Tuesday, 24 September 2013

Amazing Race Canada - Week 10: The Toronto Islands finish fine

All eyes were on Toronto last week as the first season of The Amazing Race Canada wrapped up.
Toronto from Harbour Islands (6264452871)
Toronto skyline, viewed from Toronto Islands
The race finished on the Toronto Islands, a small chain of islands in the western part of Lake Ontario, just offshore from the city. Even if you aren't familiar with the islands, you are probably familiar with the Toronto skyline, the shots of which are taken from various spots on the islands.

OSM-Toronto Islands with labels
The Amazing Race Canada concluded on Olympic Island (click map to enlarge)
As the action at the finish line has been well covered, we'll focus on where it all took place, with a visit to the Toronto Islands. While often referred to collectively, the final leg of The Amazing Race Canada actually took place on Olympic Island.

Popular with both Toronto residents and tourists, there is plenty to attract visitors to the oasis of calm on the Toronto Islands.

Toronto Islands view

With no fixed road link from the mainland, the islands rely on ferries, water taxis and other boats for their transport needs. Cyclists are welcomed on the ferries, or you can rent a bike on the islands. You can also rent canoes - boating is popular. It's a friendly and relaxed place to get away.

Please walk on the grass

There are wonderful parks, numerous beaches and all manner of things to keep kids entertained, including a miniature railroad. There's plenty to keep adults occupied too.

Signs in Toronto the Good 2010 (1)

In addition to being a popular recreational destination, the Toronto Islands are home to a small residential community. The Toronto Islands actually comprise the largest urban car-free community in North America (though some service vehicles are permitted).

Toronto islands house 2009
House on Ward's Island
The islands are also home to Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport (YTZ). Although the teams didn't use the airport, we think it's close enough to warrant a little coverage! Also referred to as Toronto Islands Airport, YTZ the smallest of the city's two main airports - we've covered Toronto Pearson International Airport (YYZ) in previous posts.

Toronto harbour
Toronto Harbour, Toronto Islands and the airport, taken from the CN Tower
There is no public access between the airport and the rest of the island chain. A separate dedicated ferry provides a vehicle and passenger connection from a dock at the foot of Bathurst Street. You can read about how the YTZ airport ferry connection works here.

In 2014, the western end of the island will become accessible to pedestrians with the opening of the Toronto Islands Airport Pedestrian Tunnel. The 800 ft. pedestrian tunnel will have moving sidewalks and elevators at both ends. On the island side, an escalator will also be constructed. The tunnel is already 50% complete.

Porter Airlines.Dash-8.YTZ.2008
Porter Airlines Bombardier Q400 landing at YTZ
It's safe to say that The Amazing Race Canada was a smashing success. Canadians from coast to coast tuned into Canada's version of the iconic race, in record numbers. Enthusiasm for the locations visited, disappointment about cities left out and support for the teams themselves brought Canadians together in collective pride.

How exciting it is that a second season has been ordered... we wonder where they will go? We'll be tuned in, as we're sure you will be too.

Sunday, 15 September 2013

Amazing Race Canada - Week 9: 1 ferry, no airports!

The excitement continued on The Amazing Race Canada in Week 9 - if you missed the episode, you can watch it, and get full details on the official website.

As far as our coverage goes - as we have focused on the airports visited on the race - we were left a bit stumped as to what to post for Week 9.... as there were no airports involved!

The teams began in Halifax, Nova Scotia, but we had covered Halifax's Airport in our Week 8 blog post).
NL Ferry3 tango7174
On the MV Atlantic Vision ferry, Marine Atlantic,
between North Sydney (Nova Scotia) and
Port aux Basques (Newfoundland and Labrador)

Next, the teams took the ferry from North Sydney to Port aux Basques, on their way to St. John's, Newfoundland and Labrador.

Ferry service in the area is provided by Marine Atlantic.

As a result, during the entire Week 9 episode, there were no airports!

Instead, we did a blog post this week on the 5 Busiest Airports in Canada - with lots of extra trivia and information. Check it out.

We look forward to more Amazing Race blog posts - with airports! - as the race goes into the final stretch...

Go teams go!!

Thursday, 5 September 2013

Amazing Race Canada - Week 8: YFB, YHZ

Week 8 of The Amazing Race Canada began in Iqaluit, Nunavut.
City of Iqaluit
Aerial view of Iqaluit, Nanavut, Canada.
If you missed it, our Week 7 blog post last week highlighted many of the unique challenges of air travel in this remote region of Canada, as well as the beauty and culture of this unique community.

So, onto Week 8, as the teams departed from Iqaluit Airport (YFB), and flew to Halifax, Nova Scotia, one of Canada's beautiful Maritime provinces.

As with our most recent Amazing Race Canada blog posts, we will focus on the airport and other items of interest in the region (as there are many different sites doing a great job of recapping the teams and the race itself!).

HFX Airport 3
Halifax's airport has won numerous international awards.
At the beginning of Week 8, the teams arrived in Halifax International Airport (YHZ). It's officially called Halifax Robert L. Stanfield International Airport, named to honour former Nova Scotia Premier, "Honest Bob" (Robert) Stanfield.

HFX Airport 5
Halifax Airport is open and bright.
If you are compelled to visit, chances are you won't get the same transportation pre-arranged as the teams did. And you'll need a transportation plan, as Halifax Airport is located 35 kilometres from the city of Halifax.

But, good news: getting to/from Halifax Airport just got much easier this week!

On September 3, 2013, the Halifax Airport Express shuttle commenced service. The shuttle will operate from YHZ airport to major hotels and universities downtown (and visa versa, of course!). You can even book online. Learn more about the Halifax Airport shuttle here.

This is in addition to the MetroX 320 airport bus. Halifax Airport bus service was introduced when the prior shuttle service closed down in October 2012, and there is definite hope that it will continue, as it offers a very economical alternative. Learn more about the Halifax Airport bus here.

You might also be interested to learn about the unique role the team at Halifax Airport played during 9/11. Just one of many Canadian airports to accept diverted flights and passengers on September 11, 2001, the role played by Halifax's airport was highlighted in a CBC news story on the 10th anniversary.

As it turns out, at the end of Week 8's episode, the teams were still in Halifax (in a bit of a "to be continued" cliffhanger), so we'll pick up our coverage here next week.