A Business Traveller’s Guide to Atlantic Canada

An 8-page supplement to the November issue of Progress Magazine.

6 Places to Visit in Atlantic Canada

Inside the Saint John City Market (photo by ShutterbugMari via Flickr).

Inside the Saint John City Market (photo by ShutterbugMari via Flickr).

 The Great George Hotel

Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island

Situated within 17 beautifully restored heritage buildings in the centre of Charlottetown, The Great George is a four-and-a-half star hotel with 54 rooms, suites, deluxe apartments and condos. In 1864, it was where some of the delegates stayed from Charlottetown Conference, the meeting that paved the way for Confederation. Today, it’s still honoring that storied past while providing all of the amenities contemporary business travellers want: wireless internet throughout, meeting spaces for up to 35 people, award-winning restaurants steps from the front door, and a variety of accommodation options to suit short- and long-term stays. thegreatgeorge.com

George Street

St. John’s, Newfoundland

George Street is only two blocks long, but it has more bars and pubs per square foot than any other street in North America. From noon to the wee hours of the morning, it’s closed to vehicles, making it the place to be for catching outdoor concerts, having pub crawls and keeping your finger on the pulse of St. John’s. In the winter, escape the North Atlantic chill inside Annexe, a tucked away restaurant and lounge with live music and local seafood, or Trapper John’s, a pub and museum that welcomes visitors to the province with traditional “screech-ins.” In the mood to groove? Head to Sundance, Club One or Dusk, found in the same building as The George Street Beer Market.

Historic Properties

Halifax, Nova Scotia

The interconnected warehouse buildings that now house the cafes, shops, galleries and restaurants of the Historic Properties have been standing since the Napoleonic Wars. Sure, they’ve been given a fresh coat of paint and the full restoration treatment, but those original wood and stone shells are still intact, capturing a time in Halifax’s past when merchant and naval ships sailed alongside privateers. Make a day of the Historic Properties with an espresso and croissant at Two If By Sea to start, an afternoon of gallery hopping and cold beer at Hart & Thistle, fresh seafood at Salty’s, and live Maritime music at The Lower Deck to end the night. historicproperties.ca

Pump House Brewery

Moncton, New Brunswick

Since storming the Canadian beer scene in 1999, Pump House Brewery has gone on to win more than twenty awards at the Canadian Brewing Awards, including Canadian Brewery of the Year in 2005. Although it now has a brewing and bottling plant outside the city to handle an ever-increasing number of Pump House enthusiasts across the country, the original brewpub is still going strong. There you can sample classics like Blueberry Ale and Fire Chief Red Ale, as well as seasonal choices like Winter Warm Ale and Raspberry Wheat. Soak up those suds with beer-steamed mussels, thin crust pizza or anything else off the pub-inspired menu. pumphousebrewery.ca

Saint John City Market

Saint John, New Brunswick

Open Monday to Saturday all year long, the Saint John City Market is the hub for all things local in the Fundy City. With almost 40 merchants under one roof who range from butchers, bakers and fishmongers to jewellery-makers, artists and booksellers, it’s the best place to sample what the region has to offer. Nowhere else in the city can you find authentic Italian groceries, a Korean restaurant, an organic bakery, or wine and brandy from Winegarden Estate, the only distillery and winery in the Maritimes. And, of course, it’s where you can find fresh Bay of Fundy lobster (if you’re travelling, just ask the fishmonger to pack it for shipping). sjcitymarket.ca

Garrison District

Fredericton, New Brunswick

Whatever the time of year, Fredericton’s Garrison District should have something—an outdoor concert, an art class, a sports hall of fame—to fix almost any cultural craving. From 1784 to 1869, British troops were garrisoned here to protect the capital from American invasion, and in the mid1960s it was designated one of Canada’s and New Brunswick’s Historic Places. Today, it pays tribute to that past with heritage walking tours, re-enactments and exhibits at the Fredericton Region Museum while celebrating the new with events like the Harvest Jazz & Blues Festival, contemporary art shops and live theatre.

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Intelligent Design

The latest trends shaping airport design in Atlantic Canada

Halifax's Stanfield International Airport's newly re-designed arrival and departures area (photo by carfreedc via Flickr).

