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Travel & Escape

A taste of Canada in the Florida sun



HOLLYWOOD, FLA.—A warm breeze swept in off the Atlantic and sent gentle waves washing up on one of America’s finest beaches.

But, it was all too much for thousands of Canadians who fled inland seeking the shelter of tall buildings, dense trees and urban structures.

So the 36th annual Canada Fest, the largest French language musical festival in the United States, has moved off Hollywood Beach Boardwalk this year to a 10-acre park in the middle of U.S. Highway 1 as its cuts through downtown Hollywood.

Those lovely breezes moderated the hot tropical sun, but played havoc with the microphones and recording equipment that play a vital role in the operations at the Canada Fest Musical Festival, which Louis St. Laurent launched on the beach in 1983.

Louis St. Laurent, the 77-year-old grandson of Canada’s 12th prime minister, has been a mover & shaker in Southern Florida since he arrived in Fort Lauderdale by accident in the mid 1950s.

When complaining one day as a teenager about how cold it was in his hometown of Quebec City, a high school classmate told him there is no winter in Florida where it’s warm year round.

“I didn’t believe him,” St. Laurent told this reporter in an interview 10 years ago. “I assumed it was cold and winter everywhere in the world in those days.” So the two teenagers decided to go to Florida during Christmas break and find out for themselves.

That’s when St. Laurent said he discovered paradise.

After two weeks his classmate and travel companion said it was time to go home. “No way was I going

back to those freezing temperatures and high snow banks,” said St. Laurent. He stayed in Florida for months and in the fall registered for classes at Tampa Bay University.

Rules and regulations were pretty lax in the mid-’50s, but it wasn’t long into the school year before the FBI came pounding on his dormitory door asking to see his immigration papers. He had none.

“Pack your bags, boy; we’ll be back in the morning to put you on a bus bound for Canada,” said he FBI agents.

That night St. Laurent phoned his grandpa at the Prime Minister’s Office on Parliament Hill. Grandpa phoned his friend Ike (Dwight Eisenhower) in the White House.

The next morning the FBI agents were back at his dorm. “Sign here,” they said. He did. They left and life went on.

St. Laurent graduated from law school and became a crusading state prosecutor in Broward County heading a staff of 40 prosecuting attorneys and a large team of investigators. He is now a prominent real estate lawyer in Fort Lauderdale.

St. Laurent also launched Le Soleil de la Florida — a French-language newspaper published weekly in Hollywood from October to May and monthly in the summer time. His newspaper has a circulation of 20,000.

Hollywood — just south of Fort Lauderdale on the Atlantic Coast — is a popular winter getaway for French-speaking Canadians.

Le Soleil de la Florida is the prime sponsor of Canada Fest, which has attracted up to 250,000 revelers to Hollywood Beach in the past. Denise Dumont, editor-in-chief at Le Soleil de la Florida said there were a variety of reasons the festival has moved off the beach to the 10-acre Arts Park two kilometres inland from the ocean.

“The wind was certainly a big factor. The artists didn’t like competing with it. Parking was a big problem because we draw huge crowds for two and a half days, which overwhelm the facilities, such as washrooms and the performing artists had no change rooms and other facilities they expect.”

“And we’ve had heavy rains late in January for the past couple of years, so we’ve changed the dates now to Feb. 8, 9 and 10 for better weather.”

Some of Quebec’s best-known entertainers, such as Marie-Elaine Thebert, perform at Canada Fest, but there are also American performers playing, rock, folk, country and jazz music. David Morin, an award-winning Elvis impersonator, will be on stage.

Among the entertainers at Canada Fest will be the student choir from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, the scene of America’s worst school shooting tragedy last February, where 17 students and staff were killed and another 17 injured. Parkland is 50 kilometres from Hollywood and is the school St. Laurent’s children attended.

There is no cost to attend the festival, but there are large profits from the dozens of kiosks set up for food, music and entertainment sales. The profits will be donated to a mental health program at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School and to Operation Enfant Soleil, a Quebec-based charity that raises funds for high-quality pediatric projects.

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Travel & Escape

Why your hotel mattress feels like heaven (and how to bring that feeling home)




(NC) Choosing the right mattress is a long-term investment in your health and well-being. To make a good choice for your home, take a cue from luxury hotel-room beds, which are designed to support the sound sleep of tens of thousands of guests, 365 nights a year.

“When we’re shopping for a mattress, we do lab testing, identify the best materials, bring in multiple mattress samples and have our associates test them,” explains David Rizzo, who works for Marriott International. “We ask for ratings on comfort level, firmness, body support and movement disruption. It takes 12 to 18 months just to research and select materials.”

Here, he shares his tips to pick the perfect mattress for your best sleep:

Understand your needs. People have different food and exercise preferences, as well as different sleep cycles. So, it’s no surprise that everyone has unique mattress preferences. Not sure whether a firm or a soft mattress is better? Rizzo says the best gauge is to ask yourself, “Do I wake up with aches and pains?” If the answer is no, you’re golden.

Foam versus spring. All mattresses have a core that is made up foam or innersprings or a combination of the two. Today’s foam-core mattresses contain memory foam — a material engineered by NASA to keep astronauts comfortable in their seats. It’s special because it retains or “remembers” its shape, yielding to pressure from the sleeper’s body, then bouncing back once the pressure is removed.

