London, Ontario, Canada / Fit for a Heroine

London, Ontario, Canada / Fit for a Heroine

a heroine’s travel guide to London, Ontario / by Kerry Hishon

Welcome to London! No, not that London…

I’m writing about the “other” London, here in lovely southwestern Ontario, Canada. I’ve lived in London for over a decade, and although I wasn’t born here, I’m happy to call London my home.

London has a small-town feel in a big city (it’s the 11th most populated city in Canada).

London, Ontario, Canada / Fit for a Heroine

On its surface, London may seem like a stereotypical Canadian city.

On Friday nights, the downtown area is a sea of green as we cheer on the London Knights hockey team, but it’s not all just toques and poutine.

Yes, we love our winter sports – London is home to Olympic ice dancing champion Tessa Virtue, and where Olympic champion speed skater Christine Nesbitt grew up – but we are more than just sports! London has a bustling arts scene and a great sense of local pride.

Budding thespians can look to Rachel McAdams (Mean Girls, The Notebook) and Amber Marshall (TV’s Heartland).

All these women are proof that with hard work and perseverance, you can achieve anything you set your mind to, and that’s definitely a mark of a heroine to me.

If you are an artsy soul, embrace all things geek-chic or are obsessed with food (or like me, and all three apply), you’ll fit in just fine here.

Shall we begin our tour? Meet me at the corner of King and Talbot Streets, and we’ll get going!

Everything on this is within walking distance, so be sure to wear comfy shoes (or good, thick boots if you’re visiting in the winter!) and bring a bag to carry any treasures you pick up along the way!

 

London, Ontario, Canada / Fit for a Heroine

Start with a hefty breakfast at The Early Bird

Every heroine needs a hearty breakfast to begin her day of adventures (and to keep her from getting hangry). I love The Early Bird, a cozy setting with its tiki bar and kitschy décor, featuring an awesome set of busts decorated like the members of KISS.

I recommend the Fat Elvis, a monstrosity of a sandwich smothered in bacon, peanut butter, honey, panko, maple syrup, and powdered sugar. Bring a bag; you’ll need it to carry your leftovers with you.

London, Ontario, Canada / Fit for a Heroine

Peruse the shelves at City Lights Bookshop

What’s a heroine without a good book? A bored heroine, that’s for sure.

Enter City Lights, which describes itself as “a living collage, crossed with a circus that was frightened by a Dadaist” and I couldn’t agree more.

Its two floors are packed with books, magazines, CDs, DVDs, vinyl, sheet music, play scripts, postcards, and more. Everything is reasonably priced, and a heroine could while away hours exploring its depths.

London, Ontario, Canada / Fit for a Heroine

Explore Covent Garden Market

I spend a lot of time at Covent Garden Market for my work with Original Kids Theatre Company (we present over twenty productions a year!), and there’s just so much to do!

In the winter, you’ll find a free skating rink outside; and in the summer, there’s an outdoor farmer’s market on Thursdays and Saturdays.

Inside the Market is a ton of local vendors – if you’re not still stuffed from breakfast, I recommend visiting Petit Paris and ogling their massive array of sweets and goodies, and The Salad Bowl for amazing and healthy wraps and soups (Andrew somehow remembers everyone’s specialty order and it’s awesome).

London, Ontario, Canada / Fit for a Heroine

Take a walk through Victoria Park

London is known as the Forest City and it’s not hard to see why. During the winter holidays, Victoria Park’s trees are lit up with thousands of beautiful lights.

It’s a lovely place to take a walk with a cup of hot chocolate, or go skating (again, it’s free!). In the summer, it’s host to tons of festivals (such as the Home County Folk Festival, Sunfest, and London Rib-Fest) where there are live bands to listen to, local vendors to peruse, and of course, fabulous food and drinks to be sampled.

London, Ontario, Canada / Fit for a Heroine

Take in a show

London has a thriving theatre scene, and the downtown area is the heart of it. The Grand Theatre has tons of amazing shows and even its own ghost (look up Ambrose Small for more details!), while The ARTS Project hosts local theatrical projects, as well as a free, ever-changing gallery, and various art classes.

In the summer, London is host to the London Fringe Festival, where theatre artists from all over Canada and abroad bring together an amazing selection of theatrical delights. Take a chance and see something that sounds intriguing – you never know what you’ll get at the Fringe!

Budweiser Gardens is right across the street from the Covent Garden Market, and offers tons of concerts and touring theatre shows. This year alone I’ve been able to catch Metric and Our Lady Peace, and I’ll be seeing Green Day there soon too!

London, Ontario, Canada / Fit for a HeroineKerry Hishon is a director, actor, writer and stage combatant. She blogs at both Kerryhishon.com and Theatrefolk.com. When she’s not immersed in theatre, Kerry enjoys reading, knitting, and travelling.

