Latest News

Great Canada Day Freebies Across the Country!

Great Canada Day Freebies Across the Country!

By Kate Musgrove

Canada Day is right around the corner and there are fun, free events to celebrate across the country. Here's a quick look at some of best:

  • If you're near a National Park, head over on July 1 for free admission! Lots of parks will have music activities, tours and other fun freebies in addition to the free admission.
  • In Toronto, you can celebrate Canada Day at Mel Lastman Square starting at 5 PM with a mini circus from Zero Gravity Circus, free face painting, musical acts and fireworks, or you can head to Queen's Park from 10 AM to 5 PM for crafts, midway rides, a rocket-making workshop and more.
  • In Calgary, the fun starts at 9:30 AM with a First Nations Powwow at Prince's Island Park. They will also have a living Canadian Flag (with a free t-shirt for the first 3,000 people to check in) and more.
  • In Vancouver, you can celebrate at Canada Place from 10 AM to 6 PM with live music and entertainment plus a circus show, activities for kids and more. There's also a Canada Day Parade at 7 PM. Or you can head to Granville Island for free events starting at 10 AM.
  • In Mississauga, kids can attend Camp Canuck from 2-6 PM in Celebration Square. Free events include a children's show with Alex from Madagascar, the MaracaTALL Stilt Drumming Troupe and Extreme Trampoline Shows!
  • In Montreal, there are freebies and fun from 11 AM to 11 PM at Old Port. The events include bounce houses, face painting, music and fireworks.
  • In Ottawa, events on Parliament Hill start at 9 AM and go through 10 PM.
Recall Roundup: Lululemon Jackets, Allerject Epinephrine Injector, Kirkland Peanut Butter + More

Recall Roundup: Lululemon Jackets, Allerject Epinephrine Injector, Kirkland Peanut Butter + More

By Kate Musgrove

The Lululemon recall has been all over the news, but really, lots of products are recalled for one reason or another every month. We think it's important to be informed of all the latest safety recalls so here's a roundup of what's been recalled in Canada recently.

And if you haven't heard about the Lululemon recall we mentioned above, it applies to more than 185,000 jackets, hoodies, tops and tunics with elasticized drawstrings. If you've got one, remove the drawstring or contact Lululemon new, non-elastic cord to replace it. You can reach them at gec@lululemon.com or 1 (877) 263-9300.

New Survey Says Tim Hortons is Canada's Most Trusted Brand

By Kate Musgrove

A new survey reveals that Tim Hortons is Canada's most trusted brand. I have to imagine that at least some of that is residual/nostalgic fondness for the classic, hockey player-owned doughnut shops of yesteryear (even though they were acquired by Burger King/3G Capital in 2014).

The full top ten from the Gustavson Brand Trust Index are as follows:

  • Tim Hortons
  • President's Choice
  • Shoppers Drug Mart
  • Google
  • Canadian Tire
  • Kraft Foods
  • Campbell Soup Company
  • Heinz
  • Canada Post
  • Johnson & Johnson

I have to admit I was surprised to see Google make the list. They're a wonderful, innovative company, but they have access to so much data and people aren't always happy with how they use it.

What brand do you trust most? This survey defined "functional trustworthiness" as the "quality and value" of a brand (something I think is not necessarily synonymous with trust) along with how sincere, caring and honest it is.

Best Birthday Freebies in Canada (2015)!

Best Birthday Freebies in Canada (2015)!

By Kate Musgrove

If your birthday is coming up, you'll definitely want to check out this list -- it's all the very best Birthday Freebies in Canada!

  • Booster Juice: join the Booster Nation club (it's free) for a free Booster Juice on your birthday.
  • Sephora: If you're a Beauty Insider, you can shop online or visit in-store at any time during your birthday month and get a free gift. It varies from year to year -- in 2015, it's a NARS Lipstick duo. The Beauty Insider program is free.
  • Boston Pizza: members of the Boston Pizza MyBP club (which is free to join) will get a free dessert on their birthday (along with a free appetizer for signing up and a free two-topping pizza on your first MyBP anniversary).
  • What-a-Bagel: buy six bagels and get six free.
  • Baskin Robbins: join Club 31 (it's free) and get a coupon for Buy One, Get One Free ice cream scoops and $3 off any $20+ cake.

Most of these deals require photo ID so they can verify your birthday. In some cases you'll need to join their loyalty program at least a week before your birthday to get the freebie, so you may want to sign up now so you don't miss any free gifts on your next birthday.

What's your favourite Birthday Freebie? Did we miss any good ones?

With the Decline of Snail Mail, Canada Post Focuses on E-commerce and Launches FlexDelivery!

With the Decline of Snail Mail, Canada Post Focuses on E-commerce and Launches FlexDelivery!

