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A Group of Men Unexpectedly Burst Into Song at Tim Hortons

Tim Hortons Group

In what may be the coolest, most unexpected thing I’ve seen so far in this short 2013, I came across this video of a group of older gentlemen hanging out at a Tim Hortons, when they suddenly burst into an incredible version of Elton John’s, “Can You Feel The Love Tonight”.

I don’t know who these guys are, what Tim Hortons location they are at or who shot this video but it felt like my duty as a Canadian to share this in the hopes that it makes you smile as much as my wife and I just did. This is a great example of how easy it is to make people smile and one of the many reasons why I love it here in Canada! Great work, guys! You are the original flash mobbers.

Cheers!

Canadian Spotlight – Todd Churchill’s Charity Rink Of Dreams For Carter

Todd Churchill Rink for Carter

I came across this story on the CBC website and it was too amazing to not write about. Todd Churchill lives in Portugal Cove – St. Philips, NL with his wife Kimberly and their two sons Hunter and Carter. His youngest son, Carter, was diagnosed as profoundly deaf in December 2011 and then subsequently diagnosed with cerebral palsy in January 2012.

Since that time, Todd and his wife Kimberly have become very active in various fundraising efforts for local charities and non-profit organizations associated with or helping with their son Carter’s condition. This past July, they both participated in Easter Seals’ Drop Zone event in St. John’s and personally raised over $8,000 dollars.

Todd then decided that the logical next step would be to build an outdoor rink. This, however, was not just going to be any outdoor rink. Todd had a dream of designing and building a 95’ x 46’ outdoor ice hockey rink in his backyard, complete with boards, painted lines, nets, lighting, etc. His goal was to sell ad space on the boards and also on the ice surface, just like an NHL rink, with the proceeds going to support the three charities that have helped and continue to help his family the most. Those charities are:

1. The Easter Seals of Newfoundland & Labrador
2. Rainbow Riders
3. Mazol Shriners

I’ve included links to the donation pages of all three in case you are compelled to contribute. Todd’s got a website all set up that lists all the amazing sponsors, supporters and news about the rink and his family’s charitable efforts. The website is called Reason For The Rink and I hope you’ll stop in to check it out. I was also fortunate enough to interview Todd for this feature and here is what he had to say.

CD: Where did you get the idea to do this? It’s quite brilliant!

Todd: I received a photo of a similar, albeit smaller, rink done out in western Canada and I always wanted to do one as a personal challenge being an engineer. When my son was born and was diagnosed as deaf and with CP, my wife and I became very proactive in organizations dedicated to assisting children like Carter, namely Easter Seals NL, Rainbow Riders and Mazol Shriners. We both participated in the Easter Seals NL Drop Zone event (9 storey rappel) in July, personally raising over $8,000. As a result, I was invited to participate in the Easter Seals Toronto Drop Zone (17 storey’s). There are links to videos of both events on my website under “Other Fundraising Efforts“. My wife has a small home business called Carter’s Cupcakes, which makes cakes and cupcakes with 25% of the profits going to children’s charities associated with Carter. I started my rink as both a fundraiser and a way of increasing awareness of these organizations which I myself had no awareness of prior to Carter being born.

CD: Was the rink a community project or more of a solo effort?

Todd: It was a solo project that I started planning last winter but actually physically started in June building a prototype corner and straight section to work the bugs out of my design.

CD: Now that the rink is built, what are your goals for it? Will there be more fundraising or is it a community rink?

Todd: I am going to have to some fundraisers for people at work. I am currently working on the Hebron project here in NL so I am going to have a hockey tournament for employees of the major companies, ie. ExxonMobil, WorleyParsons, KCAD and Kiewit-Kvaerner Contractors. I have also been receiving a lot of offers to rent ice time with proceeds going to charity.

CD: How difficult was it to sell the ad space?

Todd: It was slow going at first as companies didn’t really know what to make of what I was doing. Some companies jumped right on board, while others needed some convincing and others never responded at all. After I launched my website, I had more demand than available spaces so City Honda here in St. John’s offered $1,000 for an in ice ad, which is something I never considered before. I was only going to have the charity logos in the ice, but I could not turn down that type of donation. Provincial Airlines, ExxonMobil (Hebron Project) and Ranstar* soon followed and took the remaining three in ice logos for $1000 as well. I have now raised over $16,700 to date.

