Sunday, June 30, 2019

A Few Highlights from My Recent Canadian Simply Organics Balloon Tour.

Traveling to new and exciting places is definitely one of the perks of being a Qualatex Instructor. Sadly, we don't always get the time or the opportunities to really see much of the countries that we work in when we do get to go. But when those opportunities do arise, we certainly do what we can to grasp them.

Earlier this year, I was invited by Pioneer Canada to teach at three locations - Montreal, Toronto and Calgary. This was truly a dream come true, as Canada has been on the top of my bucket list of places that I wanted to teach/visit. And as a bonus my husband John, who works for Premium Balloon Accessories was able to join me for the tour!

The first stop of the tour was in Boucherville, Montreal. Boucherville is a suburb of Montreal on the South shore of the Saint Lawrence River and is the home of two Qualatex distributors - BLC International Inc. and SKS.

Alex & Ellie Ventura teaching
their balloon wall design .

Our tour started with a two-day training event with both myself as well as the very talented Alexandra and Ellie Ventura of Pacha Balloon Creations, in Vaughan, Ontario. Alex and Ellie's class was based around organic style decor. Their class including their fabulous Rose Gold  Microfoil Balloon Wall which they embellished with organic features. They also created a lovely canopy design, and wowed us all with the awesome Q-Boom system to explode two 3' Giant balloons! 

A huge shout out to the fabulous Lynn from SKS for being the translator for our classes! 

Lots of hands-on opportunities, learning great ideas and techniques!

Alex and Ellie show the delegates how to make these awesome numbers
using the organic style and in pastel colours! 

I love this wall, the precision of the foils versus the freeform flow of the organics! 

How cool is the Q Boom - Exploding Balloon System! 
So what did I learn from my time in Montreal? First of all, I never realised that Montreal was on an Island! The language spoken is predominantly French. They have a famous food called poutine - poutine is a dish that includes French fries and cheese curds topped with a brown gravy - it sounds very interesting, but I was sadly never able to try it! 

After a seven hour road trip we arrived at our next tour destination - Toronto, the home of Pioneer Balloon Canada, Colin Stewart and of course, the recent NBA Championship Team, the Toronto Raptors! 

The Tour Bus Crew! 

After another very successful days training, and another group of very happy delegates, we were able to take a (sort of) day off!

Time to visit the home of Chrome! 

How cool is this artwork that is on display in the entrance of the Canadian head office! 

For me, getting the opportunity to visit one of the balloon production plants can only be equated to being like a child in a candy store. How exciting was it that on the day we visited, Chrome balloons were being made and what an amazing to sight it was to see. 

What did I learn during my time in Toronto? Well, Pioneer Canada's head office is only 45 minutes from Niagara Falls! Wow, what a magnificent sight that was! 

Fun fact: did you know that the lovely LaDonna Belcher funded her very first balloon convention by selling hot dogs! Here is LaDonna showing Paul Baker, Pioneer Canada's National Sales Manager and our official tour guide, exactly how it's done! 

LaDonna shared this story with the delegates in Boucherville and Toronto after talking to them about WBC 2021. Her belief is that if you are determined enough to do something there is always a way to do it and I could not agree more! 

Our third and final stop of our Canadian Tour was in Calgary. As this was a travel day, Paul AKA #paulsfault decided that we should leave bright and early - a wonderful 4am start so that we could spend the day once we arrived in Calgary visiting Banff with the promise to see some amazing Canadian wildlife! Jackie Ochitwa was to be my final tour teaching buddy and she joined us for the day.

Once we arrived in Banff, we were treated to a famous Canadian delicacy - Beaver Tails! So what I learned here was that Beaver Tails are not actually the backend of a beaver, but are in fact a sweet pastry treat made of dough covered in sugar, cinnamon and other delicious toppings! 

The final stop of our days adventure was at the stunning Lake Louise. This was such an incredible place with the most beautiful scenery, and a place that I would definitely love to visit again. As for seeing some of Canda's amazing wildlife, we saw a chipmunk, deer, horses and a few ducks... not exactly bears, moose or anything more exciting - definitely #paulsfault

My final training day in Calgary was shared with Jackie. Working with Jackie is always such a pleasure. We each taught for half of the day and it was such a great way to end my Canadian adventure!

Jackie Ochitwa teaching some of her amazing designs in Calgary

Sue Bowler adding those finishing touches to her organic frame

John and I wearing our wonderful Canadian Hoodies!
I would like to conclude my Canadian adventure by saying this was a fabulous experience this was for both John and myself. It was an incredible honour to be invited to teach in such a beautiful country. We met some truly talented and very gracious attendee's. Our hosts at Pioneer Canada were simply the best - thank you MaryLynn! With a very special mention to the lovely Paul Baker, who kept us well and truly entertained for the entire tour, the adorable Glory, fabulous Sandra and the dazzling Daniela. And finally to my fellow extremely talented instructors Alex, Ellie and Jackie who were a dream to work with! I hope that I get the opportunity to return one day! 

Happy Ballooning!