By Kevin Ngai

Last month, Canada Post officially introduced a new service called FlexDelivery that allows online shoppers greater control over their deliveries.

With FlexDelivery you can now have your packages sent to any one of Canada Post’s 6000 postal outlets for pick up. This is a great way of saving yourself from the frustration of missing another parcel. It means the online purchase that you would have normally missed while you were at work can now be sent to any post office of your choice instead of your home. Canada Post will send you an email and hold your package for free up to 15 days at your preferred pick-up location.

This is a convenient and secure shipping service for anyone who shops online but are not home to receive their purchases. I love the fact you can add as many post offices as you like and use any one of them as FlexDelivery addresses. To begin using FlexDelivery, simply follow this link to the Canada Post website and sign up.

Despite rumours to the contrary, Canada Post is not dead yet -- even as email devours traditional letter deliveries. Canada Post appears to be intent on making itself indispensable to e-commerce, defined by the growth of ambitious retailers such as Amazon and Walmart who have already adopted shipping options with pick-up point locations at Canada Post outlets this past year.

Gap is Closing 175 Stores in North America

By Elaine Jair

Here's some surprising (or, unsurprising) news for you: Gap has recently announced that they are expecting to close 175 stores in North America.

The company has been struggling for a while due to the difficulty they've been having keeping up with the newest and hottest trends. As a result, they've been undergoing some major changes, including a change in management and now, store closures. By the end their fiscal year on January 31, 2016, 140 stores across North America will close down. The remaining 35 stores will close afterwards.

Gap has confirmed that some Canadian locations will close down, but they haven't yet disclosed which locations will be affected. Ultimately, the decision will be made based on the location and performance of the stores.

Currently, Gap has about 90 stores in Canada.

Walmart Filler Items: $1-$5 Items to Bump You Up to Free Shipping

By Kate Musgrove

Ever since Walmart institued a $50 order minimum for free shipping a few months ago, customers with orders over $40 but under $50 have had to decide if they want to bite the bullet and pay for shipping or try to nudge their order over $50. If you're just shy of $50, you might consider stopping by the Candy & Gum section of Walmart.ca where items start at $1 and virtually everything ships for free if it's included in a $50+ order. For a little more substance (in cost and nutrition), the Breakfast Cereal section has items from Kellogg's, General Mills and Quaker in the $2-$5 range. If you don't feel like ordering food, another great category to check for low-cost, universally appealing items is Office Supplies -- you can grab a package of pencils, a notebook or a marker for about $1. You can also pick up toothbrushes and toothpaste each for about $1, and if you don't happen to need a new toothbrush right now, they're always needed at homeless shelters.

And of course, you can always check out the Rollbacks Page for more ideas.

If you're just not near $50 and still don't want to pay extra for shipping, Walmart does offer free shipping to Canada Post Outlets on all orders, regardless of total, as long as they are less than 66 lbs and under 78.7 inches in length.

I'll admit that I'm happy to spend a little more on products to snag free shipping -- we have a communal snack table here at the RFD HQ and given the choice between a $48 product and $5 in shipping or a $48 product, $3 worth of jelly beans for my coworkers to eat and free shipping, I'll pick jelly beans every time. What about you?

survey solutions

Top Ten Foods Available Only in Canada

By Jeff Novak

Canada is known for many things: hockey, freezing cold winters, universal healthcare and extraordinary politeness to name a few. One thing Canada is not known for is its food. It is hard to identify quintessential Canadian cuisine and it isn’t like people around the world are going to their local Canadian restaurant (“Who’s in the mood for Canadian food tonight?).

There are, however, some Canadian foods that any expat living outside of Canada will tell you how much they miss:

1. Coffee Crisp From the classic commercial (“I like my Coffee…Crisp!”) to the wafferlicious crunch, there is just something so comforting about a Coffee Crisp bar. The taste is difficult to describe to someone who has never had one. Alternating layers of vanilla wafer and coffee-flavoured foam candy, covered in chocolate, its like someone turned a latte into a chocolate bar.

2. Ketchup Chips: it is a mystery why ketchup-flavoured chips are not available in the United States. It seems like such an obvious flavour: French fries are made of potato and go well with ketchup, so why wouldn’t potato chips? Though they don’t quite taste like ketchup and some find the flavour overpowering, many a Canadian kid has been sent to wash that dark red ketchup seasoning off their hands before they get it all over the house.

3. Crush Cream Soda: what to say about a soft drink that is an un-natural bright pink, smells wonderfully like vanilla and tastes as sweet as can be? While Crush soft drinks are available in multiple flavours all over the world, only Canadians get to enjoy the sweet, sweet nectar that is Crush Cream Soda. Interestingly, while the drink is pink all across Canada, it is clear in both Quebec and Newfoundland Labrador.