Rink BoardsRink DrawingRink Frame

 

 

 

 

 

This was such a great story and I was so glad to be able to speak with Todd about it. For more information about Todd’s charity rink or on how you can donate, you can visit his website, Reason For The Rink, and you can follow him on Twitter @Reason4TheRink.

I wanted to leave you with one last look at the finished product. Admittedly, this photo makes me want to hop on a plane and fly out to Newfoundland to take a lap on the ice. So, if anyone has an extra plane ticket to Newfoundland… Yeah, didn’t think so! I want to thank Todd Churchill for the interview and also for being an Awesome Dad and human being, along with his entire family. Keep up the great work!

Churchill Rink Night

Cheers!

Welcome To My New Sponsor ~ @CardSwap

CardSwap.ca

I’m proud to announce a new partnership on the blog. I’d like to welcome and thank my friends at CardSwap for becoming the latest Canadian Dad sponsor. I have been a fan of their service for a while, which made teaming up with them an easy decision.

For those of you who are not familiar with them, Cardswap is Canada’s #1 resource for selling, buying and donating gift cards. You know those gift cards you get every year and think, “I will literally never use this”, but you are too afraid to tell the giver of the card? CardSwap makes it easy for you to turn those cards into cash. On top of that, for every transaction you make with them, you collect points that can be redeemed for more gift cards!

CardSwap Offer

CardSwap carries gift cards featuring more than 450 retailers, including Esso, HBC, Winners, Canadian Tire and more, with new gift cards added daily. They also have the highest offers I’ve seen for your gift cards. If you’ve ever used a Kijiji or Craig’s List to try to sell your cards, you know that 50% offers are the norm. Through CardSwap, I just got $21 for my $25 card (I can’t name the store in case the giver reads this, lol).

Thanks again to CardSwap for supporting Canadian Dad! You can check out CardSwap on Facebook and Twitter as well!

Cheers!

My Windows 8 Phone – App Review {#HolidaySwap}

Holiday Swap

It’s week 3 of my Microsoft Canada, Holiday Swap adventure! My last post took you through my first impression with the Nokia Lumia 920 and now I’m ready to talk about my experience with some of the apps that I’ve been working with. As a blogger, the social media and camera apps are the ones I use most, so I will stick mostly to those.

TWITTER

Let’s start with my home away from home: Twitter! You don’t send 22,000 tweets in 10 months without a good smartphone app, am I right? Then again, most people don’t do that anyway… Unfortunately for the Windows phones, the standard Twitter application is not very good at all. Low functionality, trouble sending tweets and the inability to link multiple accounts make this app almost unusable.

Luckily for the Windows Phone there are some great third party Twitter apps, with my favourite of the bunch being the Rowi app. I actually like the Rowi product better than the iPhone Twitter app I was used to. It has a fully customizable home screen that lets you check things like trending topics, your retweeted tweets and all the standard options. It also allows you to link to multiple accounts and makes it easy to switch between them. Essentially, Rowi saved the day for Twitter and the Windows Phone.

FACEBOOK

I have mixed feelings about the standard Facebook app. I like the way it looks but the functionality could be a lot better. It’s quite possible that I just haven’t learned all the in’s and out’s yet but just like the Twitter app, I have already found an alternative that I like better, so I’m not too worried about it.

That alternative is the Facebook Touch Pro app. It looks just like the Facebook we know and love, plus it has all the functionality you’d expect. If I have one complaint, it’s that clicking the notifications doesn’t always work, but those instances are few and far between.

CAMERA APPS

It’s funny, 2 weeks ago I was sad that there was no Instagram option for the Windows Phone. Then Instagram lost a good chunk of their subscribers because of their cryptic new terms of service. That’s where Fhotoroom comes in. Fhotoroom is the Windows equivalent to Instagram and even has more editing options for your photos. It also allows you to share the photo with your favourite social media networks, such as Twitter, Facebook & Flickr.

