Doctor's Review: Medicine on the Move

January 24, 2022
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In the bag

Great gift ideas for your hard-to-shop-for loved ones

For the active set

Zip Down The Slopes

Move over Krazy Karpet, flying saucer and even tried-and-true toboggan — this odd-looking, ride-on plastic sled by Oakville, Ontario-based Zipfy is already massive in Europe, where annual Zipfy races are held. Living up to its name, this little beast zips down the slope pretty fast, so you might want to throw a helmet in with your gift. Suitable for adults or kids.

Lowdown: The Zipfy Mini Luge costs around $40 through

Wii’re Getting Fit

Sure, it looks like an overpriced set of bathroom scales, but the Wii Fit add-on to Nintendo’s hugely popular Wii motion detection video games could be your kids’ best bet to getting off the couch and working up a sweat this holiday season. The game’s virtual personal trainer will cajole, cheer and even gently scold them through yoga, strength training and balance exercises. And it’s really fun to customize your on-screen exercise avatar. Wiiii!

Lowdown: Visit for a demonstration. Wii Fit Balance Board costs around $100 at big box electronics stores.

Sleep In A Snow Globe

Just because winter’s here doesn’t mean your family’s outdoorsy getaways have to end. Why not book them a weekend yurt package as a family gift? Snowshoe in to your fully-equipped, dome-shaped yurt and enjoy winter activities like kicksledding, cross-country skiing, dogsledding and more. Feeling really adventurous? Test your mettle in an igloo or quinzee (“snow cave”).

Lowdown: Winter yurt rental prices range from $75 to $100 per night through Ontario Parks (tel: 888-668-7275; and Quebec Provincial Parks (Sepaq) (tel: 800-665-6527;

For more outing ideas near you, visit for our interactive getaways map.

For the gourmand

Northern Knives

As beautiful as they are practical, crescent-shaped ulu knives have traditionally been used by the Inuit of the Canadian Arctic for everything from filletting fish to preparing animal hides. The modern version, with a steel blade and caribou antler handle, is handcrafted in Nunavut and a great alternative to a mezzaluna (herb chopper) for the serious cook with a taste for unique kitchenwares.

Lowdown: Prices start at $120 for small ulu (12cm blade) plus around $12 for shipping from Iqaluit-based D J Sensations, (888) 979-0650;

Forage Ahead

Looking for a non-perishable comestible for a far-flung foodie? Let fungus be your friend. Gourmet Sauvage’s dried wild mushrooms are handpicked in Quebec’s forests and wonderfully woody in flavour. Impress them with a lightweight pack of aromatic matsutakes, which are highly prized and pricey in Japan but abundant and relatively cheap here.

Lowdown: Dried mushroom prices range from $12 to $14 plus shipping. (877) 354-WILD;

Eat, Cook Local

Just in time for the holidays, here is a generous heaping of our favourite tasty new Canadian cookbooks. Here are a few we like. For the cook who wants to eat local but isn’t quite ready for the 100 Mile Diet, Fresh: Seasonal Recipes Made With Local Foods is a good start. Penned by Vancouver chef and restauranteur John Bishop, the book has been shortlisted for the Canadian Culinary Book Awards. It’s a pleasing mix of fancy bistro and homely everyday recipes, all based on locally sourced ingredients like Fraser Valley lamb and Fanny Bay oysters.

Hotly anticipated is À la di Stasio by Quebec’s popular TV chef Josée di Stasio, available at last in English (the French edition has sold a staggering 200,000 copies). Di Stasio’s book is as laidback and eclectic as her show: think Italian family cooking meets French Canadian fusion.

Finally, with winter here, comfort food is firmly back on the menu and The Complete Canadian Living Baking Book by another TV chef, Elizabeth Baird, scores high on the cosy scale. From her award-winning apple pie to savoury baked meals, Baird’s no-nonsense, thoroughly tested recipes make this book an instant Canadian classic.

Lowdown: Fresh (Douglas & McIntyre) $34.95; À la di Stasio (Random House) $29.95; The Complete Canadian Living Baking Book (Random House) $34.95 — all available at major bookshops.

Ship To Shore

Give the gift of fresh-caught fish this holiday season to a landlocked loved one. Misty Harbour Seafood of Saint John, NB, ships lobster and other fresh, locally caught seafood overnight to major centres in Canada.

