Team Members | The Great Canadian Travel Co. - Part 2


March 14, 2023 | Pearl McCallum

We want to paint a picture for you.   Imagine you’re at a gathering with friends and acquaintances. It’s a fairly large group, let’s say around 15-20 people. Just as you begin to get hungry, someone brings out a large, layered cake. It’s smothered in rich, chocolate buttercream frosting – …

June 29, 2022 | Lois Farley

Way back in 2017 I wrote a blog in recognition of Canada Day; 50 Great Things Canada Contributed to the World. Since I wrote that blog I’ve been studying about the Indigenous peoples who have lived on this land we now call Canada for millennia – the First Nations and …

March 17, 2022 | Lois Farley

Saint Patrick’s Day brings Ireland and all things Irish to a lot of people’s minds. And, those of us lucky enough to be Irish or are of Irish descent, particularly so! My ancestors on both sides of my family emigrated to Canada from Ireland back in the mid to late …

March 1, 2022 | Allison Silvaggio

There are so many things that we miss when it comes to travel, such as exploring new places, trying new things and meeting new people.  What I miss the most, are those extremely peaceful moments where you can just take it all in.  Whether you are enjoying a beautiful hike, …


Corina Parisien

November 10, 2015 | Corina Parisien

Who is Corina:
Corina has been part of the GCTC team in an accounting role since 1998. Corina grew up on a farm in southwest Manitoba and will always be a country girl at heart. When Corina is not at work, she enjoys spending time with her husband and family. She loves camping, tennis, cycling and curling.

What are Corina’s TOP 5 travel experiences:

  • Cruising the Panama Canal! This was a bucket list trip for her father and she had the opportunity to experience it with him and her brother. As a first time cruiser, and as someone who had never left North America, it was an amazing experience
  • Canoe tour through the mangroves near Cartagena, Columbia
  • White water rafting on the Chattanooga River
  • Watching a live NFL game at AT&T Stadium
  • Lakeside camping, hiking and canoeing at Rushing River in Lake of the Woods

What is Corina’s closing comment:
Happiness is a journey, not a destination. –Ben Sweetland

Arnie Hydamaka

November 01, 2015 | Arnie Hydamaka

Who is Arnie:
Arnie is the Africa Specialist here at Great Canadian Travel Company. We call him our Dr. Africa! He has been to Africa about forty times (he’s lost count) as a tourist, travel agent, and tour leader, and has slept on the ground under the African skies and stayed at some of the most exquisite safaris camps imaginable. Arnie grew up in Flin Flon, Manitoba and has a PhD in Food Science (so, he really is a Dr.!). Growing up he had an uncle who always threatened to send him to Timbuktu when he misbehaved at home. Later, he found out that Timbuktu was a real place and yes, he has now been to Timbuktu and back 2 ½ times. Introducing people to Africa is a passion of Arnie’s.

Top 5 Travel Experiences:

  • Being a trailblazer on first trip to Africa – Destination was Lake Turkana (Northern Kenya)
  • Lunch of fish (and sand) overlooking the dunes at Timbuktu
  • Witnessing the Migration with wildebeest crossing the Mara River and crocodiles awaiting lunch
  • Riding the Ougadougou Choochoo
  • Market day (Mondays) at Djenne, Mali

What is Arnie’s closing comment:
Arnie has a bad back and says it is because he has lugged over 50 elephants back from Africa (they’re wooden, of course!). When friends say “Wow, that means a lot of dusting” he asks them, “Who dusts elephants?”

Shauna Cook, CTC

November 17, 2014 | Shauna Cook

Who is Shauna:

Shauna lived in southern and eastern Ontario until the age of 21, when she moved to Banff, Alberta. She expected to only stay in Alberta for about 6 months, but ended up staying for over 8 years. She met her husband there in 2006, they married in Las Vegas in 2010, and moved to Winnipeg in the fall of 2013 with their 2 cats Mr Vegas and Miss Money Penny (Penny for short).

Shauna has been with Great Canadian Travel since October 2013, and works as a Travel Consultant, specializing in the Top of the World, especially Iceland and Scandinavia.

Past travels have included Faroe Islands, Russia, Iceland, Greenland, Norway, Finland, Sweden, Denmark, Estonia, England, France, Belgium, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and Poland.

What are Shauna’s TOP 5 Travel experiences

  • Seeing St. Basil’s Cathedral in Moscow
  • Travelling along the Norwegian Coast by ship, taking the legendary “Norway in a Nutshell” tour and staying at the Snowhotel Kirkenes in Northern Norway
  • Seeing Eqi Glacier in Ilulissat, Greenland from both the water and the air
  • Witnessing incredible Northern Lights in Iceland
  • Exploring Old Town Tallinn, Estonia

What is Shauna’s closing comment:
‘Travelling leaves you speechless, then turns you into a storyteller.”  The way a favourite destination or travel experience brings a smile to a person’s face when they think or talk about it – that is why I love what I do.

