People Profiles – Buffalo to Toronto

Doug and Crystal in Burlington, ON

Doug and Crystal were another gracious hosts from Warmshowers who live in a beautiful home on a peninsula located on the western tip of Lake Ontario. Inviting us into the house that Doug had built himself, we instantly hit it off. Doug, a firefighter for over 20 years and Crystal, a Pilates instructor, where extremely welcoming and loving. As we talked about their journey with food and how they had finally became vegan a few months ago (the holdout for them was a local pizza shop that they would frequent twice a week), they fixed us an amazing dinner of vegan spaghetti and “meatballs”, all of which was homemade from fresh fruits and veggies, including the sauce!

The next morning Doug took us around for an introduction in foraging, pointing out all of the edible (and delicious) plants growing naturally that you could pick and eat. We learned that dandelions are extremely nutritious and taste great, as well as many green leaf veggies which complement a salad nicely. There were even scallions growing in the sand dunes of the lake! We had an amazing time and look forward to sharing our stories from abroad. (Doug and Crystal had great stories from touring across East Asia, and their stories really made us question why we were not going out of North America. We couldn’t come up with a good answer, so here we go! Thanks guys!)

Julien, Kate and Will in Toronto, ON

Julien, Kate and their dog Will were another great Warmshowers hosts in Toronto. Arriving in the evening, we had the opportunity to talk about all sorts of interesting things. Julien works with mortgages at a financial institution in Downtown Toronto and commutes nearly daily via bicycle from their home between 5-10 miles away. Kate works as a lawyer for an insurance company also in Downtown Toronto. In talking about her work, Kate informed us that she has a steady stream of cases to work on, given that Ontario requires drivers to carry $1,000,000 in liability coverage (yes, ONE MILLLION DOLLARS!!). As one could imagine, this creates some incentive to sue more often than people would in similar accidents in the USA or even other provinces of Canada.

Julien and Kate also enlightened us with some interesting Canadian planning knowledge. Opposite of New York State, the province of Ontario sets minimum density requirements for new development (the number of housing units per acre) which the regional and local governments must follow. They have also recently protected the Niagara Escarpment which encloses the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) for water quality, air quality and habitat protection. Exiting communities within the protected area were allowed to remain, but their future growth is severely restricted. This has sharply driven up housing costs in Kate’s home town, and represents a huge challenge in planning, the balance of affordable housing with development restrictions. We had a truly enjoyable time, and thank you for your great generosity.

Chris, Betty and AJ in Grimsby, ON

Robyn and I ran into Chris and Betty on the second day of our second journey from Buffalo to Toronto. After leaving camp from Balls Falls, we were cycling to Bill’s house in Burlington for the evening. We took a different route than our trip up, following their wine trail (don’t worry, it was too early in the morning). As we approached Grimsby, a lady raking her lawn informed us that “we better seek out some shelter”. While it was very windy, it did not seem dire and we continued on. As we came to the fringe of Grimsby, it began sprinkling and we could see the sheets of rain blowing our direction. Frantically, we stopped under some trees close to the road and began covering up our gear. A cheery fellow pushing a lawnmower came out of the backyard of the house we were in front of and asked if we would like shelter in his garage. Looking at each other we both responded right away “yes please!” As soon as we rolled our bikes into the garage, the rain began pounding down in sheets, which were locked out as the garage door shut.

Inviting us in, Chris offered us lunch and beverages, since he “had been looking for someone to have a beer with.” Soon his mother Betty joined us and we had a lively conversation as their wonderful dog, AJ sat laid quietly in the kitchen. After at least an hour of swopping stories and laughter, the rain finally passed and we headed on our way. Many thanks to Chris and Betty for keeping us dry and for the lovely food and conversation.

Bill in Burlington, ON

Bill was our final Warmshowers host in Canada in Burlington, ON. After his very detailed directions on how to best cycle to his house, we knew he was quite the biker! After arriving, he welcomed us in with some cold water and we shared some stories. He had read our blog beforehand and knew we were headed to Dublin. Bill had actually gone on a European tour himself after graduating from college for nearly a year. He had many insights and stories to share about his adventures in Europe, as well as the numerous other tours he has taken.

Beyond the biking, Bill is a man of many traits. After working a “traditional” job for nearly 20 years, he decided it was time for a change, and he went into the beer brewing business. He currently is semi-retired, but still tutors people in English as a Second Language (ESL) programs, as well as professionally judging beers. He had a beer from a competition he had judged a few weeks before which he shared, and gave us a rundown of the judging process, which was quite extensive, ranging from the type of hops used, if there was anything you could taste that shouldn’t be there, to the color, the head and the smell. As for the ale we were drinking, he concluded that it was a solid beverage with nothing wrong, but it did not have the “wow” factor.

In the morning we were treated to a delicious fruit spread including raspberries (Robyn’s favorite!) and had some great coffee that Bill roasts himself. We had a wonderful time and hope your next trip is a good one!

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