Vacay.ca Contributors are a mix of the most experienced travel journalists in Canada and emerging talents who are uncovering the best things to see, do, experience and taste in our country. Check ’em out and don’t be shy — email to let us know if there’s something you’d like to see covered by our team.
Adrian Brijbassi, Managing Editor — Adrian is a Canadian travel and food expert. He is the founder of Vacay.ca, an online magazine focused on Canadian destinations and culture, and TopRestaurantsInCanada.com, which rates the nation’s best places to dine out. A former editor at the Toronto Star, Adrian has won numerous awards for his travel writing and fiction. A Huffington Post travel columnist and CTV National News contributor, Adrian is also a judge for the World’s 50 Best Restaurants and is editing a nutrition-focused cookbook featuring recipes from leading chefs. He is the author of the novel “50 Mission Cap” and the forthcoming novel and short film, “Triumph the Lion.” His favourite places in Canada are Tofino, British Columbia, and St. John’s, Newfoundland & Labrador. Contact Adrian at email@example.com.
Rod Charles, Deputy Editor – Rod is an entrepreneur with a passion for travel, adventure and good food. He’s worked for Canoe.ca as an online editor and has ghost-written blogs for several elite athletes. He’s also worked as the travel editor at AOL / Huffington Post Canada and his travel articles have been published in the Toronto Star. Rod has used his skills to help several non-profit organizations, including the White Ribbon Campaign, a charity that worked to end violence against women, and an anti-poverty initiative in Hamilton, Ontario. He has also been a proud volunteer with Big Brothers, Big Sisters of Toronto for 10 years. Living in Toronto, but raised in the small-central Ontario village of Holstein, Rod is a country boy at heart who has never met a farmer’s market he didn’t like. Contact Rod at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Julia Pelish, Visuals Editor – A photographer who has worked in the largest media markets in Canada and the U.S., Julia’s travel photos and videos have been featured prominently in the Toronto Star and been exhibited in galleries in Toronto, New York and Vancouver. Her new line of photo jewelry was inspired by her travels. Even though she is an American, one of her favourite travel experiences was spending Canada Day 2000 on Parliament Hill, joining in a parade with then-Prime Minister Jean Chretien and others. Julia is Vacay.ca’s Visuals Editor. See her work at www.juliapelish.com/blog.
Miguel Strother, Sports Editor, Western Canada — Miguel is an award-winning writer who has travelled from the palaces of Russia to the temples of Japan to the jungles of Indonesia and back again, writing and publishing all the while. As a lifelong sports lover he’s written about everything from NBA basketball to skiing with sasquatches. Miguel’s worked as the Pacific Northwest Editor for OnTheSnow.com, features editor for Black Press, and the editor-in-chief of forgetmagazine.com. He currently owns Tree Communication, a creative services branch specializing in web content production for the travel and tourism, education, and architecture and design industries. He lives, works, and teaches from his creative base in the rural reaches of northern Vancouver Island.
Arthur Milnes — Arthur is the Commissioner of the Sir John A. Macdonald Bicentennial Commission, as well as one of Canada’s leading political scholars. He has written numerous books about the lives and policies of prime ministers and US presidents, including working on the memoirs of Brian Mulroney. A journalist, Arthur’s work has also been published in numerous newspapers and magazines, including the Kingston Whig-Standard, the Toronto Star and the Globe & Mail. For Vacay.ca, he writes on noteworthy political travel experiences.
Mariellen Ward — A Toronto-based freelance writer and travel blogger, Mariellen loves to write about her travels in India and meaningful travel experiences, wherever they take place. Mariellen publishes an India-inspired travel blog Breathedreamgo, writes for newspapers, magazines and many online sites, including regular columns at Travel+Escape and TravelWireAsia, and she recently published her first book, Song of India: Tales of Travel and Transformation.
Sherel Purcell — Sherel is a freelance travel writer who covers an array of topics including golf, outdoor adventure, contemporary art, cycling, and food and wine to name a few. Her work has appeared in major print publications and websites such as AOL, About.com, Frommer’s Budget Travel, Dreamscapes, NOW Magazine, Halifax Herald, Spacing, etc. Sherel is a member of GJAC (Golf Journalists Association of Canada).
