Thursday, August 27

Sangita Patel: The ET Canada Momterview

In my latest Momterview I chat with Sangita Patel: Entertainment Reporter with ET Canada, wife (her husband Samir - she calls him Sam - is Chief of Radiology at Guelph General Hospital) and mom (daughters Ava and Shyla are eight and five and a half).

Here Sangita opens up about her engineering background, growing up with immigrant parents, her inspirational fitness routines, and her favourite celebrity interviews!





You have a degree in electrical engineering – which really impressed Tom Cruise! Why did you decide on that area of study?

I went into engineering partly because I loved math and science. They were my favourite courses in high school. I think I was trying to prove to myself that I could be as good as any male out there. It was actually my uncle who said that females could not be engineers, and I think that’s the reason I did it. I didn’t even know what engineering was all about, but I loved math and science and that’s where guys in those courses were going, so I thought why don’t I give it a try? I loved doing a lot of hands-on work with my dad – I loved to fix cars and VCRs, I fixed my Commodore 64, so it’s part of who I was, but I didn’t really know what I wanted to do until my last two years of high school when I decided I want to be an engineer.

How did you then make the shift to television?

I had a passion for television. I was in a pageant when I was 17 – don’t tell anybody! – and they asked me to be a spokesperson for them, and that opened the doors to what television was all about and I loved it! I loved being in front of the camera and had such a blast doing it, so there was a passion for it, but I didn’t think I could make a career out of it. Could I make money? Would I be happy? So I decided to apply for journalism and engineering, and got first year scholarships for both programs, and sat down and chatted with my dad about what to do. He asked, “Where do you think you’re going to make a living?”, and he was right that engineering was the way to go, there were so many struggling journalists out there. But I still had my passion! I volunteered at Rogers, I did film festivals, I worked for a show called Toronto Living, I did another show as well for ATM, which is an Asian Television Network, and I had the opportunity to host and do my own questions. I still did that while I worked as an engineer, and I continued to work as an engineer for five years until I got my P.Eng, which is my Professional Engineering designation, and things started growing from there. When I started working at Rogers and doing Toronto Living, they just opened so many doors, and then I was picked up at The Weather Network, and from there I was picked up at CityTV so things have just been rolling – knock on wood! It’s interesting how things came together, it’s not the regular story of struggling. I didn’t really have to struggle in this business, it was more a case of being in the right place at the right time.




You were born in Canada shortly after your parents and older siblings moved here from India. What do you think was the impact of being born into a family new to the country?

I look at my parents, even now to this day, and think about how hard they worked to get to Canada and give this life to us, and that keeps me really grounded and humble. My mom was on an assembly line, my dad was a welder, and he worked his butt off to give us what we wanted and I appreciate that to this day. I make the effort every week to go see my parents, all of us do, and I love hearing the stories – even the same ones over and over – about the impact that was made by them coming from India to Canada. I really appreciate having immigrant parents. The value of the dollar, the value of hard work – that keeps me going. I thank my parents all the time for bringing us here. I wouldn’t have the opportunities I have now. I’m a woman, and I believe I’m a strong woman able to do anything I want if I put my mind to it. I thank my parents a lot for that.

What are the most important ways you’re passing your Indian heritage on to your girls?

Okay, so I suck at that! I love Indian food? I’m passing that on to them! I blame my parents because they spoke a lot of broken Gujarati - that's where they’re from, Gujarat - and they spoke a lot of English with it, so I didn’t really learn the language. However, the culture part I try to introduce to my girls, like the Bollywood world, I’ve even put them in a class for dancing. My husband and I speak a lot of English, just once in a while we speak the dialect but not very much. They know their grandparents are from India and they love it, they love the culture so we’re trying to pass it on, but I’m not doing the greatest job when it comes to that!





You share a lot on social media about your workouts and fitness routines. Has that always been so important to you, or did it come from having kids or being on television?