Halifax’s Stanfield International Airport’s newly re-designed arrival and departures area (photo by carfreedc via Flickr).

2012 was one of the busiest years for airports in Atlantic Canada. The St. John’s and Greater Moncton international airports, for example, welcomed 6% more passengers each than the previous year, and at the Halifax Stanfield International Airport, over 3.6 million people took flight—the most in the airport’s fifty-three-year history. It’s good news for the region’s airports and economy, but it also presents a challenge: How do you move more people through terminals designed for fewer passengers?

The answer, says Peter Spurway, Vice President of Corporate Communications & Airport Experience with the Halifax International Airport Authority (HIAA), doesn’t really differ from airport to airport. “Whether you have 3 million, 30 million or 90 million passengers, the processes are the same. We’re trying to make it easier for people to work their way through arrival, check-in, security and off to your flight.”

For most, that process begins in the parking lot, something the HIAA significantly improved in 2008 with the opening of a 2300-space parkade that’s attached to the terminal. 400 of those spaces are reserved for rental car companies, and the airport is currently thinking about selling designated spots for businesses. The St. John’s International Airport Authority (SJIAA) will also give their parking a boost. Their 10-year capital plan includes a new, 305-space long-term parking lot and a new 219-space rental car lot.

Airports here are also making the movement from front door to gate go much smoother. Last year in Moncton, the airport authority introduced Nexus, a joint Canada-U.S. membership program that allows pre-approved travellers to bypass screening lines. The Halifax airport has Nexus, too, and will be upgrading their check-in area with more self-serve options and new baggage screening equipment as well. The changes “will virtually eliminate lineups,” says Spurway, “and significantly improve your chances of landing in a second U.S. destination with your bags waiting for you.”

Once you’re through security, airports aren’t just trying to make the time before liftoff go faster but more enjoyable. In 2011, for example, the Greater Moncton International Airport Authority introduced Club YQM, a membership program with benefits like access to a boardroom and lounge, free coffee and newspapers, and the opportunity to be part of an airport improvement focus group. The SJIAA’s capital plan includes a design to add more food and drink options and more comfortable seating.

This enjoyment factor is central to the entire airport design process, says Spurway, and it’s one reason more people are choosing to fly into and out of Atlantic Canada today. “[Design enhancements] are about making things bigger, making more people fit, but also, importantly, making it nice,” says Spurway. “We’re not driving cattle here. We want people to have a good experience when they visit the airport.”

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Why PEI?

Why the smallest province in Canada is becoming one of the most attractive destinations for business events.

Have a conversation with one of the Father's of Confederation while you're in Charlottetown (photo by micheleroy56 via Flickr).

Have a conversation with one of the Father’s of Confederation while you’re in Charlottetown (photo by micheleroy56 via Flickr).

When you ask PEI-entrepreneur Bill Kendrick what’s making the province such a compelling option for business events these days, his answer is as honest and to the point as you’d expect from an Islander: “Who doesn’t want to come to a place that has great seafood, beautiful beaches and all of the amenities of large cities while maintaining a small town feel?”

It’s a good question, and it’s the one most in the island’s tourism industry are posing to potential business travellers. Over the past five years, they’ve made it an even harder question to answer when adding that Charlottetown now has a 50,000 square foot convention centre, there are new hotels and event spaces throughout PEI, and companies can tailor cultural experiences to suit their peoples’ interests.

Bll Kendrick and his wife Jill, owners of a bed and breakfast in Bedeque, have recently made that last point one of their main focuses. They’re the duo behind Experience PEI, a company that offers customized tours ranging from oyster farming adventures at the beach to cooking classes in downtown Charlottetown. “PEI has always been on a lot of people’s bucket list,” says Bill, “but for some reason they don’t get around to it. Now, however, corporate planners look at the province, see that interest and that with additions like Charlottetown’s new convention centre, it can handle all of their needs.”

