Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Brampton, ON Has Olympic Spirit

I'm not about to give all of you an assignment and then sit back and wait for all the photos to roll in.  I've also got my eyes out there to help spot displays of Olympic Spirit across Canada.  This is a photo I took on the weekend in Brampton, ON at Chinguacousy Park.  It was at the top of the mountain they use for skiing and tubing.  I spotted it when we were on our way home from my Torch Relay ride along (blog post coming soon).  I figured out what this was as we passed it so I turned the car around and went back to take a photo.  I ended up hiking half way up the mountain to get the best photo I could.  Thank goodness this side of the mountain didn't have a lot of snow.
So Canada, in case you were wondering what kind of stuff I'm looking for, this is perfect.  If you spot anything, take a photo and send it to me.  My email address is notashopaholic at or you can send me a link to the image if it is already online.  I'll compile them in a future blog post and create an online photo album for them. 
If you want to see the photo that started all of this, see my previous post on the subject.  I heard a rumor that someone in Keswick, ON has built a replica of the Olympic Torch and I am trying to track it down for a photo.  If you know anything about this or know someone in Keswick please let me know.
Happy New Year.

Brampton, ON showing their Olympic Spirit at Chinguacousy Park

Did I mention that I grew up in Brampton?  So proud of my hometown.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Olympic Torch Relay St. Catherines, ON – December 20, 2009

St. Catherines was Torch Relay #4 for me. It wasn’t on my original list of planned appearances. A series of events that unfolded the week previous led me to St. Catherines and their Torch Relay. The short version is my co-worker Mariesa grew up in St. Catherines and goes back frequently to visit family and friends. She got a call out of the blue one day from her cousin, an up and coming TV and radio personality. Mariesa’s cousin had got a call to cover the Torch Relay Celebration on December 20th. Mariesa immediately started talking about me and my adventures with Vancouver 2010. By the time they hung up, it had been arranged that I would go to St. Catherines for the Torch Relay and be interviewed by Mariesa’s cousin for the piece she was doing for local TV.
I met Mariesa the morning of the 20th and we made our way to Market Square, the location of the Torch Celebration. We saw Mariesa’s cousin right away and did the interview. I was kind of nervous because I have not ever been interviewed for TV before. I was able to answer all the questions although I have no memory of what I said. Hopefully I’ll be able to get a copy of the clip so I can see what it is I said.

Hanging out in Market Square before the arrival of the Olympic Torch

We hung around Market Square for awhile and checked out the festivities. St. Catherines had a huge ice sculpture of the three Vancouver 2010 mascots, Quatchi, Sumi and Miga. You could walk behind the sculpture and put your head in the space that was carved out. Of course we took a few pictures. I have no idea how they did that sculpture but it was very cool and very impressive. Around noon we ventured out to the relay route to find our spot. We placed ourselves at the corner of Lake and Welland. A Coca Cola truck stopped and a guy yelled at me to come over. I was the chosen one to hand out the Coca Cola flags to the crowd around me. They went pretty quickly.

 Ice Sculpture in Market Square.

Mariesa was completely on board with running along with the torch so we made sure to place ourselves away from the crowds so we could take off running without hurting anyone. We followed if for awhile and then cut across a street to get back to the celebration. When we got to the top of the street the convoy was coming by again! We ran again and managed to keep up with it. It helped when the Torchbearer slowed down and walked. When it came time for the exchange, they held the Torchbearers in this one spot for awhile which allowed everyone to get a good look at it and take some great photos. Finally they were given the go ahead and the last Torchbearer; a St. Catherines resident carried the Torch into the Celebration and lit the cauldron.

Left: Mariesa cheers on the arrival of the Coca Cola truck.  Right:  Waiting for the Torchbearer exchange.

