It feels like Toronto’s indie-folk darlings Birds of Bellwoods have long outgrown their nascent beginnings, yet the quartet is just coming off the release of their debut full-length Victoria (purchase a copy here), released last month via eOne. Like so much in life, we are once again shown that good things truly do come to those who wait, and, to celebrate the group’s monumental release, we are happy to have the band join us for a hilarious Top 10 list of memorable first Canadian tour pit stops.
10. Trenton OnRoute (Eastbound)
– This is your standard OnRoute, welcome to Ontario. Complete with a Jort Dogs, ADubs and all the gas you can guzzle. Be sure not to miss the vague yet inspiring quotes as you enter any of the four suspiciously clean bathrooms.
09. No Frills (in Moncton, NB)
– Not only are their tinned sardines extremely competitive in both price and portion, but we personally loaded up on all the essential ingredients here to make a low budget paella on our East Coast tour with The Pick Brothers Band. Great Flavour. Say hi to Allen.
For all the amateur ornithologists out there, remember to always “Let You Go” after tagging a beautiful specimen.
08. Port Hope OnRoute (Westbound)
– Though this is an older model of OnRoute, it has all one needs. Wendy’s (for JBCs), Jort Dogs, and a carnival-style claw game certain to elate any weary traveler. Do not use the first stall to the left in the men’s bathroom.
07. Ultramar (near Deception Bay, Nova Scotia)
– Thanksgiving, 2017. All the other stores were closed. Just before hope was lost, we found this gas station – a goose day miracle! Salty bois, tube steaks, hamb (correct spelling, we swear) and to top it all off, fireworks. Also, there is a large parking lot next door where Stevie learned how to drive. Don’t worry, no one else was in the car.
06. Red Deer Gas Station/Subway
– We met some awesome fans at this location around 2 am. That’s pretty much all we’ve got on this one. It’s a great pit stop to take during your ride from Calgary to Edmonton, though one might argue that is true of all of Red Deer.
The Victoria album dropped on October 19, 2018, via eOne.
05. Quebec Half Telephone Bathroom
– This is the eighth wonder of Quebec, certain to fill the onlooker with a sense of amazement and romance. Situated on the side of the highway, this simple stop has a grassy knoll, graffiti-ridden washroom, and a payphone that is designed for people three feet tall and under.
04. Lil Caesar’s on Kingston Road (Eastbound)
– Unquestionably the ideal place to begin a tour. Many of our finest rips have begun with Hot and Readys from this Lil C’s. At five dollars and a fifteen second wait time you simply can’t go wrong. Luckily, there is a bathroom within a twenty-minute drive as well.
03. That Petro Canada near North Bay
– One fateful and dark night, less than an hour from our destination, we managed to run completely out of gas… and luck. Or so we thought. This blessed Petro Canada was open at the wee hours of the morning. It saved our souls. Also, some delectable cheese curds at the counter. Say hi to George.
It might not help you sleep, but “Melatonin,” the song is definitely worth checking out.
02. Mallorytown OnRoute
– The ultimate OnRoute. Bruce Springsteen once said “You can’t find love on a Canadian Highway,” or maybe he didn’t. But one thing is for sure, if he did, he was wrong. Adrian can attest to that, having met his longtime partner for the first time in these hallowed halls. Honestly though, Swiss Chalet sauce is what puts this hot spot solidly at number two.
01. Highway 7 Gas Station Near Ottawa
– The pit. The stop. An oasis and an iceberg, magic to begin with but far more than meets the eye. Of course, you will find your standard gas, Subway sandwiches, etc… but what will keep you coming back is the fully stocked general store complete with moccasins, jerky, fireworks, sunglasses, gardening tools… You name it, they got it. Say hi to Janet.
Honourable Mention: Lake Louise Tea Hut
– This is in a league of its own, but we felt the need to spread the good word. Situated on the top of the Rockies in Lake Louise, this is the most serene and scenic place we have ever been as a band. We had a surreal experience in which we sang a cover of Fleet Foxes’ “Tiger Mountain Peasant Song” for our Instagram account and upon finishing the song, a lady appeared from the tea house and mentioned that she recognized our voices and had seen us play in Toronto earlier that year. It was magic. It made this vast country feel so small for a brief moment.