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Travel & Escape

This is an article about Canada’s only neon museum in downtown Edmonton





EDMONTON—Dusk is the best time to visit a unique museum in this city’s core.

It’s open 24 hours a day, but the dwindling light at dusk enhances the allure of Canada’s only neon sign museum. This museum was merely a long, boring brick wall on 104th St. at 104th Ave. until David Holdsworth envisioned it as a gallery to salute Edmonton’s corporate history. Today the wall is a riot of colours from the 20 historical neon signs it holds.

Canadian National Railways telegraph sign.
Canadian National Railways telegraph sign.  (Pat Brennan / Special to the Star)

The signs are all retired and many them saved from the scrap heap after decades of marking the locations of some of Edmonton’s best-known and oldest businesses.

Holdsworth is an urban designer in Edmonton’s heritage department. He tries to persuade local building owners and developers to preserve and restore their edifices rather than tearing them down — or at least try to incorporate some of the old into the new structure.

Marv Haydon opened a large furniture store on 80th Ave. in 1964. By 1966 the store’s neon sign was the talk of the town. It depicted grandma sitting in a moving rocking chair. Occasionally she was replaced by a rabbit at Easter or Santa Claus at Christmas.

The store is now long gone, but grandma is sticking rocking on 104th St.

She was Holdsworth’s first target when he decided Edmonton’s neon history should be preserved. The family donated grandma — fully restored to her original splendour — to this unique museum.

Col. Mustard’s Canteen was a charming little eatery opened on 124th St. in 1955 by Brad and Carla Pipella. It operated for 18 years until a broken water main closed the street and eventually lead to the destruction of the little shop. It’s famous sign across the entire front of the little restaurant still glows brightly on 104th St.

John Stanton couldn’t find a proper pair of running shoes in Edmonton in 1984, so he looked further afield. He brought a much wider selection into town and started selling them from a converted living room in an old house.

His Running Room store grew into North America’s largest chain of specialty running stores with more than 100 outlets in Canada and the United States. The neon sign welcoming runners to that original one-room store now hangs on 104th St.

John “Mike” Michaels started selling newspapers on the corner of Jasper Ave. and 1st St. in 1912. Eventually he opened a shop on that corner and by 1934 it featured one of the city’s most memorable neon signs — Mike’s News & Smokes.

The sign has a guy reading the Toronto Star Weekly with his hat showing above the newspaper and his crossed legs below the paper with one foot contently dangling.

Mike could get any newspaper for a customer and carried many of North America’s principal newspapers. His newsstand became a renowned hang out and the story of Mike’s shop is told on a plaque on the 104th St. wall.

The previously blank wall is the back wall of a TELUS telephone-switching centre. TELUS approved the neon museum as long as it didn’t interfere with its electronic operations inside, said Holdsworth.

He now has 20 signs up on the TELUS wall and three smaller ones another nearby building.

All the signs were voluntarily refurbished and restored by members of the Alberta Sign Association and its members erected the signs on the TELUS wall free of charge.

Prince Charles hasn’t visited the neon museum, but he is aware of it. He met with Holdsworth and former mayor Stephen Mandel in 2009 to present the city with the Prince of Wales Award for its efforts to preserve its historic places.

The neon museum is about two blocks from the massive Ice District project — a new 25-acre residential, business, sports, entertainment and shopping district in the heart of Edmonton.

The Ice District centres on the $480-million Rogers Place, the new home of the Edmonton Oilers that opened last season.

The Ice District has also preserved a famous Edmonton image.

The iconic Wayne Gretzky bronze statue that stood outside the old Edmonton Coliseum for 26 years now stands outside Rogers Place.


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Travel & Escape

Lottoland: Here’s why Canadians love it!





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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Travel & Escape

Dealing with baggage on your trip





(NC)Nothing is more embarrassing than having to unpack your baggage at the airport. It’s common to overpack because you want to make sure you have everything you need for your trip – the right shoes, a jacket in case it’s cold, a bathing suit in case there’s a pool. But you must be mindful of the baggage restrictions. So, how can you be smart with your baggage when travelling?

The first thing to do is talk to your TICO-certified travel agent about the weight restrictions and number of bags you are allowed to take. Some airlines charge per bag, while others may offer one bag for free depending on weight.

You’ll also need to know if there are security requirements for carry-on and checked baggage. For example, there may be prohibited items such as gels and liquids. These limitations vary from airline to airline and depends on if your flight is international or domestic, so you’ll need to check the policy of the airline you’re travelling with.

Naturally, you want to avoid incurring baggage fees, so talk to your travel agent, or contact the airline directly. You can also visit their website to review the luggage policy.

Here are a few more tips to help you manage your baggage when travelling:

  • Clearly label all baggage with your name, home address, and contact information
  • Place an identification tag inside the baggage in case the outside tag is torn off
  • Lock bags with CATSA/ACTSA travel locks
  • Put a colourful ribbon or other identifying marks on your bags so they are easily recognizable
  • Carry valuables in your hand luggage; jewelry, money, medications, important documents, etc.

You can’t carry everything with you, so be smart when you pack. Take only necessary items and focus on your trip.

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Travel & Escape

What travellers need to know if a destination wedding is cancelled





(NC) It’s two weeks before you’re scheduled to attend a destination wedding and then you get the call. The wedding has been called off.

Sure, you’re upset for the couple, but now you’re faced with plane tickets and hotel reservations. So, what can you do?

There’s no reason why you can’t go and enjoy the trip, but bear in mind you may face a price increase, especially if this was part of a group booking. Group bookings often include a minimum number of travellers to get the discounted price, as well as terms and conditions regarding changes or cancellations.

You could ask other travellers to come along to keep the group discount. But name changes often count as cancellations based on the terms of the vacation package and premium charges may apply. If you booked with a TICO-registered travel agency, website or tour company, it’s better to contact them and ask about options before making any decisions.

While it’s devastating for the couple who planned the destination wedding, the fact is that the cancellation affects all the confirmed guests. So, it’s important to know your options so you can salvage an unfortunate situation. Always book with a TICO-registered travel agency, website or tour operator so you can circle back and find out what they can do for you.

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