Team Members – Page 2 – The Great Canadian Travel Co.


November 10, 2020 | Lois Farley

This Remembrance Day we’d like to honour members of our own families and friends who have served during war time and in regular military service. Shauna Cook: Please read my blog for more information about these servicemen who I am honouring for their service. Edward William Cook, my husband’s Great …

November 10, 2020 | Shauna Cook

Edward William Cook (my husband Martyn’s Great Grandad) –  Edward William Cook and was born in Dover. Kent, England on the 29/07/1911 and lived in the north of England from his teenage years.  He joined the Royal Navy at Chatham Kent on 14/ 9/1939 as a Sickbay attendant. He wore …

November 10, 2020 | Lois Farley

George Henry Hambley (1896-1983) My Uncle George enlisted in the Canadian Expeditionary Force at age 18, on the 13 October, 1915 at Camp Sewell (which later became Camp Hughes), near Carberry, MB. He served in France, Belgium, and Germany and was involved in some major battles including Ypres, Mons, Cambrai, …


In Memoriam – Diane DeMare, CTC

November 10, 2015 | Lois Farley

07 March, 2019
It is with heavy hearts we announce the passing last evening of our beloved colleague, Diane, after a brief but fierce battle with brain cancer. Diane will be deeply missed by all of us at Great Canadian Travel and by her clients, who received a very personal level of service from her through the years. We’ll miss her gentle, calming presence in the office; her big, bright smile and magnificent head of wavy hair. Our thoughts and prayers are especially with her husband and daughter, all of her family and friends at this sad time. May she be at peace in her next level of being.

Who is Diane:
Diane is a bilingual English/French agent in the travel industry with over 25 years experience and has been with GCTC since June 2009. She is a Certified Travel Consultant as well as a Certified Destination France Agent. Diane has had the privilege of travelling to various countries and much of Canada, including the Great White Northwest Territories and Churchill and the United States. She has also travelled to the Caribbean, Europe and Asia, including Malaysia.  She is often asked, “What is your favorite place to visit?” My answer is that I generally prefer not to go back to the same place twice although Europe always seems to be calling me; perhaps because my ancestors are from Belgium and France.

TOP 5 travel experiences

  • Travelling to France for a unique experience of staying aboard a luxury parisian barge the ‘Bateau Simpatico’ overlooking the Eiffel Tower. On that same journey, she toured the French Riviera including the famous Monte Carlo Casino and the beaches of St Tropez.
  • Visiting England and seeing Oxford University and Stonehenge. Attending a soccer/football game of Manchester United vs Aston Villa. Among the top tourist London sights she visited Buckingham Palace and the Tower of London and saw the show ‘Les Miserables’ in the Queen’s Theatre.
  • Staying in a hotel famous around the world thanks to the James Bond film «On Her Majesty’s Secret Service». It sits atop Mt. Pilatus near Lucerne. Switzerland, and is accessible by aerial cable car.
  • Experiencing the luxury train ‘the Rocky Mountaineer’ from Vancouver through our own Canadian Rockies ending in Calgary.
  • Travelling to Malaysia and Indonesia for an 8 night tour which included 8 nights at The Ritz Carlton Hotel in Kuala Lumper and a stay on the small island of Penang as well as a stay on the island of Bali.

What is Diane’s closing comment:
One is never lost….Sometimes you find yourself in the middle of nowhere; and sometimes in the middle of nowhere, you find yourself ~ author unknown

Karen Pearson, CTC

November 10, 2015 | Karen Pearson

Who is Karen:
Karen often refers to herself as the Accidental Travel Agent. While in University studying education she was at a crossroads in her life, questioning what she really wanted to pursue. It reminded her of how some clients look to us to suggest what kind of trip they should plan or where they should go. So she has always been able to relate. She decided that pursuing Travel and Tourism was the route for her and, as they say, the rest is history. She has worked in the travel industry now for almost 20 years, and has been at Great Canadian Travel since 2014, when she merged her own travel agency into ours. Karen’s favourite part of her job is experiencing trips through the excitement of her clients. Being a part of their experience and their holiday is so rewarding.

Top 5 Travel Experiences:

  • Six weeks exploring Bolivia and Peru
  • Soaking in the French-inspired atmosphere in Quebec City
  • Seeing the Great Barrier Reef in Australia
  • The stunning scenery around Banff, Lake Louise and Jasper in the Canadian Rockies
  • Escaping the Winnipeg winter to scuba dive in Cuba

What is Karen’s closing comment:
Our team here at Great Canadian Travel has been to so many places and has experienced so many adventures and challenges, you will truly be in good hands with us. Not every trip is about the adventure of a lifetime, sometimes you just want to get away and need someone to help you book your hotel and airfare. We take the time to give you the personal, hands-on service you need to make it easy for you. After all, isn’t that what a trip should be about? I look forward to talking to you!

