Although June 23rd found me arriving in Halifax 2 hours later than expected due to weather conditions, I was immediately overwhelmed by the feeling of, “Ahhh, I’m home!”. I was craning my neck, looking around me during the car ride to the Prince George Hotel that night, wanting to soak it all in right away. I had heard that the east coast was physically beautiful beyond words, but really it’s the people who add even more beauty to the landscape of the right side of the country!
June 24, after an enjoyable and all-to-quick segment on LITE 92.9 with Jamie and Lisa in the Morning, I was whisked away to Peggy’s Cove for a visit to one of the many postcard-capturing locations of the maritimes.
While logging my journey on Twitter wherever I was, I heard from a viewer named Shelley. She tweeted that she wished she could come to say hello, but was unable to break away from work at her Sobey’s Grocery store location. Well, the decision was made to stop and see her on our way back to the city and surprise her with some Joan Rivers jewellery, savings cards for future purchases and an autographed The Shopping Channel apron, signed by all the Hosts and some of our models. She was quite shocked when we walked in, Travelocity.ca gnome in-hand!
After a lovely time with Shelley, I was spoiled with a tour of one of my favourite brewing companies, Alexander Keith’s! What a day! Back to the airport that evening for a return flight to Toronto, but not before grabbing some live Nova Scotia lobster for my carry-on. They can be purchased right at the airport.
Sunday the 26th found me at the airport, carrying the Travelocity.ca gnome and my Heys X-case, ready for a trip to Winnepeg and beyond. Joan Rivers had been on The Shopping Channel the day before commenting on me being “in Peggy’s Cove”! Our P.R. Department was sure not to allow me to be aware of my itinerary until the very last moment before getting on each flight! Off to Winnipeg and the Fairmont Hotel, near Portage and Main.
Highlights for me the next day included: a tour of the Royal Canadian Mint, appearing with the Travelocity.ca gnome and Heys X-case on Breakfast Television with Host Jeremy John and also having breakfast near The Forks, where the Assiniboine and Red rivers meet. However, a lovely viewer of the Shopping Channel named simply DN, came to have lunch with us downtown and we had a wonderful visit with her!
We gave her one of the signed aprons and other goodies while we chatted about everything from Tony Little to Young and the Restless! She blogged about us on her own site and we continued tweeting after we met. Winnipeg is such a beautiful city with so much charm!
Monday the 27th, I found out my next stop would be Calgary, Alberta! My first time to this city and I was really pumped for it!
We stayed at the Sheraton Cavalier and the manager of the hotel was kind enough to allow us to photograph the gnome on their indoor waterslide, which was shut off for the photo-op. The gnome is a rock-star, by the way! More on that to follow! We ate on Stephen Avenue, on a second floor patio overlooking the trendy, village-like feel of this part of town. Breakfast Television the next morning with Andy and Jill was a hoot, with me judging which of them had the best selling pitch on a Heys X-case. They really did their homework and were spectacular! Andy threw me a curveball and asked me, live on-air, to do the weather….now… I flustered my way through it, suggesting to the audience that it was going to be so warm that no clothing was really necessary! After BT, we drove 2 hours to Lake Louise for some of the most breath-taking sightseeing I have ever enjoyed! We even saw a grizzly bear run safely across the highway, as I was literally about to do a phone-in from the car to The Shopping Channel!
Lunch at the Chateau Fairmont was just a taste of what will hopefully become a future holiday visit for me. There are many places from this trip that I will have to visit for a longer period of time! We were spotted by long-time viewers Wendy and her husband Joe in the parking lot and stopped for photos, giveaways, the next signed apron, etc. They are actually from Windsor, Ontario. Before making our way back to the airport for the next stop in the Great Canadian Adventure, we stopped for pictures at Olympic Park and swung by the Calgary Tower and Saddledome! Love this city!
Tuesday, June 28th, I spent 45 Minutes in the air and touched down in Edmonton! Off to the Marriot At River Cree Resort, with the casino beckoning! Felt like I was in Vegas! The Travelocity.ca gnome was not allowed in the casino, nor could we take pictures, but it was beautiful and I wish I could have stayed for the Lynrd Skynrd concert that was later that week! On Breakfast Television Edmonton, Ryan Jespersen and I attempted to show morning viewers how “not” to pack your luggage and then how easy Heys makes it with their world’s lightest carry-on, the X-case (with the help of some packing cubes and the Heys X-scale). After pancakes and meeting some viewers at the High Level Diner, I was whisked off to When Pigs Fly on Whyte Avenue, then the lovely Emily Murphy Park. So picturesque and peaceful! We couldn’t leave downtown without a quick visit to the location of The Shopping Channel’s Big Break broadcast near the McDonald Hotel, overlooking the Saskatchewan River! I was standing here in 1997 as we recorded 4 different 1-hour shows, showcasing some of Alberta’s best vendors for our cross-Canada new product search. The view is just as beautiful as I remember! We stopped briefly at the Alberta Legislature, but as I love to shop, I knew I’d be spending time at the West Edmonton Mall!
We were on Twitter with everywhere we went and where we were going to be. Although my visit to Alberta this year did not include riding a mechanical bull, we did manage to get a picture posted of me on an inflatable cow! Later at the airport, I was informed that Vancouver was to be the next destination!
