Give to Live

Over the past thirteen years, we have hosted approximately 10,000 individuals in our home. Of those 10,000 people, a number of them make a special connection with us and become like part of our family. This week we have been delighted to welcome back one of our favourites, Bruce, as he prepares to bicycle the entire Cabot Trail tomorrow (300km with steep elevations) with the Give to Live organization, fundraising for the Cancer Society. As a 10-year Cancer survivor himself (YAY!), Bruce has done a number of rides, all over the world.

Although Bruce has surpassed his personal fundraising goal of $6000, the total event goal of $100,000 is still a few thousand dollars short. Bruce recently posted the following on his Facebook page:

“This morning a couple of donations put us over my commitment to Give to Live for funding $6,000 of the commitment to Dr. Ryan Rhodes’s research into nutrition and exercise and its potential impact the prevention of cancer. I could not be more proud of our donors and everyone who considered it, but had other obligations. Know that every penny goes to this commitment… G2L funds its own admin costs (credit card processing, Web admin expenses, and so on) through corporate commitments and sharing programs with the sponsors it thanks on its website. This is the reason that I am 100% committed to riding with these folks and to everyone who even considers donating. Philanthropy is critical to every human endeavor… thank you for being human… those who would like to, can still donate to my site or to any of my fellow riders who are not over their total… it all goes to the same good cause… thanx again… BRuce”

You can follow Bruce’s blog here: blueknowser.blogspot.ca

One of the teams who are riding, “KMS Crew”, is made up of three of our neighbours/friends (one is our children’s doctor), each riding a 100km leg. They are still $650 short of their fundraising goal.

I do not know of anyone whose life has not been touched by this devastating disease. I encourage you to donate if you are able – whether to Bruce, the KMS Crew, or to any of the teams.

Donate to The Big Ride by clicking here.

“We make a living by what we get, we make a life by what we give.” ~ Winston Churchill

Give to Live. Photo taken from Bruce's Blog (see link above). Photo credit:

Give to Live. Photo taken from Bruce’s Blog (see link above).

Canoeing on the French River (video)

We acquired a second-hand Go-Pro camera from my brother this year, and the kids have been having a lot of fun with it. When we went camping in Tatamagouche last week, we mounted it on the front of our canoe as we explored the tidal French River in Tatamagouche. At around 2:20, you will see footage of our bald eagle, “Joe”. Thank you to our son, Alex, for editing all the footage to make this five minute clip. Swansburgs, this one is for you!

Summertime in Nova Scotia

We had a bit of a whirlwind start to our summer vacation here at the Belgravia. The last day of school occurred on June 28, while I was still at Cornell. I arrived home late (2 am) on the night of June 30 and my cousins arrived from Portland, Oregon, a few hours later. Phil & Susan are the same cousins whom we spent this past Christmas with. His younger brother, Richard, arrived with his wife, Aletha, from Mobile, Alabama, the following day. They stayed with my parents, and on July 5, Phil’s daughter Lori, her husband Adam, and their four children arrived from Florida for a week. The next few blog posts I make will attempt to chronicle our travels around the province while they were here. Because we are usually working full-out at the B&B, we don’t often get the chance to explore our backyard at this time of year.

We started off on Canada Day with a trip to Pugwash, to the Festival of the Gathering of the Clans where our daughter, Sarah was competing in the highland dance competition. This is an interesting competition which takes place in a beautiful setting, on a wooden stage with the water in the background. There are street vendors, a midway, and a parade throughout the day. It was fun for me to run into a number of my childhood friends who were also visiting. Sarah danced well, winning a 1st place ribbon for her Highland Fling, and 2nd place for her sword dance.  Afterwards, they rode two rides on the midway and got some cotton candy before we left to drive along the Sunrise Trail to Tatamagouche.

The dancers line up, waiting for their turn on stage.

The dancers line up, waiting for their turn on stage.

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Sarah, #201, awaits the music for the Sword Dance

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Proud of her two medals and second stamp

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Scrambler!

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Scrambler!

My maiden name is Clark and the Clark family homestead is located in Tatamagouche, which is a beautiful little town on the Northumberland Strait, along the North Shore of Nova Scotia. Between the cousins, we still have somewhere close to 100 acres of farm and wooded property along the French River, which is the perfect place to picnic. One thing you should know while traveling in Nova Scotia is that certain parts can be buggy on certain days. If the wind is breezy, they usually aren’t too bad. On Canada Day, however, there was little breeze and we all had to use bug spray and put up a mosquito tent to avoid being bitten while we picnicked.