Waheeda Harris — As a Toronto-based freelance journalist, Waheeda has been writing about travel, design, cuisine and people who are passionate about what they create since 2000. A contributor to a wide range of publications such as The National Post, Canadian House & Home, AOL Canada, TripAtlas.com, Sweetspot.ca and Where.ca, Waheeda is happy to share what she’s found wandering our planet through her articles, photos and her travel blog Gone to Swan. A favourite travel memory will always be time spent exploring Little and Big Shuswap Lakes in British Columbia, where she spent many childhood summer days building sandcastles and swimming in ice-cold Canadian water.
Renee Sylvestre-Williams — Renee writes about travel, lifestyle and personal finance and her work has appeared in Forbes, AOL Canada, Canadian Living and now Vacay.ca. She has a weakness for London and Tokyo and plans to visit Hong Kong soon. She doesn’t understand why some hotels continue to charge for Internet access.
Sarah Deveau — Sarah is the author of two financial guides: Sink or Swim: Get Your Degree Without Drowning in Debt and Money Smart Mom: Financially Fit Parenting. She’s a prolific freelance writer, and her work has been published in Today’s Parent, Parents Canada, Style at Home, and Airdrie Life, as well as most major Canadian daily newspapers, including the National Post. She has contributed to dozens of parenting websites and blogs across Canada, and appears regularly on radio and television shows such Breakfast Television and Global. After having children, Sarah opened and ran her own award-winning children’s consignment boutique, Cater Tot Consignment, for four years. She teaches blogging classes at Mount Royal University in Calgary and speaks regularly to small groups and at conferences.
Mary Alice Downie — Now based in Kingston, Mary Alice Downie has lived in Canada, the US and Britain. In between publishing 28 books for children and adults, she has contributed travel stories to such magazines, newspapers and websites as Canadian Living, 55+, Good Times, Kingston Life, East of the City, the Toronto Star, the Globe and Mail, Forever Young, TripAtlas, City Traveler. She enjoys ancient places, and historic sites, unique inns and B&Bs, gardens, food and wine, museums, folk festivals, music, theatre, architecture, literary travel and nature. She also spends far too much time watching cat videos.
Bobbie Hasselbring — Award-winning travel and food writer Bobbie Hasselbring is the editor of www.realfoodtraveler.com that celebrates regional and artisan food and travel. She is the winner of Canada’s first Culinary Journalism Award 2012 presented by the Canadian Tourism Association and Food Day Canada.
Ilona Kauremszky — Ilona has worked with numerous tourism offices around the world. An award-winning journalist, she is a travel columnist and has penned pieces for inflight magazines and major tour operators. She also makes appearances on TV and radio. Co-producer of mycompass.ca Ilona is forever finding great stories in the strangest places. Follow her travel pursuits on Twitter and YouTube @mycompasstv.
Katie Marti, British Columbia — Katie is a teacher and freelance writer living and working in Vancouver, BC. Originally from New Brunswick, she is no stranger to Canadian travel and has made the trip from coast to coast by plane, train and automobile, not to mention the odd canoe, dogsled and bicycle. When on vacation, Katie likes to escape the city as often as possible in search of stories to tell and photos to share. No matter the destination, she is happiest when on the move and off the beaten track. Find Katie’s blog here.
Janine MacLean, Food Columnist — Growing up in a tiny farming community on Cape Breton Island, Janine knew at a young age that she was destined for travel and as a young girl would spend hours poring over her father’s outdated globe, dreaming of the places she would someday visit. Twenty-something years later, she is now based in Toronto where she works as a chef and writer, having travelled throughout Asia, Canada and Ireland (with more trips to come!).
Jody Robbins, Family Travel Columnist — After ditching a career in international marketing, this former expat and explorer of over 50 countries, now writes freelance travel and lifestyle pieces from Calgary, AB. Acting as Calgary’s SweetMama for Sweetspot.ca, she also contributes to Up! magazine and the Calgary Herald’s Travel section. When not travelling with her precocious children (one daughter, one husband and one dog), Jody can usually be found snowboarding or pretending to enjoy mountain biking in the Rockies. Wherever she goes though, this gal always travels with baggage. What kind of baggage? Check our her website Jody Robbins Travels with Baggage and be prepared to discover just how much she packs in!
Tricia Edgar, Outdoors Columnist — Tricia is a long-time outdoors educator who draws inspiration from the temperate rainforest, where she loves to dabble in creeks, walk along mossy trails, and enjoy the smell of cottonwood in the spring. She’s an adventurer who finds delight in visiting new places, and who’s becoming increasingly adept at going on outdoor adventures with her young daughter. You can find her at www.triciaedgar.com.
