Back to articles

RI District 1220 Friendship Exchange visit -Canada

Dear Canadian Rotarian friends,

You were all so kind to us that we are writing a joint email to you all so that you can find out about the experiences we enjoyed with other Canadian Rotarians on our Rotary International Friendship Exchange visit to Canada last autumn. We heard so much about all the effective and supportive Rotarian work you do in Canada, and returned full of new ideas about what we can try here in Hope Valley.

Val and Ron, you gave us the most wonderful start to our Canadian trip in Camrose. Chilling out by the lake helped us to recover from the journey and as for the flight in the Float Plane, that is something we'll talk about for a long time to come.

Suresh and Sherry also made us most welcome. The visit to the Museum in Edmonton certainly made 'the Earth move'. For those of you who haven't visited Fort Edmonton, the cinema show has a surprising feature as the chairs shake at certain parts of the film. This visit certainly gave us a fascinating insight into the first settlers and what they had to contend with in a new country. We hope that your snowbird trip has lots of sunshine and good company when you meet up with your migrating friends again.

We had a few more unexpected days in Edmonton, the highlight of which was the Ukrainian Museum.

Rita, a Rotarian from Bakewell Club and Chris managed to get locked in the cell at the Police Station. The Policeman's wife was quite surly!

Every building has one or two people in it to answer your questions. They ALL stay in character even if you desperately try to talk about the 21st century.  We asked the blacksmith/farrier questions about shoeing horses and said that in the UK the cost was about C$90 - the farrier looked aghast and told us that I shouldn't be paying more than C$2.00.  

We also managed to see the bison living in their own habitat. I dare say that that'd adapt well to the countryside where we live.

The next part of our visit was an adventure in itself as we had to travel from Edmonton to Grande Prairie...... in a yellow school bus. This will be donated by G.P. Rotary Club to Mexico (I think) later this year. Leo, from Grande Prairie, took some of us in his car and the remainder travelled by bus. Cushions were provided and it was quite comfortable and a lot of fun was had by all.

In Grande Prairie we were hosted by Verne and RoseAline. Just seeing your garage was fascinating!!! So many pairs of skis, bikes and other equipment  showed us what an outdoor life you lead in Canada. We both recall the visit to your Church, where, like everyone else we met in Canada, we were made to feel so welcome. You were also great hosts.

We enjoyed the theatre and meeting your son and his family. The picnic by the river will also stay in the memory for a long time as we have never tasted sweet corn so delicious. Just rolling it in all that butter.... yum! We hope you returned safely in the school bus Verne, after driving us to our next stop in Jasper.

We'll always remember the giant of a man who wasn't sure who he was going to meet at the hotel. It turned out to be us! Thank you Val and John for being our final hosts on our Canadian adventure. Val you certainly pulled out all the stops to make our visit to Jasper most memorable. How did you get that grizzly bear to pose for us by the roadside?

Lake Maligne is wonderful and the trip in the cable car gave us a fantastic view of your beautiful area. Hearing about your days with the Wranglers was exciting in itself Val.

At this point we 'lost' three of our party who returned to Edmonton for a final day as they had to fly home to work!!! The remainder of us caught the train for a beautiful journey through the Rockies to Prince George. The tourist train has to stop and allow freight to pass so we resorted to childhood games of counting the trucks.....boy, are those trains long. Someone counted more than a hundred and thirty pieces of rolling stock!

After a day in Prince George we caught a flight to Vancouver. The scenery from above the Rockies was stunning but even geographical amateurs such as us noticed the shrinking glaciers.

We had been booked into a lovely hotel by Coal Harbour for four days. Some of our friends bought two-day 'on/off' bus passes but, as Ian can't walk far for long periods of time, we hired a car so that we could do some lengthier exploring. We discovered amazing parks which we think makes Vancouver an attractive place to live.

We drove to Whistler and saw it without all the snow, which must be unusual for a British tourist as most go there for the skiing.

At this point we were on our own as our friends had set off to see Niagara Falls but we decided to spend the extra time around Vancouver. The parts of the city we saw were delightful but, we did see it in sunshine, so I wonder what it's like in the rain?

On our final day we ventured further afield to visit Harrison Hot Springs and HOPE. Living in Hope, U.K. we just had to visit Hope, British Colombia. Hope U.K. has hills. Hope B.C. has mountains. Everything is bigger in Canada! It looked like an interesting town and we wish we could have stayed longer. Now we want to see the Rambo First Blood film that was made there thirty years ago.

So now we are back down to earth. The weather has been gloomy since we returned and there are snow flurries forecast for the weekend. I wonder if the cold has hit you yet?


We will always remember your kindness and wonderful hospitality and hope that we can repay you soon, should you decide to visit the U.K. either with your Rotary Club or independently.

With love and kindest regards to you all.

Christine & Ian