In all of the Torch Relays I have been to, I can never get over the amount of people that turn out to witness the relay and the Torch Celebrations. St. Catherines is not a big city, population is just over 130,000, yet there were tons of people filling Market Square and for awhile we couldn’t even get close to the stage. I love seeing the community spirit, Olympic spirit and the Canadian spirit from people all along the relay. I can only imagine what the people see who are on this journey every day. I think they are the luckiest people right now. I am proud to be Canadian and more proud when I see people showing their pride at events like the Torch Relay and Celebrations.
To view the days photos, please click here.

Crowds at the Torch Celebration. The lit cauldron is on the left.

Torchbearer who lit the cauldron.  He is a Roots Right to Play Ambassador. Notice our matching mittens.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Guest Blog Post by James Hamilton

When I was at the Mississauga Torch Relay on Saturday, I was able to say hi to my Twitter GM friend Art of @GM_ArtandSerge.  Art and Serge are members of the GM team who are travelling with the Torch Relay Convoy and taking care of all the vehicles.  On occasion they have the opportunity to give guests ride alongs.  On Saturday when I ran into Art, James Hamilton was in the passenger seat looking somewhat stunned that someone was screaming from the sidewalk, "Are you the GM guys from Twitter?" 
James and his brother managed to track me down and I asked if they would like to write a guest post for my blog about their time with Art and the Torch Relay Convoy.
Below is James' account of the day along with the photo he took of me standing on the sidewalk in Mississauga.

Hi, my name is James Hamilton and I am a blogger – my blog is called Toronto Grand Prix Tourist. I met Christina on a crowded street corner in Mississauga, Ontario as I was passing by in a GM pickup truck – part of the Olympic Flame Relay convoy with the Fleet Manager Art Lewis.
My travel on that day was a result of an earlier email asking if I wanted to see the considerable amount of vehicles sponsored by General Motors which are required to support the Flame Relay, along with the Art, during a media event in Toronto. My answer was yes, although I did not get to see that vast amount of vehicles, now about numbering about 110, and was instead given the superior chance to go on an Olympic Flame Relay drive along. It took about a week of negotiations with the team to get an acceptable time to join the convoy as their primary responsibility is to ensure the vehicles receive service and are on the road and his schedules are pretty hectic.

James in the passenger seat and Art of GM in the driver's seat.

The date chosen was Saturday, December 19, 2009 and we finally got together in front of the Bell Campus in Mississauga just across the Toronto boundary. He pulled up in his shiny, fuel efficient, black GM Silverado (for sale after the Olympics) and we got together and went through his plans for our ride along. I say we because I had my fellow photographer, blogger and brother Joe Hamilton along for the event.

The Bell Campus location wasn’t a random location – it was chosen because Bell, a major Olympic Sponsor, had a special Flame Relay event on and the convoy was part of this event. We were told to go out and explore the Bell event and get ready to leave at a moment’s notice when the convoy heads out onto the official relay route. When we received word we jumped into that shiny, fuel efficient, black GM Silverado (probably be a good deal when it does go on sale) and got into line behind a few hundred police escort vehicles.
We headed into Toronto for the start of the Centennial Park leg of the day’s relay. During the Flame Relay we passed intersections blocked off by police on bikes and in cruisers, following emergency vehicles, control vehicles and buses which picked up and dropped off the relay runners. The crowds along the side of the roads were impressive and some of the people even ran ahead with the flame. Each runner was mobbed by eager fans hoping for photos. The wife of one runner I know had said that after he finished his run and taken photos with all his ‘fans’ that it was hard to get him into the car because his head was so big.

As the convoy continued we arrived in the heart of Mississauga, which must be that big ugly mall called Square One, and we were coming up to the entrance into the mall property and I had my window rolled down to take pictures as the convoy went around the corner. As we slowed down a gorgeous lady asked if we were the GM guys. I replied that yes, that Art himself was driving the shiny, fuel efficient, black GM Silverado (it will probably have quite a few miles on it by that time). She said that she was following the convoy on the internet and that she was the “not a shopaholic.” I was intrigued because she looked like the lady from Star Trek, Next Generation – you know, Marina Sirtis who played Councillor Deanna Troi. I thought it was cool that movie stars were out to support the Olympic Flame.

