Category Archives: Tourism

THE LITTLE TORONTO NEWS SITE THAT COULD – MEET PUBLISHER KJ MULLINS OF NEWZ4U.NET

About 18 months ago, I was introduced to one of Toronto’s unsung heroes, a woman who launched a news site that champions the underdog stories and gives a voice to those causes and issues that don’t get much exposure in mainstream media due to their lack of media “sexiness” or mass appeal. These are the stories that confront day-to-day life and issues in the naked city.  KJ Mullins is passionate about Toronto and her neighbours, and publishes her daily NEWZ4U.NET e-newspaper with the help of talented reporters and photographers dedicated to bringing the real news to you without corporate or advertiser “filters” and without fluff or filler content.

I recently sat down with KJ and asked her to tell us all about NEWZ4U.net and what prompted her to create the site.

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Tell us a little about KJ Mullins – what is your personal journalism/business background?
KJ: I started out in college on the journalism track but went to drama/psy instead. Ten years ago after other jobs and being a stay at home mom, I got the writing bug again and this time went full steam.  One of the first articles I wrote back in college helped to bring forth positive changes for disabled students rather quickly, and seeing that I could make a difference was really powerful.

KJ MullinsWhen was your website first launched?
KJ: I launched NEWZ4U.NET on May 12, 2010.

What first inspired you to create Newz4U & what news niche wasn’t being fulfilled by the national newspapers?
KJ: I wanted to get my voice out there and the voices of others who may not fit into the mainstream model. Social issues like homelessness, poverty, LGBT issues and the arts are often overlooked in the mainstream because if it’s not a ‘front and centre’ story it isn’t sexy. The same is true with stories on the city’s front line responders – in mainstream media the motto of if it bleeds it leads also means that stories about good works aren’t covered. It’s rare to find articles about the various Kops and Kids programs that do curb youth violence.

homeless porter_002 DSCF8097How did you source your first news items?
KJ: We have always sourced our news items in the same way; with on the scene and through interviewing with fact checking. We also use reliable newswires for additional coverage. 

What sort of feedback did you receive from readers once the first few editions were e-published?
KJ: Knock on wood, from the beginning we’ve had positive feedback. For the readers who had personal issues in the city like a pot hole appearing and reappearing at their Toronto Community Housing building which we helped to bring positive results, the feedback was extremely positive.

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DSCF0879Who are your readers and how do you reach them?
KJ: Our readers are mostly from Toronto and are generally 25+, evenly mixed between genders. Most have university educations and many are movers and shakers. They are interested in social change and the arts.

DSCF3761As a web-based news source, what sort of reach does Newz4U enjoy?
KJ: In 2014 we had over 449K readers who read over 2.4 million articles. We average 31K monthly readers going through 146K articles.

What stories do you look for?
KJ: We are always looking for new stories about social issues. Fresh produce in the city, and childhood hunger is a current issue we are tackling hard. In Canada’s largest business city it is mind-blowing how many go to bed hungry every night or haven’t got a bed to sleep in. We’ve covered Pride and the Caribbean Festival for several years, looking into the areas that aren’t touched by mainstream.

DSCF2517The arts are also a strong interest for us. We cover as many events, big and small, as possible. Right now we are working on the RBC Taylor Prize and the Lionel Gelber Prize, both covering Canadian non-fiction literature. Each shortlisted book is read and reviewed prior to the prize announcements. It’s a lot of work but promoting our Canadian authors is very important. These men and women are putting forth some amazing work. Photography, fine arts and music are also a prime focus. We hope to be at the Junos this year with one of our newest writers whose focus is music.

DSCF8833 DSCF6408We will also be covering sports at the Pan Am Games. Our sports photographer, Hugh McClean, has been covering soccer and rugby in the past year, two sports that get very little coverage in the city.

?????????????????????Do you offer sponsored pages or ad space and if so, what is the range of $s?
KJ: This is a hard one for us but yes we do have ad space. Ads run from $25 to $150 a month depending on placement. We have plans to change up our layout in mid-March/early-April that will allow for pages to be sponsored as well. Prices for this are still in the works.

We also have a sponsorship program which gives ‘free’ ad space for Toronto small businesses. Our Angel sponsors keep us going and growing.

NEWZ4U.NET gives back to the community by offering local grassroots and small charities space for promoting themselves and their events for FREE.

How do people reach you for editorial coverage and/or advertising?
KJ: We are always available via email at editor@newz4u.net. We respond within 24 hours Monday-Friday. You can always get in touch with me personally on Twitter @kjjournalist.

20141018_143931Above photo: G.J. Fordham

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SATURDAY AFTERNOON STROLL AROUND YORKVILLE (Toronto)

Decided to be a “tourist” in my own back yard today. Weather was a bit warmer (balmy compared with Tuesday’s -12!) so I wandered into Williams-Sonoma on Bloor St to meet some of the food artisans who were showcasing their wares.  First off, DAVID MARCUS from DAVID’S CONDIMENTS  www.davidscondiments.com who was sampling his hot’n’spicy rubs, marinades and seasonings.

20150117_131646 20150117_131649 20150117_131653Then I met the cute couple behind BURNER HOT PEPPER SAUCE who were busy heating up the cold shoppers. Check out their online store for all the flavours and levels of heat.  http://burnerpeppersauce.com/shop/

20150117_131614 20150117_131619Next door to Williams-Sonoma is the new Holt Renfrew Men’s store and I was stopped in my tracks when I saw this thru the window….

20150117_131759 20150117_131804 20150117_131908A giant head sculpture by Douglas Coupland called Gumhead – you take a piece of bubblegum from the old-school dispensers, chew it and then stick it on the head. Hmm, I don’t think so, but I did plant a kiss (no tongues!) on the statue for good luck.