I started working out at a younger age and stopped, because it wasn’t as important to me. At that age, you can eat whatever you want, and you don't gain the weight! Then I had my second kid, and my body changed - I was crouching down all the time, I was weak all the time, I couldn’t pick up my kids, and I thought, how did this happen? It can’t be aging, it must be that something’s wrong with me. I decided I needed to make a change and start watching out for myself, because no one else is going to do that for me. My attitude just switched. I went to CrossFit one day and I started doing weights and I thought, this is what I need to do! I’m not old, I just need to start working on myself. 

I think as a mother we all tend to forget about ourselves and take care of our kids and our families and we become one of the lower priorities, and the truth of it is, if you’re not happy, no one else is going to be happy. I learned that, and that’s when I started doing fitness and it changed my life. I’m so much happier now, my attitude is so much better in terms of my outlook and realizing that I have to start loving myself because this is who I am, especially being in my 30s. These fitness videos came about because a while back women were asking me, “How are you staying fit? What are you doing?” and I decided to use social media and it started picking up. People were following Fitness Tuesday and we started doing a segment and people were responding to it. It really was to motivate other mothers, but now it’s to motivate anybody to try anything. My videos show some things that are a little bit ‘out there’, to show you can do it.  If I can do it, you can do it!

You were named to Hello! Canada’s 50 Most Beautiful People List - 

I know – you’re surprised as much as I am!

Not at all! You’re gorgeous! But what would you say are your most beautiful qualities, on the outside and the inside?

One of the things I’ve always been told is that you are happy if you make someone else happy, so I love smiling. That’s partly why I don’t do serious news, because what a difference it makes when you smile at someone! Even if they’re having a bad day, just that little gesture makes such a difference, so I would say my smile is something that people enjoy seeing, especially on social media, people make remarks about it, and it is a genuine smile. It’s not a fake smile – I have my wrinkles, and I’m going to keep those wrinkles and wear them with pride! I like making situations lighter. I don’t like conflict, so I like making light of things, entertaining people and making them happy.





You often have to travel for your work on ET Canada. What are your best tips for keeping connected with family while you’re away?

Oh, social media! I miss my kids, especially on the second day – I don’t know what it is about that second day! We FaceTime, we Skype, we chat on the phone, and now my kids have their own email address so they’ve started texting me which is such a great feeling! I’m able to sing them a song before bed, and just making that effort to connect throughout the day when I’m traveling makes such a difference. They’re partly used to it, they know mom’s gone away for a while and she’ll be back, so I let them sleep in my bed with dad and they get all these perks when I’m gone, so they’re happy about that. One thing I try to do when I travel somewhere is always bring them back a small token, and it helps them to know that I’m always thinking about them.

Have you had any favourite celebrity interviews so far?

Oh my gosh, so many! The one thing about me being new to Entertainment Tonight Canada – I’ve been here for two and a half, three years – is that I get excited about anybody and everybody, and I hope the audience feels that when they watch my interviews. I walk into a room and I think that person is my best friend, and there have been some great interviews recently. I mean, Tom Cruise – I had no idea it was going to be that great, and for him to remember me? {Sangita interviewed Tom at the world premiere of Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation in Vienna, and when he was interviewed by Sangita’s colleague days later at the Canadian premiere, he asked about her!} I thought, oh you’re my favourite now! And George Clooney, making me coffee the second time around, we just had this great chemistry, and you know when you have good chemistry with someone. Julia Roberts...Helen Mirren just surprised me. Jon Stewart last year – I’m a huge fan, and to sit down with a man that smart! I was very nervous to sit with him, and to meet him was an honour. I’d say those are some of my top ones!

Anyone on your wish list?

Oprah Winfrey. Angelina Jolie. Women who make a difference. I just want to hear their stories. And for some reason, Tiger Woods. I don’t know why but I find him so fascinating. There’s something about him…I would love to talk to him too.




Besides your family, how would you finish the sentence, “This mom loves…”?