Photograph taken by James at the corner on Kariya Gate and Burnhamthorpe Road. That's my Mom behind me.

Shortly afterwards we departed from the flame convoy and Art drove us back to our car at the Bell Campus. Based upon Christina’s comment we were able to track her down on the infinite internets and I was dashed to find she was not Marina. She does, however, have a great blog and lots of enthusiasm. Good luck at the Vancouver Olympics Christina, James.

I am happy to tell you that I have been contacted and asked if I would like to have my own ride along with the GM team and the Olympic Torch Relay Convoy.  I will join Serge (Art is taking a well deserved break) in London, ON on December 27th.  If I can't be a Torchbearer, this is the next best thing.  It will be quite a day. Thank you very much for your post James.  It is great to get perspective from some other people. Christina.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Olympic Torch Relay Mississauga, ON - December 19, 2009

After an early morning in Georgetown, we rushed home for some breakfast and then headed to Mississauga for their portion of the Olympic Torch Relay. Mississauga is a suburb of Toronto and located 30-40minutes west of the city. The Torch was scheduled to arrive between 11am-noon.

The Olympic Torch is coming!

Again my Mom and I walked a bit of the route to find the best place to be. In Georgetown we learned that the Torchbearer exchange is marked with an orange sticker. We walked around looking for one of these and found one on Burnhamthorpe Road, just west of Hurontario Street. There weren’t too many people here yet but as it got closer to 11:30 more people began to appear.

Orange marks the spot.  If you want to see a Torchbearer exchange, look for these markers along the route.

For those of you who don’t know Mississauga, this intersection is extremely busy. I had no idea how they were going to close this down for the relay. Somehow they managed to do it and it wasn’t long before we could see the convoy arriving again! Burnhamthorpe is a long street so we could actually see it coming from a distance. I tell you, the site of it appearing in the distance and watching as it gets closer is really something. We watched the Torchbearer exchange happen. When this Torchbearer was dropped off, he was crying as friends and family hugged him and took photos. As he ran, he was all smiles, enjoying this proud moment and even joking with his family, some of whom were running beside him.

As the Torchbearer began to jog up the street, my Mom said she wanted to run along with it and that is what we did. So close to it, we ran all the way up to the next exchange. I even got a chance to see my GM friend, Art, from Twitter and his ride along buddy for the day James Hamilton. See the blog post James did on his day with Art and the Torch Relay Convoy.
As the convoy made its way around the shopping mall, we walked up to the Torch Celebration. Many people were there waiting for the Torch to make its entrance to the stage. We found a place in between the people and watched it approach again. It was carried by Cheryl Pounder, a Mississauga resident and a Women’s Hockey Gold Medallist. She carried the flame up to the stage and lit the cauldron. The Mayor of Mississauga, Hazel McCallion, who is something of a legend in the city, made a wonderful speech about Canada being the greatest country to live in and the inspiration the Torch and the Olympics is to the younger generation. The crowd even chanted “Hazel, Hazel” at one point. The gentleman beside me asked, “Is there any other city who loves their Mayor as much as we do?” The answer is no, there isn’t.

Torchbearer heading West on Burnhamthorpe Road.  Notice the cars and people on the other side of the street.

We left the celebration a bit early because we wanted to see the Torch make its exit. It was carried back towards Hurontario on Burnhamthorpe by the Mississauga Braves Hockey team. Each member got to carry the torch 50 yards before handing it off to another team member. If you think one Torchbearer is impressive, let me tell you that 15-20 of them all in those white uniforms is really a great site. Again we went running alongside the Torch. As we were running, I noticed people in cars on the other side of the street, were getting out of their cars to clap and cheer as the Torch was carried by. Others were out of their cars taking pictures and several honked their horns. It was amazing to see. Even as I watched the Torch be carried south on Hurontairo, towards Port Credit, horns were going like crazy. It was unreal. The amount of respect people were showing for the Torch, for the Olympics and for their country is unforgettable. For me it will be one of the most memorable moments of the Torch Relay. I can’t think of too many things that would get this kind of reaction from people. I watched it for as long as I could. I would have loved to continue to follow it but I knew I had to turn back and find my Mom.