An innerspring mattress has an encased array of springs with individual coils that are connected by a single helical wire. This wire creates continuous movement across the coil that minimizes disruption if the mattress is disturbed, such as by a restless sleeper. According to Rizzo, the innerspring is “bouncier.”

Temperature preference. Consider how warm or cool you like to sleep, and factor in the construction of the mattress to find one with a temperature that suits you. The air space engineered into an innerspring mattress promotes ventilation, which some people find keeps them pleasantly cool. To accomplish the same purpose with a foam mattress (or the foam layer of an innerspring) it may be infused with metal, usually silver or copper, to help dissipate heat and humidity.

Need to test out the right mattress for your needs? Find the right fit during your next trip by booking your stay at

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Travel & Escape

How to make the most of summer travel




(NC) One of the best parts of our short Canadian summers is the opportunity to enjoy them a little bit extra on long weekends. If you need ideas, check out these creative things to do whether you decide to stay in town or go away.

Do a dinner crawl. Pub crawls are fun for couples, friends and also families with older kids. For an exciting twist that stretches your dollars and lets you taste food from several spots before you get too full, try a dinner crawl. Eat apps at one restaurant, mains at another and dessert at another.

Go on a mini getaway. You don’t need to go very far to enjoy a vacation – exploring a Canadian city over a summer weekend is great way to treat yourself to a holiday. Whether it’s checking out the museums in Toronto or the parks in Vancouver, there’s something for everyone. For upgraded benefits, special experiences and the best rates guaranteed, join Marriott Bonvoy and book direct on

Host a potluck. Perfect whether you’re staying at home or going to your cottage, gather friends and family together for some food and fun. A potluck is an easy and affordable way to host a big get-together and lets everyone try something new and swap recipes. Make the festivities extra special with a fireworks potluck, too – ask everyone to bring some fireworks or sparklers and put on a light show. Just be sure to follow local regulations for consumer fireworks.

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Travel & Escape

Lottoland: Here’s why Canadians love it!




Lotteries have been in existence for many centuries now and it’s an open secret that most people enjoy playing a good lottery.

Asides from gauging your own luck, the thrill of playing, the anticipation of the results and the big wins every now and then is something most people look forward to. Since 1982, the lottery has been in Canada, but now there is a way to play both the Lotto and other international lotteries from Canada, all from the comfort of your home.

With Lottoland, all you need to do is register and get access to numerous international lotteries right from their website. The easy-to-use interface has all the information you need, and great amount of care has been taken to ensure that the online experience is similar—and even better—than if players were to visit each location personally.

The Powerball and Mega Millions lotteries are hitting record highs with their prize money, in what the organizers claim to be the largest jackpot in the history of the world. However, the U.S. has gambling laws that are state controlled and buying your ticket through an online broker can be considered gambling.

“No one except the lottery or their licensed retailers can sell a lottery ticket. No one. Not even us. No one. No, not even that website. Or that one,” Powerball’s website says.

Therefore, to stand a chance to win the $1.5 billion-dollar lottery jackpot it means you have to purchase your lottery tickets directly from a licensed retailer such as Lottoland.

Since 2013, Lottoland has been operating in Canada, rapidly growing in popularity amongst Canadians. Due to its easy of use and instant access to lotteries that were previously considered inaccessible—as Canadians had to travel all the way to the U.S. to purchase tickets in the past—Lottoland has attracted lots of visitors.

Currently, there about 8-million players on Lottoland, a figure that points to the reliability of the website.

One of the core values of Lottoland is transparency and that’s why a quick search on the website would show you a list of all of their winners. Recently, a Lottoland customer was awarded a world-record fee of $137 million CND.

Also, due to the incredibly slim chances of winning the grand prize not everyone would take home mega-dollar winnings, but there are substantial winnings every day.

Securing your information online is usually one important factor when registering on any platform and as the site explains, “Lottoland works very hard to verify your information.”

The site has a multi-verification process that will ensure that you confirm your identity and age before giving you a pay-out. However, in the rare case that a player has immediate luck and wins a lottery before completing the verification process, Lottoland will hold on to the winnings until they complete your verification.

While this might seem like a tedious process, it is very important as these safety features would ensure that your information wasn’t stolen and ultimately your winning routed to another account.

Lottoland is licensed with the National Supervisory Bodies For Lotteries in several countries such as the United Kingdom, Italy, Sweden, Ireland and Australia—where it is called a wagering license. Typically, most gaming companies don’t establish insurance companies as it entails that their activities have to be transparent and the must be highly reputable in the industry.

Nonetheless, Lottoland has no issues meeting up to these standards as they have established themselves as the only gaming sector company who has its own insurance company—an added advantage for new and existing users.

Lotteries aren’t the only games Canadians enjoy playing and Lottoland recognizes this by providing players with other types of gaming. As an industry leader, video designers of online games often make them their first choice when it comes to publishing their works.

Online games such as slots, blackjack, video poker, baccarat, keno, scratchoffs, roulette and many others are always on offer at the Lottoland Casino. There’s also the option of playing with a live dealer and a total of over 100 games.

Lottoland has received numerous rave reviews from its growing list of satisfied customer and their responsive customer service agents are always available to answer any questions users may have, along with solving challenges they may have encountered.

More and more Canadians are trooping to Lottoland in droves due to the unique experience of going to a casino without having to leave the comfort of their homes.

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