This mom loves cake. Cake, cake, cake all the time. I would have cake any time. I don’t respect my diet.
This mom loves CrossFit.
This mom loves to smile.
This mom loves to drive. I love cars.
This mom loves coconut oil. I use that all the time.
This mom loves to cook, loves to eat, loves pizza – a lot of food-related, isn’t it?
This mom loves to inspire and to make people laugh.
This mom loves to entertain.





Thanks for the conversation, Sangita! ET Canada airs weeknights at 7:30 p.m. on Global, and you can find Sangita Patel on Twitter and Instagram.


Wednesday, August 26

Alan Carter and Farah Nasser: Part 2 Behind-the-Scenes with the Global News Hour Toronto Team

I recently went behind the scenes at Global News Hour Toronto with the new anchor team of Alan Carter and Farah Nasser, and I had such a great chat with them that I couldn't even fit it all in one blog post! Here, the anchors get personal about parenting, social media negativity, and if they think women on television are judged more harshly than men.







(Update: Farah began her leave of absence from the show earlier than expected - see video. She will continue to work behind-the-scenes and return in the new year.)

What are the pros and cons of the Global News Hour schedule when you have kids at home?

Alan: The major downside is that we’re on the air between 5:30 and 6:30, so that’s a challenge as any parent would know, because I don’t normally get to eat with my kids {Alan's daughter Ava is nine, son Wynn is seven}. Sometimes we push their dinner way back and I’ll have dinner with them at 7:30 and then send them to bed! There are things you can’t do – it’s tough for me to get to early soccer games and things like that, but parents work all kinds of schedules and I certainly wouldn’t single myself out as someone who has a really challenging schedule. Other people have a lot worse. I do get some flexibility in the mornings and get the chance to take them to school, so I try to cherish that as my time with them, but trying to spend quality time with kids while getting them up and out the door to school is not the easiest thing! I just try to focus on the times I can be with them.

Farah: Sometimes I see my son for an hour after work and then have to put him to bed but I think that’s very typical in the city. By the time you get home after driving in rush hour, when you have a small child it’s hard to spend time with them, but I’m pushing his bedtime now with this show. He’s watching me on TV now, but he’s not crazy about it because he gets confused when we go to weather and I disappear, so we’re trying to get him used to that! Before I was on during the day so he would never see me on screen. Just being a working mom, and having everything organized – like every working mom – is a challenge.



Alan with his kids


So your son Kian is two and a half. What’s he into these days?

Farah: Oh, superheroes! Batman, Superman. Wonder Woman - he calls her Ruby for some reason - and airplanes. He’s at that age where he’s just such a funny storyteller, he makes up stories about random things like how he took an airplane to Mississauga the other day, stories about crocodiles biting him and all that kind of stuff. 

When you were expecting Kian you were actually pregnant with twins. Are you comfortable speaking about that? {Note to readers: I had checked this with the publicist first. I would never spring a question like this on someone.}

Farah: Yes, with my first pregnancy I was pregnant with twins. I lost my other son at 24 weeks and I had to carry him because it was twins, so I couldn’t deliver him, so I carried him to 32 weeks when my son was born. I was hoping to carry further and have my son at term but that didn’t work out, so he was born at 32 weeks and I had a bunch of complications from that. I needed blood transfusions, I was in the ICU, I almost lost my own life. It’s so complicated when you’re carrying a life and a death in your own body. So I had to deliver, and then we had a funeral. It was a very difficult time in my life. I thought after that that I might not want to go through this again, but I didn’t want pregnancy and childbirth to be that memory. As a woman, one of the things for me anyway was that I wanted to have a kid, even more than I wanted to get married, I really wanted to have a child, and now I want to give my son a sibling.



Farah with her son and husband


Is he excited about the baby?

Farah: Oh my God, he’s so excited about his baby sister. Though he also thinks there’s a baby in his tummy, so that’s funny. He puts his little doll in front of his tummy sometimes, and asks my husband if he’s having a baby too, and he says ‘No, I just had a big lunch!’ He’s really excited. I don’t think he fully gets it yet.