Oksana Szwaluk, CTC

November 17, 2014 | Oksana Szwaluk

Who is Oksana:
Oksana was born and raised in Winnipeg, Manitoba. She came to The Great Canadian Travel Company as a Travel Consultant in 2007, dealing with a variety of clients, both leisure travellers and corporate clients. She enjoys building a relationships with clients that she has gotten to know over the years. Oksana is now our resident airfare and ticketing specialist and,  although the airfares she books may not all be to exotic locations, each travel booking is equally important to her.

Top 5 Travel Experiences

  • Travelling to Iceland, a company specialty and an always exciting place to visit.
  • Staying in a mobile lodge right on the tundra just outside of Churchill. Seeing the polar bears from the moment you wake up to the moment you go to sleep is an experience like none other.
  • Another northern experience – Alaska! The landscapes and the beauty of this part of the world is truly something to see.
  • Escaping the cold Winnipeg winters and to sip margaritas and lay on the beaches in Mexico and Cuba.
  • Hanging around with Goofy at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida.

What is Oksana’s closing comment:
Whether you’re flying for business or pleasure, on your own or with family members, each trip has a purpose and a meaning, big or small. Oksana is an experienced airfare and ticketing specialist and will always do her best to assist you in finding the most convenient flights at the best price to suit your specific, individual needs.

Margot Kalinowsky

November 17, 2014 | Margot Kalinowsky

Who is Margot:

Margot is a retried preschool teacher. During school breaks she was fortunate enough to travel extensively to all four points of the world. Sharing travel adventures with her Husband Ian and her Sons David and Derek is the greatest thrill. However recently she has enjoyed travelling with many of her family members and friends. This is of course add to the excitement of trave To date Margot has travelled to over 54 countries.

What are Margot’s TOP 5 travel experiences:

  • Experiencing the abundant wildlife on African safaris. From being mesmerized by the tens of thousands of wildebeest and zebras during the great migration on the Serengeti to waking up to visiting elephants, baboons or hippos outside her tent or gliding through the Okavanaga Delta in a Mokoro (Canoe) Africa and its wildlife is magical.
  • Once a teacher always a teacher. Interacting with children learning through the eyes of a child teaches us so much about the world. Listening to children sing and dance is always a highlight. Children make Margots’ heart sing.
  • Margot Loves the endless opportunities Northern Canada has to offer. From kayaking with beluga whales and sleeping out on the tundra looking for the magnificent polar bear.  Experiencing 24 hours of sunlight and celebrating Indigenous People Day in Najuaat on the Arctic Circle.
  • Participating in some amazing adventures in Peru. From sleeping at a research centre in the Manu Rain Forrest,  hiking the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu, to sandboarding in the desert  to sleeping on a island in Lake Titicaca. Peru has it all.
  • However, her most magical place in the world is her family cottage at Lake of the Woods, Ontario. She has spent over 50 years enjoying its beauty and sharing in its endless adventures and wonderful family memories. Margot feels truly blessed to have all of her extended family as her cottage neighbors.

What is Margot’s closing comment:  “The world is your Oyster!”

Ian Kalinowsky, B.A., B. Comm, CFA, CTC, CTM

November 17, 2014 | Ian Kalinowsky

Who is Ian:
Ian is the President and CEO, having purchased The Great Canadian Travel Company in the fall of 2014 from the founder Max Johnson (est. 1980). The interesting part of having Ian as the President is that he has no previous experience in the business of travel. However, after being uprooted at the age of 10 to live for 4 years in Peru and then 3 years in Guatemala, this experience started a lifelong love of travel.

After attaining degrees in economics, psychology and accounting, Ian built a high net worth money management firm with offices in Winnipeg and Calgary and then sold it to its employees who continue to successfully operate the firm. Ian has been married to Margot since 1985 and they have 2 adult children – David and Derek. Ian and Margot live in Winnipeg and spend a considerable amount of time at their cottage on an island at Lake of the Woods.

TOP 5 travel experiences

  • Have travelled to over 50 countries with Margot, David and Derek
  • Sitting completely alone on a sand dune on the border of Morocco and Algeria – a 2 day camel trek into the Sahara
  • Scuba diving to 80 ft with David amongst a school of bull Sharks (the deadliest sharks in the world) and watching the staggering majesty of these animals
  • Climbing through the early morning mist to the top of Whannu Picchu (the mountain that overlooks Macchu Pichu) to find out the only other person on the mountain was also from Winnipeg (small world)
  • To spend several hours watching 3 male cheetahs stalk, run down and kill an antelope. Despite the violence it was choreographed beauty.

What is Ian’s closing comment:
“Home is where your heart is.” Despite the vast amount of travel and the amazing sites and sounds and experiences in the world everyone has an ingrained notion of “home.” Ask a person “where is your home” and everyone will have an answer that hits deep into their character and soul. Sometime we travel in order that we may better know our home.