Terry O’Neill, Road Trips Photographer and Columnist — Terry is an award-winning photographer and world traveller. Having lived in Michigan and Colorado, Terry is now based in Toronto and contributing her talents to Vacay.ca. She has been photographing since she was nine years old and continues to pursue her passion for telling stories through her lens. Among her favourite places in Canada are Banff, Ottawa and the Toronto islands.
Lynn Burshtein — Lynn is a freelance travel writer with a special interest in destination spas and boutique hotels. She considers herself a bit of a travel junkie and has explored places throughout North America, the Caribbean, Europe, as well as North Africa and Southeast Asia. While Lynn feels very blessed to have been able to travel as much as she has, she is also very proud to call Canada home and is therefore thrilled to be a contributor of www.Vacay.ca. Her work has also been published in Canadian print publications and on websites such as www.traveltowellness.com, www.delectablychic.com, www.shedoesthecity.com, among others.
Karen Evenden — Originally from the UK and now based in Edmonton, Karen is known for her witty and candid personality and often writes with a tongue- in-cheek approach. She is a passionate outdoors enthusiast and frequent traveler. In her spare time she voluntarily runs a hiking and activity group and is often seen with a backpack and camera in tow. Check out her writings at her blog Karen Evenden.
Andrew Seale — Andrew is a freelance writer, part-time nomad and banjo understudy intrigued by the obscure and eclectic. When landlocked he picks the brains of entrepreneurs, peddles stories about seahorses and writes about personal finances for The Toronto Star, Vancouver Sun, Alternatives Journal, Mediaplanet and The Grid. When adventuring, he’s prone to surfing in cold and unruly water, wandering down the “wrong” alleys or trying foods with indecipherable names. You can find more of his writing here: Whenwedrift.tumblr.com.
Sandra Williams-Hervé — Sandra is a writer, actress, and producer who divides her time between Toronto, Canada and Paris, France. She was bitten by the wanderlust bug early in life and has visited just about every continent. After growing up in Ontario she hopes to visit all of Canada’s diverse provinces.
Nicole Keck — Nicole is currently a homeschooling, stay at home mother of three young boys, (a.k.a. the three stooges, the little rascals – you get the picture.) Her passion for writing was sparked at a young age when an English teacher said, “It is a noble thing for one to have command over his or her own language and to use it for good.” Nicole studied at Oakland University in Rochester, Michigan and before the children came along, she and her husband enjoyed active travel such as hiking, backpacking, canoeing and kayaking. The detailed journals and poetry she wrote during those adventures remain among her most treasured possessions. You can read more about Nicole at nicolekeck.com.
Arina Kharlamova — Coming from the extravagant metros of Moscow to the shaky streetcars of Toronto, Arina has been a traveller since the age of 7. Unforeseen by her parents, this initial shift in residence sparked a lifelong love for travel that is, right now, barely a dent in her ultimate “To Explore” list. Currently an undergrad at York University, and a hopeful master’s student soon, Arina studies word-like things and writes about all the little wonderful bits of life on her blog, Russian Ramblings.
Shannon Leahy — After earning her storytelling stripes around the family dinner table in Thunder Bay, Ontario, Shannon chased tall tales in Ireland, Japan and even Calgary. Shannon founded Raystorm Communications, a writing and storytelling studio, shortly after escaping the Toronto publishing world. Her work has appeared in newspapers, magazines and been featured on television and radio. Shannon’s office manager is a cat intent on telling his life story. You can learn more about Shannon at Raystorm Communication.
Owais Qureshi — When he’s not working in the financial services industry in Toronto or spending time with his family, Owais is out photographing as much as he possibly can. His passion for sports photography dates to his childhood when he would read through Sports Illustrated each week. Since joining Vacay.ca in the spring of 2013, he has photographed the NBA Finals, Honda Indy, Toronto Raptors, Toronto Maple Leafs, and street life in the city. He hopes to continue photographing major sports events in Canada and abroad, with an eye toward 2014 and the World Cup in Brazil.
SOCIAL MEDIA SPECIALIST
Arjun Sehgal — While studying at the University of Toronto, Arjun built and excelled his knowledge and experiences in social media marketing, project and event management and public relations. Arjun often provides consultation on social media strategy, creative possibilities and web marketing on up-to-date information for professionals or organizations to improve their online presence. In addition he has studied in Berlin, Germany and travelled across Europe, Southeast Asia and North America. His plans are to travel all of South Asia and Latin America. He can be reached at email@example.com.