Great turn out in Mississauga for the Torch Celebration. Hazel is on stage, standing by the cauldron.

What a day to remember. This was the third Torch Relay I attended. Each one has its special moments and memories for me. I am on a quest to see as many as I can.
To see all the photos from the Mississauga Torch Relay, click here to view the photos online.


Art, my GM Twitter friend, @GM_ArtandSerge, and James in the passenger seat.

Olympic Torch Relay Georgetown, ON - December 19, 2009

My Mom had always wanted us to go to the Olympic Torch Relay when it passed through Georgetown, ON, a community about an hour north and a bit west of Toronto. I hesitated agreeing to go but then finally decided to do it after a portion of the Toronto relay was diverted. Now, having been to Georgetown I’m happy that my Mom pushed so hard for us to go. It was an amazing place to see the torch for the first time and I was touched to see the amount of community spirit Georgetown has for Canada and for these Olympic Winter Games.

Georgetown was an early stop on the route on Saturday, December 19th. I met my parents in Brampton at 6am and we left for Georgetown right away. Driving through the city to get to the Torch route, quite a few store signs announced the arrival of the Torch and invited everyone to attend. Bleachers had even been put up in front of the local arena for relay spectators. As we drove by there, some people were tying a Canadian flag to the top of the bleachers.

My Mom and I settled ourselves on the route at Guelph Street and Queen Street. As we were waiting we got to talking to some of the people around us. Ken Sproule, owner of Ken’s Auto Service and his wife were out earlier than we were and struck up a conversation with us right away. Telling them we were going to Vancouver to see the Olympics, they were very excited for us. My Dad was further up the route and positioned to take video of the relay.

Coca Cola always livens things up, no matter what time it is.

We also met the family of one of the days Torchbearers, Justin Schlupp. Some of Justin’s family had travelled from Kitchener to watch him run his leg of the relay. They parked themselves in front of his post and anxiously waited for him to arrive. There were as happy and as proud as can be to have a family member participating in the Torch relay. My new friend Ken offered to get us pen and paper from his store so I could take down the info of Justin’s family member. Then Ken asked if I would send him copies of my pictures which of course I agreed to.

Justin Schlupp's family waits at his exchange point.

Adding to the community spirit was a lovely woman from the church across the street from where we were. She came around with hot chocolate twice for those of us who had chosen to stand out in the cold to watch this great event happen. I couldn’t help but think this would never happen in Toronto. Everyone was very cheery for an early, cold Saturday morning.

You know the Torch is close when you see this.

The first signs of the convoy arrived around 7:30am with the Coca Cola and RBC trucks getting everyone more worked up. It was a great site to see after being disappointed at the Toronto relay. Soon after, we could see the Torchbearer coming over the hill and running towards us. Carrying the torch proudly and running at a good speed, she stopped as she got to Justin. They posed for pictures and I believe a photo was taken of Justin and his family before Justin was off and running, his family yelling support and running after him. Once Justin turned the corner at Mill Street, my Mom and I took off running. Spotting my Dad running up Guelph Street we followed him and got to the top of the street in time to see the convoy and Torchbearer again. This was the end of the route and from here the Torchbearers were shuttled back to wherever they had started. It was a great morning made all the better by the community spirit of the people from Georgetown. I’m so happy that I was a part of it. Thank you very much Georgetown. What a great event you hosted for the Olympics’ and for us.
For additional photos from the Georgetown, ON relay, click here.

The Torch handoff to Justin.

One of many signs announcing the arrival of the Torch.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Torch Relays Today

I plan to do more detailed posts on this in a day or two so this is to give you a quick summary of the days events.  I attended the Torch Relay in Georgetown, ON this morning.  My Mom and Dad came with me.  We were all up very early to see the Torch run through Georgetown between 7-8 am.  Here are a few photos:

Lovely woman handing out hot chocolate. 
Gotta love smaller cities and their hospitality.