I read that back in your 20s you were diagnosed with an autoimmune disease. How are things with that now?

Farah: Things are good. I had a flare-up before I got pregnant but generally things are good. I’ve been pretty much in remission. But that was tough, I had to take about six months off work in the prime of my career, the beginning of my career, but so far so good.





Have either of you had to deal with social media negativity, Twitter trolls, that sort of thing?

Alan: We’re both pretty active on social media. I’ve long been active in my other role as Queen’s Park Bureau Chief, so much of my content is very political which raises the ire of many people, as objective as I am, and I try to be very objective on Twitter. The Twitter trolls, I find, tend not to be personal. It’s more political. I engage to a point until you realize there’s no sense. I might respond to the first message, but when they just come back with more hysteria, that’s it.

Farah: There are going to be some people who don’t like your work, that’s just how it is, not everyone is going to be able to connect, and that’s fine. When I get it, I just leave it alone. You take the compliments, you take the constructive criticism. I love feedback when it’s relevant, because that’s how you get better. I got a recent Facebook comment about being pregnant on air, ‘You just started this job and now you’re pregnant! Jeez!’, but you just have to say people are going to have their opinion, they don’t know the backstory.

And you don’t let it bother you?

Farah: No, you can’t. If you do, for me anyway, it could really affect my work. I have to put up a thick skin and say ‘This is just somebody’s opinion, what one person thinks’, and that’s it.




Literally rubbing shoulders with the new anchors


I think the message out there in the public is that women on television are judged more harshly on their appearance than men, and perhaps are told how to look while the men have it easier. I’m curious to know if either of you has ever been told by higher-ups to change your appearance in any way, or been given negative feedback?

Farah: No, I don’t think that’s happened to me. Oh, I had one boss, and I kept my hair curly once and he told me not to do that again, but that was somewhere else years ago.

Alan: I think at the beginning of my career I got a lot of that but probably deservedly so, because I was in my early 20s at the time and didn’t know how to dress, but I haven't had any for a long time. I think you’re absolutely right though, because for me, how tough is it to pick out a jacket, a shirt and a tie? You’ve got to work to screw that up. Every once in a while someone will tweet at me, ‘Seriously dude, you wore a checked shirt, striped tie and polka dot square!’

Farah: Yes, it’s more the public telling us!

Alan: Or my dad. He’ll say ‘What is with your hair?’ He’s my greatest fan and my harshest critic.

Farah: It’s so true! It’s family members! My aunts will write in, or my mom, and tell me something about my lipstick, or that a colour washes me out.

*****

They both look great to me (in person, as well as on-screen) and more importantly, they are doing a fantastic job as the new anchors of Global News Hour Toronto (weekdays from 5:30-6:30).

Thanks again to Alan, Farah and the Global team for inviting me behind-the-scenes, and I wish Farah good health and all the best with her baby-to-be now that she is on leave.




Here's a parting shot of the reporters-in-training at my house - they love when I bring home swag!


Tuesday, August 25

Homework For Parents: Book Your Child's Eye Exam

Back-to-school has become very commercialized over the years, so it's easy to forget the things that really matter when it comes to preparing our kids for a new school year - like an eye exam!

It is recommended that all children get an eye exam from a Doctor of Optometry before starting school for the first time, and every year after that, as kids’ eyes continue to develop and change as they grow. But, if you're a bit behind schedule, don't worry - better late than never, so make that appointment now.


Knowing my own (pre-LASIK) eyesight, I took my daughter for her first eye exam at three years old, and we've continued every year since. The funny thing is, she would go every summer *hoping* to be prescribed glasses, and actually enjoyed wearing fashion glasses until last year, when at the age of seven, her turn for real specs finally arrived. (Oh, how I wish glasses were cool when I was little!)





As a teacher, I clearly see (no pun intended) the importance of eye exams for young children. Did you know that one in four school-age children has a vision problem, and that 80% of a child’s learning and development is done visually? Vision is about much more than how clearly a child sees, and many visual impediments show no overt signs. A child won’t tell you they have a visual impediment because to them their vision is normal. Since we are visual beings, problems with vision can appear in many forms other than learning problems and squinty eyes: Vision affects speech, coordination, attention and emotions.

