Flash Back Friday

RENDEZVOUS CANADA –1985
A story by David Boulding

Jim and Myrna at a Rendez-vous tradeshow.

Jim and Myrna at a Rendez-vous tradeshow.

Some 25 years ago, maybe longer, Jim and Myrna were invited to the second year of Rendezvous Canada. This is a federally funded high profile project that connects the best international buyers and sellers of quality tourism products from around the world to the finest Canadian tourist operators.

Strathcona was a unique Canadian product, in a picture perfect place, with a special focus on children and families, because of this S.P.L. was in on the ground floor. While the Lodge started as a trout and salmon fishing place in the summer and did not directly focus on children in the early years, by 1970, the focus was all children and then in a few years the focus broadened to include families. This approach later was expanded to include our famous Elder Hostel program which specialized in grandparents and grandkids. Frank LaFleche, who ran Rendezvous, said what was so attractive was that S.P.L. was a truly unique Canadian backcountry experience.

Rendezvous Canada is a “by invitation only” annual trade show for tourism. Myrna has been attending for years. Originally Jim and Myrna enjoyed the program not just for the business contacts, but also because they got a well de- served holiday and a chance to see much of Canada, as the show is in a different Canadian location each year.
Myrna’s marketing efforts paid dividends. We have had groups and single travellers from Germany, France, England, Japan, Australia, Italy, and New Zealand. On one memorable show, as Frank’s successor Paul was being introduced to the show crowd of 2 or 3 thousand folks, Jim marched up to the microphone and gave his hat to the new head of Rendezvous. That simple gesture of giving away his most visible aspect of his daily costume, made Jim immediately recognizable to all in the room. It was another example of Jim using his physical size, and big heart to make himself know all over Canada.

A most memorable trip was to the show in the Atlantic provinces. They enjoyed a bus trip to Peggy’s Cove on a gorgeous sunny, but cold day. They met many other operators and bought several patch work quilts. For years, the dining room at the Lodge was called The Quilted Whale. The exchanges were always beneficial as Jim and Myrna learned a lot from other tourist people and brought home new ideas and made new friends. The bonding with others always paid off, especially with some of the European wholesalers. It did not hurt that Jim was a gregarious, larger than life person, with a brainy and attractive wife.

The one problem Jim had with being married to a young looking wife was at a large Rotary function in Campbell River in the late 1970’s. Several people thanked Jim for coming and were pleased that he brought his daughter, Myrna!