Another app I like is the Smart Shoot feature. This one snaps 5 pictures in succession and then allows you to edit the photos together to create the best one shot. It’s perfect for people with fidgety kids or for those who have blinky eye syndrome!

Just like every other smartphone on the market, there are hundreds of apps for your camera needs but these are just a couple of my favourites.

NOKIA CITY LENS

I’m going to close out my review with my favourite app on the Nokia Lumia 920. It’s called City Lens and I am in love with it’s capabilities. At first it felt like a novelty app but now that I have been using it, I am amazed at how useful it is. You simply go into the app and either choose from one of the options (Food, Lodging, etc) or type in a location and then hold the phone up and it geo-locates the nearest place.

City Lens

From there, you simply click the option you want and it takes you to the GPS directions screen. It’s perfect for when you are in a city or area that you are not familiar with and I highly recommend it.

And that, my friends, are just a few of the apps I am using on a daily basis. As you may have noticed, it’s not all roses but for every downside, there seems to be a great alternative. Overall I am still enjoying the Nokia Lumia 920 and am loving the camera/video quality and features more and more each day.

Cheers!

Disclosure: The Nokia Lumia Windows phone was provided to me by Microsoft Canada in order to facilitate this review as part of the #HolidaySwap challenge. I will also be receiving compensation in exchange for my posts related to the review of this phone, however all opinions on this blog are my own.

12,474 Reasons Why This Was A Movember To Remember!

Every once in a while, something happens that inspires you and reminds you that there is still a lot of good left in the world. Usually it comes in the form of a random act of kindness or something you would see on Ellen. That occurrence, for me at least, happened with my participation in the most recent Movember campaign.

When I decided to put a Movember team together, I thought it would be a fun way to get together with a bunch of friends, to grow our crazy moustaches and to raise awareness and a little bit of money for the cause. The original goal of $2,000 seemed lofty at the time, especially considering the state of the economy and the sheer number of causes out there around the Christmas season.

The series of events that followed completely changed the way I look at a lot of things. Not only did we smash our $2,000 goal before we even started growing the moustaches, but I was inspired by the willingness of the participants to want to make a difference. I quickly realized that this wasn’t about the moustaches. It was about supporting something that we believed in, that we as men are affected by, on a daily basis.

I saw people going the extra mile to make that difference. From selling personalized short stories and MoTies to giving away awesome Movember gear and sharing some very personal stories, this group of guys (and one MoSista) continued to surprise me at every turn. I’ve been a part of a lot of fundraising campaigns and had never seen a dedication like this.

Then there were the donors. It seemed like every time I mentioned that we were close to a milestone, someone would swoop in and proudly declare that they wanted to be the ones to get us there. Most of the time these were people that I had never met and had only interacted with a couple of times on social media. To these people, I say a huge heartfelt Thank You!

We even had corporate donors. They owed me nothing and I have little to offer in return, yet they still offered what they could to help support our journey. Whether it was a cash donation or products to give away at our closing party, I am endlessly grateful for their contributions and will not be forgetting it anytime soon. I want to give a shout out to those companies and hope they know how much we appreciate them. They are:

PlaSmart, Logs End Inc, Burnbrae Farms, Tag Along Toys, Elm Hill Kids, Play It Again Sports, Cloak and Curio, Fathead, Adult Essentials, Sarah J’s Cupcakes, Parent Tested Parent Approved & The Short and Sweet Kitchen.

If you are looking to buy from and work with good people, these are some of those very good people and I highly recommend all of them!

In closing, I really just want to say Thank You to everyone who had a part in helping us raise $12,474! It took me awhile to realize that this was actually a big deal and if you had said that we’d raise that total at the start, I would have laughed pretty hard. I’m very proud to have been a member of this team. It has inspired me and opened my eyes to what is possible when you put in the work.

I leave you with one of the coolest things I saw this Movember. Here is the MoCake that was made for our closing party, by Andrea from The Short & Sweet Kitchen. Pure Awesomeness!

