bricks and mortar of most hotels, grätzlhotel consists of a pod of suites situated in different neighbourhoods throughout the city.

We stayed in the grätzlhotel Karmelitermarkt neighbourhood and in the spirit of what’s old is new again, our lamplighter suite, which was once a lighting store, had been transformed into a tastefully decorated self-contained suite. In addition, blending functionality with art by showcasing some of the former store’s lighting fixtures, we found the suite had much more of an apartment feel to it, with a stainless-steel kitchenette, a full-sized kitchen table on the lower level, and a few steps up, an open concept bathroom and bedroom area.

The great thing about the grätzlhotel concept is that instead of staying in a hotel district as a tourist, you are ensconced in a lively neighbourhood, replete with hip shops and restaurants and as the Karmelitermarktr name suggests, a full-blown farmers’ market every weekend. And because we were staying in a former storefront operation, everything was literally at our doorstep. So on any given day, we would walk over to the bakery for fresh baked goods, I would traipse around the corner while wife Dee was exploring the shops to patronize Brendl, which showcases local microbrews. Or we’d grab a late-night snack and cocktails at Tewa am Markt, the local Israeli restaurant specializing in organic Mediterranean cuisine.