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Elevated park in St. Thomas a sight to behold

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ST. THOMAS—More than 600 residents of this town gathered on the first day of legal marijuana sales to get high together.

But it wasn’t the drug that brought them together. They gathered to view the beautiful fall colours in the surrounding countryside to be viewed from high up on Canada’s first elevated park.

People are flocking to Ontario’s elevated park in St. Thomas to take in the spectacular views.
People are flocking to Ontario’s elevated park in St. Thomas to take in the spectacular views.  (Supplied)

It’s now a partially completed public park, but it was built in 1929 as a 260-metre-long railway trestle to carry the Central Michigan Railway 34 metres above the Kettle Creek Valley on the west side of Canada’s Railway Town.

The last train rolled across the double-tracked bridge in 1996 and it then sat idle for 17 years while demolition firms sent proposals to its owner — a local land developer — to have it dismantled.

But the developer wanted it to survive and offered it free to the City of St. Thomas. St. Thomas said No Thanks, thinking about future maintenance costs.

A rendering of the finished park.
A rendering of the finished park.  (Supplied)

However, an organization of local volunteers called On Track stepped forward in 2013 and purchased the unique bridge for $116,000 and started a campaign to convert the trestle to Canada’s first elevated park — similar to the Highland Linear Park in New York City.

Security fences now envelope about half of the bridge and that has allowed the public to picnic in the park, walk their dogs, stroll hand-in-hand or sit and listen to local bands. Eventually the entire park will be classified as safe by their insurance company, says Serge Lavoie, president of the On Track volunteer group.

St. Thomas’ railway heritage. The shortest distance for trains running between Chicago and New York is through southwestern Ontario and St. Thomas is the halfway point.

The 900-ton iron sculpture of a train by artist Scott McKay.
The 900-ton iron sculpture of a train by artist Scott McKay.  (Pat Brennan)

Several American railway firms, plus principal Canadian lines made St. Thomas a major depot and maintenance centre when railway was king.

The largest sculpture saluting the railway heritage is a 900-tonne iron horse — a 1920 iron train crafted by artist-blacksmith Scott McKay of nearby Lawrence Station. His large iron locomotive pulling three railway cars is not in the elevated park, but sits in a roundabout on Sunset Drive, which goes under the park on its way to Port Stanley on Lake Erie.

Two notorious railway incidents in St. Thomas are still talked about today. Jumbo, the world’s largest elephant in captivity, died on the Grand Trunk when he accidentally stepped in front of a passing freight train on Sept. 15, 1885.

Jumbo was in town with the Barnum & Bailey Circus. A full-scale statue of the famous elephant stands today about a block from the elevated park.

Sculptures up on the park. The wind vane is also by artist Scott McKay.
Sculptures up on the park. The wind vane is also by artist Scott McKay.  (Pat Brennan)

Less than two years later a passenger train of the London & Port Stanley Railway Company returning from the popular beaches at Port Stanley collided with a Central Michigan freight train where the lines of the two railway companies crossed at an intersection. The freight train included several cars of crude oil, plus barrels of kerosene. The resulting explosion and fire killed 15 people, included the American Consul who operated the American Consulate in St. Thomas. He was hit by a horse-drawn fire wagon racing to the scene.

The Central Michigan rail line that ran from Detroit to Buffalo and crossed the bridge is now part of the Trans Canada Trail.

Locals, or anyone really, is encouraged to sponsor benches, picnic tables, sculptures and flower gardens up on the elevated park. When finished the linear park will have a wooden floor and of course a spectacular view.

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Travel & Escape

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

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(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 marriott.com.

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Travel & Escape

How to make the most of summer travel

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(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 Marriott.com.

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!

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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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