Lowdown: Seafood prices vary. Shipping costs around $50 for up to 10 lbs; $85 for up to 30 lbs. (800) 565-7712;

Sweet Chills

Canada doesn’t get a whole lot of international recognition when it comes to our wine, to say the least. This is why we’re so proud of our ice wine. We’re now the world’s largest producer of this sweet dessert drink, made from grapes left to freeze on the vine. An ice wine sampler is an excellent gift to show a friend from overseas there’s more to Canada than hockey and beer. Inniskillin offers a gift pack with three 50-millilitre bottles (one each of Cabernet Franc, Riesling and Vidal), or give the individual 50-millilitre Vidal as a stocking stuffer.

Lowdown: Inniskillin Ice Wine gift three-pack costs $29.95; individual Vidal is around $8 to $10, at liquor commissions across Canada.

For the tree hugger

Knowledge Is Power

Everyone wants to save energy, but things get confusing if you’re not sure the power-guzzling culprit is Dad’s beer fridge, Sally’s Xbox or Grandma’s plasma TV. An electricity usage monitor like the delightfully-named Kill A Watt EZ not only tells the concerned consumer how much energy their appliances are using but also how much it’s costing by entering in the price, per kilowatt, they’re being charged by their power company.

Lowdown: $49.99. .

Final Vinyl

You know that family member who’s still clinging desperately to his old Supertramp and Peter Frampton records, even if he hasn’t owned a turntable since the dawn of CDs? Here’s a unique and eco-friendly gift idea. Sneak one of their favourites (preferably a really scratched, unplayable one), and send it off to eco-artist and vinyl melter extrodinaire Jeff Davis at Uncommon Goods to have it transformed into a stylish serving bowl. If you’re lucky, the rest of the collection should be safely in the yard sale pile by next summer.

Lowdown: Custom bowls are $50 plus $12 shipping (allow three weeks). Non-custom bowls also available for $25. (888) 365-0056;

A Gift That Leaves No Trace

Leave no environmental footprint with your shopping by making a gift donation to a green charity this year. A few of the bigger Canadian enviro groups looking for help are the Wildlife Conservation Society Canada (tel: 416-850-9038), which strives to protect wildlife habitats; the David Suzuki Foundation (tel: 800-453-1533;, which has been working for years to protect at-risk species like the polar bear and inform Canadians about global warming; and Friends of the Earth Canada (tel: 888-385-4444;, which spearheads a number of grassroots campaigns to protest river dammings and park closures across the country.

Lowdown: If you’re not sure which charity is the best match for your loved one, you can buy a gift card from Canada Helps ( and they can apply the amount to the organization of their choice.

For the techy

Get Kitted Out

“Hello, Michael. Where do you want to go today?” Those immortal words were uttered by the unflappable talking TransAm KITT, the hallmark of high-tech and true star of the ’80s action show Knight Rider, which also featured a pre-Baywatch David Hasselhoff as leather-clad crimebuster Michael Knight. Well, real technology has finally caught up with ’80s futurism: Mio’s new Knight Rider GPS offers driving directions in KITT’s voice thanks to the participation of the show’s original car actor William Daniels — it even utters that same classic line when you boot it up!

Lowdown: $259.99. (866) 454-4426;

Easy Rider

Wasn’t the digital age supposed to be easy? Most camcorders and cameras are so overburdened with bells and whistles it’s often impossible to figure out how the heck to access them, let alone transfer your video of the kitty-cat playing with a ball of yarn — even if all the right drivers and discs are loaded. Pure Digital’s inexpensive Flip Ultra dispenses with all that fancy stuff and does just one thing: point-and-click video. With only a couple of buttons to contend with and built-in video viewing and editing software (not to mention an integrated USB connector), even the most technologically-challenged should soon be a menace on YouTube.

Lowdown: $159.

Geekster’s Paradise

Want to ramp up your geek cred this holiday season? Give the die hard computer gamer on your shopping list Microsoft’s new SideWinder gaming mouse. Highly customizable, allowing the player to adjust the screen resolution, the glidability and even the heft of the mouse (thanks to a set of tiny removable metal weights), this mouse is practically guaranteed to jack up scores on popular PC video games like Assasin’s Creed. Don’t try to understand it, just know your vid kid will adore it.

Lowdown: $89.99. (866) 454-4426;

This article was accurate when it was published. Please confirm rates and details directly with the companies in question.


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