Canada pops into Pittsburgh's view

Exhibit by our neighbors to the north aims to attract tourists, businesses



So you think Canada is all snow, hockey and maple syrup, eh?

An exhibit that has popped up in Downtown Pittsburgh wants to expand your horizon.

It's Pop-Up Canada, a one-week visit by Canadian tourism and business representatives -- and an unmounted Mountie or two -- who are occupying the former Office Depot and Barnes & Noble space in the 600 block of Smithfield Street.

Stanley Cup makes appearance at Pop-Up Canada office

Pop-Up Canada has opened an office Downtown. In addition to visiting dignitaries, the Stanley Cup made an appearance. (Video by Andrew Rush; 4/7/2014)

Ontario gets a lot of interested Pittsburgh visitors, but it would like even more. Alberta also likes tourists, but it has more interest in national gas production here and is showing it off in the exhibit.

"Pittsburgh and Pennsylvania are important markets for Ontario," said Monique M. Smith, Ontario's governmental representative in Washington, D.C. "About 400,000 travel from here a year to Ontario. We'd like to grow that market, remind them how close that is. It's four and a half hours to Niagara Falls and six hours to Toronto from Pittsburgh."

Ms. Smith said her nation gets 11 million visitors a year from the United States, but added: "You're an important group to us. ... We'd like to see more people."

Ontario is emphasizing more than the typical tourist attractions. For example, there are flower-trimmed eating tables where visitors can get some food tastings made by Greg Waters, the "culinary ambassador" at Northern Edge Algonquin. Cave Spring wine also can be tasted to show off the province's wine. That will continue at various times through Wednesday.

While Alberta was showing fewer sights for vacation visitors, David Manning, Alberta's representative in the United States, noted that it was using photos to show off the Campede Stampede. The Stampede "is the largest outdoor rodeo on earth. But we're here with Ontario, which has a major tourism display. Ontario has lots to see here at the Pop-Up."

But Mr. Manning was very proud of Alberta's activity in the oil and gas industry, which is displayed at the Pop-Up.

"Alberta is a natural partner for this region because we have intense natural gas production," he said. "The most active oil and gas industry in Canada is in Alberta.

"There's a display here from General Electric, who is the leading technology company in Alberta on water management, and their water operation is based in Pennsylvania. So it's a strong leap between local Pennsylvania industry and Alberta industry."

And, of course, there is hockey. The Stanley Cup, won three times by the Penguins, made a brief appearance Monday. But if you missed it, a Hall of Fame exhibit featuring Penguins memorabilia will be shown from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Wednesday through Friday.

Other events include Ontario Tourism's fishing simulator, interactive Niagara Parks putting demonstrations and "spot the Mountie." Members of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police will be appearing around the region, and people are invited to take photos with the Mountie, then send them in to the show's website.


Pohla Smith: psmith@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1228.

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