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The International Writers Magazine: Canada

Toronto Safari
Habeeb Salloum


"I am bringing my family for a vacation to Toronto. What activity do you think my children will enjoy most?" My Saskatchewan friend was trying to find ways to give his family an enjoyable holiday. I did not hesitate in suggesting: "If you have two days to spare, I have a great suggestion. For the first day take your children to the African Lion Safari and the second day to the Blackwood Creek Pioneer Village and, in between, visit a few children’s entertainment centres. It will be a family vacation they will never forget!"

First book in at a family hotel such as Delta Meadowvale Resort and Conference, with innumerable children facilities, or the Stage West All Suite Hotel, an abode with children facilities and a fine theatre-restaurant to boot, to allow the children to enjoy the many attributes offered the young. The next day travel with your family to the African Lion Safari housing some 1,000 wild animals of a hundred species from all over the world.
Not confined, they roam free on a 304 ha (750 ac) reserve, designed to replicate the animals natural setting, at Cambridge, midway between Kitchener and Hamilton – Canada’s steel capital. A zoo in reverse, the African Lion Safari Park, a family operated venture, which plays host to near 500,000 annual visitors, cages the visitors in their autos instead of placing the animals in enclosures. In the 38 years of the Park’s existence, officials have been successful with breeding 30 endangered species and 20 more species, considered threatened.

One of North America’s top wild animal private parks, it contains some 10 km (6 mi) of safari trails. Visitors can drive at a crawling speed past contented looking cheetahs, lions, tigers, rhinos, zebras, eland and a host of other threatened or endangered wild beasts. Most children enjoy these wild animals that appear tame from the safety of their cars. The animals are well fed and used to humans since the hundreds of daily visitors have become part of the landscape.

Besides the trip through the Park the entrance fee includes: observing the elephants bathe; taking a trip on the ‘African Queen’ Boat Cruise; watching Birds of Prey Flying Demonstration and the Parrot Paradise Show; riding the ‘Nature Boy’ Scenic Railway; and glory in the Jungle Playground and much more. Most young ones after taking part in these activities usually never forget the trip to the African Lion Safari.

On the way back from the African Lion Safari, virtually any child or even grown-up will enjoy a stopover at the Playdium in Mississauga, Ontario. A children heaven featuring over 200 of the world’s most challenging children games, rides and simulators, this 40,000 square foot indoor complex, is the ultimate high-tech, interactive, virtual and physical entertainment centre.

If older children want to experience the thrill of simulated flight, the Air Combat Zone is the place to stop. If anyone has ever wondered what it might be like to be a fighter pilot taking part in air combat, this is the place to be. Like real combat, the experience redefines recreation to bring the participant the epitome of excitement in a sense of virtual reality.
After the young ones spend the evening enjoying the children offerings of the hotel, the next day a trip to Blackwood Creek Pioneer Village will bring joy to the whole family. The Village brings to life the era of a 19th-century Victorian town and is truly a living museum of how the pioneers in Ontario once lived. Making the historic scene real are the people and the guides working in the village dressed in pioneering attire. Artisans and historic craftsmen create in the 40 restored buildings consisting of homes, offices and shops – all pioneer buildings, with the exception of the five original structures on the farm, moved in from other locations. They were renovated and furnished to recapture their original ambiance, the atmosphere of the mid-19th century pioneers. Pic: Habeeb outside the entrance
Adding to the elegance of the historic aura and the Village in general are the eleven herb, flower and vegetable theme gardens that grow herb, medicinal, vegetable and weaver’s dye plants.. All are tended with the old natural methods used by 19th century gardeners. A number of now rare farm animal breeds that were in the mid 1800's central to life in a rural Ontario are also housed in the Village. Some heritage breeds such as Cochin chickens and other fowls, Leister Borders sheep and Clydesdale horses now find a home here.
Visitors with their families can roam the Village for hours to see tinsmiths’ making tin objects by hand; a broom maker fashioning brooms from sorghum; belts being edged at the Saddle and Harness Shop; bread being baked from flour ground by the Village’s Roblin’s Mill that produces annually 10 to 12 thousand pounds of whole wheat flour, covering the Village’s needs; wooden barrels being made by hand at Taylor Cooperage; a blacksmith at work; hand printing at the Black Creek Printing Office; and wool spun and cloth woven by hand looms.
After watching the artisans at work, visitors can relish some of the pioneer cooking; watch for a while scores of happy school children with their teachers or guides and others with their parents; observe farm animals and examine a horse-drawn wagon; then shop at a general store. Most of the some 150,000 thousand annual visitors, find it truly an experience to immerse themselves in the atmosphere and customs of Ontario's 19th century rural villagers.
After the Black Creek Pioneer Village if the young ones are still raring to go, the nearby NasCarSpeed Park is a children entertainment centre par excellence. Featuring five challenging and exciting go-kart tracks, laser tag, a rock climbing wall, a state-of-the-art interactive arcade, kid-sized rides, simulators and more, the Park is one of the area's top children attractions.

If it begins to rain a better bet is a visit to the nearby Toronto Areospace Museum. It houses, in addition to an ever-growing collection of military, civilian and experimental aircraft, historic and state-of-the art simulators and interactive displays and fascinating artefacts. Above all, it displays the long association of Toronto with aeronautical innovation, aerospace technology and aircraft manufacturing.

It is as I told my friend, "Should visitors with their families follow this two day program they will no doubt leave with contented young ones who will always remember Toronto as a place of fun and excitement - a joyful event in their lives."

How to Reach the African Lion Safari From Toronto
Take Hwy. 401 West to Hwy. 6. Turn left (Exit 299) and drive to Safari Road. Turn right and drive to a few miles to the ‘African Lion Safari Park’.
African Lion Safari Admission Rates for 2007:
Adults CD$21.95 to $26.95, depending what time of the year; Seniors and Students CD$18.95 to $23.95, depending what time of the year; and Children 3 to 12 CD$16.95 to $21.95, depending what time of the year.
Where to Stay:
When visiting the African Lion Safari and Black Creek Pioneer Village two good places in Mississauga that are slanted toward family travel and stay are: Delta Meadowvale Resort and Conference, Mississauga, Ontario. Tel: 905-821-1981. See website:; and Stage West All Suite Hotel, Mississauga, Ontario. Tel: 905-238-0159. See website:
For Further Information. Contact:
African Lion Safari & Game Farm Ltd, RR #1 Cambridge, Ontario, Canada N1R 5S2. Toll Free 1-800-461-WILD. Tel:(519) 623-2620. Fax: (519) 623-9542. E-mail: Web:
Black Creek Pioneer Village, 1000 Murray Ross Parkway (Jane Street and Steeles Avenue), Toronto ON, M3J2P3. Te: 416-736-1733. Fax: 416-661-6610. E-mail: Website:
Playdium, Mississauga, Ontario. Tel: 905273-9000. See website:; or Air Combat Zone, Mississauga, Ontario. Tel: 905-602-4775. See website:
NasCarSpeed Park: Vaughn Mills Mall. Tel: 905-669-7370. See website:
Toronto Areospace Museum: Downsview Park. Tel: 416-638-6078. See website:
Toronto Convention & Visitors Association - P.O. Box 126, 207 Queens Quay West, Toronto, Ontario, Canada M5J 1A7. Tel: 416-203-2600 or toll-free 1800-499-2514. Fax: 416-203-6753. E-mail: Website:
© Habeeb Salloum August 2007
Habeeb is author and member of Travel Media Association of Canada (TMAC) residing in Toronto, Canada. 

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