Waiting for the Torch to arrive.  Look at the crowds behind us.
It was around 7:15 am.

The Olympic Flame arrives and is ready to be handed off to the next Torchbearer.

Later on in the morning we attended the Torch Relay in Mississauga, ON.  The Torch arrived at the intersection of Hurontario Street and Burnhamthorpe Road around 11am.  It circled around Square One Shopping Mall and then headed into the Torch Celebration.  Cheryl Pounder, Women's Hockey Gold Medallist lit the cauldron and Mayor Hazel McCallion, gave a very inspiring and rousing speech.

Torchbearer exchange on Burnhamthorpe Road, just west of Hurontario Street.

Met my Twitter friend Art from GM.  I think he thinks I'm a little nuts.
Follow him @GM_Artand Serge.

Torch Celebration on Living Arts Drive.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Olympic Torch Relay Toronto, ON - December 17, 2009

It is very late and I am very tired so I think I'm going to write little and put in lots of pictures.  The Torch Relay route did get diverted right as it got to us at Yonge and Wellesley but you cannot dampen Olympic Spirit.  As we walked south on Yonge Street and got to Yonge-Dundas Square, I couldn't believe the amount of people out there!  So many Torontoians waiting out in the cold to cheer on the Vancouver 2010 Olympics.  It was great!
We continued on to Nathan Phillips Square where the Torch Celebration was taking place.  We arrived just in time to see Women's Hocky superstar, Vicki Sunahara, carry the Torch down Queen St. into the Celebration.  We got to see the rest of the festivities as well as the fireworks that ended the night.  Overall, it was great.  I still want to see the Olympic Flame run through the street.  Hopefully I'll get to see that on Saturday in Mississauga.  I'm also try to plan at least one more outing to see the Torch before it leaves the Greater Toronto Area.
For additional photos click here.

This nice young man let me take a photo with him and his Torch.  A Torchbearer from earlier in the day.

The convoy at Yonge and Wellesley St. in Toronto.

Celebrating the Torch and Vancouver 2010 at Nathan Phillips Square, Toronto, ON. December 17, 2009

Toronto Torch Celebration ends with fireworks at Nathan Phillips Square.

Waiting for the Olympic Torch to arrive in Toronto! It was a long, cold wait.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

On The Eve of the Toronto Olympic Torch Relay

It has been an exciting day as I follow the progress of the Olympic Torch Relay as it gets closer and closer to Toronto.  It will be here tomorrow evening and I will be out to greet it.  I'm really looking forward to this.  I have no idea what to expect, how many people like me will be bundled up to brave the cold, what will it be like when we see it, what will happen at the Olympic Torch Celebration.  Soon I will know.
My Mom is tucked away all snugly in my bed.  She is staying the night so we can head out together tomorrow afternoon.  My plan is to leave my condo at around noon and take TTC (public transit) into Downtown Toronto.  We will be down there very early but I want to walk a bit of the route to see where it is I want to be when the Torch passes by, at the moment I'm thinking of Yonge and Wellesley.  From there, we will make our way to Nathan Phillips Square where the Torch Celebration will take place. 
I'm very excited to be going.  I feel like I have missed being a part of some great moments in Toronto.  When our Toronto Blue Jays won the World Series in 1992 and 1993, I was not out there with people dancing in the street.  There was no way I was going to let the Olympic Torch Relay pass me by!  I've taken the day off of work and will be out there taking photos, cheering on the flame and celebrating this great event that Canada is hosting.  I guess this will also be my first encounter with the Olympics.  Its sure to be a great evening.
Now, I don't have Blackberry or iphone or any other fancy device so I won't be able to transmit any updates live from the Celebration.  I'm kind of bummed about that but there isn't much I can do about it.  I will try to do a blog post as soon as I get home, regardless of the time!  I don't think this is something that can wait a day!  On Saturday I will be at the Torch Relay in Mississauga and will post on that as well.
Have a great day tomorrow everyone.  I hope to see a lot of you out on Yonge Street with me.  A special thank you to my co-workers for making today very special. I wish they could all come with me tomorrow.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

