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This Week in Canada: Thanksgiving Festivities, Just for Laughs 2020, Radisson Blu Comes to Canada, and More

BizBash's new Canada-focused column covers the week's biggest event news.

While the in-person events (pictured) were largely canceled this year, pubs and restaurants across Kitchener-Waterloo screened the city’s annual Thanksgiving parade while offering Oktoberfest-theme menus.
While the in-person events (pictured) were largely canceled this year, pubs and restaurants across Kitchener-Waterloo screened the city’s annual Thanksgiving parade while offering Oktoberfest-theme menus.
Photo: Courtesy of Kitchener-Waterloo Oktoberfest

Welcome to BizBash's newest column, covering Canada’s biggest event news from coast to coast. Got a tip? Get in touch!

Provincial News
Alberta: 
Calgary’s Butterfield Acres Farm hosted a Harvest Pumpkin Festival on Thanksgiving Monday. In addition to picking out the perfect pumpkin, guests took tractor wagon tours through the Scarecrow Alley behind the farm, fed barnyard animals, and rode ponies—while dressed up in their Halloween costumes. The festival also organized family-friendly photo ops around the property and a fire pit for guests to enjoy hot chocolate, apple cider, or coffee alongside. Safety measures included limiting ticket times to two hours, plus restricting the adult-child ratio to one to three.

British Columbia: For visitors keen to take a year off from cooking, the Pacific Restaurant at the Hotel Grand Pacific in Victoria hosted a three-course, reservation-only Thanksgiving dinner on Oct. 10-11. Holiday menu options included celery root and pear bisque, a butternut squash and greens mix, roast turkey with sour cream mashed potatoes, roasted sage and apricot sausage, stuffed pork loin and herb polenta, vegetable rotolo, pumpkin pie, and spiced hazelnut torte. Throughout the year, the hotel offers eight venues for conferences, banquets, and private events.

Ontario: With its in-person events largely canceled this year, Kitchener-Waterloo Oktoberfest broadcast its annual Thanksgiving Day parade over CTV on Oct. 11. The special presentation featured a look back at archival footage, as well as the history of floats, bands, and special guests that have been a part of the event over its past 50 years. Viewers were encouraged to donate to the Onkel Hans Food Drive on behalf of the Food Bank of Waterloo Region and participate in a photo contest on social media for a chance to win a 65-inch TV and Oktoberfest-themed prizes.   

Quebec: Just For Laughs hosted a free, fully digital festival from Oct. 9 -10 in partnership with Laugh Out Loud (LOL) X—an experimental comedy program curating mixed-format shows and events developed by LOL founder Kevin Hart. Each performance, panel, and competition took place on virtual stages, enabling participants to go from act to act and watch replay footage of each comedian online until Oct. 11. Hart opened on Friday afternoon with a one-on-one talk with Judd Apatow, while Tig Notaro, Wanda Sykes, Steve Byrne, and Chelsea Handler were among the comedian lineup. 

Saskatchewan: On Oct. 13, the Globe Theatre in Regina opened for a ghost tour of the venue in advance of a planned renovation. Groups of six were invited to an after-dark guided walk through the low-lit hallways, dressing rooms, and backstage areas while listening to tales of spooky occurrences in the building, which opened in 1966.  

Coast-to-Coast
Expedia shared results from a new national survey indicating how quarantine restrictions have affected Canadian’s short- and long-term travel goals. On average, it took adults ages 18-45 less than a month to experience a strong need for a change of scenery, and 35 days before they started researching or planning for their next trip. Expedia search data from the month of April revealed that Canadians were primarily interested in getaway destinations including Mexico, the Caribbean, and Hawaii. Individuals living with a partner but no children were most likely to shop for a 5-star vacation package, while parents prioritized finding family-friendly options and those living with roommates looked for adventure-focused outdoor activities such as camping or hiking. 

Fulbright Canada (The Foundation for Educational Exchange Between Canada and the United States of America) detailed a new “Post-COVID-19 Challenge,” asking youth to submit their ideas for improving public health and well-being, leveraging next-generation digital technology, and promoting social cohesion and economic recovery in the aftermath of the pandemic. Following today’s virtual launch event, participants will be invited to in-person competitions as well as a summer 2021 summit with mentoring government officials, community activists, and business leaders.

The Radisson Blu brand has opened its first Canadian property, a 157-room venue in downtown Toronto that replaced the Radisson Admiral Toronto-Harbourfront beside Lake Ontario. A full-scale renovation included the hotel's Watermark Restaurant, Lakeview Pool Lounge on the roof, and 12,000 square feet of meeting space.

Overheard
"We went from a guest list of 120 to a guest list of 32 in an outdoor space. We also changed the format of our reception last minute, but the day still turned out to be perfect. We kept the ceremony venue the same, but we canceled the venue we had booked for our reception as it wasn't needed for such a small group. Thankfully the venue we canceled was very understanding. Everyone that really needed to be there was there, and the rest we'll enjoy celebrating with when it's safe."

—Keiran Atkinson-Hardy, speaking to CBC in a feature on reformatting weddings taking place in PEI over the summer. 

On the Scene
To honor nurses across Canada, Hunter Brothers Farm in New Brunswick created a corn maze paying tribute to Florence Nightingale.

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