Wednesday evening, we crossed another timezone and landed in one of Canada’s most vibrant and beautiful cities! From the air, I could tell Vancouver was going to be something very special for this leg of Norm’s Great Canadian Adventure! While waiting for my Heys luggage off the carousel, the lady who sat next to me on the plane approached me to tell me about her mother, Liz, who lives in Yellowknife, N.W.T. Liz is a big fan of The Shopping Channel, so we made sure her daughter had some special gifts to take to her, such as a Joan Rivers piece of jewellery, some savings cards and the 4th signed apron of all the Hosts and some of our models. Since I had gained another hour on the clock, I was able to enjoy being downtown for the evening. After a quick check-in next to the renovations going on at B.C. Place at the Georgian Court Hotel, I was headed out with the gnome for a night on the town! Eventually, we ended up walking in on a cocktail party then dining at Cobre. Everywhere I went, people wanted to ask about the Travelocity.ca gnome! Several times, I was asked if I was on The Amazing Race television program. Children were wide-eyed, adults wanted to have their picture with him, flight attendants on all my flights recognized him and immediately engaged me in discussion as to what the heck I was doing carrying him with me everywhere!
I was able to have him photographed in the cockpit of a jet, in the grasp of a lobster, on a waterslide of a hotel pool, riding with me on the baggage carousels and in front of a radio station microphone, wearing headphones. He was grabbed from my hands for photos, kissed, fondled and waved around out of excitement! I think I have witnessed what Elvis went through! The Travelocity.ca gnome is living the dream!
Thursday morning, I appeared with the gnome and Heys luggage on Breakfast Television alongside Host Riaz Meghji and Entertainment reporter, Thor Diakow. The 3 of us each told a vacation story for the audience and it was up to people in the studio to determine which one of us was telling the truth. We gave away some Heys X-cases to lucky viewers and had a fantastic time! My story was false. I spoke of a recent trip to Las Vegas, saying that after I had visited a few clubs and enjoying some cocktails, ended up in Vince Neil’s Tattoo shop on the Strip. After handing the tattoo artist my business card, which has our company logo on it, I now have a large, pink The Shopping Channel symbol tattoo’d on my left thigh!! Riaz is a real pro, but he couldn’t convince anyone that his story was true either! Thor was the only honest one of the bunch! Great fun!
After BT, we rushed over to the studios for FUN 104.9fm to meet and chat with Kelly & Pam during the morning show. More Heys to give away and some on-air laughs with Vancouver’s favourite morning radio team! Off to the site of the Olympic flame ceremony last year for a real proud photo moment.
Then, it was Granville Island Market to sit by the water, listening to the Jazz Festival and soaking up some rays! The weather on this whole trip, I have to say, was spectacular and I felt very lucky to be able to enjoy some of Canada’s finest sights and sounds during perfect summertime conditions! At the airport on June 30th, I dropped into a souvenir shop and was greeted immediately by Ismael, who worked behind the counter.
He began telling me how much his wife loves The Shopping Channel and told me about the many great offers she has purchased over the years. So, I had one multi-signed apron remaining and some savings cards to give him for his wife. We took some photos with the gnome also and caught the 4pm flight, smiling all the way. I certainly felt different now heading into this Canada Day weekend than any other in my life and I will cherish every moment of this amazing adventure!
I must point out that although Norm’s Great Canadian Adventure was centred around me, the Travelocity.ca gnome, Heys luggage and all the stops we made from Halifax to Vancouver, the people working with me (and believe it, being with me is work) are 2 of the nicest people you will ever hear about at The Shopping Channel! Our Manager for Promotions & External Media, Lia Caponecchia and Marketing Co-ordinator, Mary Dunne travelled across the country with me doing all the work, preparations, making the connections, keeping me on time and footing the bill when I wanted to do something like go on the Alexander Keith’s Brewery tour so I could have a beer! I would have been lost without them and I wouldn’t have laughed as hard as I did, either! They deserve the credit for, what I believe, is the genuine success of this promotion on all levels! I had the easy part! This trip was a dream come true for me that really delivered! I am very lucky!
Thank you to everyone still following me on Twitter @NormOhCanada!!
I only wish we could have continued to many more regions of Canada and maybe we can make that happen another time! We’re all shopping for something in our lives, in our own way. So that’s why I say, “Shopping Is Life!” Thanks for reading this! Some of the best shopping is yet to come…..
(Host at The Shopping Channel)
To see more of Norm’s Pictures, click here
To see Out Takes of Norm’s Adventure, click here
To see Norm with all the Animals across Canada, click here
Norm had a fantastic time during his journey across Canada. He saw many beautiful landmarks as well as beautiful cities and towns.
For Norm, it seemed like the greatest gift he received all week was all the wonderful people he met along the way who had been long time The Shopping Channel customers. He had a lot of visitors who came out to meet him, as well as new people who happened to run into him and get acquainted with the Travelocity Gnome!
One woman, in particular, was EXTRA special! She brought chocolates our for Norm and sat and had lunch! Read her story here!
Thanks to everyone who followed and supported Norm on his travels!