Oktoberfest

Yesterday I had the pleasure of attending the Oktoberfest Gemuetlichkeit VIP Night at the Concordia Club in Kitchener.

It was sponsored, as usual, by BMO, Deloitte and Miller Thompson. It was an evening that included networking, food stations, keg tapping and door prizes. And beer !

Dignitaries from our sponsors about to Tap the Keg !

There were lots of local dignitaries; Mayors, Councillors the Regional Chair and representation from the Waterloo EDC. I was able to connect with some friends in the data industry as well as make some new friends and connections.

The Concordia Club is one of the five German Clubs in Kitchener area and is the largest ethnic German Club in Canada. Based on the original German Oktoberfest, it is billed as Canada’s Greatest Bavarian Festival, and is the second-largest Oktoberfest in the world.

The Black Forest Band getting ready to start the polka party

If you ever get a chance, come down to Waterloo Region around the Thanksgiving weekend and join in the fun, the Gemuetlichkeit , which is German for congeniality, or warm friendliness.

Prosit !

Home of the NBA Champions

Recently I was in downtown Toronto for the RAG (Risk and Assurance Group) Conference on telecom fraud. That conference will be the subject of another post.

RAG was being held at Telus Harbour which is next to the Scotiabank Arena. So I had to take a picture in front of the home of the 2019 NBA Champions, the Toronto Raptors.

Those who know me well, know that I am a big basketball fan and especially a Raptors fan. I come by it honestly. I attended the University of Waterloo starting in 1978, just a couple of years after UW had won the Men’s National Championship. Basketball was huge at UW, with a rabid fan base that packed the PAC for every game. That year also was classic in the NCAA tourney as Larry Bird (Indiana State) and Magic Johnson (Michigan State) duelled, which I watched intently while on a work term in Timmins.

Post graduation in 1983 I lived for five years in Windsor and adopted the Bad Boy Pistons as my team. Isiah, Joe Dumars, Dennis Rodman, Bill Laimbeer, Vinny the Microwave and Coach Chuck Daly… that was a team that played hard (very hard!) and won championships.

Then in 1995, Toronto got a team and I became a Raptors fan. Throughout the lean years, the various highs and lows. I won’t chronicle them all here. Suffice to say that this season has been something special, and the Raps playoff triumphs over Orlando, Philly, Milwaukee and then Golden State were awesome to watch.

So I had to get my photo in front of the home of the 2019 NBA Champions !

Exploring Canada’s North


I apologize for the lack of posts recently. Summer vacation and back to school and other events took my focus away from blogging. Now I am ready to dive back into it with renewed vim and vigour !

This year for our family vacation we decided to go North, really North. To the Spectacular Northwest Territories.

So in late August we packed our carry-ons and hopped on an early morning plane from Pearson (we were originally booked on a flight from Waterloo Airport but it was cancelled by WestJet) to Calgary and from there to Yellowknife. One note, at Calgary when we changed planes, on the tarmac you could smell the smoke and see the haze on the horizon from the forest fires. I hope those are all extinguished now. Very sobering to see.

Yellowknife was delightful. As soon as you enter the cosy airport you know you are in the North as you are greeted by a huge statue of a polar bear on the ice, chasing some seals. There are furs and antler prominantly displayed. And very down home, friendly people.

We stayed at an AirBNB condo right on Great Slave Lake that was maybe a seven minute drive from the airport. It was in Old Town, where some of the orginal cabins and shacks are still standing. A lot of things were in easy walking distance; great food at places like the Dancing Moose Cafe, Bullock’s Bistro, The Wildcat Cafe and the North’s only brewpub, the Woodyard Brewhouse where we also got a growler to bring back to our condo. A few streets away was the famous Ragged Ass Road; you can buy replicas of the street sign so please dont steal the real ones !

One of the highlights of that area is the Bush Pilots Monument. It is a local monument honouring the bush pilots of today and yesterday, who helped open up the North to the rest of Canada.The monument sits on top of “The Rock”, a six story rock hill in the centre of Old Town. Once you climb up the hundreds of steps, the view from there is fabulous. And you will usually see a float plane or two or three taking off or landing on Great Slave Lake.

We ventured into downtown a few times (including great meals at Coyote’s Bistro on Franklin, thanks again to the owner Ed But and his staff for taking great care of us) to get groceries and supplies for the room and also to explore. We were able to find the school that my wife attended as well as the house they lived in when they were stationed there. It struck me that there were only six traffic lights in total in the town, and at night they all just flashed yellow !

My youngest daughter is a geophysicist working exploration in the North so she flew in from Whitehosre to spend a day with us and show us around too. Her crew bunkhouse was only a few minutes walk from where we were staying. She brought us to Weaver and Devore,a trading post cum outfitters that has been there since 1936 where you can get true outdoor clothing and gear for working in the North. It was great to see the places she had told us about previously including the colourful houses and the houseboats on the lake.

We also did a lot of outdoor adventuring including some kayaking on the lake (trying to avoid a bush plane !) and drove out about 45 km on the Ingraham Trail to Hidden Lake Territorial Park. There we took about a half-hour hike to Cameron Falls (see the picture at the top of this post). We spent a lot of time exploring the falls, and then crossing over a foot-bridge upstream to the other side to explore there too. A lot of the scenery reminded me of Northern Ontario where I grew up. The old rocks of the Canadian Shield and the bush. The trees up in Yellowknife were much smaller though.

A week in Yellowknife is good for the soul. The pace is slower, the air is cleaner. There is no visual pollution from billboards. The locals are laid back and friendly. Late August was a little early to see the aurora borealis (I LOVE that name !) but if you went later in the fall, or definitely during the winter, the light show would be awe inspiring. I highly recommend making the trip North, especially if you are a fan of the outdoors.

Lastly, I promised I would review telecom. I had no problem getting a strong cellphone signal everywhere I went, including out on the Ingraham Trail. It wasnt always LTE, but the 3G was fine. Our AirBNB had satellite TV and great high speed WiFi internet. We did not stream any movies or Netflix (I brought some downloaded movies on my computer for family entertainment at night) rather than abuse my hosts data plan.

Finally, a big thanks to Curtis Shaw, the President of Northwestel, who I met at this year’s Canadian Telecom Summit who gave me some great tips and restaurant recommendations !