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Monthly Archives: March 2012

Let’s Go To The Movies

The movies figure prominently in my personal history – or at least, movie theatres do. For decades, family members ran two of the three local drive-ins. I’m just one of many cousins that count working the concession stand as one of my earliest jobs (my first, in fact!) Later, I’d work at the sole movie theatre at the time in Elliot Lake ON. (it appears the current version has two screens – I’d love to know when that happened!)

Because of this, and as a member of the last generation to meet the movies in a theatre – proscenium, curtain, balcony – as opposed to the multi-plex, I was pleasantly surprised to be introduced to this little gem during my trip to Ottawa last month.

According to its website, the Mayfair Theatre opened in 1932 and has never been owned by, or affiliated with, a major chain. My daughter and I visited on a Saturday evening – J. Edgar, starring Leonardo Dicaprio was playing.   We were the first customers of the evening; all told, there might have been 20 in the audience by showtime. I didn’t really take any pictures as we weren’t sure of the policy on that, and I’d already been admonished by a security guard in the Glebe for taking a picture inside the Fifth Avenue Court.

But oh! Did it take me back! The decor is classic movie house; glamourous and comfortable at the same time. It leaves you with the feeling that going to the movies is an “event.” So often now, between multiplexes and Netflix, there seems to be nothing special or unique about the act of watching a movie. But there should be.

And the best thing was the conversations it sparked between my daughter and I about what going to the movies used to be like. In addition to working tales and drive-in memories, I reminisced about the theatres my own hometown used to have – the Centre, the Park, the Palace.

I like the set-up at the Mayfair; if I were an Ottawa citizen, I’d definitely be buying a membership. On Oscar night, the theatre featured a live telecast for members, complete with liquor licence. What a night that must have been!

For anyone visiting Ottawa, if you’re looking for a break from the museums and parks, the Mayfair is a nice “something different” and the cost is reasonable. You can see what’s playing and when on their website. Go check it out!

P.S. Sadly, I can’t wax poetic about the movie itself. J. Edgar was not well written, nor was it well acted. And the makeup was awful. Two thumbs down.

Check the date!

How time flies! It seems like only yesterday that news of the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative was first announced, and then implemented. This, of course, required Canadians, many of whom had enjoyed travelling in and through the US for years, to now produce a passport upon entry to “the States” by land, sea and air. In fact, it was almost five years ago that discussion of this initiative first started, and almost three years ago (June 2009) when the policy came into effect.

For families like mine – where most of our travel took place in Canada and the US – this meant you needed a passport for the first time ever. Even if you were just making a quick run across the border for groceries. Or to pick up someone at the airport. Or to visit a friend. And also for families like mine, who weren’t prepared to shell out the cost of passports for everyone all at once, (they’re about $85 apiece!) you probably started getting your family’s passports one at a time, nice and early in advance of the deadline.

If this was your process, it’s time to start checking your dates – Canadian passports are typically valid for five years (three years for children under 3). Depending on when your family started acquiring their passports, the expiry dates may be approaching soon.

I know my passport isn’t exactly top-of-mind for me: it stays in a safe place 95% of the time. If you’re a passport holder who doesn’t travel outside of Canada often, it’s probably not top-of-mind for you either. You know you have it, and that’s enough -enough to safely envision that spur-of-the-moment cruise in the Carribean with a Detroit departure. But that expiry date can sneak up on you! And while simply having a valid passport may be enough for entry into the US, many countries you may ultimately travel to could require a certain length of remaining validity, like three or six months.

It’s time to check your expiry date, and figure out a system for keeping track of it. Maybe writing it down on your yearly calendar is the answer – a simple “renew passport” notation could be the answer. Or check it today, and then make checking the date part of your birthday routine every year.

After all, it would be a real downer to decide to jet off to Europe this summer and then discover you’d have to postpone your trip.

For more information about Canadian passport validity and renewal, visit Passport Canada.