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Playing in the French River

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How many people does it take to set up a mosquito tent?

 

After we had a late lunch, we stopped in at the newly opened Tatamagouche Brewing Company and picked up a couple of growlers of their Hippy Dippy Pale Ale and Butcher Block Red to take back home. Phil and Susan had to be at the airport to pick up Richard & Aletha at suppertime, so we drove straight home.

We ordered pizzas for dinner, I got in the pool for the first time this year and everyone came back to join us around the fire for the evening. We climbed out onto the roof to watch the Canada Day fireworks – even my mom!

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The Canadian “wannabe” from Oregon. 😉

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Happy Canada Day!!

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Roasting marshmallows while waiting for the fireworks

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My parents, Dave & Deanna, enjoy their family

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Our American cousins – Phil & Susan from Oregon and Richard & Aletha from Alabama

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We were lucky to have our family in town for almost two weeks, and took the opportunity to travel around the province a bit with them while they were here. I will chronicle these travels in my next few posts.

Belgravia Bed & Breakfast website

Recognition of Excellence 2014

My invitation to the 19th annual Recognition of Excellence Dinner

My invitation to the 19th annual Recognition of Excellence Dinner

On Wednesday of this week, tourism professionals from around the province gathered to celebrate at the Nova Scotia Tourism Human Resource Council’s (NSTHRC) 19th Annual Recognition of Excellence Certification Dinner at Casino Nova Scotia. As I’ve blogged before, this event is my favourite of the year. This is the event where front line staff from tourism businesses around the province get dressed up, mingle with industry leaders, and are recognized for their experience and dedication to tourism in Nova Scotia.

With Jennifer Falkenham, TIANS Membership Co-ordinator and newly certified Tourism Trainer

With Jennifer Falkenham, TIANS Membership Co-ordinator and newly certified Tourism Trainer

Some of my favourite Tourism People - Danny Bartlett, past TIANS Chair and VP Finance of Bay Ferries, Belgravia B&B, Pat Sullivan, CEO of the Nova Scotia Tourism Agency, Ruth Mailloux, Suncatcher B&B, Ann & Larry MacCormack, Tulips & Thistle B&B and president of the Nova Scotia Bed & Breakfast Association

Some of my favourite Tourism People – Danny Bartlett, past TIANS Chair and VP Finance and Administration of Bay Ferries; D’Arcy & Anne McDonah from Belgravia B&B; Pat Sullivan, CEO of the Nova Scotia Tourism Agency; Ruth Mailloux from Suncatcher B&B; Ann & Larry MacCormack from Tulips & Thistle B&B and also President of the Nova Scotia Bed & Breakfast Association

The Casino is a lovely setting for this dinner, and it was fun to get caught up with friends at the opening reception, overlooking Halifax Harbour. We enjoyed an opening performance by John and Samantha Gracie before dining on a beautiful meal. The menu included a salad of baby leaf lettuce, flat leaf parsley, shaved carrot, garlic & shaved parmesan cheese, drizzled with a lime-corriander vinaigrette. This was followed by an entree of roasted chicken breast on soft polenta with green olive & sherry tapenade and seasonal vegetables. For dessert, we enjoyed triple chocolate mousse with fresh fruit.

John & Samantha Gracie perform at the beginning of the evening

John & Samantha Gracie perform at the beginning of the evening

The evening was especially special for me as I formally received my certificate as a Certified Hotel General Manager. This credential is recognized across the country, and it was announced last week that it will also be recognized by the American Hotel and Lodging Association. At the dinner, Wendy Swedlove, President of the Canadian Tourism Human Resource Council (CTHRC) announced that soon, they will have a partnership signed which will mean this credential will be recognized internationally.

Wendy Swedlove, CTHRC

Wendy Swedlove, President of the CTHRC

Recieving my pin from Joachim Stronik, representing the Nova Scotia Government.

Recieving my pin from Joachim Stronik, representing the Nova Scotia Government.