According to Doctors of Optometry Canada, many children are misdiagnosed with learning or behavioural problems (like ADHD) when in reality they have vision problems. As well, one in six school-age children who experiences reading difficulties actually has a correctable vision problem. So much stress and worry could be avoided by a visit to a Doctor of Optometry.


Sometimes, of course, kids have true academic problems like dyslexia, but I've found that when the parent or teacher feels there may be a learning or attention issue, one of the first things the school will suggest is to get an eye exam. It's best to be up-to-date so that the assessment process isn't delayed.  







In my grade 2/3 classroom, I find parents are usually on top of eye exams (and/or my amazing colleagues in Kindergarten and Grade 1 have caught issues before they get to me) but I do notice a huge difference when kids don't wear their glasses! Making sure they wear or bring them to school (and know when they should put them on) is also very important.






This video, What are the signs my child may need glasses?, shares some warning signs, but please remember that most serious vision problems are invisible to the untrained eye, and children will nearly never report trouble with vision. For this reason, all children need comprehensive eye exams. 




If finances are a worry for you, it's important to know that the majority of provinces cover the cost of children's eye exams. Click here to learn more about coverage in your province. If your child is in JK (year one of kindergarten) several provinces run the Eye See Eye Learn program, which offers an eye exam and a free pair of glasses, if needed.  

Provinces offering the Eye See Eye Learn program include:

Ontario



Disclosure: This post has been brought to you by Doctors of Optometry, but the images and opinions are my own. For more information, please visit http://www.doctorsofoptometry.ca.





Sunday, August 23

Adventures in Freelance Writing Volume VI: From Print to Television - and Exciting News!

I became a talk show junkie at an early age, something I blame firmly on my mother. Kathie Lee, Dini, Marilyn...if we were at home on a weekday, they were chatting in the living room.

As an adult, I'd be happy with the TV on all day long, whether I'm actually sitting and staring or (far more often) going about my business with background conversation, and my first choice is always a talk (or talk/news/entertainment) show.

In addition to interviewing several hosts for this blog, I've gone behind-the-scenes at many of my favourite shows: Regis and Kelly (yes, I said Regis - this was a long time ago, and by "behind-the-scenes" I mean I was generously invited backstage for a photo op), Cityline, The Marilyn Denis Show, Canada AM, ET Canada and The Social.

I love the talk show format of delivering information, and after I got my writing career rolling, I wondered how I could parlay that into opportunities to share helpful educational information for parents on screen as well as in print.

The first thing I did was invite our beloved first babysitters (who are sisters) to come over and help me with a mock segment - which took a ton of work and preparation. With one lovely young woman beside me reading the questions and the other behind the flipcam, we put together a demo video...but what to do with it? Well, why not start with a huge national show? I tried...and was very politely turned down.

I knew from the progress of my magazine writing that starting local is a much better bet, so I contacted an acquaintance who was on leave from Peterborough's CHEX Daily (she now runs her own fantastic website, MichelleFerreri.com). She enthusiastically encouraged me to share my idea for an education segment for parents, so I emailed the show, and then waited. And then followed up...and received a phone call from cohost and coproducer Teresa Kaszuba. We had a great conversation, and I made my first appearance on July 31, 2014.

All day long, I felt sick to my stomach. I grossly overprepared (with pages of typed points for a three minute segment) and overanalyzed every aspect of my appearance (I shouldn't have worried so much - they're not HD yet).

The chat (on keeping learning going over the summer) went really well, and I was invited to return biweekly for a segment Teresa named "Teacher, Teacher!" Over the past year, I've been back 24 times, covering topics like navigating the report card, parent/teacher interviews, what teachers really want for Christmas, helping kids get organized, and getting involved at your child's school (you can find links to every segment in the sidebar of my blog).