The Olympic Torch is Coming To Toronto

I was Downtown Toronto yesterday and on the lookout for signs the Olympic Torch is coming.  I know it is here on Thursday December 17th and I wanted to see if my city was putting the word out.  And the answer is, of course they are!  This is a photo I took at Yonge St. and Queen St., the heart of our Downtown core.  People must have been in a good mood yesterday.  No one said mean things to me because I stopped dead in the middle of the sidewalk to take this photo!

Announcing the Olympic Torch Relay, in Toronto December 17th. 

I still have to look up the route to see where I can go to watch it.  As far as I know the Torch Celebration is at Nathan Phillip Square and begins at 4pm.  I'm hoping the Torch will be running by somewhere close to there before the Celebration begins.  Its very exciting! I promise to get as many pictures as I can.  I have heard that it goes by very quickly so I'm not sure what I'll be able to get. 
Some of my co-workers suggested I contact Breakfast Television, a local morning show here in Toronto on CITY TV, to ask if they needed any fans to help them cover the Olympic Torch Relay.  I sent in an email but as of yet have not had any response.  I'm sure they get tons of requests like this a day so I won't hold it against them.  It certainly would have been fun and I'm sure they could have got me really close to the Olympic Torch.  So I will stand on the sidelines with all the other Canadian Olympic fans.  After all, isn't that where I really belong?

Remember to be on the lookout for displays of Olympic pride.  If you see a display somewhere that references the Vancouver Olympics and our Canadian teams, send me a photo.  I'll compile all of them into a future blog post.  Check out my post "Is Olympic Fever Spreading" for info.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Is Olympic Fever Spreading?

The other week I was in my friendly neighbourhood grocery store.  As I approached the dairy section to get sour cream for the fajitas I was going to make that night, I looked up and saw this massive GO CANADA GO sign!  I literally stopped dead in my tracks and laughed out loud.  I loved it!  This is the kind of stuff I want to see all over Toronto as well as Vancouver when I get there.  I didn't have my camera on me so I had to go back to the store and discreetly take a photo of it. I know retailers frown upon people taking pictures in their stores but this had to be done.

I'm so excited to see signs of the Olympics around town.  Its probably only going to increase as we get closer and closer to the Olympic Games in Vancouver.  I am going to keep an eye out for anything Olympic/Canadian related.  If you see a sign of Olympic spirit in your city I would love to see it.  Send me a photo with a brief description, your name and city where you took the photo and I'll put together a collage of all them for a later post.

The Olympic Torch Relay will be here next week and I saw a sign advertising this as well.  I wandered out into the freezing cold earlier this evening because I had to get a picture of it for my blog.  I managed to take a few pictures before my battery went dead.  If this one doesn't show up well in the blog I'll be going back out there.  The only thing that sucks about that is a) it is frigging cold outside b) it is one of those digital marquees so I have to wait for 10 different things to come up before it gets back to the 2010 Olympics.  If my camera battery hadn't died when it did, I might have lost a finger.  I could barely feel them when I got back in my car.  Ah, whatever it takes for an effective blog post right?

Go Canada Go!  Looking forward to seeing your images from around Canada showing your city's Olympic Canadian spirit.  Email is notashopaholic at

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Help Vancouver Visual Artist with Video of Torch Relay