Hugs from Glenn Squires, CEO of Pacrim Hospitality and Chair of the NSTHRC

Hugs from Glenn Squires, CEO of Pacrim Hospitality and Chair of the NSTHRC

There are currently only ten of us who have earned this credential in Canada, with five of us being from Nova Scotia. My other colleagues who received this credential on Wednesday were Jamie Bolduc from the Radisson Suite Hotel in Halifax, Phyllis Stephenson from the Best Western PLUS Chocolate Lake Hotel, Wes Surrett from Pictou Lodge Beach Resort, and Bernice Theriault from Drumlin Hills. Congratulations to each of you – I’m proud to be in such company!

I would like to thank Emerit, the CTHRC, and most of all the NSTHRC for your continued support and encouragement of all tourism professionals, but especially for the support you have shown to me.

My biggest supporter

My biggest supporter

 

With Scott Travis, General Manager of the Prince George Hotel in Halifax. Thank you Scott for your encouragement and mentorship!

With Scott Travis, General Manager of the Prince George Hotel in Halifax. Thank you Scott for your encouragement and mentorship!

With Lisa Dahr, Manager of the NSTHRC

With Lisa Dahr, Manager of the NSTHRC

The Truro B&B girls - Ruth Mailloux from Suncatcher B&B, and Ann MacCormack from Tulips & Thistle B&B

The Truro B&B girls – Ruth Mailloux from Suncatcher B&B, and Ann MacCormack from Tulips & Thistle B&B

With Danny Bartlett, VP Finance of Bay Ferries and past-chair of TIANS. This was his last event as part of the TIANS Board and he will be missed!

With Danny Bartlett, VP Finance of Bay Ferries and past-chair of TIANS. This was his last event as part of the TIANS Board and he will be missed!

The beautiful flowers I was given to take home at the end of the evening

The beautiful flowers I was given to take home at the end of the evening

 Belgravia Bed & Breakfast

Feeling Accomplished

CHGM

As of today, I get to add some new letters to my signature. I’m now Anne McDonah, BTHM, CHGM, TCM

To anyone who’s not in the Tourism Industry, as you read you’re probably wondering what all the acronyms stand for?

BTHM = Bachelor of Tourism & Hospitality Management (Co-operative Education Route and I also took a few extra courses and received a Certificate of Business Administration.)

TCM = Tourism Trainer  (Tourism Certified Manager)

CHGM = Certified Hotel General Manager (Those are my newest letters.)

The TCM which I received in 2012, and the sparkly new CHGM are the “Red Seals” of the Tourism Industry.

From the Emerit website, a description:

“Leadership, budgeting and planning, human resource management, and the ability to put customer service first–do you have the skills it takes to be an effective Hotel General Manager?

Hotel General Managers need to excel at motivating and inspiring employees, while constantly monitoring, evaluating and adjusting all aspects of daily hotel operations. From developing room revenue strategies to monitoring public relations, managing capital projects to creating a guest service culture, effective Hotel General Managers ensure that everything runs smoothly–and generates profit.

The National Occupational Standards for Hotel General Manager include skills, knowledge and best practices in the following areas:

  • Operations
  • Human Resource Management
  • Guest Service
  • Business Management
  • Marketing
  • Leadership 

Professional Certification for Hotel General manager leads to the Certified Hotel General Manager (CHGM) designation, Canada’s first professional credential for the occupation.”

I was approached by the team at the Nova Tourism Human Resource Council (NSTHRC) in March, while D’Arcy was in Brazil, to see if I’d be interested in challenging this certification. The designation is brand new and was designed so that not only managers of large properties would be able to achieve success, but managers of smaller properties as well. The process was thorough and I was on a tight timeline.  To complete the designation, I had to have over 1000 hours of experience, pass a two hour interview (last Wednesday afternoon – that was a lot of talking, even for me!) and pass a 125 question exam with a mark of 70% or more (today).

I had received a copy of the standards a few weeks ago, and when going over them to study, realized that I was either going to know it or not. I contacted a few colleagues from industry and the NSTHRC to try to calm my nerves, wondering if I was really qualified? They assured me I was.

Today was also the last day of the semester for my NSCC students so the past two weeks have been filled with papers, projects, portfolios, and presentations. I was in the classroom for presentations this morning from 8:30 – 12:30, then sat down in our Academic Support Centre at 1:00 to write the proctored test. (And did I mention we’ve had a full house at Belgravia B&B the past couple of nights?) Talk about having empathy for my students – I know exactly how overwhelmed and stressed out they’ve been feeling!

