I’m back from The Great Outdoors & DIY Weekend. Basically, it’s four different shows from four different Canadian magazines, together in one location and one ticket gets you into all four. Explore, Outdoor Canada, Cottage Life and Home Workshop are the four magazines in question.
The Home Workshop show was all about woodworking. I don’t know the first thing about woodworking, so I won’t comment. Cottage Life was by far the largest show. I don’t own a cottage so I wasn’t paying very much attention but there seemed to be a little bit of everything.
I went to the show interested only in the Explore and Outdoor Canada shows. I have to say that, as a shopper, I was a little disappointed. As the avid shopper that I am, I usually spend a bundle at shows like these yet, I left the show only having bought some size 6 and size 8 fish hooks and some 2″ lunker grub for my survival kit. That’s it! I’ve been holding off my online purchases for a while now, thinking that I might find something at the show that would be better, cheaper… Not a chance!
However, what the show lacked in shopping experiences it made up for with information booths, events, activities, seminars and contests. The first booth to catch my attention was NOLS. My only knowledge of NOLS stemmed from my interaction with their backcountry cookbook called NOLS Cookery. After speaking with their representative and checking out their brochure, I have now placed a backpacking and wilderness canoeing trip to the Yukon on my bucket list. They have such a course with a duration of 30 days and a price tag of $4,225. They also have NOLS schools in locations such as the Amazon, Scandinavia, East Africa, India, Australia, New Zealand…Well, a girl can dream!
Back to the show! I then stopped at the Ostrom outdoors booth. I tried on one of their barrel harnesses with a 60 litre barrel and I’m still thinking about it now. I’m not totally convinced that barrel packs are the way to go, especially seeing that they are heavier than the average backpack, but if I do get one, it will certainly be an Ostrom. Their packs are 100% Canadian made and let me tell you, comfortable! Price tag? The one I was eyeballing cost $195. Ouch! But we know that you do have to pay for quality.
Then I went on to see what was going on with Boston Rob. Even though I got there about five minutes before he came out, I didn’t get seats that were that great so my filming opportunities were kind of shot. I think I filmed one or two of his Q & A and then I filmed the challenge. The highlight of the challenge was that Boston Rob was competing against five other contestants, one of them being Kevin Callan, a.k.a. The Happy Camper. I won’t tell you who won, but if you check back soon, you can see for yourself as I will have posted the video.
I also had the opportunity to meet Mr. R. Vandermeer at his booth. He owns Fine Arts and Fly Fishing Studio, in Orillia. I’ve been interested in fly fishing ever since I heard about it from Jason Klass from Gear Talk and so I had an opportunity to find out a little bit more about it. It seems like a really practical way for me to incorporate fishing into my backpacking and portaging trips without having to sacrifice weight and volume concerns. He was telling us that he teaches fly fishing and takes groups out to fly fish. I might just have to give him a call in the spring and try my hand at fly fishing.
Then, on our way out, we passed by an area where a gentleman was talking about survival packs. Of course my ears perked up and we stayed around to listen. At the end of his talk I stayed around looking at his survival pack, mentally comparing it to my own, and then started talking to a lady that had been assisting him. Turns out that I had already met this lady before during a canoeing course we had taken together. Her name is Lesley Blackmore and she is the founder and executive director of Turtle Feather wilderness adventures. Check out their website at http://turtlefeather.ca. They’re also on Facebook. Please support them in any way you can because their mission is a noble one. “TurtleFeather’s mission is to develop and co-ordinate wilderness adventures that will encourage survivors of abuse to move forward in their lives with strength, hope and courage using the outdoor environment to promote safety, self-esteem, healthy relationships and a connection to the world around them.” (Quoted from their website)
I then stayed on to listen to this gentleman some more as he said he was going to be covering “fire-starting skills”. This gentleman was none other than David Arama. David is the director of WSC Survival School Inc. You can find out more about him and the school by going on the WSC website: http://www.wscsurvivalschool.com, but I can tell you that it was with David Arama that Les Stroud initially trained with. He was ever so kind to let me film his talk and demonstration of fire-starting skills. I promise that I will be uploading that video as soon as I have uploaded the others. He is a very humorous, easy-going person who is obviously very knowledgeable. I would love to do a course with him sometime, especially one that he teaches about wild edibles.
In conclusion, I wish that The Great Outdoors & DIY Weekend organization had made the schedule of events more visible on their website. I will know better next time to check the schedule and plan exactly what I want to attend, when and where. As it happened, I ended up not seeing Kevin Callan except during his challenge against Boston Rob. I certainly didn’t get a chance to meet him and I am sad about that. The program I was given at the entrance wasn’t really seen until I got home, where I had the opportunity to see that I missed two of Kevin Callan’s talks and that if I had waited around a bit more, I could have heard David Arama speak about two other topics that would have been interesting to me.
If you have a chance to go tomorrow, do so. Go as early as you can, take the program when you go in and sit down and plan what you want to see.