Quidi Vidi Newfoundland

35 Million Directors winner inspires

Story by Rod Charles
Vacay.ca Deputy Editor

Quidi Vidi Newfoundland

Quidi Vidi in St. John’s, Newfoundland is a historic village that occasionally sees an iceberg passing through its waters. (Julia Pelish/Vacay.ca)

Cecil Johnson’s time-lapse video of icebergs in Quidi Vidi, a tiny village within the Newfoundland & Labrador capital of St. John’s, won praise and votes from film buffs and earned him the Viewers’ Choice Award from the 35 Million Directors project.

The contest, sponsored by the Canadian Tourism Commission (CTC), drew 8,206 entries and pulled in a whopping 65 hours of video from across the nation. Johnson’s video received the most votes from viewers, landing him a dream trip across Canada with his girlfriend, Samantha. The prize included $5,000 in travel vouchers, $2,000 in prepaid Visa cards and a $3,000 gift card from Best Buy. He also took home a package from camera manufacturer GoPro.

Altogether, there were 82 winners, including Grand Prize recipient Julia Campbell, whose photograph of Harrison Lake, British Columbia was randomly selected in a draw and won the same prize as Johnson.

“We wanted everyone to feel involved,” said Stephanie Sirois, marketing specialist at the CTC. “So having a Viewers’ Choice could appeal to those who have more experience, while a random draw could involve the every day Canadian in telling their story about Canada.”

The CTC is Canada’s national tourism marketing organization and its vision is to inspire the world to explore Canada. A federal Crown corporation of the Government of Canada, the organization markets the nation as a premier four-season destination to travellers in 11 key markets around the world. The CTC explained on its website that the final cut of a new international tourism marketing video, made with submissions from Canadians, capped its 35 Million Directors summer project. This video is meant to function as an authentic and fun invitation from Canadians, of which there are approximately 35 million.

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4,200 Pictures of Canada Dominate Video

During his trip Johnson filmed his adventures and recorded them in a video called Summer Vacation 2013, capturing snippets of the country as he toured, and then editing it into a breathtaking presentation that packs in several different shots of Canada. Johnson says he wanted to stick with the same style that had won him the contest.

“I thought about how I was going to capture the whole trip, and I decided right from the get-go that I wasn’t going to have a single video clip on the whole trip because that’s not really how I won,” said Johnson, who explained the video features more than 4,200 pictures.

Those clips include shots of VancouverEdmonton, Calgary, Montreal and Toronto. And each picture seems to have its own story. He says Alberta was one of his favourite stops.

Banff is definitely up there at the top,” said Johnson. “We did the gondola ride up to the top of the mountains. And then after we left Banff, we went over to Lake Louise, only a few minutes away. We were in Vancouver, we did the whole downtown scene. We had a hotel right across from BC Place. I would say we walked a marathon or two while we were in Vancouver because we walked everywhere.”

He said his biggest surprise was the friendliness of his fellow Canadians.

“Coming from Newfoundland, we’re pretty much perceived as one of the friendliest people on earth,” said Johnson. “But I found to my surprise that ordinary people country-wide are pretty friendly. Whether it was a person on the bus who could see that we were tourists taking time to direct us to the right places. Or just people walking in the street who would give a sincere smile, perhaps they could see we were tourists as well. There was this one guy, while we were eating on a patio outside this crepe shop, who came up to me and said, ‘Nice shirt, man.’ Just ordinary people being friendly.”

Rod has previously worked for Canoe.ca and is currently freelancing for Huffington Post Travel. He’s also written travel articles for the Toronto Star and Up! Magazine. 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.

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