Corina Parisien, CTC

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

Allison Silvaggio, CTC

November 04, 2015 | Allison Silvaggio

Who is Allison:

Allison has been in the travel industry since 1997, and employed with Great Canadian Travel for the past 15 years. After graduating from the Travel Program at Success Compu-College she spent a year working & travelling abroad in Australia.  She was employed at SeaWorld, and was known as the ‘Canuck’ at the Italian Restaurant she worked at on the Gold Coast.

She has a passion for designing itineraries for Iceland, Greenland and the Faroe Islands.  And, specializes in expedition cruising in the Arctic, North Atlantic and Antarctica. Allison has travelled to some of the remote communities in Arctic Canada and has a love for selling travel within this amazing country, including the Yukon, NWT, and Nunavut.

Allison has just celebrated her 15 year anniversary with her husband Mark, and they share two very energetic and creative sons, Nicholas and Liam.

Together, they enjoy travelling, spending time at their cabin, along with activities such as tennis and golf.

What are Allison’s TOP 5 travel experiences:

  • Experiencing culture, history and wildlife during the Northwest Passage from Kangerlussuaq, Greenland to Kugluktuk, Arctic Canada
  • Snowshoeing in Antarctica
  • Kayaking with the Beluga Whales in Churchill, MB
  • 8km hike from Tjornuvik to Saksun in the amazing Faroe Islands
  • Camping safari in South Africa, Botswana and Zimbabwe

What is Allison’s closing comment?
Wherever your travels may take you, always remember to take that moment to pause, breathe and take it all in. Plus, try one of the local beers!

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.

Lois Farley, CTC

November 17, 2014 | Lois Farley

Who is Lois:
Lois is currently Product Manager. She joined the Great Canadian Travel team in March 2000, starting out as an airfare specialist, then represented Icelandair in Canada, handled Sales & Marketing as well as specializing in Iceland, Greenland, the Faroe Islands, Norway and expedition cruises in the Arctic and Antarctic.

She grew up on a farm near Forrest, MB and moved to Winnipeg to attend university pursuing a phys-ed degree, then obtained a travel diploma from Angus College. Since graduating she worked in the industry as a travel consultant, a reservations agent/fares specialist for Canadian Airlines and in the sales/ticketing office for KLM Royal Dutch Airlines.

Lois married Yianni in 1993 in a tiny, country chapel in Greece and they have two daughters, Lea and Giorgia. They live in Winnipeg and travel frequently to Greece to visit family and friends there. She and her daughters are ardent Winnipeg Jets fans and cheer on the Toronto Blue Jays, Winnipeg Goldeyes, Winnipeg Blue Bombers, Canada’s men’s and women’s volleyball teams and Canadian tennis players.  During Euro Cup 2016, Lois became a big fan of the Icelandic soccer team – Afram Island!

One of Lois’ favourite places to travel to is Ireland – even her profile picture is taken there, learning to pour a Guinness. Her maternal grandmother and other great-grandparents all emigrated from County Antrim, so this is a very special place for her. But, she loves the whole island and all of the incredible experiences it holds.

What are Lois’ TOP 5 travel experiences:

  • Climbing Ayers Rock (now called Uluru) at dawn, and looking out over the ancient lands of the Aboriginals of central Australia. Much to the disappointment of one of the people on our group, there was no Coke machine at the top.
  • Sailing into the fjords of Torngat National Park in northern Labrador. I had no idea there was anywhere like that in Canada – stunning!
  • Visiting the monasteries of Meteora in central Greece, the cliff-side villages of Santorini, the ancient sites of Knossos in Crete, Mycenae and Olympia in the Peloponnese, skiing on Mt. Parnassos in the morning and having lunch in the afternoon beside the sea.  Greece is amazing.
  • Hiking the Samaria Gorge in Crete and the Milford Track in New Zealand – completely different hikes, but both incredible experiences.
  • Backpacking through Europe for almost a year; from Greece in the south to the northern tip of Scotland, Bergen Norway to the beaches of the Algarve in Portugal. A better education than any classroom could ever give!

What is Lois’ closing comment:
“In the short term, it would make me happy to go play outside. In the long term, it would make me happier to do well at school and become successful. But, in the VERY long term, I know which will make better memories”.
– Bill Watterson, Calvin and Hobbes: It’s a Magical World

So, go outside and play whenever you can! Life is too short to regret what you could have, would have, should have done!

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.