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Is your hometown the perfect fit for a heroine? I’m always looking for fabulous locals to contribute to this Fit for a Heroine travel guide series. If you’re interested in writing for Heroine Training, read the guidelines and get in touch.

Victoria, British Columbia, Canada / Fit for a Heroine

Victoria, British Columbia / Fit for a Heroine

a heroine’s travel guide to Victoria, BC / by Victoria Fry

The city of Victoria captured my daydreamer’s heart before I moved here, before I’d ever stepped foot here, before I even knew where it was (particularly as I am, to this day, horrific with geography). I first read about Victoria between the covers of one of my favourite childhood books, Awake and Dreaming, by Kit Pearson. I read it so many times that I felt like I knew the shy, lonely Theo, and that I was walking alongside her through the streets of her neighbourhood and the cemetery across the road from her dreamlike home.

Years later, I did walk through that very cemetery and saw the very statues Theo came to know in Awake and Dreaming … but we’ll come to that.

Our journey in Victoria, BC, begins not in this storybook neighbourhood but on a sweeping green lawn at the southern end of Government Street.

People watch by the Parliament Buildings

The broad expanse of green, lush grass in front of the Parliament Buildings is the perfect spot to sit and people-watch. You can perch on the edge of the soaring fountain or on the steps in the shade of the majestic stone building, wherever suits your fancy.

If you happen to be there anytime from June through to early September, you might even be able to strike up a conversation with Queen Victoria or Francis Rattenbury (the architect responsible for many of Victoria’s most stunning buildings, with a soap opera-worthy past), or at least the parliamentary players representing them that summer.

Victoria, British Columbia / Fit for a Heroine

Have a browse at Munro’s Books

When you’re ready, stroll north up Government Street to Munro’s Books. Once owned by Jim Munro, the ex-husband of writer Alice Munro, and now owned by his employees, this bookstore is both breathtaking and chockful of good reads.

Scour the shelves for your next literary pleasure, take in the elegant quilted tapestries, and, once your tummy starts to grumble because you’ve gotten lost in this book and that one, slip right next door …

Victoria, British Columbia / Fit for a Heroine

…to Murchie’s Tea & Coffee!

… to Murchie’s Tea & Coffee! This busy little café can sometimes have a lineup out the door, but you can usually find a table (preferably in the salon at the back), and it’s well worth it.

Their tea lattes are delectable, their scones divine, and their carrot cake positively scrumptious! They have a wide selection of black and green teas, as well, many of which are available for sale in their adjoining store if one particularly suits you.

Victoria, British Columbia / Fit for a Heroine

Listen to the Library Buskers

Now that you’re sufficiently sufficed, you can wander a few blocks over to the Central Library on Broughton Street. Rather than go into the library, though, take a seat on one of the benches inside the covered courtyard and listen to the music inevitably being played by a busker.

The courtyard is two stories high with a glassed-in roof, and the acoustics make even the simplest ditty sound utterly enchanting.

Victoria, British Columbia / Fit for a Heroine

Ready to take a wander back in time?

Walk up to the Patch, Victoria’s most well-known vintage clothing store. While it can be a bit on the pricy side, you sometimes luck out with an incredible deal or happen upon one of their big sales, and their selection can’t be beat. I found a gorgeous 50’s frock here in a soft blue-and-pink floral pattern, and other decades are well represented, too.

If you want a simpler, less extravagant souvenir, rummage through their bins of silk scarves: pretty to wear, or perfect for setting out Tarot cards or a small display at home!

Victoria, British Columbia / Fit for a Heroine

Enter the pages of Awake and Dreaming at Ross Bay Cemetary

Just a bus ride away (the #3 or #7, to be exact, hailed right on Douglas Street) comes the end of your day’s journey, and the beginning of my love affair with Victoria, within the pages of Awake and Dreaming: Ross Bay Cemetery. Here you can find the graves of Sir James Douglas, BC’s first governor, and Emily Carr, the local writer and artist, among many others.

The small cemetery’s greatest charms, however, are the statues, monuments, and tree-lined pathways in its midst. You could spend ages wandering through here, feeling the weight of thousands of stories on your shoulders and brushing the back of your neck.

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victoria fry headshotVictoria Fry is an avid writer and writing coach, who specializes in helping writers (re)discover the joy in their writing process. Dig deep into character development with her free course, delve into a podcast on reading, writing and crafty things, or simply say hello on Twitter!  She’s always happy to chat about gaming and knitting, along with all things writing.

Xandra recommends: Which creative season are you in?

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Is your hometown the perfect fit for a heroine? I’m always looking for fabulous locals to contribute to this Fit for a Heroine travel guide series. Get in touch: xandra@heroinetraining.com