5 Canadians to salute on Earth Day


TJ Watt and the Ancient Forest Alliance are fighting to prevent future logging of Vancouver Island’s Avatar Grove. (Photo courtesy of TJ Watt)

Story by Vacay.ca Staff

This year’s Earth Day celebrations focus on “putting a face” on climate change. During the past several months, Vacay.ca has featured Canadians in the travel industry who have focused on sustainable practices and environmental concern. For Earth Day 2013, we have chosen to put a face on Canada’s tourism and hospitality sector, spotlighting five people who make a difference in promoting a healthier planet through their choices as businesspeople and citizens.

1. TJ Watt, Victoria, British Columbia

Avatar Grove on Vancouver Island is a protected forest of towering trees that have survived on the planet for centuries, and in some cases millennia. TJ Watt of the Ancient Forest Alliance has been integral in promoting sustainable practices that will ensure Avatar Grove’s existence. An activist and photographer, Watt has so far managed to help preserve 59 hectares of forest near Port Renfrew from logging. Among Avatar Grove’s highlights is “the world’s largest Douglas fir.”

Read more about Avatar Grove on Vacay.ca

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2. Marc Kielburger, Toronto, Ontario

Along with his younger brother, Craig, and his wife, Roxanne Joyal, Kielburger has launched Me to We Trips, promoting volunteer tourism vacations that help improve the lives of children in the developing world. The Me to We Trips are eco-travel journeys that have less impact on the environment than similar excursions by other companies to Africa, Asia and Latin America. Half of the profits of the company go to Free the Children, the charitable organization founded by the Kielburgers and Joyal that has done tremendous work fighting against the exploitation of children around the world.

Vacay.ca will have more coverage of the Kielburgers and Me to We in the coming weeks

3. Katie Hayes, Bonavista, Newfoundland & Labrador

The owner of the Bonavista Social Club, a bakery and pizzeria overlooking the gorgeous northern coast of Newfoundland, Hayes has opted for an entirely organic menu. She relies on ingredients from the Bonavista Social Club’s garden, makes her own bread and pizzas in a wood-fired oven, and hopes to one day produce cheese from the goats on the restaurant’s grounds.

Read more about the Bonavista Social Club

4. Hugo Germain, Montreal, Quebec

As the director of development of ALT Hotels, Germain has overseen the implementation of industry-leading green initiatives, including a geothermal heating system in the Toronto Pearson Airport franchise location that reduces its energy usage dramatically, says Germain, who is also the nephew of acclaimed hotelier Christiane Germain.

Read more about ALT Hotels

5. Cliff Speer, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan

One of the most well-regarded tour operators in Saskatchewan, Speer is devoted to exploring Canada’s natural wonders with his clients. With his company, CanoeSki Discovery, Speer educates visitors on how to see his part of Canada in ways that have little impact on the environment. Whether it’s canoeing through Saskatoon on the South Saskatchewan River or cross-country skiing in one of the province’s parks, Speer gives you a thorough understanding of the ecology in the region and how urbanization threatens it.

Read about how Saskatoon is changing


Speak Out!

Do you know of another Canadian whose everyday lifestyle should be honoured on Earth Day? Share their story on Vacay.ca’s Facebook page (Facebook.com/Vacay.ca) or email editors@vacay.ca and we will publish your thoughts!



Vicky is the worldly publisher of Vacay.ca. Having graduated from McGill University in Montreal, she has set about building a talented team of travel experts to deliver to you words and images of the very best places to see and experience in Canada. Based in Yorkville in Toronto, Vicky regularly jet sets around Canada — be sure to catch up with her when she's in your part of the country.

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