What an Adventure! Follow Mr. Boulay’s class on Canada’s Coolest School Trip!

You can’t help but want to visit Forillon National Park after viewing Mr. Boulay’s secondary 2 class’s video. From its majestic wildlife, unique culture, historic buildings and expansive green spaces, we were captivated with this little corner of Canada, thanks to their inspiring work. And by the looks of it, you were as well! The class won the trip of a lifetime - Canada’s Coolest School Trip – and headed out to British Columbia at the beginning of June. We were able to catch up with them when they arrived home in Rivière-au-Renard, Québec after their 5-day adventure.

The adventure began with the class travelling from Gaspé, QC to Victoria, BC thanks to Air Canada. Before departing, the class dipped their hands in the waters of the Atlantic Ocean and before midnight, they were touching the Pacific. They might not have slept much from sheer excitement after they got cozy in their oTENTiks late at night at Fort Rodd Hill National Historic Site, but the next morning they were up bright and early to continue their adventure. The class started the day learning all about the area’s Species at Risk and helped protect them by controlling invasive species. That afternoon, Mr. Boulay’s class experienced life as a soldier. The group witnessed historic weapons demonstrations, went on WWII Jeep rides and, through the site’s new Explora app and ‘Platoons’ program, learned a lot more about this century old coast artillery fort that once defended Victoria and Esquimalt naval base. That evening, they were treated to a lantern-lit VIP tour of Fisgard Lighthouse National Historic Site, the oldest lighthouse on the west coast and enjoyed a campfire with a surprise visit from Parks Canada’s Youth Ambassadors, George and Lindsay. Guitars were played, songs were sung and s’mores were eaten before the class treated the site staff to the touching theme song to their video entry ‘Cap sur Victoria’.

You could feel the excitement in the air the following morning as the students prepared to go whale watching. Dressed in survival (flotation) suits, the class headed towards the south of Vancouver Island in Zodiacs to try to see orcas. Luckily, there was plenty of wildlife to marvel at – transient and resident orcas, and even a few sea lions and seals too! As they reached Sidney Island, part of the Gulf Islands National Park Reserve, they were honoured with a traditional welcome by Tsawout Hereditary Chief Eric Pelkey, followed by a delicious crab harvest demonstration. The evening was spent geocaching and exploring the shoreline along the magnificent Pacific Ocean.

On the last full day in British Columbia, Mr. Boulay’s class headed down to the beach once again for some beach art fun before taking the ferry back to Sidney where they would head to Sidney North Saanich Yacht Club. How many 13-14 year olds have the opportunity to kayak at sea? The students had an amazing time kayaking the waters of the Gulf Islands. Soon enough, they were scurrying around Victoria, B.C., identifying a few historic buildings while souvenir shopping. A quick swim and a farewell activity in front of The Empress hotel were followed by an early curfew as the class was departing at 6am for their return to Gaspé, QC. The exhausted class fell asleep early, with visions of whales, forts and historic lighthouses dancing in their heads.

You can read more details about the École Antoine-Roy class’s adventure on the Canadian Geographic blog:

Thanks once again to our contest partners Air Canada and Church & Dwight Canada Corp., les fabricants de Arm & Hammer™, for their support in making this year’s Canada’s Coolest School Trip a reality!