I then popped across the street to the Bloor St Market in the Manulife Centre to pick up a few groceries and I found SUMMER’S ICE CREAM being sampled. OMG…..Summer’s is THE best locally made ice cream and I frequently drop into their ice cream parlour on Yorkville Ave for a scoop or two during the summer months. They’re now selling their super deelish treats in tubs in selected grocery stores  http://www.summmersicecream.com

20150117_132742 20150117_132752As I headed back home along Bloor, I walked past the famed STOLLERY’s clothing store at Yonge & Bloor that had recently closed after 114 years and my heart broke to see what was being done to the beautiful building….

20150117_135450 20150117_135441 20150117_135426 20150117_135532… ripping out the beautiful window frames, friezes and stone carvings, as well as peeling off all the copper flashing. Their website  http://www.stollerys.com/ says the store was to close at the end of January but I guess the greedy developers couldn’t wait to get their wrecking balls on this iconic piece of Edwardian architecture.  This makes me sad, angry and very disappointed with the City of Toronto for allowing this to happen yet again to one of our beautiful old buildings.

Hope you liked joining me as I played tourist in my own neighbourhood ….follow my blog for further adventures and scroll down for other cool news and previous events.

 

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Celebrity chef Lyndon Wiebe’s artist reception @ Urban Gallery, Toronto

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4:55pm yesterday…all the photos were framed and hung, food prepped and wine was chilling, and celebrity chef and photographer LYNDON WIEBE had changed out of his chef’s whites into a more relaxed shirt and sweater ready to greet friends and fans to the opening of his 1-man show “Lost in Travels: Solitary Confinement” at Urban Gallery, 400 Queen St East in Toronto.  And then…..

DSC_0284…in they came.

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The gallery was full of happy, appreciative art fans and friends, all commenting on the colourful striking images. And Lyndon’s artistic talents were reflected in the catered dishes served, too.

DSC_0272 DSC_0267 DSC_0278(above images #2 thru 9 courtesy of Jean-Marc Fontaine, UrbanSource Catering & Urban Gallery)

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IMG_5636 IMG_5662 IMG_5643 IMG_5681Lyndon finally relaxed once all his friends arrived and we all heard the ooo’s and aaaah’s as people viewed the photographs. And his big beautiful smile (below) says it all….Woohooo!

IMG_5666(above 6 images courtesy of Kaspara Albertsen, Urban Gallery)

ABOUT THE SHOW:  In 2009 the Winnipeg-born Wiebe and 2 chef friends filmed the travel-based web series Without Borders, commissioned as the series Chefs Run Wild on APTN and Travel+Escape Network in Canada and in 40 countries worldwide on National Geographic (pictured below, centre). On this two-year trip he discovered his love of photography. The photos in this exhibition were taken over several years of traveling around Asia, Africa, Canada and New Zealand.

Here are some of the photographs on show (photographed by me)….all large format and affordable for any collector.

20150115_165625 20150115_165637 20150115_165645 20150115_165706My personal favourites are… (below)

20150115_165453 20150115_165403 20150115_165421(0)I had fun attempting to take selfies with writer pal, Donna Lypchuk (below)  – thanks for the pics, Kaspara.

IMG_5690 IMG_5692…and in the end, Donna got a pretty good one (below) although we really should take these before enjoying several glass of wine, eh?

1620572_10152662242981156_5637709768831286484_nStrongly doubt any of our selfies would ever make it into a gallery show, but everyone else concentrated on Lyndon’s work and spent the evening enjoying the hospitality of Urban Gallery.

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20150115_184132 20150115_184159Urban Gallery’s Wayne  and Kaspara enjoyed all the photo opps, too.  (below)

20150115_181848Congratulations to Lyndon and Urban Gallery for a successful launch. Lyndon’s show runs through to the end of February so if you would like to check his work out in person, visit the gallery’s website for directions and hours:  http://www.urbangallery.ca

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ALLEN GARDENS OFFERS BEAUTIFUL HOT-HOUSE FLOWERS IN HEART OF TORONTO

20150111_145237I recently enjoyed a quick trip to paradise…or at least the closest thing we have here in Toronto’s grey, chilly downtown core.  Allen Gardens is a series of botanical greenhouses offering a variety of climates from tropical to desert and I always welcome the opportunity to wander through the pathways breathing in the fragrances or spotting the unique and beautiful blooms.  I managed to catch the tale end of their Christmas displays so there were tons of poinsettias in all shades of red, pink, yellow and event white (below) and there were even some “flower people”, too.

20150111_144322 20150111_144747 20150111_144020 20150111_144030I then took a stroll through the cactus & succulent collection (below) with all the prickly stems and hot dry atmosphere….

20150111_144354 20150111_144422 20150111_144505 20150111_144609…and on the way back, I took in the beautiful hibiscus and a few random plant decorations (below)

20150111_144249 20150111_144210 20150111_144305 20150111_144315Passing through the big palm house, I then went into the area with the ponds, statues and lots more flowers, including some stunning orchids.

20150111_144909 20150111_145053 20150111_145226 20150111_145337They have a charming pond that’s populated with koi as well as a few turtles who decided to make an appearance just as I passed by….

20150111_145319 20150111_145423Throughout the greenhouses, I found a number of festively decorated Christmas trees (below)

20150111_144901 20150111_145503After about 30 minutes of enjoying the floral beauty, I headed back outside, past a few more pretty flower beds…

20150111_145443 20150111_144102 20150111_144845…then back up Jarvis Street, passing by the beautiful old Victorian/Edwardian houses on my way home.

20150111_143202(0) 20150111_143237All in all, a lovely way to spend a grey old winter’s afternoon in Toronto.

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For information and hours, please visit: http://bit.ly/1u5PKc6

 

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