Because it was a computerized test, I received an email on my phone by the time I got back to my office with the news I had passed!!

I’m pretty excited!

I couldn’t have done this without the support of the TIANS and NSTHRC teams who encouraged me and believed in me. We’ve been discussing the Nova Scotian “It’s Now or Never” report in the Contemporary Business Issues course that I teach at NSCC, and recognizing the fact that we need to be working together and we need to be encouraging the Entrepreneurial spirit in our Province. I cannot adequately express my gratitude for the investments TIANS and the NSTHRC have made in me/us since we started our B&B in 2003.

I’m also so grateful to my family for all their support and sacrifices to help me succeed. It would not be possible to do the things I manage to accomplish without them. It’s a whole team effort!

The formal recognition of my new credentials will happen at the NSTHRC’s Recognition of Excellence Dinner in Halifax in May.

Do you suppose I can have new business cards printed by then? 😉

With some of the TIANS/NSTHRC team when I was certified as a Tourism Trainer - Lisa Dahr, Kieu Lam, Anne McDonah, Lyndsay Leedham, Darlene Grant Fiander.

With some of the TIANS/NSTHRC team when I was certified as a Tourism Trainer in 2012 – Lisa Dahr, Kieu Lam, Anne McDonah, Lyndsay Leedham, Darlene Grant Fiander.

The BIG swim!!

Last week, I was lucky enough to have three of my dearest friends together for a sleepover at our place. We talked and laughed and drank wine. We even went to a nearby restaurant’s patio for a bite to eat – how civilized! Karen, Angie, Theresa & I all got to know each other while living together in residence at Mount Saint Vincent University (MSVU) many years ago. (Actually, Theresa & I first met at Piano camp at Acadia University when we were in elementary school, but reconnected at “The Mount”.) Theresa was taking Public Relations, Angie was taking Business Administration, and Karen & I were taking Tourism & Hospitality Management. The four of us have been together through a LOT over the years: jobs, loves beginnings and endings, marriages, long distances (Karen married a pilot and has spent many years based in the Maldives and Sri Lanka), career changes, babies (Theresa & I were in the same hospital together when our Sarah and her triplet boys were born six days apart!), milestone birthdays, awards, the death & illnesses of parents, holidays, new houses, etc. We have the kind of friendship that always picks up right where it left off, and we know that we have each other’s backs – no judgments! Twenty years of friendship has seen a lot of water under the bridge! (Foreshadowing metaphor…)

Getting ready for a charity ball at MSVU; winter 1993.

Getting ready for a charity ball at MSVU; winter 1993.

Twenty years later - older and (hopefully much) wiser.

Twenty years later – older and (hopefully much) wiser.

As much as I love all three of these women, my “Vital Friends“, who each bring something different into my life, this post is about Angie. Three years ago, Angie left her high profile job with a major insurance company, sold her house and belongings, packed everything else she owned into her little car, and drove home to Nova Scotia. She applied to Dalhousie University to study to become an occupational therapist, and was recently valedictorian of her graduating class!! A number of years ago, she became involved with Camp Brigadoon, a summer camp here in Nova Scotia for kids with chronic illnesses, while it was still in the planning stages. In their own words, “Brigadoon is a non-profit recreational facility on Aylesford Lake in the Annapolis Valley. With our partners, we deliver camp programming to children, youth and families living with a chronic illness, chronic condition, or special need across Atlantic Canada. Brigadoon is a place where campers come to experience new things, meet friends who are facing similar challenges, and to just be themselves…not a patient, a chart full of symptoms, or a good little soldier.”

On August 4th of this year, Angie is swimming with 35 other people, across the Northumberland Straight – 14 kilometres – from Nova Scotia to Prince Edward Island to raise money for this deserving cause.

For the record, this woman does nothing half-way.

Angie’s friend Amanda, who will be her surface support, traveling alongside her in a kayak during the swim, created the following video, which is three minutes long, in anticipation:

For the record, Angie figures it will take her about six hours to complete her swim. Yikes.

Angie’s fundraising goal is $5,000 before she gets in the water, and as of our evening together, she was at just over $3,000. This is a camp that our daughter Olivia, would qualify to attend some day. Every $1,000 raised sends one more child to camp!

To donate, please click on the following link: Angie’s Big Swim for Brigadoon Camp.

Thank you!

Brigadoon Children’s Camp

Belgravia Bed & Breakfast