We love Canadians. Not only are we neighbors (New York is one of only 9 states lucky enough to be buddies with this most neighborly of neighbors. Quiz time: name the other 8!) With their open hearts, their pleasant, self-deprecating sense of humour and peculiar placements of the letter “u,” there’s hardly anything about them that we don’t like. We’ve been all over Canada: Mark’s been to Expo 67 and the Olympics in Montreal and visited Calgary, Halifax and Saint John; Matt’s attended an *ahem* bachelor party in Montreal and drove through the Northwest & Yukon territories plus Alberta on a drive from Alaska to Brooklyn; both of us have been to Vancouver and Whistler for the SYTA convention. But neither of us have ever been to Toronto.
A big reason why we love Canada is that some of our biggest and best clients are there. So last week we drove up to visit our clients, drum up some new business, and be tourists! Smart tourists of course – sightseeing with a local guide, eat awesome ethnic food, drink local craft beer (since our business trip coincided with Toronto Beer Week!) and adventure through the “Upper North Side.”
We stayed with the wackiest Mississaugan in Ontario, Brian Steffensen: an ex-pat Brit / Physical Geography teacher at St Aloysius Gonzaga Catholic Secondary School and (most importantly) the 2010 recipient of our annual “Greg Sherwood Coolest Teacher Honorary Ribbon” (proudly displayed on his chest here) and sycophantic fan of LUNY! who oh-so-graciously put Mark and myself up in his basement rec room.
Our primary host in Toronto is an old friend, Jason Kuchewary, who runs Tour Guys – the number one sightseeing attraction in TO on Yelp! Jason was quite generous and toured us around Toronto by foot and subway, pointing out the sights and explaining the city’s history. One of Jason’s most popular tours is Beer Makes History Better and involves stopping for a few pints while absorbing local color and stories.
We visited our client Comfort Travel and received a wonderful gift package filled with Canadian goodies like Whiskey and ice-wine chocolates! We took our ladies from Brightspark out to lunch and talked business. We had a meeting with ISX.ca and Edutravel about our Unique Tours like From Graffiti to Galleries. But most exciting was our trip out to Exeter, Ontario, two-and-a-half hours west of Toronto, to visit one of our best and most dedicated clients, Ellison Tours and Travel.
Exeter is a tiny farm town near Lake Huron with a population of only 4300 and is known mostly for their famous “white squirrels” that dig around in the neatly manicured lawns. Ellison was founded by Doug Ellison, a energetic former HS principal, and is one of most successful student tour operators in Canada, who’s been working with us with us since we began.
As a thank you for all the business, we took 14 of their travel agents out to lunch. That’s Mark and myself holding court amogst our fans. And not only did we drive 2.5 hours out to Exeter to meet them, but we brought them Brooklyn cheesecake AND our newly minted LUNY t shirts.
Along with meeting new clients and solidifying our current client relationships, other than eating great food and drinking awesome craft beer, besides shopping for cheap Canadian whiskey and learning all about Canadian history including the battle of Queenston Heights, what else did we do?
Ride Segways through the Historic Distillery District. Because thats how we Levys’ roll. Canada, we love you!
By Matt Levy