But it’s not just PEI’s capital that’s drawing companies and business travellers, says Jo-Ann Thomsen, Business Development Director at Meetings & Conventions Prince Edward Island. There are resorts, smaller hotels and meeting spaces throughout the province. “In our second city, Summerside, for example, we have Credit Union Place,” she says. “It’s an incredible facility built just over five years ago with a 5,000-plus seat arena, a pool and some really nice meeting space.”

The province’s burgeoning food and drink industry is also helping attract more business travellers. In May, the Prince Edward Island Brewing Company opened the doors on its new 25,000 square foot brewery that features a bigger brew house, a bar, hospitality rooms and an event space that can hold 700 people. New restaurants and culinary festivals are taking off, as well, says Thomsen. “We had the Shellfish Festival in September, and it sold out every night, which it never did before,” she says. “So the bar keeps getting raised, and that culinary side is putting us on the map in a different way.”

The 150th anniversary of the Charlottetown Conference will put it on the map for even more business travellers in 2014. From New Year’s Eve to Christmas, the province will celebrate the meeting that provided the spark for Confederation. “It is going to be crazy fun all year long,” says Thomsen.

And when you add it to Bill Kendrick’s original question—why wouldn’t you come to PEI?—it makes it even more difficult to answer.

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Halifax in a Day

Having travelled to twenty-five countries and worked in several, too, Halifax local Nicole Langille can appreciate an insider’s view of a new city. The President of Free People Marketing Communications and Events, tells us how to best spend a day in Atlantic Canada’s largest city.

Nick Horne, outside his new gourmet food truck, Nomad Gourmet (photo courtesy of Nick Horne).

Nick Horne, outside his new gourmet food truck, Nomad Gourmet (photo courtesy of Nick Horne).

1. Start the day with one of the freshest cups of coffee in Halifax at Uncommon Grounds, located near the south entrance of the Public Gardens. “My favourite place to have a meeting,” says Nicole. “They have outdoor seating on a terrace where you can drink your coffee and discuss matters in a garden party setting.” 1030 South Park St.

2. Haligonians are going gaga over gourmet food trucks these days. Check out Nomad Gourmet, usually located near City Hall, for one of the best lunches on the go. “It’s fresh, local and really, really tasty.” 1841 Argyle St. nomadgourmet.ca

3. “Quinpool Road houses three of my current obsessions,” says Nicole. The first, Bhavana, is the perfect place for new yoga and workout gear. “You won’t get out of there empty handed, but it is guaranteed the most peaceful way to spend money.” 6252 Quinpool Rd. bhavanayogaboutique.com.

4. Just below Bhavana is Heartwood, a vegetarian and vegan restaurant with a completely organic menu. “It’s so healthy. You’ll feel terrific having eaten there.” 6250 Quinpool Rd. iloveheartwood.ca. 902-425-2808.

5. “After dinner, head a few steps up the street and visit Noel at Ireland 32 for a Chai Latte,” says Nicole. “He’ll give you all the extra foam to top up your cup!” 6220 Quinpool Rd. ireland32cafe.ca.

6. End the day with a rickshaw ride along the waterfront. “Soak in the port atmosphere in a relaxed manner and chances are you’ll be supporting a student too—they are often the ones powering the rides.” hfxrickshawtours.com. 902-719-8687.

How to Spend $20, $200 and $2000 in Halifax  

Nicole tells us where to place our chips on a trip to Halifax

$20. “Hands down, give your $20 to Shakespeare by the Sea,” says Nicole. Since 1994, the theatre company has performed over twenty-five different works by the world’s most famous playwright in Point Pleasant Park. “$20 is a suggested donation and it’s worth every penny!” shakespearebythesea.ca

$200 (or free). The University of King’s College Chapel Choir is known for its Christmas concerts. Two Robert Bordens will get you two front row seats. “The sound is sublime,” says Nicole. “It brought me to tears.” You can also hear the choir for free on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays at 5 pm in the King’s College Chapel. ukings.ca/concerts.

$2000. “Spend it wisely at 31 Westgate,” says Nicole. “It’s the most inspired furniture and lighting shop in the city. The design team of Ken McRobbie and Colin Blanchard have the most exquisite taste.” 2598 Agricola St. 31westgate.com.

 

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