Soak up spring // The Docket

The ice and snow are melting. Time to shed your winter cocooning habits and enjoy the outdoors this season

By Jennifer Marston

On Wednesday March 14th, 2012


The ice and snow are melting. Time to shed your winter cocooning habits and enjoy the outdoors this season

Get out of town

Sweet spa

Retreat and recharge with a day at the Dorset Manor Spa in Port Hope, the newest addition to the Ste. Anne’s family of spas. Check out the seasonal “Maple Showers” treatment – a head-to-toe body polish using an organic maple sugar scrub, followed by a body wrap and Vichy shower, topped off with a drink of soothing maple elixir (April 1 – May 31, $90/45 mins). Avoid the traffic by taking advantage of the spa’s “Stress Express” service — staff will book you a train ticket and pick you up at the station ($74 from Union Station).

More maple

 When daytime temperatures heat up, the sap begins to flow. While you can check out a sugar bush or grab some delish maple syrup just about anywhere in rural southern Ontario, the Elmira Maple Syrup Festival offers more. This is the world’s largest one-day maple syrup festival and it packs the day with sugar bush tours, wagon rides, a pancake pavilion and a pancake-flipping contest. Start practicing now and this could be the year you out-flip the locals. March 31.

Get outside


Need an incentive to lug your bike out of the basement and oil that chain? This year’s Bike to Work Day will be held on Monday, May 28 across the Greater Toronto Area and in Hamilton. While full details will be set closer to the date, the usual drill for this annual event is for cyclists to meet at designated neighbourhood locations early in the morning and converge at Bloor and Yonge before heading to Nathan Phillips Square for a well-earned pancake breakfast hosted by the City of Toronto. Long-distance commuters can get involved, too: GO Transit’s program usually includes hand-outs of free T-shirts and juice at selected stations for those arriving with bikes to catch a train or bus.

Look around

Get inspired to see your neighbourhood in a new way with Full Frontal T.O.: Exploring Toronto’s Architectural Vernacular (Coach House Books, May 2012). For 30 years, photographer Patrick Cummins has been wandering the streets of Toronto capturing images of its houses, shops and garages. His architectural portraiture is accompanied by insights from Toronto’s urban commentator Shawn Micallef, author of Stroll (2010) and one of the founders of

location-based oral history project [murmur]. From abandoned storefronts to Coca-Cola and Kit Kat signs, Cummins exposes the beauty in the ordinary. 160 pp, paperback, $24.95, available online at


Bring the outside in

Eat out

Put spring back in your cooking with the Evergreen BrickWorks GE Café Chefs Series. It offers monthly demonstration-style cooking classes on Tuesday nights with top Toronto-area chefs, all in the urban wilderness of the Don Valley. Learn to identify and harvest wild local flora at “Go Foraging” with Parts & Labour’s Matty Matheson (March 13) or pick up some tips on rhubarb and morels at “Seasonal Cooking: Spring is Back!” with expat Irish cookbook author Denis Cotter (May 8). $75 per class or $325 for a series of five. Register online at

Think green

Toronto’s Green Living Show, now in its sixth year, returns to Exhibition Place this spring with over 450 forward-looking exhibitors. Test drive a Lexus hybrid, pick up some tips on eco-friendly kitchen renovations or browse the fashion section for sustainable styles. Then refuel at the Beer Experience, where you can sample naturally made local brews. If you’re not into drinking on an empty stomach, stop by Farm Fresh Fare en route to sample locally sourced dishes created by Toronto-area chefs. April 13-15, Direct Energy Centre, Exhibition Place. Tickets $15 for adults, children 12 and under free, available online at

GO station photo courtesy of GO Transit; Evergreen BrickWorks photo courtesy of Kristina Doyle