Teresa is a mom (and cohost Mike Judson is both a new dad and husband to a teacher) so they have great ideas to offer, but most often give me creative control to choose a timely/seasonal topic and prepare my points. Sometimes their questions throw me, but I've definitely learned how to think on my feet! While I love the experience, and I have learned SO much, I swear it's not just about me - I truly to hope that I can help empower parents to support their children's educations.

Also important: TV style! Here are some of my CHEX Daily looks (I haven't repeated many outfits, but my hairstyles don't change too much):



(I had recently done my hair donation when I made my CHEX debut - it won't be this short again!)



I made it onto the chalk wall!




Once I had several months of TV experience under my belt, I pitched a segment idea to Canada AM. I was then invited to come in April and get my feet wet as part of a parenting panel (with Maureen Denis and Chris Boddy) sharing ideas and opinions about babysitters (funny to think that two of our babysitters actually helped launch me on the TV track!)

You can read all the early-morning details of my Canada AM segment here.





Yes, yes, but what's the exciting news, you ask? Okay, here goes! You may have already seen this announcement on social media, but...I am going to be making my debut appearance on The Social on Friday, September 4th!

My dream used to be to host a Canadian incarnation of The View, and while I may be several slightly giant steps away from hosting, I have been invited to come on this show that I love so much and chat about how parents can support their children's education now that the new school year is upon us.

Of course I'll be posting about the whole experience right here afterwards, but if you want up-to-the-minute info be sure to follow me on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram - I'd love your support there too! The Social airs live on CTV at 1 p.m.

Here's a photo of me on set of The Social and with the hosts from when I went behind-the-scenes a year ago. Can't wait to share updated pics soon!






Friday, August 21

Niagara Fun Day 3: Lunch Cruise with Niagara Sunset Cruises

On the third and final day of our Niagara adventure, we enjoyed a beautiful half hour drive from our Niagara Falls hotel to Niagara-on-the-Lake, where we hopped on a lunch cruise on the Niagara Belle (from Niagara Sunset Cruises). We boarded at the Navy Hall, right near Fort George National Historic Site, and set sail.




This just may have been the highlight of our trip. The cruise itself, two hours on the Niagara River, was incredibly relaxing, and a knowledgeable tour guide filled us in on the history and geography of the area. While there was definitely some admirable waterfront property to check out (one of my favourite things about boat cruises), much of the shoreline is treed, so the view was primarily natural. We were invited to enjoy the upper deck while our meal was being prepared, and we took advantage of the deck chairs and the scenery.




See, I told you - relaxing!





The four of us agreed that the meal was amazing. We were served fresh rolls (baked on the Belle); chef's salad; rotisserie chicken with fresh herbs, lemon and garlic and homemade four cheese macaroni. For dessert: they call it a "double chocolate chip cookie" (also baked on board during the cruise) but that doesn't do it justice - it was designed with a gooey lava centre and served with whipped cream. One of the best desserts I think I've ever had - and you know I've had a LOT of desserts!



A happy customer!


Towards the end of the cruise, the girls were surprised and delighted to be invited to help steer the ship! Captain Roger allowed them to come in and take turns at the wheel, which they thoroughly enjoyed. (According to my seven-year-old, it was the "best day ever!", as evidenced by her smile in the bottom photo. Can you see why she won "Best Smile" in the Grade 1/2 class last year?)






What an incredible way to end our Niagara getaway! The girls are so excited to tell everyone they know that they helped "drive" the ship...and I can't stop talking about the dessert.

Disclosure: We were treated to a free lunch cruise for review purposes. Opinions are, as always, our own. For more information visit Niagara Sunset Cruises.

Wednesday, August 19

How To *Really* Have Kids Ready For Back-to-School - TV segment

Last night on CHEX Daily I chatted with hosts Teresa Kaszuba and Mike Judson about three non-academic areas you can focus on to make sure your child is really ready to head back to school (or head to school for the very first time): prioritizing sleep, building independence and easing jitters - theirs and maybe yours!