4. Jos Louis: a snack-cake consisting of two round slices of red velvet cake sandwiching a cream filling and covered in chocolate. Also available in a half moon shape (1/2 Joe Louis, though who would want that?), Jos Louis’s have been the go to after school snack for Canadian kids since 1932. While Entenmann’s tried to copy it in the U.S. with their originally named Enten-Mini's Chocolate Half Rounds, there is nothing like the original, CANADIAN Jos Louis.

5. Hickory Sticks: another potato chip snack to make this list. Hickory Sticks are potato sticks with genuine “simulated hickory smoke” flavour. One of the last surviving products of the once-massive Hostess Potato Chip company before it was absorbed by Lays. The size of the sticks made it seem like there were more in the bag than any other kind of chip. Many Canadians will swear that a bag of Hickory Sticks seemed to last forever.

6. McDonald's BBQ Sauce: yes, I know McDonald's serves BBQ sauce in the US and other countries, but none of them are quite like the magical concoction we have here in Canada. While the US version is more of a traditional, smoky sauce, we Canadians are treated to one with a more indescribable taste. Is it sweet? Is it tangy? Smoky? Whatever the taste, there is almost nothing that McDonald's serves that doesn’t taste better dipped into that liquid gold.

7. Smarties: go into a store in the US and ask for Smarties and you will be amazed at what you are given. Not those wonderful brightly coloured, candy-coated, shined to a high gloss drops of chocolate we have here, but small, round sugary candies that we call “Rockets”. While the debate goes continues on whether the different colours actually taste different, the only real debate is whether or not you eat the red ones last?

8. Kinder Eggs: did you know that you can be arrested at the border trying to bring Kinder Eggs into the United States? They are illegal there and considered contraband. Only we Canadians get to experience the sheer joy of eating that chocolate shell, lined with that silky white coating, all the while eager to find out what surprise is contained inside. Did you know that there are entire (very successful) YouTube channels that only show people unwrapping and opening Kinder Eggs to show the prize inside?

9. Nanaimo Bars: what would a list of Canadian foods be without including these delicious, no bake bars that originated in Nanaimo, BC? Are they a brownie? A chocolate bar? They are full of chocolately, custardly, crispy wafer goodness…so does it really matter?

10. Poutine: I know people will tell you that they can get poutine all over the world. As Canadians we have only one response to that…if it doesn’t “squeak”, than it isn’t poutine.

With all of the amazing foods available only in Canada, I know I must have missed some. What Canadian only foods do you think deserve a place on the list?

Twitter is Lifting the 140-Character Limit on Direct Messages

Twitter is Lifting the 140-Character Limit on Direct Messages

By Kate Musgrove

Here's great news for frequent tweeters -- Twitter is lifting the 140-character limit on direct messages sometime soon. Direct messages are private messages sent directly to another Twitter user. They've always been limited to the same 140 characters that a tweet is, but Twitter is going to rolling out a change that lifts that restriction sometime in July.

A few months ago, Twitter announced group direct messages, another nice feature. With multiple recipients and no limit on characters, Twitter direct messaging looks a lot like email!

Twitter says there are no plans to lift or change the character limit on tweets.

Amazon.ca Expanding to Include Apparel and Footwear

Amazon.ca Expanding to Include Apparel and Footwear

By Elaine Jair

Amazon has been making some huge moves in recent weeks to pull ahead in the online retail market. Most of the changes have been U.S-centric, but now, Canadians will get to enjoy some these new changes as Amazon.ca has just announced that they are now including apparel and footwear to their already massive online selection.

That's right -- on top of shopping for your home, office, outdoors equipment, electronics, pets, and pantry items, you can now shop for clothes, footwear and accessories as well. Unlike most online apparel retailers, Amazon.ca's goal isn't to target a specific customer - instead, they're looking to cover a huge variety of styles instead, while offering good value and a great experience.

By working with both retailers and third-party sellers, they've introduced over 1.5 million styles to their website. So far, we've spotted styles from brands, such as Speedo, True Religion, PUMA and more. The pickings are pretty slim at the moment, but then again, this store just launched, so we're not expecting to find too much variety. In terms of pricing, you won't find some super great deals yet and for styles sold by third party retailers, you will still need to pay a pretty hefty shipping fee.

If you're familiar with Amazon.com, you're probably aware that Amazon.com has been offering apparel for a while now. Amazon.com's store is still vastly different from Amazon.ca, but this is a step in the right direction in making the gap between Amazon.com and Amazon.ca a tad smaller.

The store is currently in Beta-mode, which means I'll be expecting to see some changes and improvements made over time. As an extra incentive to get you to try this new service, Amazon.ca is offering free shipping and returns on eligible items.