On Setting And Achieving Goals {#Movember}

When I started recruiting teammates for this year’s Movember campaign, I had preset a lofty goal of $2,000. Little did I realize that my teammates had different plans for our fundraising efforts, this November.

I had taken part in Movember before. Last year, before I had discovered blogging, I failed to gather any troops and provided $125 for the cause, with $50 of that being out of my own pocket. This year, however, I had a new audience, new friends and a passion to succeed. I also had a new found respect for the powers of influence and reach.

It was great to be able to surround myself with so many like-minded people, who were as committed to the Movember cause as I was. There is a bit of a stigma surrounding Movember, as some say it is just an excuse for guys to grow a mustache and then complain about how much they are suffering with it, without actually raising funds or awareness for the campaign.

While that may be true for some, I can assure the naysayers that our group of Mo Bro’s and Mo Sista’s not only did a great job of raising awareness, but late last night, we reached the $10,000 raised mark! I have never been a part of such a dedicated group of people and I’m incredibly proud of every single member of our team. We had members who sold MoTies, told very personal stories, gave away prizes out of their own pockets and even one member who offered to write personalized Christmas stories to all who donated to his page. It was incredible to watch everyone come together like that.

We also had an amazing turnout from the corporate community and I would like to personally thank all of the businesses who have contributed to our team, whether it be with donations or prizes. They are, PlaSmart, Logs End Inc, Burnbrae Farms, Tag Along Toys, Elm Hill Kids, Play It Again Sports, Cloak and Curio, Fathead, Adult Essentials & Sarah J’s Cupcakes. Your support has helped us achieve a goal that would have seemed unreachable at the start of all of this and I can’t say thank you enough!

With 2 days left and our Movember Party tonight, the sky is still the limit. While we won’t be setting any new goals, there are still nice, round numbers floating around in my head. I just want to say thank you to everybody who had a hand in contributing to our team’s success. We flew through goals of $2,000, $5,000 and $7,500, and it was all because of your generosity and commitment to making a better world for men who are suffering with cancer and mental illness.

I hope you all have a great day and thanks again for everything!

Cheers!

Join The Canadian Dad’s Movember Team To Support Men’s Health!

November has quickly become one of my favourite months of the year! Not just because of my birthday *ahem, November 14th* but also because of a yearly tradition called, “Movember”. What began as a small fundraiser out of Australia, has quickly turned into a global phenomenon and I’m all in!

Movember is an initiative started to raise vital funds and awareness for men’s health, specifically prostate cancer and male mental health. Men around the world grow their moustaches while raising money for the cause. I’m not going to post my passport photo but let’s just say that it was taken during Movember and there was no way I was shaving that thing off before it’s time.

I don’t want to talk your ear off about it because there’s lots of time for that. What I want from you today is your upper lip. I’m looking to recruit as many MoBrotha’s and MoSista’s as I can, so we can put our faces and skills to work in raising money for this excellent initiative!

What I’m asking is that you visit our team page, Canadian Dad 2.012, and either signup as a MoBrotha or MoSista, or donate whatever you can to our team goal of $2000. Every little bit counts and on top of that, we get to have a lot of fun laughing at each other’s moustaches. And trust me, mine is ridiculous!

I always see so many teams of 3 or 4 guys, which is great, but I want to create a super team to rival all others! If we are going to put our faces on the line to be ridiculed in the name of raising money, we might as well be as big as possible and go for one of the many prizes up for grabs! C’mon, who’s with me!? We just signed Ottawa native, Mike Reynolds, who has a very cool MoTie shop on Etsy, that raises money for the cause. You can check it out at MoTies For Gals and Guys.

I just want to make it clear that our team is open to ladies as well, so please sign up and spread the good word of Movember! I am also planning a party here in Ottawa for later in November to celebrate our achievements and I can’t wait to see all the crazy Stache action!

Thank You for your time and I hope you’ll consider joining our team! Let’s have some fun with it as we help to raise awareness for men’s health! Please do not hesitate to ask any questions, I’m always here to help! Let’s Do It!

Cheers!