I'm at the 28:08 mark, and if you  can't see the embedded video you can find it here: https://youtu.be/SP0mSfUGjSQ?t=28m8s






Here are the websites I mentioned:

www.sleepforkids.org
www.stsco.ca (for the info on the First Riders bus events next weekend)

My girls have never had a chance to visit the studio until now, and they were excited to check it out!




Bonus money-saving back-to-school tip: 

Make your list of necessary supplies, and then shop your house before spending a cent! Here's a pic of my girls going through all their school items and packing their pencil cases. When they were finished, all we needed to buy was one clue stick and one pencil sharpener!






Monday, August 17

Niagara Fun Day 2: Oh Canada, Eh? Dinner Theatre and Clifton Hill

On our second day in Niagara Falls, we enjoyed a leisurely buffet breakfast at our hotel, Courtyard Marriott, and then took a short walk to Clifton Hill, the hub of cheesy tourist action!

The girls were very excited about their first visit to a wax museum, which was Louis Tussaud's Waxworks. (The kind lady working at the counter asked Maggie her age. When she replied, honestly, that she is seven, the lady said "No...I think you look five!" and let her in for free!) Both girls loved seeing some of their favourite stars, and really got into posing for photos!




With Lady Gaga


With The Scarecrow, The Tin Man and The Lion


Being blessed by Pope Francis


Don't judge, but my nine year old daughter plays a mean "Folsom Prison Blues" on her guitar!



The photo above - with their idol Taylor Swift - was actually taken in front of Movieland Wax Museum, a different option on Clifton Hill


We had to visit the Hershey's Chocolate World, where the girls used more of their spending money from Grandma and Grandpa to buy some flavoured lip balms. No more chapped lips this year!





We also took a "wish you were here" pic for their Coca-Cola loving Grandpa outside the soda shop/collectors' boutique.



Oh yes - and we saw the Falls!



After a refreshing afternoon swim back at the hotel, we were off to the main event of the day - the Oh Canada Eh? Dinner Show (about a five minute drive from downtown). This award-winning musical show, which is held in a rustic log cabin theatre, is celebrating 20 years of entertaining all ages.




The performers - who also serve as the waitstaff! - are absolutely fantastic. In addition to their vocal talents, their enthusiasm and energy are contagious. The Oh Canada Eh? show (seven-time winner of Niagara Falls Tourism's Attraction of the Year) features all-Canadian music, from maritime folk songs to modern pop, and includes favourite Canadian characters like Anne of Green Gables and a hockey player.







During the show, the performers serve their famous all-Canadian family-style (on platters shared at the table) meal of French Canadian Pea Soup, Garden Salad, Fresh Bread, Alberta Grade Eh? roast Beef, Lightly Battered and Fried Atlantic Haddock (probably my favourite), Manitoba Roast Chicken, New Brunswick Vegetable Medley, PEI Potatoes (also delicious) and Maple Chocolate Cake for dessert. Okay, maybe that was my favourite part! 




Our girls were captivated by the musical performances, but I should be clear that they are very used to musical theatre and to sitting for shows like this one. Though they're too young to recognize a lot of the music (it's important that Oh Canada keeps updating their show to incorporate new songs; you can find the song list here), they still really enjoyed the experience. Not all kids would be as enthusiastic though, so keep that in mind if your kids are not music-lovers...or wouldn't be happy at a table for two hours!

Children are welcome (there are some kids-are-free deals), and as promised the show was "squeaky clean" (which is not just for the kids, but for visitors of all ages who are looking for clean content). They even offer a free side of macaroni and cheese for kids under 12 to go along with the rest of the family meal, which is nice, though even my "discerning" daughters managed to find several items on the menu to enjoy as well.

I can see why this is an award-winner and a must-see, especially for tourists from outside of Canada who want to experience our history and culture through a fun - and tasty - musical experience.

Disclosure: We were provided with free admission to the Oh Canada Eh? Dinner Show. Opinions are, as always, our own.