Last week I posted a tweet on Twitter that the Olympic Torch will soon be coming to Toronto.  I got a reply back from Vancouver Visual Artist Rina Liddle.  She is working on a project titled "We Are Watching".  Rina asked if I would be a contributor to her project.  All I have to do is take some video footage when I go see the Torch Relay and email it to her.  She is going to stream together all the video she receives and show it unedited on a wall outside the Jeffery Boone Gallery during the Olympics.
I think its a pretty cool thing to do.  I love the idea of being part of an art project.  Myself, I am artistically impaired.  I can barely draw stick people.  I love that this is another way to contribute to an event related to the Olympics.
I am going to try to submit video footage from the relay and torch celebrations in Toronto and Mississauga, a suburb of Toronto.  The Olympic Torch Relay passes through Toronto and surrounding area's next week.
If the torch has already passed through your town and you shot some video send it along to Rina. She is looking for footage of the relay from all across Canada.
If the torch has not yet arrived in your city, check the schedule and head out with your digital camera in video mode, or use whatever video device you have.  You will be helping out an artist and contributing to history.  For more information visit Rina's blog.  I hope to see every city represented when I visit this exhibit in Vancouver.  You can also follow her progress on Twitter @weRwatching2010.  Please check her blog for the email address to send video footage.  I don't want to include it here or else she might get overwhelmed with spam mail. 
Please help if you can.  It is a great project and we need to support artists and their visions, like this one from Rina Liddle.
If you will be attending to either torch celebrations in Toronto or Mississauga, let me know so we can meet up for a photo for my blogs!
Merry Olympics!

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Building an Olympic Worthy Wardrobe

The rental condo is booked, the flights are paid for and I have more tickets to Olympic events than I ever imagined possible. There is the unfortunate task of having to pay for everything but that is being dealt with. Now that all those things have been taken care of, I can focus on the really important things like what the heck am I going to wear? It’s the Olympic Games! Having never been to an Olympics before I’m not really sure what the apparel etiquette is going to be. It’s like I’m going in completely blind! It’s an important job, cheering on my country; I want to make sure I do them proud.

After much research, I decided to start with a red zip hoody from the Roots Canada Collection. This decision caused massive panic a few months ago when I discovered this item was on sale and in short supply at Roots stores. This Notashopaholic would not be deterred. I raced out that day to claim my red hoody, my first acquisition of Canada paraphernalia. It is now sitting comfortably in my closet just waiting for its debut at the Vancouver 2010 Games. Since then Roots has debuted their new Canada Collection from which I picked up the Canada toque and a T shirt.

Also accompanying me on my journey will be my Lug Eco Shopper bag. With Vancouver being the eco conscious city that it is, this bag, in Crimson of course, will be a fashionable and environmentally friendly accessory. It’s convenient because it rolls into a small pouch for easier carrying when not being used. Besides you never know when I’ll need a bag for all the Olympic/Vancouver souvenirs I’m sure to acquire.

In September, I made my way to my local Bay store to check out the official Vancouver 2010 gear. I have to admit that I didn’t really have high hopes for their collection. I wasn’t too crazy about the stuff I saw for the 2008 Olympics. I must say that I was pleasantly surprised by the Vancouver 2010 items the HBC crew came up with. The collection includes a good variety of t-shirts, hoodys, accessories and outer wear in various colours and prints. There are separate collections for Men, Women and Children as well as unisex items.

I added the HBC Canada zip hoody in White to my growing Olympic wardrobe and seriously debated about getting Black. Think I’ll hold off on that one for a bit. Some accessories may be in store for me in the near future. I had my mom pick up a pair of the red mittens. At first I said I didn’t want them and then in true Christina fashion, I changed my mind. I am the proud owner of a pair of these hard to find accessories and I will take them everywhere with me while in Vancouver. The HBC collection is sold at Bay and Zellers stores across Canada and as well as online.

Now that my Canada apparel is taken care of, I still need to figure out footwear, do fashionable waterproof shoes/boots exist? I want to be ready for the Vancouver climate. Outerwear is a big puzzle as well. Will it be cold, will it be mild? Does is actually rain as much as people say? How warm do I need to dress? This is a lot of work people. See the stress an Olympics causes? Anyone else would cave to the pressure, but not me. I`ll be there decked out in full Canada red and white.

Christina Wallaert

A version of this post also appears on Inside Vancouver, official blog of Tourism Vancouver.