Bieber, Prostitution, Trophy Dads & My Rap on The Life of Dad Podcast

Recently, I was happy to accept an invitation to be a guest on the Life of Dad Show Podcast with Tom Riles and Art Eddy. For those of you who haven’t heard of Life of Dad, it’s like Facebook for Dad bloggers. There are a lot of great Dads writing over there and I’ve heard that the guy who runs their twitter account is handsome and awesome! (PS – It’s me, come and say hi @LifeOfDadShow)

On this particular podcast, which is about 30 minutes long, we talk about Trophy Dads, Justin Bieber, Ellen, Ping Pong, Prostitution, Canadian Geography, the Montreal Canadiens and I close it out with a rap that I wrote specifically for the podcast. Each podcast ends with the guest rapping and I was challenged to a rap off, which you will see I clearly won, lol.

It was a jam packed show and has inspired me to look into starting my own podcast. I’m not going to promise it will happen but it’s at least on the table.

So, without further ado, here is my day with Life of Dad. PS – If you’re looking for the rap, it’s around the 28:30 mark, although I don’t why you would want to hear that….

Hey Canada! by Vivien Bowers (Book Review)

I was happy to help out a Canadian author when I was approached to take a look at a new book called “Hey Canada!”, which is written by Vivien Bowers & illustrated by Milan Pavlovic.

Here’s a brief overview of Hey Canada! from GoodReads:

“Gran has decided that she is taking nine-year-old Alice and eight-year-old Cal on a road trip across Canada “before she’s old and creaky.” With a sparkling combination of poems, silly songs, tweets and blogs, the trio records the trip for readers everywhere to share. Starting in St. John’s Newfoundland, where they have a “find-it” list that includes a moose and an iceberg and going all the way to the Pacific Ocean, the gang in Hey Canada! offers a delightful way to learn about vast, varied, and surprising Canada.

The book combines narrative, poems, photos, comics about historical events such as the battle at Fortress Louisburg, maps (including provincial flags, birds, and flowers), in a lively, easily accessible format. Not only great fun to read, this is a valuable resource for young Canadians and for visitors across the country.”

I didn’t even need to read this book to know that I was going to love it! I am Canadian after all…. The book offers extremely informative descriptions of some of Canada’s greatest places and landmarks. It takes you through Canada, Province by Province and has incredible illustrations by Milan Pavlovic. Seriously, the pictures add so much more to the book than I can describe.

This book is a wonderful addition, not only to a home library, but could be an excellent addition to a classroom as well. There is so much detail and colour that your kids will love reading it, as mine did!

Being from Ottawa, it was a real awakening to see all of the great things that my city has to offer, that all to often get taken for granted. The Museum’s, Parliament Hill and the Rideau Canal to name a few, I really have to get my family out there enjoying it.

I actually think one of my favorite part’s of Hey Canada! was the legend in the back….I know, I know, it’s a very nerd thing to say but it’s true. I really enjoy being able to look something up quickly and a legend is like a book’s form of a CTRL-F search, lol.

I really recommend Hey Canada! to help show your kids and yourself, just how much our great country has to offer!

Here’s a little bit about the author of Hey Canada!, Vivien Bowers:

Vivien Bowers was born in Vancouver, Canada in 1951, the second of four children. She received a B.A. in English (honours) from the University of British Columbia followed by a teaching certificate, and was a grade 5 teacher for several years in Nelson, BC. Vivien has been a freelance writer for more than twenty-five years, writing elementary and secondary school materials, as well as non-fiction books and magazine articles for both adults and children. She has been invited to do presentations on her children’s books in hundreds of schools and libraries across the country. Bowers has two sons, now grown up, and lives at the base of the mountains outside of Nelson, BC. She loves to escape into the wilderness to ski, hike or canoe.

Hey Canada!
Author: Vivien Bowers
Illustrations: Milan Pavlovic
Publisher: Tundra Books, a division of Random House
Pages: 72
Format: Hardcover
Ages: Children 7-10 years
Genre: Children’s books/non-fiction/history
ISBN 978-1-77049-255-4
Release date: May 8, 2012

I received a copy of this book to facilitate my review. As always, all opinions are my own and are not influenced by any third party.